April 14

Deuteronomy 31:23 (NIV) 23The LORD gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: "Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you."

God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous. It is repeated so many times in Scripture that I wonder if he was a fearful person. Often God chooses those who must act against their natural inclinations to show that the anointing and power is from God. Certainly he was confident in God, for he and Caleb were the only ones from the previous generation who had the faith to take on the giants.

We can take this commandment as if it were spoken to us. We, too, lead others into the Promised Land. Anyone that is on the pilgrimage and looking for their heavenly home is in someway leading others into that land. That is God's desire for us so that we can know He will be with us also.

The promise of God to be with Joshua must have given Joshua great confidence. He had seen how God had helped Moses and worked through Moses to lead the people. If God could do that through Moses who was afraid he couldn't speak well, certainly he could do it through Joshua.

And what about you? If you know God is with you as He has been with others you know of, those who have gone before you, doesn't it inspire your confidence that He will see you through also? "I myself will be with you." Could we hear a more comforting expression? It should inspire us to heed the command to be strong and courageous.

Consider: The call to strength and courage was not a request. It was a command.

April 14

Mark 5:35-36, 42 (NIV) 35While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?" 36Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe."

42Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

The town that Jesus used as a base of operations was Capernaum. The synagogue foundation can be seen today. Archeologists uncovered first century coins there. That confirms it to be the one referred to in the Gospels. The ruler or leader, Jairus, had no doubt heard Jesus speak and seen the miracles that were performed, even in his synagogue. The leaders had decided together to kill Jesus because of their envy of His large following and His exposure of the error of their traditions (Matthew 12:14). But when death comes knocking at the door of someone you love, traditions and envy are suddenly meaningless.

In desperation, Jairus went to the man he had probably shunned. Sometimes it takes near tragedy to get us to stop and reevaluate our stand. Jesus never held a grudge. He immediately agreed to go see his daughter. On the way there, men from Jairus house came to tell him the bad news. "Your daughter is dead." Jesus ignored them and told Jairus not to be afraid, but believe. When we consider what was most likely Jairus' attitude toward Jesus before this event, we can marvel at the graciousness of Christ. Most men would probably have stopped right there and said, "Ha! God dealt with your envy toward me. Repent or more tragedy will strike." But Jesus isn't like most men. He has a heart for the hurting and knows the goodness of God leads man to repentance.

He put out of the room everyone but his closest three disciples and the parents. Then He commanded her to get up. The word of Jesus is more powerful than any affliction. Many Christians today would also warn a hurting soul about the facts, "She is dead!" But please note that this encouragement Jesus gave was not the word of mere man. If Jesus says it, you can say it, and you will see it happen. Be cautious not to build hope for something that is not from Jesus' lips for a specific situation.

Remember: This is not a formula to deal with death or no one would stay dead. It is a revelation of the heart of our Savior and His power over death itself.