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 had finished preparing 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 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 food: manna and quail. He led them to Mount Sinai and to the law of God. For 40 years, he did his best to follow God and lead his flock to God’s promises. For Moses, his time on earth was complete.
Right now we stand before a new year, 2013. I want you to think about how you spent 2012 and how you plan to spend this new year.
Moses led Israel for 40 years, and then he died. Now God was ready to use Joshua to lead the children of Israel to the next steps in filling the covenant that He had made with Abraham decades earlier: a land of their own, descendants in numbers that could not be counted, a future in which the whole world would be blessed. God promised success to Joshua, and in this section of Scripture, God tells him how to obtain success.
One definition of success is “a favorable course of termination of anything attempted. The gaining of position, wealth, fame, etc.” For the Christian, success means being obedient to God’s will. (The Christian’s definition and the world’s definition differ.) We all want to enjoy success in 2013. As we prepare for a new year—a happy new year—let us look closely at five principles for success contained in Joshua 1.
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 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 more than 40 years earlier, nor did the thousands of Jews that he was to lead. Forty years in the desert had taught them to obey God. God said, “Joshua is the boss. Now let’s move forward.” Joshua knew God’s purpose for his life.
In what areas does God want you to find success in 2013? What has He done for you in 2012 to prepare you for His purpose in 2013? 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.”
II. HAVE FAITH IN GOD’S PROMISES
Look at Joshua1:2-4 to see how God tells Israel and Joshua exactly what He is going to give them: a map, a global positioning system (GPS). Many people today refuse to acknowledge God’s promise of the land He had pledged, but God keeps His promises.
We are taught that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” As we begin 2013, how is your faith in God’s promises?
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 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 and not by feeling.
You may be saying, “Preacher, you don’t know what I have to go through! You don’t understand.” No, I do not, but God does, and He will be with you forever. So stay strong and let God’s presence encourage you in 2013.
IV. HAVE COURAGE AND ACCEPT GOD’S POWER AND STRENGTH
I believe that after Moses and Joshua had died, much of the courage granted to God’s leaders came from being taught that God had blessed the obedience, commitment, and devotion of these two men and other Bible patriarchs. They knew the great things that God could accomplish through total commitment to and reliance upon God for strength.
Do you remember that over 40 years before, while serving as spies with 10 other men, 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 2013? The God who was faithful to Joshua will be faithful to you in this new year. “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. 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 these song lyrics: “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 the right or left, but in the narrow way that leads to life. The majority of our world is on the broad way that leads to destruction. Some want to escape hell with the smell of its smoke on their clothes. We must live lives of holiness and carefully walk the highway of holiness. We must worship and follow God enough to pay attention to His commands.
In verses 16 and 17, we read that Joshua delivered God’s message to Israel. They submitted to God’s will by following Joshua’s leadership, and Joshua and his people were successful. God gave them the Promised Land. To prosper and have success in 2013, we must submit our all to God. God wants 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. May God bless you and give you a successful New Year!
General Conference Ministerial Association