Be Strong!

by LA UBF   05/11/2008     0 reads



Be Strong!

 Joshua 1:1-24:33

Key Verses 1:6-8

"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. 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. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."

Tonight we would like to think about how the Lord strengthened Joshua to lead his people to the Promised Land. The book of Joshua can be seen as the book on the art of spiritual war. It sets forth the key principles to wage spiritual war. The subject matter on waging spiritual war is so deep and broad that it goes way beyond the time allowed for us to discuss fully tonight. However, since we chose to cover this book in one lecture, we would like to focus on one thing, that is, how the Lord assisted Joshua to win many victories. Let us think about the way the Lord helped Joshua in three ways.

First, be strong and very courageous.

The first and foremost important point for us to secure before embarking on the Lord's battle is the strength and courage on the part of a soldier. This is obvious. If anyone is weak, he cannot win a victory. It is only the strong who win. If any venture is between those who are friendly to one another, one does not need to be strong; even if one is weak, his friend can support him so that together he can get something done successfully. But it is not so when you are involved in a battle. In a battle two parties operate as enemies. As the two parties pit themselves against each other they fight to death. In Joshua’s case, the war did not involve even the possibility for a cease-fire. In the case of World War I or World War II, after groups of nations fought they came around and said, “Okay, let us not fight any more.” Then there was a cease-fire. The losing nations, such as Germany or Japan, even received post war aid from winning nations. After the war Germany and Japan came out richer than before. But it is not so with spiritual war, for in a spiritual war you either win to live, or lose to die. We can easily understand this concept when we think about the fact that as the Israelites crossed the Jordan River they had to see the Jordan River flowing back in its full flood stage. They already burned the bridges behind them. They had to advance, face the enemies and finish them in battle, or else get butchered to death.   

“Be strong and very courageous.” So the first and last thing we need to ensure in winning the war is to be strong. Strength, strength, and strength, courage, courage, and courage! Great strength and very great courage! This is the key!

The problem however is that it is very possible that we can grow weak. In throat cutting conflicts, the war might prolong, the going can go only tougher, and situations may get tangled up. Then it is highly likely that one might grow weary. As he loses courage, he falters and--bum!--he collapses. He is finished. He becomes another statistic. 

I have seen this happening again and again in my life in the Lord. I have seen many coming in and out of UBF. 

But at this point we need to stop and ask a question: "Why is it that at the outset people get excited about the mission, but soon lose enthusiasm? Why do some even say, ‘Look! UBF is a cult organization. I must go to another church’? Well, UBF may or may not be a cult organization. Personally, I think it is not a cult organization. (But I myself do not even choose to make a judgment on anyone.) But the point is that it is VERY possible that as the war prolongs, you can become weary. You can become weaker and weaker. Then you might lose courage. What then will happen to you? You know the answer. 

So tonight we must remember one thing: we humans are "limited" -- limited in strength, courage, wisdom, knowledge, power, time, money, vision, zeal, passion, and much more. 

The good thing, however, is that our Lord Jesus knows our limitations. In fact, it is exactly for this reason (our limitedness) that the Lord comes and says to us: "Be strong and very courageous." And we need to be so from first to last. 

Second, this book of the Law.

What then is the way for the Lord to keep his soldiers strong? When the Lord asked Joshua to be strong, he had the way to make him strong. What is the way? Look at Joshua 1:8 – “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

Here, "this book of the Law," answers the question. We know that the Lord himself will assist his soldiers, such as Joshua. We know that the Lord introduced himself to Joshua as the commander of the Lord’s army. Yet, why did the Lord ask Joshua to keep the book of the Lord in his mouth all the time? The answer is obvious. It is because the book of the Law is the source of his strength and power. It is the source of all he needed to keep him going. 

We can easily understand that the word of the Law is the source of power and strength for our spiritual battle when we think about the origin of all the struggles we need to do as the soldiers of Jesus Christ. Why did we come to have so many problems? Why did the Israelites have to fight the spiritual war against all the heathen nations of their generation? It is all because of what happened to the first man Adam, for since Adam failed to protect his wife Eve with God’s word, his wife fell. Then Adam fell to the devil’s temptations. Both disobeyed the word of the Lord. As a result, we have come to suffer from all sorts of problems – spiritual problems, moral problems, financial problems, problems in the family, problems at school--problems everywhere. 

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” So, keeping and obeying the word of the Lord fully is the key to winning victories. Any one who compromises on the word of the Lord will suffer loss in exact proportion to the degree of his compromise. 

One good example is King Saul. As he compromised the word of the Lord, instead of the Spirit of God, an evil spirit started working in him. Being a man who was a head taller than average Jews, he looked impressive. Yet as he compromised on the word here and there, an evil spirit began to take over. Eventually, he became an instrument of the devil.  

But as we keep the word of the Lord, the word which is God-breathed purifies us. The word of God then fills us with the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit understanding, the Spirit of counsel, the Spirit of love and power, the Spirit of knowledge, and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. Let us all rise and read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Third meditate on it day and night.

Practically, then, how can we secure what we need? How are we to equip ourselves with all we need for the Lord's battle? Let us read verse 8 again. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

The word meditate first appears in Genesis 24:63, where Isaac went out to a field to meditate, and then here in Joshua 1:8. Isaac was a quiet person. He was not a fighter-type. But Joshua was different. He was trained to fight. And the Lord called him to fight from first to finish. Yet, both have one thing in common: both of them succeeded in serving the Lord through the divine secret called “meditation.” 

In the Bible it is seen that meditation is a highly technical term. It is not what one might conjure up in his mind like a man seated in a yoga position with his eyes closed in a serene environment. Rather, it represents a special technique which virtually all prophets recorded in the Bible mastered and thereby came out as fruitful servants of God. Volumes of books might not be sufficient to cover this subject in depth. But for our own purpose, we would like to consider this: isolation and dedication. 

Isolation is to isolate oneself from what is mundane. It is the process of emptying oneself of what is his own, such as his ideas, desires, wishes, plans, or purposes. And servant of God must first rid himself, literally, of every thought, desire, idea, etc. and virtually every hint or inclination of it – any hint or inclination that is inconsistent with who and what God is. 

This process involves both time and space. In Moses’ case, the time factor involved forty years plus forty more years. During the second forty years he siphoned out the worldly influence which had made its way into his life during the first forty years of his life. The worldly input made its way into Moses while he was in the Royal Palace. To empty himself of the worldly influence the Lord led him to a desert area which was suitable for meditation. Could Moses meditate on God's Law at the Royal Palace, surrounded by all sorts of distractions, such as party girls? No way. The real meditation then began when he practically departed from the Royal Palace and went to a desert land. 

Joshua was luckier than Moses, for at a young age Joshua started receiving training under Moses (Exodus 33:11). During the forty long years of desert wanderings he served Moses as Moses' assistant. During this period of time he had his own time of isolation and dedication. 

In the New Testament period we see similar examples. In the case of John the Baptist, from his birth he had his moments of isolation and dedication. Then when the time came, he started serving the mission. Jesus was no different. At around the age of 30 Jesus came to the Jordan. There John baptized him. What then did Jesus do? Let us all rise and read Luke 3:21-22. Next let us read Luke 4:1. “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert.” There he spent forty days, perhaps meditating on the word of God especially the book of Deuteronomy. 

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”


One might say, "Look, I work full time. I live in Los Angeles, a metropolitan city. How can I meditate on God's word all the time?" But this kind of question is ill-conceived, for it assumes that meditation is rather physical than spiritual, external rather than internal. Essentially, meditation takes place inside of a person. So even while living in this metropolitan city there are many different ways in which we can isolate ourselves and dedicate our spirits, souls, and minds to the living word of God. 

Let us think about Joshua. He was a full time general. Each and every day he had to face enemies. And who can be more tied up in mundane things than a man engaged in bloody battles one after another for weeks, months, years, and even decades? Yet, during the busy moments of his life he secured moments to meditate on God’s word day and night. 

Meditation requires understanding and discipline: understanding of the nature of a man, and discipline based on the understanding of one's inner constitution. At the 2008 New Year’s leadership conference we briefly studied the way the Lord designed man's inner person.  So we are not going to cover this topic except to say that man’s inner person resembles the Lord’s sanctuary, which consists of two parts: the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The points of discipline include developing the ability to detach the faculties of one’s inner person from people (including oneself) and the world, attach himself fully to the Lord, and thereby calibrate his inner person in such a way that is worthy of the Lord’s presence. [At this moment I would like to encourage everyone to rise and read Psalm 51:1-19.] Notice that Psalms 51:6 reads, "Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place." Here the “inmost place” refers to the innermost sanctum where God reveals himself to his people. And God desires to give his children his truth and his wisdom. Why do people then end up doing what is foolish? Why do people grope in darkness all the time? The answer is obvious. So, on our part we need to daily discipline ourselves so that the fellowship with the Lord would remain constant. 

Finally, meditation is a means not an end (or purpose). The purpose of meditation is to carry out the will of the Lord. It is to do everything the Lord wants us to do (or simply to obey the Lord). But we must never reverse the order, because if we try to obey without first listening to him, we end up misreading God's will and doing something which is totally against God's will. 

When we obey what the Lord says, then the Lord will keep us strong; he will help us to be prosperous. Just as Joshua was successful, so also the Lord will help us to succeed in all we do.

In conclusion, let us read verse 8 once again. "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." 

One word: Be strong

      Refer to the message entitled "Fishermen will stand" Ezekiel 40-47.

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