February 2013

GODLY LEADERS

Vijay Thangiah

God's continued presence is important for success in ministry

The nation of Israel had mourned Moses' death for 30 days (Deut. 34:8). Now God instructed Joshua to prepare to enter the land. The death of any of His servants never frustrates or limits God, though this causes Him sorrow (Ps.116:15).

Many students of the book of Joshua have called Chapter 1 verse 5 as the key verse. Here God promised Joshua His unfailing power and presence so that he might be completely successful in subduing the Canaanites. Joshua's failure to be entirely successful was not God's fault but the Israelites'.

Joshua recognised that to step forward and take up the reigns except under God's immediate direction would have been presumptuous. Although he had long been the designated successor, it still remained God's prerogative to guide the transition and formally confer authority upon Joshua.

Joshua rightly felt dependent on God for success. The Lord assured Joshua that He would never withdraw His presence from Israel so long as Joshua led them. He said, "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" (v. 5).

The assurance that Joshua could rely on God is what gave him the courage to succeed Moses.

God's continued presence is essential for success in ministry. Many leaders start off with a total dependence, but along the way begin to depend upon their own experiences or past successes.

In verses 2-5 we read all that God would do for Joshua.

1. "I will give you every place where you set your foot."
God spoke to Joshua and restated the promise He made to Abraham 400 years before. He reminded Joshua of a very important truth that we too need to be reminded of, that His work/promise is dependent upon Him, and not man. He reminds Joshua that He is the Blesser. In verse 2, God says, "unto the land which I do give to them." In verse 3, God says, "that have I given unto you". He wants Joshua to see that He is the Giver, not Moses, nor anyone else.

God wants to give you ownership of every area of your life. He wants to give you authority and power in every area of your life. And, if I can use a word laden with connotation, he wants to give you dominion in every area of your life.

Paul once used a phrase that we would do well to repeat every day of our lives. He said, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Rom.8:37) God made you to win. He made you to succeed. He made you to thrive. He wants you to walk in victory.

We too need to see God as our Blesser. Far too often we tend to view our job, our boss, or our own ability as the key to what we have. Like Israel, we too are on a journey, a journey to receive the fullness of God's inheritance, a journey that will have ups and downs, just as theirs did. And like Israel, God wants us to see that He is the One that will help us make it through.

2. "As I promised Moses." "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you."
God's great promises are bound up in His divine nature. Our God is a promise-keeping God. We can count on Him.

God's promises to Joshua were the same as those given to Moses. Though the people of Israel were not strong enough to fight against so many enemy countries and defeat them, it was God who would give them this territory in order to fulfil His promise given to Abraham. If God says He will do it, it is a sure thing.

3. "No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life."
What a promise. What a reassurance as Joshua takes up the leadership.

Victory promised Joshua is ours as well. "In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Rom.8:37 NASB). "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 Jn.4:4 KJV). "Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith" (1 Jn.5:4 NIV). It was said of believers, in the midst of the tribulation period, that "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony" (Rev.12:11 KJV). Let's expect and claim the victory God has promised.

4. "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
God told Joshua in verse 5, "As I was with Moses, so will I be with you, I will not fail you nor forsake you." There are two important words in the Hebrew language. The first word is raphah {raw-faw'} meaning to be feeble, slack, to relax, or to abandon. It is translated as fail.

God is telling Joshua, "I'm not going to fail you; My eye will always be on you; you will always be the centre of My attention." God is not slack, nor does He relax when His children are concerned.

The second word is azab {aw-zab'}meaning to leave, loose, forsake, or neglect. It is translated as forsake.

Remember we are bound to the heart of God by cords of love. God was telling Joshua, "I'm not going to let loose of you, I'll not forsake you." I believe that same promise is available for us today. God's presence is all around us, through good times and bad times, for we are bound to Him. His attachment to us is so strong that we are bound to Him.

God said to Joshua and the people of Israel ... and He's saying to us: "Every step you take, every place you go, I am with you. In your victories and defeats, in your good times and your bad times, in your dark days and in your bright days, I am with you. You can count on me." We might want to say, "But I don't feel His presence." But He says, "I am with you always."

We might want to say, "But I don't deserve His presence right now." But He says, "I am with you always." We might want to say, "But I'm no Moses and I'm no Joshua." But He says, "I am with you always."

Moses told the Lord "If your presence does not go with us, then we do not want to leave this place."

Sometimes we pretend that God is not right here with us. We pretend that He's not watching us. We pretend that we're all alone and that we can't lean on Him for help. By failing to acknowledge His presence, we miss out on the blessings of His provision.

If you want to make your move into the Promised Land, then claim the promise of God's permanent residency in your life. "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Acknowledge His presence. Expect it. Live in it. This is how you make your move into the Promised Land and find success.

Editorial: ARE WE A DEMOCRACY? - KURUVILLA CHANDY

GLORIFYING GOD - P. Samuel Manoharam

ENTITLEMENT, ENTERTAINMENT AND ENJOYMENT - J. N. Manokaran

FAITH, LOVE AND HOPE - Vivek Salins

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE! - Suresh Manoharan

LEADERSHIP LESSON FROM THE BOOK OF JOSHUA - Vijay Thangiah

ARE WE ON THE SAME BUS? - Jamila Koshy

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