Be Strong

June 15, 2014   Joshua 1   Be Strong 


   In the previous chapter Deuteronomy 34 we see that Moses has passed away and that before Moses passes away that he lays hands on Joshua and Joshua is filled with wisdom.  Joshua is going to need wisdom. Can you imagine how Joshua feels at this point?   He has the job of leading probably 0ver 2 million people out of the desert and into the Promised Land.  The first obstacle is the Jordan River.  It is harvest time and the river is flooded.   I think Joshua had a lot on his plate like many of us do today.   There are a lot of unknowns that he has to face.  Joshua 3:4 says you have never been this way before.  Every day is new and has its challenges.  Day by day we face things that we have not faced before. 

    Joshua you remember was one of the spies that went into the land some 40 years earlier.   He had already spied out the land.  He saw and he knew about the giants in the land.   He saw the walled cities and he knew it was impossible for them to take the land from the people who lived there in their own strength.   Joshua had also seen the rebellion of the people against God and against Moses.  He saw the times when they wanted to kill Moses and the times they wanted to go back to Egypt the land of slavery.   Joshua had a lot of things to think about and Joshua needed a lot of encouragement.  I think he probably felt a little over whelmed with what was in front of him.  I suspect that he had a few nights that sleep did not come easily.   Filling Moses shoes was a big job and not anything to be taken lightly.  

     Joshua instantly becomes a target of Satan.   Good is usually opposed by evil.  There is not great victory without a great battle.  God gives Joshua some great promises but Joshua still does not know exactly how tomorrow is going to play out.  There will be challenges, obstacles and battles to fight and win.  It is a big task for Joshua and so God encourages him.   Joshua does not have all the resources that we have today.  Have you ever felt like you did not have the tools that you needed to do what you were facing?   What kind of resources did Joshua have?  Did he have a big supportive staff?    Our governor Maggie has several thousand sate employees.  There is the state police, and National Guard, there is health and welfare depts. And legal help and she has lots of staff.  What did Joshua have?   He had a couple of million people who had come out of slavery just 40 years ago. .  He had a bunch of grumbling people who have lived in the desert for the last 40 years.   They lived on manna and a rock that followed them around which gave them water.  I think Joshua had a pretty good handle on the task before him and it had its moments.   He had his fears to fight and discouragement to deal with. 

    Joshua had 2 million people who were looking to him for leadership and direction.  Some of us have supervised people either now or in the past.    What kind of a task would it be to lead a couple of million people with almost nothing for resources?   Fathers have you ever felt that way before?   I had a former pastor who said his dad was not a good example and he did not know how to raise his children.  Raising children is a lot to deal with.   That is a lot to think about.   That is a lot of responsibility.    For Joshua these people were going to be going into battle.   They really could not go back to Egypt and the only way was ahead.   They had their fears and doubts and Joshua needed to be strong for them even in his own weakness.   Moses was out of the picture.    It is up to Joshua.  There is really no man above Joshua to give help, support and direction.  It takes a lot to lead hundreds of thousands of people.  

    The things that Joshua had to face could bring a lot of fear into his life.  God says do not be terrified.  Do not let fear rule in your life.   Have you ever been just about totally paralyzed by fear?   Think about a split second before an accident or when the car is sliding out of control.  Fear can come upon us when we face the unknown.  It can cause us to be totally silent and not speak.  I read that during his years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Kruschev denounced many of the policies and atrocities of Joseph Stalin.    In the midst of his speech a heckler shouted "You were one of his colleagues why didn’t you stop him?"   Kruschev screamed, "Who said that?" There was a deathly silence as nobody in the room dared moved a muscle.   Then Kruschev said, "Now you know why?"

    I suspect that many of us have had things to face that were tough.   I think there have been those times when the weight of life and family were heavy upon us.  The weight of paying the bills and health issues and family needs were in our thoughts.  I know that fathers labor with correctly loving and yet discipline their children.   It is a tough haul at times.  I have been there.   Raising those children when they are teenagers is tough especially in this environment.     The times when as parents and leaders that we knew that others were looking to us for leadership and direction and some of those times we really did not know the answers.   Joshua did not know how he would get a couple million or more people over the flooded Jordan.   Joshua did not know how Jericho was going to fall.  Nor did he know what was going to happen after that battle was won.  Joshua needed direction day by day.   Joshua sought the Lord and needed to hear the Lord’s voice just like we need to today.   Lord what is the answer and what do I need to do?      That morning quiet time when we read and pray and ask God to guide and lead us is so important.  

      The story is told of a father who needed to make some changes.   It was a cold winter night as a father walked to the local bar yet again. It was Friday night and he had just cashed in his paycheck. The money burned in his pocket, and as he did every single week, he was about to drink it away.   In this insane and incomprehensible moment, everything else vanished.    He was unable to think of the money he would need to feed his children, and pay the rent and heating bills. The promises he had made to his wife, over and over, disappeared each time, choked by the blinding habit and the all-encompassing thirst to forget that which both disgusted and enslaved him.    This man hated himself, but the voices inside always won: “It's my business; I am not hurting anybody; it's my choice; it's only a few drinks.”    Suddenly, he heard a rustling sound in the silence of the cold night—the sound of soft steps in the snow.    He turned around and what he saw hit him like an iron fist in the gut, taking his breath away.    His son was following him and making his best effort, giving it his all, trying to put his little feet, step by step, in the imprints his daddy had left in the snow.   He was walking in his dad’s footsteps.   That is quite a thought that others are following you.  You do make a difference.   Others are watching and looking to you for direction and help.   I know that I have not always been the example I should be as a husband, father and church leader.  Thank God there have been many victories because of God’s grace.    As Christians we know that God is at work even when we are not and that God can us our mistakes for good.  

      Things look pretty difficult for Joshua.  We could spend a lot of time thinking about all that was agonist Joshua.   He had 1 resource though that made all the difference in the world.   He was on God’s side.  He was committed to God.   He was a servant of God.  God had given him what he needed to be successful in this chapter.   He had God’s promises.  What are the promises that God gave to him in this chapter?   

         God told him this will happen.  God told him every place you walk I am giving the land to you.  God told him as I was with Moses so I will be with you.  No one will be able to beat you or stand against you.   Those are pretty powerful promises to have from God.   If you meditate on the law and obey the law you will prosper in everything that you do.  That is a great promise for us today.  Yes there will be trying times but you will be successful.  

      What kind of resources has God given to us today to make us successful?   Well God has given us his word and his promises.  God has given us something else in a different way than what Joshua had and that is the Holy Spirit.   I think that sometimes we need to be careful to think about what we do have verses what we do not have.  Sometimes we get caught up with the impossible situation that we face and neglect thinking about God who delights in solving impossible situations.  Joshua had God’s promises and God’s presence.   He had a big task but as he walked with the mighty only God he moved the Children of Israel from the desert into the Promised Land.   All obstacles were overcome one by one.    The peoples were defeated one by one and day by day.  God kept his promises.  God was faithful.  God blessed them.     Parents I hope there was a word of encouragement today for you.   We pray and labor and God in his grace moves and works and God blesses.  God pours out his grace.   Be bold be strong the Lord your God is with you!!