(#20:2170 Devotions at the passing and interment of Bill Seutter, 1/21/20)
Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified and do not be overwhelmed, because the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
You know who the first president of the United States was, right? George Washington. Do you know who the second president was? John Adams. Who fills the shoes after someone important dies? Such people are easy to overlook because they replace someone who seemed irreplaceable. So, can you imagine the thoughts and pressure Joshua may have felt at the passing of Moses? It was up to Joshua to lead God’s people into the Promised Land. Over 2 million were looking to him for guidance and direction. I wonder what Joshua was thinking?
That’s the reason God came to Joshua here. Three times in this section He encouraged: “Be strong and courageous…Be very strong and courageous…Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged.”
How does one replace the irreplaceable? In God’s own words with strength and courage that is devoid of fear and worry. Hmm, that’s easier said than done by us, isn’t it, because in the weakness of our human flesh aren’t we prone to doubt and worry? What if Joshua wasn’t strong enough? What if he wasn’t smart enough? What if he messed up?
We are tempted to think similar things in the circumstances of our lives, I would think especially at the death of a loved one. What if we can’t do it? What if we’re not strong enough, smart enough, or good enough to carry on? What if we mess up? So often that’s the fear stated when a change in life comes to us.
Look again at what God told Joshua. He didn’t say anything about those types of fears. In fact, God did not focus Joshua on Joshua at all. He didn’t try to convince Joshua that Joshua could do this and Joshua could do that. God didn’t point Joshua to Joshua. He pointed Joshua to the Lord Jesus and His promises. How would Joshua be able to carry on? Very simply because the LORD God who delivers was with him.
And so he says to you. Bill might have been thinking of this verse for himself, but I am thinking of it in relation to you: “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” He will be with you always to the end of the world” (Mt.28:19f). Trust in the Savior. He promises to go with you and all who believe in Him, now and forever. God grant it to us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The Good Shepherd’s Tender, Loving Care
James 1:12: “Blessed is the man who endures a trial patiently, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God promised to those who love Him.”
Psalm 23:5-6: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil; and my cup runneth over. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
David’s words bring two pictures to mind. One, my sun-burned head. That won’t happen today, but it hits me every summer. I should wear a hat, or at least put on sunscreen. But I don’t always do it. How good the right lotion feels on my head at such times.
The second picture is that of how our children used to fill their glasses with milk or juice when they were young. They wouldn’t stop until the liquid ran over the top and poured down the sides. I guess they wanted as much as they could get.
Sheep didn’t have it any easier in Palestine. Briars caught their wool. The sun beat on their heads. What relief when their shepherd moved among them with a vial of oil. Can’t you imagine them nuzzling against his leg as he gently spread the soothing ointment on their heads.
Like the sun’s hot rays, life’s troubles beat down on us, searing our faith, sapping our strength, causing such challenges. Bill had his share of them. I think that is why he chose that first text (repeat). We need the Good Shepherd’s tender, loving care… And then some.
The Psalmist reminds us that the Savior fills the glass of the believer who looks to Jesus for forgiveness and life – even in the midst of earthly problems – the Good Shepherd fills the glass not half empty as the pessimist sees it; not half full as the optimist sees it; but “my cup runneth over” as the Christian sees it. Bill saw it that way too.
The Good Shepherd, who lived and died for our sin and rose again to give us life, He fills our lives with His blessings right up to the top and over it. So that in the end we say, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.“ God grant that to us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.