“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This message focuses on the second part of God's promise to Joshua and what he had to do to lead the people into the blessing God had for them. God had already promised Joshua His support, strength and guidance, and promised never to leave him. But Joshua had to do his part as well. In this dynamic relationship we enjoy with the Living Lord of the universe, our spiritual growth and success depends on how we allow ourselves to yield to God's hand upon our lives, and how much we trust Him. As we respond to the opportunities and guidance He gives us through His Spirit, we see a multiplication of His presence and His blessing in everything we do. The only way to true fulfilment is to take the hand God gives us and walk in partnership with Him. A successful relationship is always a two way street!
This is what God promised Joshua about his life and calling to leadership:
a) Joshua was to lead the people into ownership of the promised land. We all need the encouragement, motivation and guidance of people God has placed in our lives in order to walk into the fullness of our calling, and see God's promises fulfilled. God had already 'sworn' to give the people this land. However, while God had given His unbreakable, unshakeable word, which will never return void, the people were to see it come to pass through the leadership of Joshua. This is why the ministry of mentors and pastors is so much a part of God's plan for the members of His Body. Our walk with God is always a walk of oneness with others.
b) He would be successful wherever he went. This is the divine favor of God which opens closed doors, and makes the rough ways smooth. Our Christian walk does not always have to be fraught with thorns, hindrances and barriers on every side. When we walk in God's favor, He causes people to want to help us; He brings forth the harvest. He shuts the mouth of the enemy. He makes the impossible possible!
c) He would be prosperous. The New King James version of the Bible says "then you will make your way prosperous", which shows us that God was telling Joshua it was all up to him. Our personal prosperity (of body, spirit, soul and substance) is in our hands. God has already decreed that his children shall succeed and prosper. He has already ordained that we are the head and not the tail. It is up to each individual to take God's Word, believe it, stand on it and and walk into the blessing He has for them.
d) God would be with him wherever he went. Joshua faced some big battles in the years he served as the leader of the nation, but I believe this word from the Lord always remained with him. He knew there was no way God would leave him alone and helpless. This year may hold some challenging times for us all, but remember that El Shaddai the Almighty One is with you and will be with you wherever you go! He will never leave you or forsake you.
These promises apply to all the children of God, who, like Joshua have decided to be disciples and servants of the Lord and live in His appointed blessing. However, there are some conditions which were placed on Joshua and also on us.
1) Be strong and courageous. This is a command. It is so important to God that He said it to Joshua three times in this short conversation. Strength and courage are not something we can create within ourselves. Boldness is not something we can train our minds or bodies towards. We know from 2 Corinthians 12:9 that God said to Paul that His strength can truly be seen in power in the midst of our weakness. This means that the greater our need, the greater the power and strength of God supplied! His grace is amply sufficient for us. So what was God saying to Joshua? Simply that in order to succeed, he had to lean on the strength of God. It is an act of our will. It is a decision we make to stand on God's strength. We decide to draw courage from Him. We actively purpose to lean into Him and not upon our own finite and failing strength. How strong and courageous we can be when we draw courage and strength from the Infinite, Omnipotent One! We surrender ourselves to the limitless potential of God Himself. Then you truly know that you can achieve anything! You can leap over mountains believing what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13: "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength". I know I can only live each day in victory by depending on the blessed Holy Spirit and receiving His enabling and strength according to each specific situation before me. It is He who gives us boldness even to witness. God was really telling Joshua to lean on Him; to take strength from Him; to leave it all to Him. He had to move ahead, not with faith in himself or his leadership skills and battle strategies; he had to step forward with his faith in God and God alone.
2) Be careful to obey. God was giving Joshua the secret to success! If he stuck to the Word and obeyed it without any compromise, then he was being assured of success in everything he did. This is not an easy thing to do, and that is why God was telling Joshua to be careful to obey. He had to purpose not to move to the right or the left of what God commanded - there was no room for compromise. Many believers today seek success in their lives, but they have wandered away from some of the basics of God's Word in terms of personal holiness, finances etc. Today we can purpose to live this year for God, abiding in His Word and obeying it no matter what.
3) Live in the Word. It is not possible to obey the Word of God if we hardly read it. Many Christians only hear/read the Word of God once a week. God said to Joshua "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. God was telling Joshua to live and breathe and think about His Word. The level of adherence to the Word which God required of Joshua was only possible if it was on his mind all the time. This year I encourage you to do what God wants you to do - begin to live in the Word. Read it, listen to it, think about it, sing it and speak it to others! Then there is no way we can go wrong! Smith Wigglesworth never let 30 minutes go by without going back to the Word of God and many believe that this was the secret to the powerful anointing upon his life.
4) Do not fear or be discouraged. Almost all people have to deal with fear and discouragement in some way or the other. They are faith destroying spirits the devil uses to stop us believing God and receiving His blessing. Joshua could only receive the promised land by stepping forward in faith. If he looked at the reality of conditions in the land, he would have given in to fear and never walked into the blessing God had for him and his people. There were different people groups already resident in Canaan, and many of them were bigger and stronger than the Israelites, with iron chariots and better weapons (Numbers 13: 31-33, Joshua 16:16). Joshua already knew how paralysed his people could get if they gave in to fear and panicked (Numbers 13). He also knew that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). God was telling him to consciously work against every spirit of fear and every sense of discouragement that came against him. We need to recognise thoughts of fear and anxiety, and shoot them down before they take root in our minds and take over our hearts. Know that words of discouragement are not from the Lord and refuse to accept them into your heart. Actively keep your faith alive by remembering the goodness of the Lord and feeding on the Word. When you abide in the Word of God in the way God asked Joshua to, there will be no way fear can come in. You will always be filled with the positive power God's Word brings and you will have the discernment to recognise the source of thoughts and words and cast them down. Above all, God had promised that He would be with Joshua wherever he went, and how can we fear when the Lord is near! Hallelujah!
Friend, receive God's Word today, and know that this year He is equipping you to walk in and conquer the land. The giants that seemed so huge to you are defeated foes. Shoot down fear and let yourself believe. God is giving you what you thought was a distant dream, and He will empower you to lead others into their place of blessing too! Be careful to do everything God has commanded you, and receive strength and courage from His Word. Then you will be prosperous and successful! He loves you and has awesome plans for you!