Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Winning Edge


The life and times of Joshua were some of the most exciting but clearly some the most challenging times for the Nation of Israel as well. Joshua was the man whom God chose to lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land. Moses was their deliverer however it was Joshua who led them to their inheritance.

The history of the Jewish people reveals their undeniable victories over enemies who were much larger in numbers, more experienced in battle and better equipped to fight. Under Joshua’s leadership the young soldiers in the army of Israel went against fortified cities and fought battle hardened warriors, some of whom were giants that others feared to combat.  

What made Joshua able to successfully lead these Chosen Children of God against these seemingly insurmountable forces? When facing enemies who are bigger and more powerful than you it would be good to remember what gave Joshua his winning edge.

On top of being a child of God and called by God … Joshua also received some winning edge instructions which ended up giving him the upper hand in battle. Today we are going to take a critical look at the three commands God gave to Joshua that gave him the edge he needed against his enemies. These three facts of life will give you the upper hand as well.

Joshua 1:5  "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.

Here God is saying to Joshua, I will not fail you … now don’t you go failing me! In other words, “I will do My part – you do yours!”

6  "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

Be strong!  The Hebrew word translated into the English word “strong” in this verse is found 290 times in the Old Testament and denotes action. The first time this word is used it is in connection with the two angels God sent to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 19:16  And while Lot lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.

These angels weren’t playing around … they “took hold” of Lot and his family and carried or dragged them out of the city before the fire came down. The same Hebrew word translated “hold” in Genesis 19 is the same word translated “strong” in Joshua 1:6.

Many of you might be familiar with a common Christian quote from the Bible, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” It’s also part of a Charismatic Christian song. It is taken from a verse in the Book of Nehemiah at the dedication of the Temple of Ezra and the public reading of God’s Word.

Nehemiah 8:10  Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

You see that word strength in Nehemiah 8:10 – well it’s not translated from the same Hebrew word as the one in Joshua 1 or Genesis 19. This word strength is referring to a refuge or a safe hiding place … somewhere to retreat and find protection in times of trouble. Thank God for the joy that is our refuge in times of trouble but if we are going to win in all out war against the enemies of the cross we must be willing to advance instead of retreat.

God told Joshua that he could win against the seemingly insurmountable odds of the enemies entrenched against him by taking an aggressive posture and advancing against them.

You’ve heard it said:  “Sometimes the best defense is a great offense …” Instead of looking for a place to run backwards, we run towards the fight.

The second element God required of Joshua in order to gain each victory needed to inherit the promises was that of Courage. Three times in these 4 verses we will study today the Lord God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous. 

The Hebrew word God chose to speak when commanding Joshua was a familiar word to Joshua. In his language and in his day this word encompassed the concept of bravery. Broken down today we would say that God told Joshua to:
·        Stay alert
·        Be determined
·        Remain persistent

In other words, be courageous! Courage, at least this type of courage, is not the absence of fear but rather what a person does in the face of fear.

In order for God to work with Joshua to take the Children of Israel into the Promise Land as He had worked with Moses to bring the Children of Israel out bondage, Joshua was going to have to:
·        Stay alert
·        Be determined
·        Remain persistent
·        Advance against the enemy

Verse 6 tells us that God wanted Joshua to be strong and courageous so that he could help others obtain the blessings God wanted them to have.

Joshua 1:7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.

In verse 7 God encourages Joshua to be strong and courageous so that he also might inherit the blessings of God himself and become a prosperous man. How was Joshua going to be able to accomplish this tall order and develop the winning edge? Next verse …

Joshua 1:8  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

God wants us to be strong and courageous, not only for ourselves but also for others. The way we can strengthen ourselves and find courage to be brave against the enemies that want to defeat us is to do exactly what God told Joshua to do:

“Stick to the Word of God!”
·        Think about it
·        Talk about it
·        Live it

For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success!

We close this morning with the next verse, perhaps one of the many most quoted verses in the entire world:

Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

It went from a conversation to a command … and now God is commanding each one of us … Be strong and courageous … don’t allow this world to intimidate you, make you afraid, confuse or discourage you …

The LORD your God is with you wherever you go!
·        Stay alert
·        Be determined
·        Remain persistent
·        Advance against the enemy
(Note: What is the enemy? Anything that stands between God and the blessings He has promised to His Children)

·        Stick to the Word of God