As my website BeaconDeacon.com approached its 20th birthday on January 7, 2016, I recall its humble beginnings.
I was snowed in my apartment in a blizzard in January 1996 when I wrote the first pages of the website at the old URL of http://users.aol.com/beakndeakn. And much has occurred since then. As I approached this milestone, I read in the book of Joshua and in chapter 1, I was reminded by a repeated phrase in verses 6, 7, 9 and 18: "Be strong and courageous."
I've said it before over the past 2 decades and I say it again: When something is repeated in Scripture, it must be very important. Granted, when something is mentioned
once in Scripture, it is very important.
Though Joshua is in the Old Testament, we can certainly apply it to our lives today. "Be strong and courageous." If you are in Christ, you have reason to be strong and courageous for
Jesus is your strength and while there are troubles here, we can take heart. Why? Because He says we can in John 16:33 (NASB) the following:
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
So often, we get that wrong. We think following Jesus means making life easier. Sometimes in some ways, it can make it harder, but it is worth it "[f]or momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:17, NASB). Be strong and courageous. Paul wrote
to do likewise in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NASB):
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
We are to be strong and courageous. Is that because God is on our side? As I read Joshua 5, I encountered another verse to ponder. The context is the
fall of Jericho in verses 13-15 (NASB):
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"
"Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"
The commander of the Lord's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
The word Neither grabbed my attention. It is actually the word not in the Hebrew. Look at the angel's response again: "Neither ... but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." He is commander of the army of the LORD. He is on the LORD's side. And look at Joshua's response. He falls face down and obeys the request of the angel. Often in conflict, neither side is on the Lord's side. Instead of pleading that the Lord be on his side, Joshua decided to be on the Lord's side. What about you? Are you on the Lord's side? Are you obeying Him?
If we focus on whether the Lord is on our side, where is our focus? On ourselves ... and that is not where our focus should be. Our focus should be on the Lord. Our prayer should be to seek out
and trust God's will, not request that He bless and support our will. Strength and courage come into this. Hebrews 4:16 (NASB) says the following:
Let us then approach Godís throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
We may not be feeling courageous, but needy, when we approach God's throne. Yet we can approach His throne confidently. We can be courageous. The word confident comes from confidelis, meaning "with faith." And the root of the word courage has its origins in the word meaning heart. Are you approaching God in your time of need with a heart of faith? You can do so in Christ! And the result is strong. James 5:16 (NASB) says the following:
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
There have been battles in the past 20 years and there will be as long as this world goes on until the return of Jesus. We need to trust Him and know the battle belongs to the Lord as
indicated in Proverbs 21:31 (NASB):
The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But victory belongs to the Lord.
Do you belong to the Lord? Do you know Him? His name is Jesus. I received Him nearly 26 years ago. Within that time, I launched The Beacon Deacon Web Site. There are many things I could share, highlight or emphasize over the past 20 years of this online ministry. However, my focus is this question: "Are you on the Lord's side?" In our culture where there is such division and dichotomy, this is a question that transcends the sides we come up with. Are you on His side? This implies my asking this question: Do you know Christ? It's a question I ask often. It gives opportunity for an affirmative answer only the Holy Spirit can confirm in the hearts of men. Is He moving in your heart to act in faith? Is He giving you courage to approach Him confidently? Jesus is the perfect sacrifice who died on the cross for mankind. He offers His righteousness as you surrender to Him. If there were another way, why would God come down as a baby and grow up to be rejected and crucified as He predicted? Jesus is the only way to God and is God. If you don't want to take my word for it, take His Word for it:
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
~ Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1 (NASB)
Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." ~ John 8:58 (NASB)
I and the Father are one. ~ John 10:30 (NASB)
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." ~ John 14:6 (NASB)
Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" ~ John 14:9 (NASB)
[L]et it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead -- by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
~ Acts 4:10-12 (NASB)
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He Is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
~ Colossians 1:13-20 (NASB)
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Timothy 2:5 (NASB)
And I say to you now, know Him and be free. Are you on the Lord's side?