Through long years of preparation and a burning-bush experience, God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. In Deuteronomy 34, we read that at the conclusion of Moses’ life and calling, God prepared Joshua, Moses’ greatest general, to become the leader of Israel. Joshua had been faithful to God and to Moses’ leadership; 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. He led them to Mount Sinai and the Law of God. For 40 years Moses did his best to follow God and to lead his flock according to God’s promises. And now Moses’ time on earth was complete.
Moses died and was buried. God was ready for Joshua to lead the children of Israel in the next steps of fulfilling the covenant He had made with Abraham decades earlier. God had promised the Israelites a land of their own, with descendants in numbers that could not be counted and a future in which the whole world would be blessed. God promised Joshua success, and in our texts today, God tells Joshua how to obtain success.
Success is defined as “a favorable course of termination of anything attempted; the gaining of position, wealth, fame, etc.” But for the Christian, success means being obedient to God’s will. We all want to enjoy success in 2009. As we face this new year, let us look closely at the five principles for success contained in this chapter.
I. UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF GOD
Moses had been faithful in leading Israel. He had been a good steward of the task God had given him to complete. Now God told Joshua exactly what he needed to do (verses 1, 2). Joshua did not argue with God as Moses had done 40 years earlier. The Israelites did not argue or complain either. Forty years in the desert had taught them to obey God. God said, “Joshua is in charge. Now let’s move forward.” Joshua knew God had a purpose for his life.
Where does God want you to find success in 2009? What has He done for you in 2008 to prepare you for His purpose in 2009? Can you say with the songwriter, “Where He leads me I will follow . . . I’ll go with Him all the way”?
II. HAVE FAITH IN GOD’S PROMISES
Read Joshua 1:2-4 to see how God tells Israel and Joshua exactly what He will give them. A map. A global positioning system. God keeps His promises. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” As we prepare for 2009, how is your faith?
III. 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 us as Christians. Wow! 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. As someone once said,
“God said it, I believe it, and that settles it for me.”
You may be saying, “You don’t know what I’m going through! You don’t understand.” No, I don’t. But God does, and He will be with you forever. So lean on Him and get ready for 2009!
IV. HAVE COURAGE AND ACCEPT GOD’S POWER
Years after the deaths of Moses and Joshua, much of David’s courage came from his knowledge that God had blessed the commitment and devotion of these two men and other Bible patriarchs. David knew that God could accomplish great things when His followers were totally committed to Him and relied on Him for strength. This courage helped David kill a bear, a lion, and the giant Goliath, and gave him the strength to cope with King Saul’s tirades. It helped David to be a good king, to repent quickly when he sinned, and to obey God even when his own son Absalom turned against him and tried to kill him.
More than 40 years before Joshua became Israel’s leader, he was one of 12 spies sent into Canaan. Only he and Caleb believed that God could fulfill His promise; the other spies were afraid of the giants in the Promised Land. What giants are you anticipating in 2009? The God who was faithful to Joshua will be faithful to you in 2009. “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).
V. DO EXACTLY AS GOD COMMANDS
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. Remember the words to the old hymn: “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 to the right or left but in the narrow way that leads to life. Many in this world are traveling the broad way that leads to destruction. We must stay close to God. We must live lives of holiness and walk carefully along the highway of holiness. We must worship and respect God enough to pay attention to His plans.
In verses 16 and 17, we read that Joshua delivered God’s message to Israel. The Israelites submitted to the will of God by following Joshua’s leadership. Joshua and the Israelites were successful, and God gave them the Promised Land. To prosper and have success in 2009, we must submit our wills and surrender our all to God. God wants our total commitment. When we give Him that, He will fill us with His Spirit (see Deut. 33:9), and we will have joy as He gives us success and prosperity. I want God’s best in 2009. Do you?
General Conference Ministerial Association