Following the death of Moses, God spoke to Joshua and gave instructions concerning leading the children of Israel into the promised land.  Four times in the first chapter and many times thereafter, Joshua and the people are told to, “Be strong and of good courage.”  Strength and courage were qualities that were essential if they were to defeat the enemy and take the land.
Today is no different.  God still seeks men of strength and courage to direct His church.  Our adversary, the devil, still walks about, seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8).  We are not ignorant of his devices (II Cor. 2:11).  If the church is to grow and be the force in the world she ought to be, we must have men who are willing to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).  We must have men who, like Paul, are “set for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:17).  Knowing that the gospel is God’s power to save, Paul never failed to proclaim the whole counsel of God.
Preaching the gospel is not always an easy or pleasant task.  At times a man’s own family will oppose him (Matt. 10:36); friends will turn against him.  It takes a man with a strong “backbone” to stay balanced.  Preachers are sometimes victims of harsh and unjust criticism, character attacks and hypocritical judgments.  Even though everybody seems to “know” just how the preacher should preach, we march under the direct orders of Jesus. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Tim. 4:2).  Brethren, we must not let up for one moment!  Satan loves to sit and watch as we try to find ways to make the gospel more popular, and as we seek ways to take the sting out of the truth.
The Lord, like the advertisement for the Marines, is still “looking for a few good men;” men of courage; men of strength – strong moral strength; men who will draw the “sword of the Spirit” and never put it back!  Sad to say, some have deserted the army of the Lord and have gone over to the “other side.”  Some do not have the moral courage of convictions that it takes to be a preacher of God’s word.  Some would rather “switch than fight” and have done so in alarming numbers!  Preachers who in by-gone days stood solidly on the Rock and boldly proclaimed jesus Christ and Him crucified found that to be unpopular.  Thus, they have softened their position.
In Joshua’s day, there were the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and the Jebusites to contend with.  As long as they were strong and courageous and followed God’s commands, they were victorious.  How easily they defeated the mighty walled city of Jericho.  But due to sin, they were defeated at Ai.  The Bible informs us: “Wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water” (Joshua 6:5).  What caused the people of Israel to change from a group of strong, courageous men to a group whose heart melted and became as water?  Sin!  What is responsible for some of our mighty men of valor changing to a watered-down version of the Gospel?  Sin!  Our enemies today may have different names from those of Joshua’s day, but we still need the same type of courage, strength, and dedication to doing the will of the Lord that they needed to be successful.  Instead of the Canaanites, Hittites, etc., we face instrumental music advocates, marriage-divorce position, women’s role in the church, denominationalism, lukewarmness, anti-ism, liberalism, modernism, etc.  We must with courageous convictions continue to use the sword of the Spirit against Satan and all of his ministers who have transformed themselves into ministers of righteousness (II Cor. 11:13-15).
Preacher, is that a strong backbone I see or is it a yellow streak???
-Paul Wilmoth