Read Joshua 1:1-5 and summarize briefly.
When did Joshua become the leader of Israel (Joshua 1:1-2)?
While God was preparing Joshua to lead His people into their new land, he did not take the reins until after Moses had died. I found this interesting. This was the right timing and a perfect end to Moses’ era. God let Moses finish out his duties before assigning the new leader. Therefore, Moses went down as a highly esteemed leader. I’m certain that when the people looked back, they had only great regard for their former chief. And Moses’ story has been recorded for all of us to read and emulate.
Sometimes people are in such a hurry to take over leadership, they step on others’ toes to get there. Often pride and arrogance are the culprits that make them go ahead of God and push people aside. The sad reality is that this happens frequently in the church. So many times people are hurt and wounded because of leaders that want to fulfill their own selfish ambitions rather than let God lead them.
Our lesson today reminds me that it’s important we let God put us in the position He chooses and in His timing.
Where is God placing you in the framework of the church? In ministry? Is He calling you into a leadership position? Are you waiting on Him? Go before God as you ponder this and write down your thoughts.
Write out Joshua 1:2.
What stands out to you about God’s ways in the previous verse?
In our previous lesson, we learned that Deuteronomy was Moses’ last message before he died and the people left the desert. What did God say to the people in Deuteronomy 1:6-7 (NIV)? Fill in the blanks:
“The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have _______________ long enough at this mountain. Break camp and ___________________ into the hill country of the Amorites…’”
Throughout Scripture we notice one obvious thing about God: He is ALWAYS moving forward with new changes and new things. God may choose to keep things the same for a while, but then He says, “Okay, it’s time we move forward.” He always has something new on the horizon. And in this case, He was going to deliver them from the desert and bring them into a spacious and luxurious land. How exciting is that?
There’s not a better lesson for us. Too many believers are content living in the past that they miss out on the new things God wants to do. I’ve witnessed many a pastor struggle in their new church when the people balk at his new ideas. The congregants often cause havoc at every decision he tries to implement. They want things to remain the way they’ve always been. Sometimes they never come around. Eventually, the pastor feels depleted and the joy of ministry diminishes. All he wants to do is move his flock to better pasture with God, but instead the resistance makes him feel like a failure.
Why do you think people are hesitant to move forward? Why do you think they like the way things have always been?
What would be the advantage to moving ahead with God?
Ponder the scenario in John 5:1-9. Write down what this man’s life may have been like after he met Jesus, and what it would have been like had he rejected Jesus’ offer.
When Jesus walked into the pool at Bethesda, he felt compassion for a particular man who had been lame for thirty-eight years. When Jesus approached the man, He asked, “Do you want to get well” (verse 6)? This question used to trouble me. I thought, “Of course, he wants to get well.” But then again, he had been that way for a very long time. Perhaps he was comfortable living that way and fearful of a new way of life.
Thankfully this crippled man chose to accept Jesus’ healing. Imagine how his life changed. He could walk, skip, and run. He didn’t have to beg any more. The quality of his life changed in a quick second. This is a perfect picture of what it means to move forward with God and not stay stuck in the past.
Is God opening up a new door for you? Is He asking you to move forward with Him? What will be your response? Write out your prayer.
But here’s an important observation: a wise leader, while called to move forward, doesn’t completely abandon the past, but he builds on it. We will see this with Joshua. In fact, Moses is mentioned fifty-seven times in the book of Joshua.
Let’s take a look. In what ways do you see Joshua building on Moses’ legacy?
As you can see, Moses was not forgotten. Nor was the groundwork he laid out for the people. Joshua kept Moses’ legacy alive long after his death. Therefore, Moses remained a revered leader. As Joshua took the reins, he would lead with diligence, strength and wisdom just like his predecessor. He would guide the people of Israel forward with God, but never abandoning the former principles and commands God gave through Moses.
What did God say to Joshua in Joshua 1:5?
Leaders need encouragement. It can be a lonely path sometimes. And can also be stressful and tiring. We are responsible for the flock under our care and Christian leaders are the most in-demand people I know. If leaders don’t protect their ministry time, they can get easily sucked in until they’re worn out spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I have faced it. Perhaps you have, too.
No doubt, Joshua would face some extremely difficult days ahead. His flock was huge and they were known for their unruly behavior sometimes. They were not always happy campers. He had leaders under him, but ultimately he was in charge of the masses. God knew this and so he encouraged him before he even started. Imagine how Joshua felt hearing these words. A good way to start a new position, wouldn’t you agree?
Do you need encouragement today? If so, read through Joshua 1 and let God speak to you. Do you know a leader who needs encouragement? How will you encourage them?
What is your take-away from today’s lesson? What will you apply to your life, your ministry?
I hope today’s lesson was inspiring to you. Please write your comments in the comments section.