November 5, 2021
Joshua 1:1-6 (NIV)
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 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. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand 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. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)
We see encouragement everywhere throughout Scripture, but most concentrated in three places: The book of Joshua, the book of the Acts and the book of Hebrews. We turn today to another massive encouragement text from our story. Joshua.
It had been a long forty years, filled with wandering through the wilderness. The landscape, now littered with tombstones from an entire generation of sin sick saints, groaned with a tiredness from crying out the question, “How long O Lord?”
The page is turning now. The giant Moses has passed on to glory. The curtain lifts and we see Joshua standing at center stage. And mind you, he is not a young man. I’d guess he is somewhere between 50 and 70, the years when most people these days begin winding down, dreaming about retirement and collecting shells. It had been forty years since he thought he was in his prime, selected for the prestigious Seal Team Six spy mission into the promised land. He could practically taste the victory only to be exiled into forty years of wandering in the wilderness—14,600 days of eating manna. He had done most everything right. His heart was all in. Imagine the discouragement and seasons of depression these years brought. It reminds us of his mentor and Father in the Lord, Moses, who had such a promising start in Egypt only to find himself exiled to the backside of the wilderness of Midian herding his in-laws sheep for forty years, only to be tapped by God as a 60ish year old.
Many people in ministry, heck—in life, begin with visions of grandeur, big dreams, and an indefatigable spirit to take on the world, only to meet headlong with the buzzsaw of reality. The move of the Spirit in them gets worn down over time to the tired motions of a sleepy faithfulness. That unholy trifecta of distraction, depression, and discouragement wreak slow havoc on our souls. Why God? How long Lord? This isn’t what I signed on for.
I was talking to a longtime friend just last week who expressed all of these things. It reminded me of Abraham Lincoln, who went through defeat after defeat after defeat in his life and career. At a particularly low point, upon being encouraged to give up and move in a different direction, Lincoln responded, “I will get ready. My time will come.”
Encouragement figures so powerfully in Joshua and Acts because in both of those instances, the people of God were being summoned to wake up and move into the reclamation of the promises of God in their day. The wandering motions of the wilderness were over. The movement was moving again. The day of march was upon them.
“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.
Awakening Friends, we must get ready. Our time is coming. Not a day of your past has been wasted. Everything is being gathered up and carried forward into the way ahead. You have not been forgotten or left behind. Get ready. Your time is coming.
Awakening is coming. The global pandemic of COVID-19 was not an awakening. It was what I call a-shakening. A-shakening can lead to awakening, but it can also lead to another forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The difference? Will we get ready?
Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
Father, it can be hard to thank you for wilderness wandering at the time. In hindsight, it always seems clear how you were working. Knowing that, we thank you for what you have been and are doing in our hearts, homes, churches and cities. We believe awakening is coming. We want to be ready. Yes, we will get ready. Come Holy Spirit and bring deep awakening to the deepest places in our hearts. Soften our hearts. Show us the hardness. Break up the fallow ground. Declare a season of sowing in my heart. Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
How has the wilderness taken it out of you? Are you ready to reconnect the motions of waking up with the movement of awakening?
P.S. — ENCOURAGEMENT #5
ENCOURAGEMENT #5 TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SEEDBED ADVENT EXPERIENCE: So this isn’t going to be another sentimental tour through “Snow Village Bethlehem.” We are going deeper this year and we are going to get real. Remember, Deeper Advent = Better Christmas. You can see all the details here. If you already have the book, The Christian New Year, be sure to choose that option on the dropdown to avoid buying another book—OR EVEN BETTER—get another book and invite a friend to join us. COME ON!
For the Awakening,