“‘Yet now be strong, oh, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, oh Joshua, son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord. ‘Work, for I am with you,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ‘According to the covenant that I made with you when you came up out of Egypt, my spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.'”
Wow. I love these verses. I hear Zerubbabel and Joshua and all the people working to rebuild the temple and experiencing all kinds of challenges and discouragement in the work that God had called them to do. And God just speaks directly and clearly to them. He says, “Be strong. Be strong. Be strong.” He says it three times. “Zerubbabel, be strong. Joshua, be strong. All you people of the land, be strong.” He says, “Work. Keep at what I have called you to do. For you’re not alone in it. I am with you,” declares the Lord of hosts, the Lord of armies, heavenly armies.
Rather than being afraid, we should be strong in the Lord.
He is with you and he will keep his promises to you. And his spirit is in your midst. The spirit of God is in your midst. All the more so, New Testament, all who’ve trusted in Jesus, the spirit is in us and God says, “Fear not,” at the end of verse five. “Do not be afraid. Be strong.” Is this not the chorus that resounds over and over and over again in God’s word as he speaks to his people when they are facing challenges and discouragement? He says over and over again, “Be strong, be courageous.” You should think about Joshua, chapter one, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear.” He says it to his people over and over and over again all throughout the prophets. Even the great commission that Jesus gives us at the very end, what does he say? “I will be with you always. You’ll never be alone in this. When you go make disciples of all nations and it’s not easy, and you’re threatened down to your very life, I will be with you. My spirit will be in your midst. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”
I just want to encourage you today in whatever work you are doing that God has called you to do, according to his word, not something you’re making up but that his word and his Spirit has led you to do. Be strong, be strong, be strong. Do not fear when you face challenges. Do not fear when you face discouragement. Be courageous. Why? Because God is with you, and therefore you have no reason to be afraid or discouraged. So, God, I pray this over discouraged brothers and sisters right now. I won’t presume to know what level of discouragement, what pictures of discouragement are represented right now. But you know every picture of discouragement and challenge that your people are facing right now as we pray this. And I just pray for your strength. I pray that they would be strong in the strength of your might, God, in their weakness, that they would know you are with them and you are strong.
God, I pray that you would deliver them from fear. We praise you, oh God. You did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and of love and a sound mind. God, I pray that your spirit would remove all fear, that your love would remove, cast out fear and that your people today would be strong in you, that they might do the work you’ve called them to do, all of us to do, according to your word. God, help us to obey you today. Help us to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Help us to love other people as ourselves. Help us to lay down our lives to serve other people. Help us to bless even those who insult or do harm to us. God, help us to care for every single person around us. Help us to point people to Jesus. Help us to share the Gospel. Help us to be strong and courageous in proclaiming your grace and your love.
God, we pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for their faith, who are at the end of their rope. God, we pray that you would help them to be strong, to work, to press on knowing you are with them. God, we praise you for this promise that you give to your people. God, we praise you for the way you speak like this, to us as your people, for the strength you give us, for the courage we find, not in ourselves, but in you, for your presence with us, for your deliverance from all fear. All glory be to your name, our God. You are our strength, and we find all of our refuge, all of help in you. Help us today to work, by your strength in us, your spirit in us, for your glory through us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Throughout the fall, we are following the McLean Bible Church Reading Plan. You can access the reading plan here.