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October 11, 2022

Don’t Crack Under the Stress


“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).


When hearing these words, Joshua was about to embark on one of the most significant and challenging assignments any person could ever receive. The great leader, Moses, had died, and Joshua was assuming leadership of the nation Israel. His challenge would be more than simply leading a nation governmentally, which would have been challenging enough, but Joshua would also be doing so as a general, leading them to war. He would need to walk in great levels of faith, obedience, discernment, and wisdom. He would also need to have a hearing ear, listening carefully to Yahweh’s instructions. Success or failure would depend solely on these things.


God gave him a little pep talk as these roles began. You can find this in the first chapter of Joshua, verses 1-9. Holy Spirit kept it simple: “I am now going to give Israel the land I promised Abraham; you will be the leader; I will give you victory over your enemies; be strong and courageous - don’t fear; be very careful to do everything I tell you; remember and think always about the instructions I have given you through the writings of Moses; I’ll always be with you; so, don’t dismay, allowing stress or pressure from these responsibilities to overcome you.”


When Yahweh told Joshua not to be “dismayed”, the Hebrew word used is chathath, which has the meaning of cracking or breaking. One lexicon said it would be the equivalent today of “cracking under stress.” I’m not sure how encouraging it would be to receive an assignment from God, along with the admonition, “Oh, and by the way, don’t crack under the stress!”


Of course, Holy Spirit wasn’t stating it in this manner. I believe He was, however, warning Joshua that great pressure came with this job, and stress overload was possible if he didn’t remember and obey the basics. If stress were allowed to steal his peace, discouragement and “dismay” would follow.


The biblical definition of “peace” is consistent with being told not to “crack” under stress. The Hebrew word for peace, shalom/shalem, means unbroken, whole or complete, the opposite of chathath. An untroubled mind - that which we normally think of as peace - is actually an unbroken, un-fractured mind or emotions. To the contrary, worry is when the mind is torn or divided. (Shalem actually refers to all of one’s being, not just the mind and emotions. To be shalem is to be healthy or whole - spirit, soul, and body. The King James Bible often speaks of physical health as being “whole.” John 5:6 is but one example.)


Yet another biblical word addresses this concept. Don’t be “double-minded,” James told us (James 1:8). The Greek word for double-minded is dipsuchos, which literally means “two souls.” As opposed to walking in peace - an unfractured soul - a double-minded individual is a person that has allowed his or her peace to be stolen! Trust controls part of their mind, and worry controls the other, James said this person will be unstable and unable to make a consistent stand of faith; to the contrary, they will “waver.”


There is much happening in our world today that has the potential of dividing our minds, stealing our peace, and “fracturing” our souls. This can erode our faith, cause dismay, and distract us from hearing what God says. If we yield to this, not only will it produce ineffectiveness but can also rob us of health.


This is why Holy Spirit tells us in Colossians 3:15 to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” Rule is the Greek word, brabeuo. This interesting word is taken from the athletic games of that era. Just like athletic events today, the Greeks had referees, judges, or umpires - brabeuo. We are being told by Holy Spirit to make sure the peace of God is the umpire over our souls. “Make certain you allow My peace, and only My peace, to control your mind,” God says. “This will not only keep you healthy, but it will guide you. Allow Me to make the calls regarding what you will think about, believe, and act on.”


A different form of this same word was used for the “prize” or “reward” (brabeion) given to the victor in the Greek athletic games. Paul said, “I press toward the mark so that I can win the prize” - brabeion, (Philippians 3:12-14). Let me simplify Joshua’s and Paul’s theology: God’s peace will keep us stress free and in health, guide us to victory, declare us the winner, and give us the prize!


Paul said to “let” the peace of God do this. How do we let or allow God's peace to be this umpire? One key is to realize that His peace is already inside of us. Galatians 5:22 tells us peace is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our spirits. Peace is not something we have to generate; peace is something we release. It’s not something we try to attain from without; it is something we maintain from within. When attempting to walk in peace, do not look to an outside source. Look into your heart where God has already placed His Spirit. Quieten your soul (mind and emotions), and allow your inner nature to be released. David said he had to compose and quiet his soul, like a weaned child rests against his mother (Psalm 131:2). Tell your soul to be still and allow the voice of God to be heard from within (Psalm 46:10).


Pray with me:


Father, just as Joshua did, we are embarking on an incredible campaign of possessing our inheritance - a national destiny of helping You redeem the world. The war for America‘s destiny is a war for worldwide harvest. We are not wrestling for material possessions, but for a spiritual inheritance. Our battle is not to maintain our American dream, but Your dream for America.


As we do, many giants confront us, attempting to steal our peace. Voices clamor, confusion abounds, deception fills the atmosphere, and demons harass. But we have something stronger than all of this, we have Your peace. It is beyond human understanding, and is a life-giving, healing force within us. And Your peace is in charge! The umpire! The ruler!


So we pray now for the body of Christ here and around the world, that they would allow Your peace to rise up from deep within, and be the stabilizing force they need during this season. We resist all fear, anxiety, confusion, dismay, and double-mindedness. We are strong in You, we will not waver, we will not yield, we will not lose. We pray these things in the always victorious name of Jesus, Amen.


Our decree:


We decree that we, the body of Christ, will be led, ruled, and sustained by the peace of God within us.


Many of you have sown financial gifts to the two Hurricane Relief funds we mentioned last week. Thus far, you have given a total of almost $200,000! Thank you for sharing your love and financial support with so many who need it in Florida.


If you would like to contribute, here are two pastors/churches whom I personally know and are giving 100% of the monies to those in need (no admin fees).


Victory Florida (arrow down to Hurricane Relief)

Kingdom Gate Worship Center (arrow down to Hurricane Ian Relief Fund)

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