Every person wants to be successful. We often measure our worth on how successful we are. How we measure that success is often based on a worldly standard rather than a godly standard. Success by the world’s standard often means luxury, wealth and possessions, achievements, fame, beauty and brawn.
If we measure our lives by the world’s standards, we will have an inaccurate and incomplete view of whether or not we’re successful. God’s standard of success is nothing like the world’s standard.
God’s formula for success works for every person in every situation, whether at school, at work, with our families, or in our churches. The pathway to success cannot be traveled by anyone who does not practice God’s formula for success. These principles are found in Joshua 1:6-9.
I. BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS (VERSES 6, 7, 9)
Notice the number of times God brings this command before Joshua (vs. 6, 7, 9).
What is courage? Courage has several synonyms: bravery, valor, fearlessness, heroism, confidence, nerve.
There’s one very important thing we need to notice about courage. You will never witness courage in someone who is at ease. Courage is seen in the person whose back is against the wall, when the odds are against them, when the pressure is on, when the flaming arrows are close, when the pain is intense, when the attack is at hand.
We see courage in David when he walks into the Valley of Elah with his sling to take his stand against Goliath. We see courage when Moses stands eye to eye with Pharaoh. We see it in Elijah when he challenges the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Courage can only be seen in the midst of conflict and struggle.
Why did God tell Joshua that he needed to be courageous? What was Joshua going to face that was so difficult that he would need to be courageous? Besides being the leader of the nation of Israel, God had given Joshua a project to complete. His first task was to lead his army into Canaan and drive out the people who lived there.
Sounds like an easy job, but remember, 40 years earlier Moses had sent 12 spies into the land of Canaan. They came back with stories of giants who made them look like grasshoppers. When the people heard this, they became afraid and refused to enter the land.
There were seven nations living in Canaan, all of them larger and stronger than Israel. By human standards, Joshua was facing an uphill battle. He had every reason to turn and run. That’s why God encouraged him so many times: Be strong and courageous.
Do you ever feel like you’re facing an uphill battle? Do you feel like the odds are against you? There may be hundreds of times in our lives when we’re faced with situations that, to us, seem impossible! There are outward circumstances such as illness and disabilities, broken relationships, financial hardships, the loss of a job, etc. There are many times in our lives when we need to hear God’s command to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous.” But there is an addendum that will make it complete: “For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Real success is not a matter of strength and courage alone, but strength and courage that comes from the knowledge that God is walking with us.
II. OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S COMMANDS (VERSE 7)
Notice how the Lord delivers this to Joshua: “Be careful to obey all the law . . .”
It would be convenient if we could pick and choose which of God’s principles and laws we could follow and which we found to be too demanding and too harsh.
The law that Joshua was given was very detailed, and God expected him to learn it, meditate on it, and apply it. We are not under that same law today, but we live by the same principles.
Jesus said that there are two commands that are most important: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Paul called love the fulfillment of the law; James called it the royal law. Whatever you call it, God’s formula for success wouldn’t be complete without it.
III. SATURATION IN GOD’S WORD (VERSE 8)
We make mistakes when we don’t read the instruction manual. That same principle holds true when it comes to the Christian walk. Many of our mistakes could have been avoided if we had saturated ourselves in God’s Word.
When we try to live without consulting God’s Word, it’s a deliberate, voluntary ignorance. But that ignorance will not stop us from suffering the consequences of being stupid. The wisdom we need is available. It’s not just about reading His Word; it’s about meditating on it and letting God’s word saturate our spirit.
God’s formula for success works, but there are no shortcuts. It requires us to be strong and courageous. It calls us to be obedient to His commands. It calls us to saturate our spirit with His Word.
General Conference Ministerial Association