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“Be of good courage and let us be strong for our people……and for Our God.  And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.”  2 Samuel 10:12

The Israelite Army is in a pickle.  Not the cucumber type but the baseball type.  That is they are in between two enemies each with the seeming ability and desire to tag them “out” that is to destroy them (to get a visual example of a “pickle”  watch this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KI4yCoIygNs).  King David and his army have already been victorious in many battles.  That made many people living next to Israel very nervous.  One of those people are the Ammonites who had abused Jewish representatives that David sent to them out of friendship.  The people of Ammon knew they could not defeat David on their own so they hired a very powerful army; the Syrians.

So the battle is about to begin and the Ammonites and the Syrians have devised a plan that is historically one of the best ways to defeat a strong enemy.  They plan to attack from two opposite sides.  The tactic causes the defending army to split their forces in two, with obviously less men, resources, reserves to use against either enemy.  So Joab, who is the commanding general of David’s Army, is required to split his forces to meet the oncoming threat.  In fact, Joab is not completely sure that his split army is up to the task.  He tells his brother, Abishai the commander of one of the split armies, if I am getting beaten you must come to me and if you’re getting beaten I will come to you.  Not necessarily the most optimistic or motivating battle speeches.  But Joab doesn’t leave it there.  He gives to his brother the quote above, reminding him that they are not an army of just a people or a king, they are an army of God.  And as such they can be of good courage.  That whatever happens; the Lord will do and what the Lord does will be good in His sight.

Dear brothers and sisters understand that we, our faith is under attack on many fronts.  There are those in the world that think we are not only completely wrong; that there is no God; but also the very fact that we exist and speak is a danger which needs be eliminated.  We are under attack by those forces who say we should not speak out.  That we may have our belief but it must be a silent one, not confronting the evil that we see all around.  We have a front even within our midst.  A front who desires to uplift humankind to the level of God, believing in the basic fundamental goodness of people not needing redemption or a savior.  These fronts (and many more) can seem overwhelming.  In our own strength, our own wisdom, our own resources we may doubt our ability to win.  Our courage may wane or falter.

So let this be our battle cry.  A cry of Love and not Hate.  A cry of longing to heal and not hurt.  Let us be of Good Courage as we meet these enemies.  For we are an army of Jesus Christ.   He is no general who leads from behind.  No Jesus Christ goes before us, has taken the wounds meant for us upon Himself.  He has promised to keep us and sustain us.  We can know that through Him, we will be victorious!

Oh by the way, back to Joab and his brother.  What was good in the Lord’s sight?  First, the bible tells us that the mighty Syrian Army fled before Joab.  When the Ammonite Army saw the the Syrians were fleeing, they also fled from in front of Abishai and were conquered.  Sounds pretty good in Joab’s sight as well.  May we find ourselves with equal “good courage” to do battle at the Lord’s side and in the Lord’s name today.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You know that Your Word, Your People are under attack today.  Your Son Jesus asked that we not be taken from the world, but that You would keep us from harm while in the world.  Make us Holy Warriors for Your Word and those who would come to You.  Let us not be an army of hate, destruction and judgement; but let us be like Your Son Jesus Christ, an army armed with Love and Righteousness.  Make us of good courage so that we will go forth to do battle and the way we do battle will bring praise and glory to Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“Those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Luke 18:39

“So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.  Then they called out to the blind man, saying to him, Be of good cheer, Rise, He is calling you.”  Mark 10:49

Polling data shows that……………., fill in the blank; this is popular, that is not.  Survey’s tells us that most people think…………..  We are constantly flooded with numbers and data about what most people think about different things.  And it would be one thing if, when those numbers were reported, they were just flatly stated.  However, that is not what happens.  Because most think this then we should bow to that thinking.  If you are not one of the 72.9785432% then your thinking is wrong.  You are either uninformed, unintelligent, uncaring or maybe just down right stupid.  We use phrases like wanting to be in the “in crowd.”  Strangely enough, we supposedly extol the virtue of doing your own thing, as long as that “thing” conforms to whatever the latest thought is.

So we have Jesus.  He is walking, traveling from one destination to another.  His initial intent is not to stop and heal anyone.  He is a man on a mission.  The people around him know that.  They know that Jesus is important and can not be stopped by trivial unimportant things or unimportant, valueless people.  A blind man, worse yet a beggar doesn’t it see it that way (no pun…well truthfully little pun intended, don’t hate me).  From somewhere the blind man has heard that this Jesus heals people and he so desperately wants to see.  So he calls out to Jesus.  The crowd reacts.  This is no time to stop Jesus.  Jesus is too important for the likes of you.  You are making a scene.  So they tell the man to be quiet.  Jesus keeps walking.  The man has a choice, maybe the crowd is right, maybe the man is not important enough, maybe Jesus can’t be bothered, maybe he should just go on being blind.  No, he says, that crowd is wrong.  And the blind beggar calls out again even louder.  Now Jesus has a choice.  He is heading somewhere.  When He started this day’s journey, the end was not at the feet of the blind beggar.  Jesus could just keep walking.  Jesus could tell the blind beggar to shut up.  Jesus stops.  He calls to the beggar; but not to be quiet but to come to Him.  And notice how quickly the wisdom and reaction of the crowd changes.  In an instant, they now say be of good cheer, way to go, it was good that you were calling out.

Jesus and his followers were, for the most part never part of the in crowd.  Most followed Him more out of curiosity, than belief.  How ironic it is that some wanted to make Him king, but so few would actually follow what He was telling them to do.  I used the phrase, for the most part, earlier because there was an exception.  During His last week on earth, when He entered into Jerusalem; Jesus was very “in” indeed.  Crowds lined streets, hung out of windows and stood on rooftops.  They shouted Hosanna in the Highest!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  Sounds very wise indeed doesn’t it?  Five days later, they would be yelling equally as loud:  “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”

The enemy, the prince of this world, will try to sway us from the Truth of Jesus Christ, using whatever means he can.  He will try to use large numbers and peer pressure of this world to convince us of our own wisdom, when we follow the crowd and our utter foolishness when we choose a different path.  Jesus warned us that narrow is the way and few are they that follow the path to Life.  Would that the crowd proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, that we are all equally sinners and need to live in true love for Him and each other, that is a crowd I could really get behind.  Alas, it seems that message comes from the very few shouting in the wilderness.  Yet be of good cheer.  There is a crowd in heaven.  A crowd who knows Our Heavenly Father, who know that they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and know of only Joy and Love.  And if I can only be a part of a few in this life or maybe even solo, that heavenly crowd is the one I want to be a part of.  Shout whatever you will crowd, I know who it is that I am going to listen to.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we are a people who long to come together.  Yet so often when we do, our own voices drown out Your Voice.  We confess we find ourselves often like Your people of old, questioning You and wanting to go where most of the crowd wants to take us.  Forgive us Dear Father.  Pour out Your Spirit and Strength, that will allow us to resist the message of the crowd and cling to Your message.  Keep us, Most Merciful Father, from being swept from You by the swift current of popular opinion.  Dear Father, be our refuge from the crowd, that in prayer and contemplation we may resist the wisdom of the crowd and keep Your Wisdom written on our hearts.  Give us the courage to call out to you, when others would tell us to be quiet.  That we might rise above the crowd on eagle’s wings of faith and love and live a life to glorify Your Name we pray.  In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

“Be strong and of good courage……And the Lord He is One who goes before you.  He will be with you, He will not leave you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.  Deuteronomy 31: 7-8

You and I, we are on a journey.  God has a plan for us but at times we may have chafed at his direction and wondered off.  In our eyes, the journey has been long and arduous.  We may or may not have seen God’s hands in our blessings along the way.  And now our promise land awaits.  In some cases we misinterpret this location as a place where we come to a terrestrial stop; our expectation may be that we have come to a place where no more effort is required.  A place where we sit back and it just all comes to us.  On the other hand, we may be in a position where we see the grandeur of the promise land that is promised to us and we are awestruck.  But we may also be struck with fear.  In an ironic mental twist, we say:  “This promise land is too hard for us to live in.  It is too good for us to be able to maintain.  We will never be able to obtain it and truly make it ours.  Leave us in the imperfection and wilderness where we feel comfortable.”

Moses is speaking to the people he has led and loved for more than forty years.  He is the prophet of the Most High God, who speaks directly to him.  God has specifically and clearly told Moses of His plan for His people and has given Moses words of encouragement to speak to his people.  They are about to cross over into a land promised to them, through their ancestors.  Moses has seen them turn away before.  But he knows, with Joshua as their leader, they are about to actually cross over.  So he pronounces those words from the Lord over them.  And those words are not just for them; they are for us on our journeys.  A promise fulfilled through the Life and Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

The triumph of our journey is going to take strength and courage.  Where does that come from?  The sure knowledge that God, Himself, goes before us.  We can have the sure knowledge that He is with us.  We should be filled with the confidence that His presence is not temporary for He will never leave or forsake us.  This world should hold nothing to bring us to fear or dismay.  What an all empowering, all encompassing promise.  What should be our response?  First to love.  To Love the Giver of the response, plus to love those to whom the promise is given; yes, that includes ourselves plus those who are on the journey with us.  Second, to go.  To enter the promise land, to receive the blessings given to us, to not settle for being our own gods of our own imperfect plan and existence, but to submit, in joy, and inter in to His promised land.  May it be that we grasp on to and hold on tightly to this promise.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we are so thankful and praise Your Most Holy Name for the promise that you have given to each of us.  Through Your Mercy, You have promised to go before us on our journeys, to be with us and never leave us.  We ask that You will pour out Your Spirit upon us, that we gain strength to move forward in you, and the courage to not fear or be dismayed.  We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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