This past week marked a new beginning – the start of classes for students at our college. The week before classes and the first week of classes are wild and crazy times for students and administrators. Late registrations, mad dashes for textbooks, dropping and adding classes, putting together financial aid packages, ushering students to the correct classes – it all adds up to a mountain of work which seems like it will never be accomplished in time. Throw in the work to be done with the faculty and the mountain grows even higher.
For new students, it can be a scary time. They all look a little dazed as they face this new beginning and try to figure out what it all means and how they fit in.
In Joshua 1:1-6, Joshua is getting ready to face a new beginning – his kingdom assignment of the conquest and possession of the Promised Land. The words of the Lord to Joshua as he faces this new beginning can help you as you seek to press on when you face a new beginning.
Principle 1: Let Go of the Past (vs. 1)
How would you like to have followed Moses? Though he is dead he is still mentioned 57 times in book of Joshua. The hardest time to become a new leader is when you come after someone who has had long-term success. It is true in the pastorate, in sports, in business.
Joshua was in this position but the Lord is basically telling him that no human leader is irreplaceable. Moses was God’s man for the past but Joshua is God’s man for the present. The Father chose Joshua for this time and place just as the Father in Christ has chosen you for the time and place that you are in.
Principle 2: Go Forward (vs. 2)
Though the Promised Land was a gift of grace, it had to be possessed – they had to go forward into that land. There were preparations to be made, difficulties to be overcome, battles to be fought. There was a required stepping out in faith to see the promises realized in the life of the nation. They had been sojourners in the wilderness, now they were to be pioneers in a new land.
Oftentimes your present situation is so familiar, so comfortable, so established that the desire is to remain rather than to take a step of faith and go forward into the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable, the unknown. In a new beginning God is encouraging you to go forward, to be a pioneer rather than a sojourner.
Principle 3: Overcome Obstacles (vs. 2)
Think of Joshua’s task – getting a million or so people to overcome the obstacles of crossing a river and taking the land. Imagine a nation of wanderers having to become an army, one with what had to be the most questionable military tactics ever. How could the obstacles be overcome?
They were overcome by operating by faith not by circumstances. There will always be battles to fight – battles which rage inside you, around you and outside of you. When you look at the circumstances, the task may appear hopeless but faith trusts that God will provide his grace when he calls. Believing that the obstacles are too great is another way of saying that God is too small.
Principle 4: Believe God’s Promises (vs. 3-6)
Faith embraces the unfamiliar because it believes the promises of God operate in the unfamiliar. The promises are energized by our faith in them. These promises grow out of our covenant relationship with God – his heart of love for us through Christ.
We sometimes forget that we serve the Lord and lose the perspective that he is in charge. When that happens the promises are neutralized. It becomes all about us rather than all about Christ. The ability to follow principles 1-3 above is grounded in the grace God grants to us in Christ when we believe his promises.
Joshua’s new beginning was not about the land, the river, or the walled cities. He was faced with a greater question: Who is God? Is God the great promise-keeper who gives incredible promises to promise-breakers? Will he show up when the conquest starts?
The greatest of God’s promises in this chapter is meant to answer Joshua’s greater question: I will be with you. I will never leave you or forsake you. The presence of God assures the fulfillment of the promises of God.
Joshua’s greater question is also your question: Who is God? These press-on principles that the Lord placed before Joshua are relevant to all of us as we face new beginnings he has placed before us. Let’s look to the presence of Christ and his gracious promises which can empower us to live out these principles in our new beginnings.