Joshua 1:7–9 (NIV)
7 “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.
8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; 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.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I love reading about the exploits of the Israelites as they left Egypt and made their way to the Promised Land. But the story doesn’t really center around the Israelites; it’s truly the story of Jehovah. After Moses died, the Lord outlined for Joshua the formula for being successful in the task that had been given to him. Although none of us are going to be overthrowing any kingdoms any time soon, the principles still apply today. Do you wish to be successful and prosperous? Let’s examine God’s plan for success:
1. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left – God told Joshua to be careful (be diligent, pay attention) to obey ALL the law. In other words, make sure you pay attention to my law and stay on the course that it charts for you. After all, when you’re taking a trip, what’s the best way to get to your destination? Isn’t it the way that has been mapped out for you by someone who has already been where you are going? If we follow that route, we will have the best success in arriving at our destination. God, as our Creator and Sustainer, knows what is best for us. His word is the roadmap to our success. Staying on his road and not making any exits is the surest way to prosperity and success.
2. Keep it on your lips – One way to keep the Word on your lips is to recite it to yourself. The advantages for doing so are:
- It helps you memorize scripture which puts it in your heart and mind for future reference and avoidance of sin. (Psalm 119:11)
- As long as your lips are quoting scripture they’re not saying something they shouldn’t. (James 3:8–10)
3. Meditate on it day and night – God, in his infinite wisdom, created us in such a way that we can only concentrate on one thing at a time. If we stay busy meditating on God’s word, our mind can’t wander to areas that will get us in trouble. Always keep the word on the forefront of your mind. Put it in your car and on your desk and take it with you wherever you go so when you have a spare moment you can meditate on it some more.
4. So that you may be careful – There’s that word careful again. God told Joshua that if he constantly rehearsed it and thought about it he wasn’t going to forget it. The better we know it, the more likely that we’ll obey it. I think that is why the Lord made no provision of a sacrifice for intentional sins (Numbers 15:30–31). The idea is that if you know what it says, you’ll do what it says. If you happen to unintentionally disobey it while you’re learning it, you shouldn’t want to repeat the error.
5. Be strong and courageous – Being strong and courageous would simply be an outward expression of faith in God and his promises. To be scared and weak like the 10 spies would illustrate a lack of trust in the Lord. The Lord also says it another way – do not be afraid or discouraged. Discouragement can come when things don’t go the way we think they should. However, as long as we are paying attention to the word of the Lord and obeying what we know, there is no reason to be afraid or discouraged. We can be confident that whatever happens is part of God’s plan. We can be strong and courageous knowing that we are going in the name of the Lord.
The final thing to consider is what the Lord meant by being successful and prosperous. Obviously the success he was referring to in Joshua’s case was conquering and inhabiting the land. A more generic view would be that taking over the land was simply following the Lord’s command and seeing his purpose fulfilled no matter what it happened to be. The prosperity Joshua achieved was the Promised Land and all the good things it had to offer. In other contexts it would be gaining the benefits of the work to which God has called us. The prosperity may not necessarily be monetary, although it could be.
Simply put, God’s plan for success is to focus on the word of the Lord and do what he tells us both generally and specifically. Then the Lord will see to our success according the his definition and he will reward us by giving us what we need to continue to follow him.
Lord God, we desire no other success than that which comes from you. As we saturate ourselves with your word, help us to turn neither to the right or the left but follow it wholeheartedly.