Each of us have those moments in life when we have had to step out. It may have been the start of a new career. It may have been a marriage proposal. Perhaps it was leading or serving in a program or ministry that was out of your comfort zone. It may have been moving to a new city or province. It may have been (or presently is) an issue with our health or finances and we have had to step out in faith in God. In 1997 I had to take a large step with a young family. I was pastoring in Alberta and an opportunity came up for me to pastor in London, Ontario. Alberta was my home, my family lived there, I thought this was the place I was going to raise my children. But it was not to be. God was calling me to step out into my Jordan river and cross it. Take a moment and think about a time when that has happened to you. How did you feel? What were your hesitations? What was God saying to you at the time?
Our text today is Joshua 1. Moses is dead and now Joshua is the one in charge of the Israelite nation. He and Caleb were the only ones left from those who fled Egypt whom God spared to enter into this promised land. You can only imagine what might have been going through his head and his heart as God has now placed upon him the responsibility of these people. But the Lord said some timely words to Joshua. As you look over this text write down what you think are those timely words.
After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful 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. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”
12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said,13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18 Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”
There are many important truths that God spoke to Joshua and that we can apply to our lives in this passage. But the truth I want to focus on in this short devotional is “THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO.” (vs 9) This was one of the many promises God made to Joshua. This promise was said just as Joshua and the nation of Israel were ready to cross the Jordan River and enter the promise land. A very comforting, strengthening statement the Lord gave him. There were probably fears he had. There may have been hesitations. He might have had doubts. We don’t know for sure because the text doesn’t tell us that. To add to his own fears and hesitations, he also had to deal with a people that were also hesitant. I am sure the Israelite nation still hesitated at the thought of entering this land filled with enemies. I am sure they had many doubts that entered their minds and were concerned for their safety. Their enemies were big. They didn’t know everything about his new land. They had a new leader. But God knew all this. In seeing all of this, God needed to instil within them the truth that He was with them.
It is not hard to draw the parallels to our life. One of those parallels we can apply to our life are new areas the Lord wants us to conquer. It can be scary, intimidating, even overwhelming. It might be reaching out to a neighbour in need. Phoning someone whom you have put off for months. Restoring a relationship that has been strained. Speaking of the grace and love of Jesus to someone around you. We need to remind ourselves that if He is asking us to go in a certain direction or do a certain thing, He will lead us. He will give us everything we need to go forward. Maybe that is courage. Maybe that is strength. Maybe that is finances. Maybe wisdom or new strategies we need to learn. Whatever we need, we must remember He will provide it for us.
But a second parallel we can apply to our life is that we need to remember that His presence is with us. He is with us wherever we go and wherever we are. In the loneliness and isolation of our apartment or house. To the crowded workplace and busy streets, He is there. From the phone call that we need to make or the opportunity to speak His truth into the life of our neighbour, He is there. Sometimes it means that we have to go down a tough road and the trials we face seem overwhelming. Perhaps it is that health concern, that insecure feeling of a draining bank account, difficulties at work and the list can go on. But let us remember that we cannot escape His presence with us. Just as God spoke those words to Joshua, so they are repeated again in the New Testament in Hebrews 13:5 - I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU. I hope today that brings about a great sense of comfort to you.
So, what challenges has God laid out before you? What new land does He want you to conquer? What do you need to do to remind yourself that God is always with you? How can the knowledge that God is always with you help you in the trial or difficult situation you are facing?
IF JESUS GOES WITH ME, I’LL GO ANYWHERE
TIS HEAVEN TO ME
WHERE-E’RE I MAY BE
IF HE IS THERE
I COUNT IT A PRIVILEGE HERE
HIS CROSS TO BEAR
IF JESUS GOES WITH ME, I’LL GO ANYWHERE