Over the years, I've paid attention to my teachers and took some mental notes regarding good ideas and things that they've done. For example, I know that a red pen automatically decreases self esteem, and so when grading things a teacher should use a different color. I know that yellow paper is better to take tests on than plain white paper, because the yellow relaxes the mind more. Chewing sugary gum stimulates brain activity and so you should always pop a piece in before taking a test. Playing classical music stimulates young minds also. Some of it may be silly, but I've tried it, and it works!
The number one thing I've noticed, however, is that when you're trying to get an important idea or concept across, you repeat it a few times. Some people say that 3 times is the best way to get things across, and so repeating a phrase or something 3 times or more is highly effective. Sometimes it can get annoying though, trust me. Senior year, my high school decided that we needed to have "daily learning objectives" in every class, and the teacher had to state them 3 times - once at the beginning of the class, once in the middle, and once at the end. No one really did it, because it was so pointless. My pre-calculus teacher wrote 3 objectives down the first day of school and never changed them, and so whenever an admin came in he would whip that paper out from his pocket and pretend that he was in the middle of teaching that. It was pretty funny. But hey, I remember those objectives because he mentioned them 3 times!
This process applies to so many other things, too. When you're talking to little kids, you repeat yourself. When you're talking to family, or friends - anyone, really. When something is important, you repeat it.
God does that, too.
In the book of Joshua, God talks to the new guy, Josh. Josh has been installed as the new leader of the Israelites, following Moses' death. He is to take the people to the promised land, but first he has to get rid of the people that are already living there. These guys are big, scary, and can easily whip the little guys of Israel. To say that they were pretty scared would be an understatement. So what does God do?
"No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:5-9God assures Josh that everything will go fine. With God on your side, how can it possibly not? God tells him how no one will be able to stand up against the Israelites for the rest of his life, because they will be feared and powerful. God isn't going to leave them. As long as they follow God, they'll be alright!
While that's all well and good, did you catch the most important part of what God was saying in those verses? No? Let's try this again, then. Look:
No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:5-9Did you catch the hint there? God told Joshua THREE TIMES just in those 4 verses that he shouldn't be afraid, but rather be strong and courageous. The very first chapter of the book of Joshua, and God is already telling him something important.
Throughout the entire book, though, God repeats this message multiple times. Even verses later, Joshua tells the people exactly what God told him - be strong and courageous! Talk about the ultimate teacher, telling his students one of the most important lessons ever.
In junior church, we used to sing a song about this verse. It went something like, "Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God is with your, wherever you go." (Put a tune to that, and you get the point.) Even at a young age, we should realize that God won't leave us, no matter what we've done, will do, or are doing currently. There's another, newer, song that says, "If our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?" I can't really say it any better than that. If God is with us through everything, then why are we afraid?
What are you afraid of? Witnessing to your friends? Standing up as a Christian in front of your family? Going head-to-head with Satan in the form of drugs, alcohol, porn, lying, or any other thing? Conquering an addiction? Taking the final step and placing your faith in God?
Whatever it is, God is there. In Ephesians 6, it tells of putting on the full armor of God - the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit. With all of that Godly "armor," could you really lose? I think not. Even if you stumble, you'll get back up again.
TobyMac said it best:
"We lose our way, we get back up again. It's never too late to get back up again. One day, you will shine again. You may be knocked down but not out forever." - TobyMac, "Get Back Up"
This is your NR challenge - what are you afraid of? Conquer the fear. Be a conqueror. God's right there with you every step of the way. He's carrying you through the good times and the bad, it's just up to you to realize you won't get dropped on your head.
Be strong and courageous.
Be strong and courageous.
Be strong and courageous.
Are you in?