Several years ago, when facing some difficulty where I didn’t know how things would turn out, I attended a Prayer Renewal at the DreamGivers Inn. The Lord showed me through His Word that I needed to remain strong in Him and be courageous. In Joshua 1:6 the Lord said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land.” Then in verse 7 He says again, “Be strong and very courageous.” Then, for the third time, verse 9, He says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Three different times in the same chapter the Lord said to be strong and courageous! Are you facing difficulty where you are afraid of what might happen to you or even to your family? Are you afraid of the future? As I walk daily and face the struggles of life I need to remember these words again and again.
This past weekend about twenty women from Greater Portland attended Western Seminary’s Ignite Conference in Vancouver, Washington. To be with 500 other women singing praises to Jesus and as the Joy of Dance team worshipped with such grace and poise was so electrifying. The theme of the conference was Courage. Pam Lau, the plenary speaker spoke on courage from the book of Joshua and again I was reminded to be strong and courageous. There were ten workshops in the morning and ten workshops in the afternoon. I attended a workshop presented by talk show host Georgene Rice from KPDQ. She encouraged us to speak out and be courageous with whom we have influence. She said that we can choose to be silent, but we need courage to stand up for what is right. When the test comes for us to make that choice, will we be ready? Through the Voice of Martyrs ministry I am aware of our many brothers and sisters around the world who are sacrificing their lives and speaking out for Jesus. Many are in prison just for believing in Jesus Christ.
Pastor Wayne preached a message last week that it was through persecution and suffering that the church grew. It was after Stephen was stoned and martyred for his faith that the church scattered and the gospel spread. What will it take for the gospel to spread in our world? Suffering is part of the Christian life and no one is exempt. Like Joshua, we are uncertain about the world we are a part of. The one thing God has promised is that He will never leave us and He will be with us wherever we go. We can be fearful of the days ahead but as a community let’s encourage one another to keep our eyes on Jesus and remember to be strong and courageous.