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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Courage to Do Hard Things

Growing up, my best friend was Jamey Creech. His house was right behind ours.  Jamey’s dad Bill led a group for boys at our church called R.A’s. An older man helped him whose name I can’t remember but he must have been at least in his 70’s. On a few occasions, this older gentlemen led our meetings when Jamey’s dad couldn’t be there. We met in the basement of our church building and we gave in to the temptation to run all over the building, taking advantage of an older man who couldn’t keep up with us. One image from that time haunts me. I ran into him on a set of steps as he was chasing us. He was sweating and frustrated and pleading with us to stop and come back to the room. I’ll never forget the look on his face. It’s a wonder we didn’t kill him. As far as I know we didn’t. The picture is from a cookout we had at Kingdom Come State Park, near my parents home in Cumberland, Kentucky. If you think we look innocent, we weren’t. 

R.A.’s stands for Royal Ambassador’s. The idea is taken from 2 Cor. 5:20a “We are ambassadors for Christ.” I do have great memories from our experiences. R.A.’s was somewhat similar to Boy Scouts, with similar projects and rewards. One memory I have is a chart on a wall that marked our progress in scripture memory. We received a star next to our name for every verse we memorized. There was some kind of reward for memorizing a certain amount but I don’t remember what that was. What I do remember was us standing in the room, with Bible’s open, looking for the shortest verses we could find and remembering them long enough to speak them to the leader so we could get a star by our name, then we promptly forgot them. That most certainly wasn’t the point of the exercise.

Joshua 1:8 says:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
The most practical way to do what this verse commands is to memorize scripture. But memorizing scripture is never an end in itself, as if it were some kind of spiritual cologne we put on to make us smell better to God. Rather, memorizing makes possible the second phrase, meditating on what God says day and night, which leads to being careful to do God says, which leads to prosperity and success before God. When the Bible talks about prosperity and success it has little if anything to do with being financially well off. Rather, this kind of prosperity and success is to know God and know his purpose for you and to carry it out. And God’s purpose for you almost certainly will require everything you are. In other words it will be hard.

At Bethany Place this Sunday, I’ll be preaching the 2nd part of the series “Reproducing Faith” from the Old Testament book of Joshua. The message title is, “Courage to Do Hard Things” taken from Joshua 1:1-9. You can see the scripture, outline, and discussion questions by clicking here.


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