Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Faithful to His Promise

I want to discuss God’s faithfulness. Christians today are often exhorted to be faithful to God in sermons, books, etc; however, I’d like to focus on God’s faithfulness to His promises. In fact, knowing this is key to our being faithful. One must know God clearly and accurately in order to have a radical life that displays trust in Him. I believe we can uncover God’s faithfulness in the life of Joshua, Moses’ “right hand man”.

Joshua 1 reveals God’s people in a critical time of transition. Joshua has been Moses’ servant but God now comes and clearly speaks to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead” (v.2). God then tells Joshua, “Now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people to the land which I am giving to them…” This is a statement of responsibility. Leadership is taking responsibility. God is basically saying, “Joshua, you are the man! I have things yet to be accomplished. The land of promise has to be laid hold of.”

Joshua is in a difficult position. It would be difficult to follow Moses! Imagine taking leadership of a people who are accustomed to having a leader that received his call from a burning bush, or could cast down a stick and have it turn into a snake and then pick it up and it becomes a stick again. Imagine following a man who could stretch out that same stick and divide a sea…a man who could get water out of a rock when people were thirsty. Moses was educated, royalty, palace trained.

Also remember these same people, even with such an outstanding leader, were known as a grumbling group. They ended up complaining, backsliding and wishing they were back where they came from time and time again.

Three times God told Joshua to “be strong, and courageous” (vv. 6,7,9). Courage is a vital component of being a Christian and being a leader. I once heard a story about a man who bragged that he had cut off the tail of a man-eating lion with his pocketknife. When asked why he hadn’t cut off the lion’s head, the man replied, “Someone had already done that.”

Joshua’s lion was still intact. One must face the lions that challenge our commitment to follow Christ. One summer evening, during a violent thunderstorm, a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?” The mother gave him a reassuring hug and replied, “I can’t dear. I have to sleep with Daddy.” A long silence was followed by a shaky little voice, “That big sissy.”

Sometimes we feel like a big sissy. Our inadequacies demand to be the focus and we, along with our inadequacy, become the issue. However neither Joshua, nor the task at hand, nor the people were the issue.

The Central Figure is God.

The fact is this story is not really about Joshua. The lead character of this story is GOD (vv. 3-4). It was God who had chosen Moses and then Joshua to lead this people into the land of promise. It was God who had made a promise over 400 years earlier to Abraham that his descendents would receive the land for an inheritance. These people were people of promise. The first assurance Joshua received is that the central figure in “real life” is God. This is the key starting place of genuine faith.

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