Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Joshua 1:6 (NKJ)
Donald Lawrence, gospel music songwriter and producer recorded a song that should resonate with believers living in the 21st century. It is entitled “Encourage Yourself”. Each verse and chorus repeats the need to continue moving forward when everything (and everyone) is pushing you back or holding you down.
Sometimes you have to encourage yourself
Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test
And no matter how you feel
Speak the word and you will be healed
Speak over yourself, encourage yourself in the Lord.
I know we typically think of encouragement as coming from outside ourselves, but it’s important to remember that we, as believers have a personal responsibility to “speak over and encourage ourselves in the Lord.” How do we do that? By speaking the truth—that which we “know” by faith. In our text, Joshua had reason to lose courage. Moses was dead and he now must lead over 2.5 million Israelites into the Promised Land. And who would be there to encourage him? The Lord and Joshua himself (Josh. 1:5).
Satan—our model for discouragement
During times of weakness, Satan will use his favorite “tools” to wreck our confidence. He will use discouragement, deception, and disappointment to thwart our efforts to move toward God and His purpose for our life (Jer. 29:11). Discouragement is by far his favorite. The base word for discourage means to deprive of or cause to lose courage (des- “away” (see dis-) + coragier, from corage “spirit”). It is Satan’s plan to lead us away from a “spirit of courage”.
It’s what “we know” that makes the difference
So what do we need to know that will help us encourage ourselves? I will define each point with selected scripture you can memorize to combat Satan’s attacks.
We need to know Who God is.
- You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
- The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)
- Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
We need to know who we are—our identity in Christ.
- The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17)
- Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)
- But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
We need to know our citizenship.
- For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
- For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. (Hebrews 13:14)
- “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)
Encouragement for believers is more than a pat on the back or a hearty “at-a-boy”. Encouragement is the discipline of building endurance and resolve for the journey God has set before us. Although encouragement often comes from our families and our “tribes” (communities), it is in those quiet moments of doubt or desperation, we need to “speak words” (God’s Word) that “heal” and can cause “giants to fall”.