As believers we should always be progressing on the spiritual journey. However, many times we stop short in receiving what God wants us to have. Israel stopped short when they failed to enter the Promised Land the first time. In their disobedience, they wandered in the wilderness instead of receiving what God had promised.
Our stopping short may be the result of holding onto some sin or refusing to follow God's direction in certain matters, but the end result is this: because we wander, we fail to enjoy the blessings of God.
So how do we move from where we are to where God wants us to be? The people of Israel give us some clues.
I. Receive the challenge (v. 2)
"Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them - to the Israelites." After Moses died, God challenged Joshua to possess the land. This was not a decision to accept lightly. Since Joshua had been with the Israelite people, he knew of their weaknesses and problems. And though he was well past middle age, Joshua accepted God's challenges.
A. Challenge to the untamed (3:15)
The Jordan River was at flood stage during this time of year. How much better it would have been to cross when the weather was dry and the river was low! However, we honor God in our willingness to trust Him during hard times. Everyone faces untamed situations in life. God wants us to walk across the river and face the challenges. God often reveals His power best in times of seemingly great challenge.
B. Challenge to the unknown
The Israelites were preparing to walk where they had never walked before, into a land unknown to them. They were a brand-new generation of people. Not one of us knows what the future holds. Each day we face the new and unknown. Most of us fear the unknown, so often we settle for problems instead of facing our challenges. Following God into an unknown territory, though, creates in us a dependency on Him which can lead to victory.
II. Recognize God's commitment (v. 5)
"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Joshua could accept the challenge because he recognized God's promise to him. In essence, God said to Joshua, "If you accept the challenge, I'll commit myself to you."
A. Powerful presence
In verse 5, God reminded Joshua that no one would be able to stand against Israel. not because of their power, but because of His power. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, He, too, promises us His power and presence for our lives.
B. Personal presence
This power is not of angels or principalities but of the Lord Himself. God initially showed His presence as the house of Jacob left Egypt by an accompanying cloud or pillar of fire - but no more. Even when you don't see God, He is there. The people of Israel were to be willing to face the challenges ahead because God was with them.
C. Permanent presence
Verse 5 also carries the assurance that Joshua would never be left or forsaken. Christ has made us the same commitment to us. He has given us His Spirit to live in us so we won't be alone. God's presence becomes personal when we respect God's commands.
III. Respect God's commands (v. 7)
"Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go."
God told Joshua that he was to obey the law of God. Though Moses was gone, the law remained. To move into the land and claim victory, the people of God had to be obedient. Today God calls us to be obedient to His Word in our lives. This respect for God's Word is to be
Just as Israel was to obey the law, we are to implement all of God's Word into our lives. We cannot treat Scripture as a buffet line in which we pick and choose what we will obey.
God told Joshua not to vary from the law. He was to obey the entire law and to do so every day! This was not to be a weekend religion that made no difference in daily living.
For the Israelites, getting to where God wanted them meant facing their challenges with the promised presence of God and doing as God directed. Nothing has changed today. Those are still the requirements for Christians who want to move to where God wants them.