“This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth…you shall meditate on it…so that you may be careful to act in accordance…” I’ve heard many Christian leadership lectures on Joshua 1:9. Boldness, courage, and strength that come from God’s presence in our lives are all important elements, but Joshua 1:8 provides a context in which the “word and ways of the Lord” are constantly on our lips, on our minds, and showing up through our action. Perhaps “strength and courage” flow easily with those who are thinking and living God’s way. How is your strength and courage these days? What’s on your lips, on your mind, and gives guidance to your actions. Holy Spirit, redeem us for your purposes.
“Now proceed…” Joshua 1:2 is reminder to the “next generation” that God’s purpose transcend the generation that is aging and dying and that he calls leaders from the next generation to “proceed” with faithfulness with God mission and purposes in sight. How does this verse compare with Jesus’ words “Go into all the world,” in Matthew 28:18-20? God, what is it that you are calling me to “proceed” with and to “go” to these days. Strengthen me to live for you and your purposes. Amen.
“After the death of Moses…the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’assistant…” The promises of God transcend my life and generation. In an individualistic culture and society we are tempted to look for how God’s promises relate and are “relevant” to our personal lives. God’s promises from the beginning have reached to all people on the earth, through all times. Why does this truth matter? Who assists in my life and ministry today, who are the ones the Lord may speak to about leading his work and ministry next? Lord, help me to trust your eternal promises and invest in the people of the next generation.
“We were gentle…like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children…like a father with his own children.” Christian leaders can learn much from these verses. I have observed many Christian leaders who talk about and put their visions/dreams ahead of relationships. For Paul, ministry is a context of family. Leaders are parents who are gentle, tender, caring, urging and encouraging. The goal is that all may actual live a life worthy of God who saves us and calls us. Are these parenting fruits part of my ministry with people? Lord, have mercy and make me to lead like you.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits.” Christian leaders are often tempted to focus completely on the future. We need to get somewhere. The pressure is, “where are we headed”. Yet, the scriptures often instruct us to remember, to not forget, where we’ve been and what God has done in the past. When we are not praising God, is it possible we are forgetting something? -Bless the Lord, O my soul, and help me not to forget all your blessing O God.
“…what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Wow, would we not love Jesus to say a remembrance of our work and ministry will be told right alongside of the Gospel? It is the temptation of many leaders and ministries to be “known.” But what is the woman known for? Why do we know of her, but not know her name? What might this mean for my leadership in the church and in ministry? – Jesus, forgive my foolish pride and teach me to be satisfied with your love and with loving in return. Amen
“Lord, half of my possessions, I give to the poor…” Jesus affirms that “salvation” is more than just words; it involves the action of our lives. Changed people, change their ways. Isn’t it easier to talk about new ways and changed behavior than to actually “live” it. Do my actions show a change of heart? Does my behavior prove a life of faith in Christ? How does the living of my life impact my leadership? – Father, I pray that I might not ask others to do, that which I have not. I pray that I might live the life I talk about. Amen.
“‘How can this be,’ Nicodemus asked. ‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and you do not understand these things?'” Nicodemus had some blind spots, unknowns, and questions. The image of having all the answers can be a mirage in the desert. What things “do you not understand?” Father, I depend on you; Jesus, free me to admit “I do not know everything:” Spirit, grant me wisdom to understand Your ways and movements of grace.
“Tend the flock of God…” Peter offers a string of advice to Christian leaders: Tend the flock (2), humble yourselves (6), cast your cares on God (7), discipline yourself (8), resist the devil (9). Peter seems to have a different kind of advice than what I hear at many pastors and leader’s conferences today. What does humility, casting our cares on God, discipline, and resisting the devil have to do with Christian leadership and tending the flock of God for you? In the midst of mission and ministry; Jesus, help us stay close to you heart and your ways.
“but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin…and sin gives birth to death.” James shares an anatomy of sin, how it works in us. Perhaps God would rather transform our desires than simply work at changing our behavior. Is temptation best dealt with at the point of desire or later in the chain James describes? How is desire transformed? Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.