Take the Lead: Prepared to Obey?

“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.’ ” (Joshua 1:1-2)

This week, we’re going to read about Joshua and talk about what it means to be a leader. It’s hard to imagine a more intimidating job than his. How do you “take over” for Moses? God handpicked Moses to lead His people out of captivity in Egypt. God showed Himself to Moses and delivered to him the Ten Commandments and the Law. God inspired Moses to write the first five books of the Bible. Moses had been the top guy in Israel for 40 years!

boat_350If I’d been Joshua — about to lead Israel into the Promised Land after Moses’ death — I would have been scared. For 40 years, the people of Israel had been waiting for this very day. And now their leader Moses was gone. How was Joshua going to pull this off?

God’s first words to him: “Get ready to go.” Joshua is about to learn that even when God is the one taking care of everything, good leaders must prepare to do what God tells us. We can’t just wait for all the details to fall into place on their own. Part of obeying God is getting ourselves (and those under our influence) ready to obey God.

Think: How do you prepare to obey God’s instructions to you? What do you do to get yourself ready to honor your parents or love your neighbor, to remain sexually pure, to keep yourself from telling lies? Is anyone following your example?

Pray: Ask God for new insight from Joshua’s life about how you can get yourself ready to obey whatever He asks you to do.

Do: Make a short list of a few people in your life under your influence, anyone who might follow your example one way or another.

Take the Lead: Titanium Promises

“I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west.” (Joshua 1:3-4)

Sometimes God gives us impossible missions. That is, He gives us missions that would be impossible to complete on our own. God doesn’t scour to the earth to find the most capable people and give them the toughest jobs. Instead, he takes the people most ready to trust Him and He does the impossible through them.

boat_350To reassure Joshua — a man with the impossible mission of leading a single nation into a hostile territory to conquer and occupy it — God personally gave Joshua the promises He’d previously given to Moses and Israel. And when God gives a promise, it’s an absolute guarantee. All that’s left is to believe it and take the next step.

Your impossible mission as a Christian is to live on earth in the power of God — and to escape “the corruption of the world caused by evil desires.” How? Peter said we can accomplish this because God has also given us “his very great and precious promises.” With God’s personal guarantee of success, what can’t you accomplish for Him?

Think: Do you tend to think of promises as “maybe’s” or “definitely’s”? How often do people keep their promises to you? How often does God?

Pray: Ask God for the courage to take Him at His Word; ask Him to help you believe His promises this week.

Do: Make a short list of five of God’s promises to you in the Bible. (There are lots to choose from.)

Take the Lead: Never Never Never Leave

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)

In today’s passage, God hands over to Joshua the key promise behind Moses’ confidence as a leader and as a person. Over the course of his life, Moses had learned to believe this promise, and it gave him the courage to make hard choices, to do amazing things, and lead people under his influence.

boat_350The promise is simple: “I will be with you; I will never leave you.” We think of being an adult or a leader in just the opposite way. We grow up and away from our parents and teachers to lead our own lives, to be independent, to take care of ourselves, not to NEED anyone.

But that’s a lie. Real leadership, real maturity, is all about needing God more than anyone else. It’s about relying on God as the source of all of our strength and wisdom and courage. Moses knew and Joshua learned that leadership isn’t about the person in the top position; it’s about the God who supplies that person with everything he or she needs.

Think: God has promised all of His children, “Never will I leave you.” What does that promise mean to you? Does it help you to be any more confident or courageous in your everyday life?

Pray: Thank God for His promise to never leave or forsake you. Ask Him to help you to need Him more.

Do: Read Matthew 28:19-20 and notice the very last sentence of Matthew’s story of Jesus on Earth.

Take the Lead: Get Gnarly

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” (Joshua 1:6)

I was watching a motocross event the other day. One rider’s coach held up a sign when his guy came around a turn. It said, “Get gnarly!” He wanted the rider to cowboy up, to get his game face on, to dig deep. Use whatever sports lingo you want. He wasn’t urging better technique or clear thinking or even more speed. He wanted to see some toughness.

boat_350Three times in one paragraph, God tells Joshua the exact same thing. But this ain’t no pep talk. These are commands from the voice of the living God to one small human about to do an impossible thing: “Be strong.” “Be courageous.”

How? Why? Because we can. God provides all the power to those doing His will. But it’s still up to us to hit the gas, to get up again after we hit the dirt the first time, to hit back and keep moving. I don’t care who you are. If you’re doing what God asks, you will be strong if you choose to be. You will be courageous when you have to be. You will biff sometimes, but God won’t let you come up empty when you’re following His course for you.

Think: Do you think of strength and courage as things you can just choose to have? Do you think Joshua wondered if he could be strong and courageous enough to do what God asked? Do you?

Pray: Ask God to help you obey Him today with strength and courage to do everything He’s asked of you.

Do: Hit an online dictionary and read through all the definitions for strength and courage.

Take the Lead: Power. Guts. Obedience. Success.

“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.” (Joshua 1:7)

Again the command: Be strong. Be courageous. In yesterday’s verse, the source of that courage and strength came from God’s absolute promise: “You will accomplish this mission.”

boat_350Today’s verse: Same command, but a new source of confidence: “Obey my law completely, and you will be successful.” Obedience to God can bring strength, courage, confidence into our lives, because we’re on exactly the path He called us to follow. Disobedience — from all out rebellion to dabbling in sin — can sap our strength and kill our courage.

Why? We become divided. We want two opposite things — to accomplish God’s purpose for us and to indulge in the sin God has warned us away from — at the same time. On top of that, God has promised blessing to those who obey and discipline when His children wander off. Be convinced about Him; run toward the blessing.

Think: Have you found in your own life that obedience to God can bring more confidence, courage, and strength? Have you seen a choice to sin lead to less confidence in yourself and your mission in life?

Pray: Ask God to help you to have the strength and courage to obey Him this week.

Do: In a sentence or two, describe what you see as your God-given mission in life today.

Take the Lead: Speak it. Think it. Do it.

“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.” (Joshua 1:8)

This last week, we’ve listened closely to God’s instructions to a new leader about to set off on an impossible mission that can’t possibly fail — because it is God’s mission. Have you noticed what God did not say to Joshua? “Just be like Moses, and you’ll be fine.”

boat_350God didn’t call Joshua to follow a human pattern for leadership. He called him to follow His own voice. Specifically, He told Joshua to find success by installing the Law on the hard drive in his head. “Don’t be consumed with asking, ‘What would Moses do?’ Be consumed with My Law. Speak it. Think it. Do it.”

Today, we can follow that same pattern with all of God’s Word (not just the Law). We can make the Bible our default setting for words, thoughts, and actions. Talk about it with friends and family. Roll it around in your brain while staring at the ceiling at night or moving through your day. Know it well enough to obey God’s instructions in every critical moment.

What a rich life that would be.

Think: What percentage of your words in a given day are about God or His Word? What percentage of your thoughts? How do your choices reflect those percentages?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be passionate about His Word and to spend more time talking about it, thinking about it, and acting on it.

Do: Start by memorizing today’s verse (Joshua 1:8) and rolling it around in your head as you fall asleep tonight.

Take the Lead: Three Questions for Leaders

“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.” (Joshua 1:9)

Three big questions pop up for me from God’s instructions to Joshua about leadership:

boat_3501) Do I really believe I control my own emotions? God obviously cared a lot about Joshua’s state of mind, not just his actions. He commanded Joshua to be strong, to be courageous, and to reject fear and discouragement. We have the choice what to feel. God gives us the power to choose feelings that help us to do what He asks of us.

2) Do I really believe God is right? If so, I’ll do exactly what He says. When I disobey Him (or don’t take the time to know what He says), that’s evidence I’m not convinced He knows what he’s talking about.

3) Do I really believe God is with me — and for me? If so, I can do any impossible thing He asks. Paul put it this way: “If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . . in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31, 37)

Think: Do you wrestle with the answers to any of these questions? Which answer do you need the most help to believe?

Pray: Ask God to help you believe Him more and more in each of these three areas, then thank Him for the ability to control your state of mind. Thank Him that He is always right. And thank Him that He is always with and for you.

Do: If you haven’t already, memorize Romans 8:38-39.