I am sure that all of us at one time or another have experienced failure. I don’t know about you, but I do not like to fail. I have never been a good loser. I much prefer success. In my personal life and ministry, the times failed were usually because I didn’t wholeheartedly follow the Lord’s word and directions.
In this meditation, I want to share with you one of the greatest success stories in the Bible – it has to do with the life and leadership of Joshua, the one who was called to lead the children of Israel after Moses had died. He was an understudy to Moses. I am sure he learned many lessons about life from Moses.
One of the first things I want us to see about Joshua is that he knew he was called by God to lead God’s people. In Joshua 1:6-7 we read, “Be strong and of good courage, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.”
There we have God’s formula for a successful life. We should memorize those words from God to Joshua and use them frequently to evaluate how we are doing.
Before we delve further into the life and leadership of Joshua, I want to introduce you to another time he proved to be a man of faith and integrity. God told Moses to pick one man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel to go into the land of Canaan and see what kind of land it was that He was going to give them. Joshua was one of the twelve and he was from the tribe of Ephraim.
The twelve explored the land for forty days and they found it to be a great and productive land. But there was one issue like a huge, foreboding cloud over them. There were giants in the land they would have to face and probably fight. Ten of the twelve gave a negative report based on the people they would have to confront. The children of Israel cried all night. The two men who gave a positive report were Joshua and Caleb. In Numbers 14:6-9 these two men tried to change the thinking of the multitude. “Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua, son of Nun, and Caleb, son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, ‘The land that we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the LORD is pleased with us, He will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. (Folks, God had promised them that land.) It is a rich land, flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the LORD and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the LORD is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!’”
I love the courage of Caleb and Joshua. I am sure that it was not easy for them to stand against the fear being propagated by their ten contemporaries but they did it because they remembered how God delivered them from Egypt and what He had promised them.
Folks, if you know that something is the right thing to say, then say it. If you know that something is the right thing to do, then do it. There may be those who are afraid and not willing to hear what you have to say. Our job is to affirm the truth. To do the right thing. It takes courage and it takes a living active faith. God was displeased with the unbelief of His people. As a result, they wandered in the wilderness until that entire generation died off and a new generation was raised. Only Joshua and Caleb, of that previous generation, entered the promised land.
Now let’s come back to where Joshua succeeds Moses as the leader of the children of Israel. As you follow him in life and leadership, he demonstrates confidence for several reasons:
1. Joshua knew God had called him to take the helm and lead the people into the promised land. (Joshua 1:2)
2. He believed God’s promises that He would be with them and give them great success. (Joshua 1:3-9)
3. Joshua trusted God’s plan for his life.
“You are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.” (Joshua 1:6)
4. Joshua had learned that obedience pleases God and will have God’s favor.
“Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left.” (Joshua 1:7)
5. Joshua counted on the presence of God to go with him.
“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)
In Mark Patterson’s book “All In” he tells the story of a group of missionaries, who 100 years ago were known as “one-way missionaries.” They were known for that because they bought one-way tickets to the mission field. According to the story, they didn’t pack suitcases. They packed whatever they were taking in coffins because they intended to be buried in foreign lands.
A martyr’s death never claimed Milne. Instead, he ministered in the New Hebrides for thirty-five years.
When he eventually died the tribespeople buried Milne in the coffin he had brought and they erected a tombstone with this epitaph —
“When he came, there was no light. When he died there was no darkness” WOW! Think of that.
I close with the words of Peter (1 Peter 2:9)—
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. His own special people, that you may proclaim (show forth, display) the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
My brothers and sisters in Christ — God has planned for us to be successful in our living and serving. Are you all in — or are you trying to play it safe?
He is worthy of our all,