“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” Joshua 1:6, ESV
Second chances are hard. They are scary. There are no guarantees in second chances. My second chance came about after the complete destruction of the professional life I had known for eighteen years. I remember wanting to crawl into bed and stay there for days. The sense of failure and discouragement was thick and real. Do you know what that feels like?
The Holy Spirit encouraged me to keep going. I remember how God consistently, repeatedly told me to “do the next right thing.” Most days, I could not see beyond “get up and do something today.” In times like this, the words “be strong and courageous” take on new meaning.
For those experiencing the end of something in your life—and the beginning of a second chance, you know how hard it is to be strong and courageous on your own. It’s as if you have put your life in the hands of the surgeon. You go on one job interview after another in faith. You pay the bills you can and tell the other creditors they will be next. You tell your children, “We will be okay.” You tell your spouse that God will provide, and try to believe it, even though you don’t know how He will do it.
Joshua is encouraged after the death of Moses, his mentor and friend. “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6, ESV). Joshua is the second chance for a stubborn, willful people.
Today you may find yourself in a “second chance” situation. Just do “the next right thing.” Hear the promise God is making to you, even if it seems unlikely or impossible. Never stop believing that God is with you and God is for you.
Jacob was on the run from his brother. He felt all alone, but then he had a dream. In a dream, God promised Jacob and his descendants the very land he slept on. In these most unlikely circumstances—as a fugitive and as part of the dream, God says to Jacob, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15, ESV).
Jacob’s dream empowered him, but he was still afraid. Scripture says, “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.’ And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’” (Genesis 28:16-17, ESV).
It is a foundational element of faith that Jesus followers know in their hearts that God is for them. God is with you. God is not against you, but wants to grow and benefit you. John 3:16 says that God loved the world so much He gave Himself (Jesus) for it. God told Jacob, “I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Gen 28:15, ESV). God will not leave you, either, until He has finished what He has begun in you.
God is at work in your life. You are not alone, nor have you been abandoned. God will not leave you until He has done what He is promising you. Press on faithfully and be encouraged.
Joshua had a purpose. He had a calling on his life. Joshua means “God’s salvation.” His calling and purpose in life was to be a savior to the people he served. It was Joshua’s time and day. Hebrews says, “If Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on” (Hebrews 4:8, ESV). It was his time to take action so others could benefit. “Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:15, ESV).
Today may be your day for action. A time of rest is promised, but today is your day to take action. It is your time to act in faith. You may want to lay down and quit, but God is calling you to take another step. God is nudging you on. It is your time.
Listen to “the next right thing” God is calling you to do, which in turn will lead to a day of Sabbath for you, your family, your community, or your company in the future.
From time to time, we all need a little encouragement. Courage comes as a result of hope. When we believe the results are worth the effort or the sacrifice, we find courage and we push through. I once heard that courage is not the absence of fear, but experiencing fear and acting anyway.
In this passage, Moses is telling the people what God has spoken to him. He is repeating the judgement that the children of Israel wander in the wilderness for 40 years, due to their faithlessness. Then he quotes God again: “Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it” (Deuteronomy 1:38, ESV). What do you think God meant when he told Moses to “encourage him?” How do we encourage others? Where does courage come from? It comes from knowing we are not alone. It comes from being told others are with you, that they believe in you, and that they believe that it is worth the effort. You can encourage others with these words.
You can also find comfort yourself and be encouraged by remembering God’s words and promises to you. King David held onto God’s promise in this way: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:11, ESV).
Who do you know that needs a word of encouragement? This could be the exact gift they need to carry on with “the next right thing.” Encourage them. Reach out and offer encouragement to those in your Life Group, the team you serve on, or a staff member at church.
This morning on the way to work, I heard a news story about short-term economics. The business reporter described how pressure (from a company’s board of directors and stock holders) to hit monthly and quarterly profit goals stresses business and creates economic issues. The bottom line was that living for and focusing on now compromises long term health for the business. I’ve seen this first had in the company which employs me. There is always the pressure for investments in equipment and additional staff to be compromised for monthly profit reports. Workers are terminated in slow times and then there is a rush to hire again when business picks back up.
Caleb had long term vision and faith. He had been faithful to God, Moses, and Joshua for forty-five years while he waited for the land that God had promised the children of Israel. Caleb tells Joshua he was forty-five years old when Moses sent him to spy on the inhabitants of the Promised Land. Moses also specifically promised him land for his service, faithfulness, and courage. Caleb reminds Joshua: “The Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old” (Joshua 14:10, ESV)
Caleb’s received his inheritance as a result of his patience and persistent hope in what God has promised him through Moses forty years ago! As followers of Christ, things often do not happen in the timeframe in which we want them to happen. Our inheritance of eternity with Christ, as well as perfect peace and maturity in the present, are a product of patience, faithfulness, and courage.
Paul the apostle tells the Jesus followers in Galatia to “not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, ESV). Being a long-term thinker in today’s world requires faith in Christ and all the promises of Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the kind of faith Caleb had, to be able to patiently wait for His promise to come to pass.