Life with God is far from passive. Our lives are often numbed with a passion-killing desire to simply be safe. Following God is risky. It can be hard. But nothing is so rewarding. Nothing gives such life.
The book of Joshua is the account of God giving the land of Israel to the Hebrew people. Nothing could have been more appealing to them. They had spent 400 years as slaves in Egypt. God had led them out and to the very edge of this promised land, only to watch as their leaders talked of the risk, the lack of safety involved in the expedition. As a result, they have spent the last 40 years wandering homeless in the desert while the Promised Land beckoned.
Joshua is the new leader of Israel. He has taken over for Moses. God tells Joshua that the time for debate is over. Now is the time for action. He and the people are to get ready for action.
We often find ourselves in the same situation. The Jordan River runs in front of us; the first barrier between the life we have and the life God wants to give us. Sadly, many will go no further, content to settle in the land of the safe and known. But what of those whose hearts pound with anticipation for the life God gives. How do they respond?
Two characteristics are prominent. Four times God repeats, “Be strong and courageous.” The life God gives is rewarding, but it is also dangerous. The Promised Land was enticing, but it’s inhabitants weren’t rushing to the river bank with the keys to the cities. The land had to be taken one city at a time in the face of overwhelming odds, fortified cities, and imposing forces. And yet, there was more than enough reason for strength and courage.
Strength and courage came not because the people had “guts.” They could charge to the battle because God was with them. In fact, they were not going to win the land, they were simply taking possession of it. God was going to give it to them; He would win the battles, conquer the inhabitants, and give the land. He was the reason for victory, not their personal military might or power. They were a homeless band of vagabonds. God was the power, but they were there to take possession of the gift as He provided it. No one can stand against God. Whatever He sets forth to do, He will accomplish. With God on their side, nothing was impossible, no one could stand before them.
But how could they be sure that God was on their side? How could they find direction?
God was very clear to them. Obey the law (the Scriptures). Don’t forget it or forsake it. Stay committed to it and obey everything that is found there. Become a student of it and seek to master its teachings. Most of all, keep it fresh as your daily guide. Each day come to it to find God’s guidance for life. Keep your heart soft and open as you come to it. Recognize your sin and folly and repent. Obey what is revealed. And as you follow it? You will be prosperous and successful.
The same is true for us today. God is calling you to a life that is greater and more prosperous than the one you are living. That doesn’t mean more wealth, position, fame, or power. It means that God will be glorified in your life as you make Him the focus. Jesus put it this way, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matt. 6:33) These "things" are clothes, food and drink. If you make God the focus of your life, He will provide all that you need and more.