Unlikely Heroes – Joshua (Gateway Church)

Each of us can become a hero to those around us!

At Gateway Church in Austin, we began a new series called “Unlikely Heroes.” Rick Shurtz spoke at the McNeil campus, and I spoke at the South campus. Here are some of our thoughts:

“We live in a time where we need heroes.  Where we need people who will exceed with their lives what they thought was humanly possible.

We all face circumstances, challenges, and pressures (from the outside and from within) that can keep us from stepping into the future God has for us.

I’m increasingly convinced that the unlikely heroes are the ones who find ways to lead significant lives in the midst of their struggles not once they’ve overcome their struggles.

Joshua got that. He saw the very same things that others saw, but he responded differently.

Sent as a spy into the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb saw the opportunity and understood God was with them. The other spies and the people of Israel just saw the problems.

Numbers 13:26-28a reads:

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But…’

If there’s anything that can get in the way of us really getting after what it is we must get after, it’s that great big but at the end of the sentence.

The big but factor is the but we put directly after the vision, the hope, the dream, the calling.

Numbers 13:27-28: ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But…the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.’

The situation goes from bad to worse, because fear is contagious.  Not only did that group of spies melt with fear because of the Anakites, but now their fear was transferred to the greater population who actually wanted to get rid of their leaders and go back to Egypt (Number 14:2-4).

Joshua and Caleb saw the very same problems the others saw, but came to very different conclusions (Numbers 14:6-9). They realized this was not about human ability against human ability.  This was about Divine ability against Human ability.

As a result, God did not force His will on the people of Israel. They did not enter the Promised Land until all had died (except Joshua and Caleb).

Forty years later, Joshua replaces Moses as the leader of the people, and he leads his people into the Promised Land.  Multiple times, throughout the book of Joshua, these words are given to him: ‘be strong and courageous!’Why? Like us, Joshua needed to be reminded that God was with Him.

‘Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the absence of self.’ – Erwin McManus We can make courageous decisions and take courageous action when we care more about the person needing help than we care for ourselves.

Ironically, 45 years after spying on the land, the Anakites are still there, but Caleb (age 85) is ready to take them on and inherit the land as promised. Sometimes we may think running from our problems will help us, but the problems are still there until we face them with the strength and courage God provides.

What does God want you to do? What is keeping you from doing it?

Be strong and courageous!”

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