Be strong and courageous!

So today, I will not be eating a curry puff. For those who remember the last time I attempted to eat a curry puff as an illustration during the devotion, I choked; literally and metaphorically. But it was good, because it reminded me to be humble and not get puffed up. This morning, I would like to speak about courage: which is what you need to overcome the embarrassment of a devotion with the words – epic fail – written all over it.

Courage. Some years back, when my son Samuel was in kindergarten, he had a day off from school. So I took leave and brought him on a father-son outing to Universal Studios in Sentosa. And we chanced upon the Battlestar Galactica ride. We had never done it before, and since he just made the height requirement, we decided to go for it. I didn’t know there were two different rides – humans and cylons. I chose the shorter queue, which turned out to the more scary side.

After the 360s, the loop-de-loops, the corkscrew turns, what have you… we were slowing down and coming to the end of the ride… my knees were shaking and I heard a voice beside me saying, “Daddy, can we go again?” “No.” Courage. Yesterday, we heard from Jemima at chapel and I was so inspired by her courage in the Lord: how she is, literally, at the risk of her own life, bringing God’s love and hope to the war-torn nation of Congo. Courage.

Where do we find courage? Courage to overcome our fears: both internal and external. Internal has to do with self. External has to do with the environment. Internal fears… Fears of not doing well in our studies. Fears of not fitting in well in school. Fears of relational conflicts. External fears. You need only open the newspapers, or read your Facebook feed, to know that the world is scary place. Economic downturn is predicted and we are already experiencing it. Environmental changes are becoming more extreme. Wars, suffering, injustice are ever-present.

Where can we find the courage to face our fears? The simple answer is we look to God. Why? In the book of Joshua 1:9, it says this, “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” There are two attributes of God we can discover in this verse – one is implied and the other is stated; and both are needed as the basis for our courage. The first is God is sovereign (the LORD, Yahweh, the sovereign One), meaning He is in control. He’s in charge. He’s the boss. The second is God is present… the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. God is sovereign. God is present. Both attributes are crucial.

If God was only present, but not sovereign, then He could be a good friend, but He could at most say, “I’m so sorry this is happening in your life. I’m with you, but there’s really nothing I can do about it.” If God were only sovereign but not present, He might say, “I’m in charge, all things happen as I shape them, but you’re on your own to figure things out by yourself.” Not a comforting thought. But God is both sovereign and present. He created you. He formed you. He loves you. He has a plan for your life. He will be with you as you walk with Him. So place your life into the hands of God and there, in Him, you will find courage for what’s ahead.

Yesterday after chapel, as I was talking with Jemima, I discovered that she does not draw a salary for what she does. Similar to my own first job, she has to raise her own support. But she said this, “God has always provided. I don’t even need to ask people. I ask God and He has provided, even through people.”  This dear friends is our sovereign and present God.

[Let’s pray]

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