Through long years of preparation and finally a burning-bush experience, God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. We read in Deuteronomy 34 that at the conclusion of Moses’ life, God had finished preparing Joshua, Moses’ greatest general, to become the leader of Israel. Joshua had been faithful to God and to Moses’ leadership, and in Deuteronomy 34 and Joshua 1, we see the beginning of a new chapter (or could we say calendar?) in the history of Israel.
For 40 years Moses had led the Children of Israel. He led them through the plagues of Egypt. He led them to safety at the first Passover. He led them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. He led them to water in the desert, to food of manna and quail. He led them to Mt. Sinai and to the law of God. For 40 years he did his best to lead his flock according to God’s will. And now Moses’ time on earth was complete. For the children of Israel, Moses’ death would mark an end of an era and signify a new beginning with a new leader. Like Israel, we stand at the brink of a new beginning, a new year, 2008.
Moses died and was buried. Now God was ready for Joshua to lead the children of Israel to fulfill the covenant He had made with Abraham decades earlier: bringing the Israelites to a land of their own. He intended for them to have countless descendants and a future in which the whole world would be blessed. God promised Joshua success: And in this section of Scripture, God tells him how to obtain success.
Some people might define success as “a favorable course of termination of anything attempted; the gaining of position, wealth, fame, etc.” However, for the Christian, success means being obedient to God’s will. (Christian definitions and world definitions differ.) We all want to enjoy success in 2008. As we prepare for a happy new year, let us look closely at five principles for success contained in the first chapter of Joshua.
1. UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF GOD. Moses had been Israel’s faithful leader. He had been a good steward of the task God had given him. Now God tells Joshua exactly what to do: “You and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give them” (verses 1, 2). Joshua did not argue with God as Moses had done 40 years earlier, nor did the thousands of Jews that he was to lead. Forty years in the desert had taught the Israelites to obey God. God said, “Joshua is the boss. Now let’s go.” Joshua knew God’s purpose for his life.
What does God want for you in the new year? What has He done in your life in 2007 to prepare you for 2008? What does He want for our church? The songwriter wrote, “Where He leads me I will follow . . . I’ll go with Him all the way.”
2. HAVE FAITH IN GOD’S PROMISES. Look at verses 2, 3, and 4 to see how God tells Israel and Joshua exactly what He is going to give them. A map. A global positioning system. Today some countries refuse to acknowledge God’s promise of the land God had pledged. They threaten, bargain, fight, and die in trying to destroy Israel. But God keeps His promises.
We are taught that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” As we prepare for 2008, how is your faith?
3. BE ASSURED OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD. God promised Joshua, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (verse 5). Jesus makes the same promises to Christians today. God the Holy Spirit will live in us and move in us and give us reason for being (Acts 17:29). Remember, we are to live by faith, not by feeling. We rely on God’s Word.
You may be thinking, “But preacher, you do not know what I’ve been through. You don’t understand.” No, I don’t. But God does, and He will be with you forever. So grow in faith and get ready for 2008!
4. HAVE COURAGE AND ACCEPT GOD’S POWER. Years after Moses, Joshua, and other Bible patriarchs died, the examples they set continued to inspire others. Much of David’s courage came from being taught that God had blessed the obedience, commitment, and devotion of those who trusted Him. He knew that God could accomplish great things when His people relied completely on Him. This courage helped David kill a bear, a lion, and the giant Goliath. It helped him cope with the backslidden tirades of King Saul. It helped David to be a good king and to seek forgiveness when he sinned. David needed this courage when his infant died and when his grown son Absalom turned against him and tried to kill him.
Before Joshua became the leader of Israel, he and Caleb served as spies, along with 10 other men. But only Joshua and Caleb had faith to believe that God could fulfill His promise; the other spies were afraid of the giants in the Promised Land. What giants are you anticipating in 2008? The God who was faithful to Joshua will be faithful to you in 2008. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (verse 9).
5. PAY ATTENTION AND DO EXACTLY WHAT GOD COMMANDS. “Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (verse 7). In 1 John, we are reminded that if we walk in the light, we will have fellowship with Jesus, and our sins will be cleansed. Do you remember this chorus, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus; but to trust and obey”? To be happy, we must walk with the Lord, not behind or ahead of Him; not to His right or left, but in the narrow way that leads to life. Most of our world is traveling the broad way that leads to destruction. We must live lives of holiness and carefully walk the highway of holiness. We must worship and respect God enough to pay exact attention to His plans.
In verses 16-17, we read that Joshua gave God’s message to Israel. They submitted to the will of God by following Joshua’s leadership. Joshua and his people were successful. God gave them the Promised Land. To prosper and to have success in 2008, we must submit our wills and surrender our all to God. God wants total commitment. When we give Him that, He will fill us with His Spirit (see Deuteronomy 33:9), and we will have joy as He gives us success and prosperity. I want to do God’s will in 2008. What about you?
General Conference Ministerial Association