As 2017 quickly is coming to a close, we are beginning to have reviews and analysis from various sectors of our society. Time Magazine recently released their person of the year. News outlets will feature the highs and lows of the past year. Recently The YouVersion Bible App released their 2017 Year in Review, which revealed leading trends in Bible reading over the past year.
Among their finding of various trends, they revealed the verse of the year that was the most shared, bookmarked and highlighted by Bible App users around the world. Can you guess what it was? (Hint: It wasn’t John 3:16).
Joshua 1:9 was the most popular verse worldwide.
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
These words. spoken by the Lord to Joshua, were intended to encourage the new leader of Israel. It would take courage to assume the mantle of leadership following the death of Moses. Joshua would face the daunting task of conquering Canaan. He would face fierce opposition. Sin among his own people. Fortified cities. And the temptation to compromise. Or quit. It would take courage to carry out the divine charge entrusted to him.
Both strength and courage are required qualities to survive and thrive in this sinful world.
Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthian Christians is one that is needed today. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” (1Cor 16:13)
When the disciples fearfully faced the treacherous storm in the middle of the lake, Jesus immediately appeared to them and said, “Take courage!” (Mk. 6:50).
Following Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem and his life-threatening testimony, Luke records in Acts 23:11, “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage!” Paul’s work wasn’t finished. He would go to Rome and courageously testify of his faith in Christ. He would even impact the Praetorium guard in Ceasar’s household as he witnessed for the Lord.
In our 21st century world with its rampant ungodliness, opposition to Christianity, and ever-changing values, it also takes courage to be a Christian.
It takes courage to confess Christ and obey the gospel. I know teenagers whose parents are not Christians and have threatened them if “they get baptized at the church.” To their credit, their love for the Lord superseded the intimidation of their mother or father.
It takes courage to say, “no” when everyone else is saying “yes” to the lusts of the flesh. It takes courage “to flee fornication” (1Cor 6:19).
It takes courage to “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). To stand against doctrinal error. To stand against subtle influences to compromise. To stand against the spiritual forces of evil. It takes courage.
It takes courage to be strong when those around you are weak. When friends give in. When brethren capitulate. When family doesn’t understand. It takes courage.
It takes courage to show love when others spue hate.
It takes courage to be who you really are when so many others wear a mask.
It takes courage to start over when you’ve failed. Again.
It takes courage to be vulnerable when so many put on a facade.
It takes courage to stand for Truth when others are falling for political correctness.
It takes courage to be kind when others are antagonistic.
It takes courage to forgive when people deeply wound us with their words or deeds.
It takes courage to grow up when its easier to remain immature.
It takes courage to live by faith when so many are imprisoned by their fears.
It takes courage to keep hope alive when the situation seems hopeless.
Finally, when we don’t understand why, and it seems like all our efforts have failed, and we’re unsure of the future, it takes courage to say “Lord, your will be done.”
To be a Christian. It takes courage.
“Be strong. And courageous.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman