“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.
“We sent Timothy…to strengthen and encourage you…so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions.” Paul’s concern for the Thessalonian Christians was that some might abandon the faith Jesus. In our day it is tempting to see “Strengthening and encouragement” as a pep talk or a bolstering of confidence in the midst of some personal discouragement. How would “strengthen and encourage” take on new meaning in the context of a people who are suffering for their faith? How can we strengthen and encourage those who suffer for their faith in our day? Lord, bring comfort to your suffering children.
“God does not enjoy the strength of a horse or man, He is pleased with those who respect him, with those who trust His love.” It is easy to get our eyes on the strength of our resources (the horse) and our own physical, mental and even spiritual abilities. What does it take to refocus our attention on honoring God and trusting in His unfailing love? Where are you tempted to take pleasure in your own strength? – In humility I rely on your strength O God; I will honor You and trust in Your loving-kindness to me. Amen.
“Let both of them grow together until the harvest…” Preoccupation of leaders with perfection and “weeding out” those who are not on board with the current vision is
not a healthy approach. The Master is not ambivalent about the problem of weeds; he is patient to see the problem solved later, in a way that benefits the growth of the young wheat. How has my preoccupation with “weeds” hurt my leadership and ministry with the “wheat”? Forgive me, O Father, and help me to wait with You. Amen.
|“in whose spirit is no deceit…” Our temptation after sin, like Adam and Eve, is to hide, to be silent, to cover up, to blame others, to lie. Blessing comes not to the one with a sinless image, but rather to the honest, the humble, the truthful who confess their sins to the Lord and thus receive his forgiveness. Why do I keep going back to hiding? What can I do to help myself and others learn to be honest with God? I have sinned against heaven and earth O Father, but I throw myself upon your gracious love that is beyond all I know.|
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We cannot pray this prayer while seeking money, fame, large followings or political agendas. We cannot ask God to rule our lives, while “seeking first” the treasures of the earth. Implicit in “Your kingdom come”, is our need, both individually and corporately, to repent of our alligiance to the kingdoms and kings we give our loyalty to. We give loyalty instead to God as King of Kings (1 Tim 6:15; Rev 19:16). Not my will, but yours be done O Father in Heaven. Amen.
|“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” It is interesting that “gift language” is our focus here. A “manifestation of the Spirit” is given to each, for the common good, not for the one. “Manifestation” implies God doing something in and through us, not us possessing a gift we decide what to do with. How would my ministry and church be different, if we saw the manifestation of the Spirit in and through each and everyone in the congregation? How can I encourage such? Let your Spirit be seen through your people, O Lord.|
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.” When the people grieve and weep over what they had been missing of God’s mercies, godly leaders guided them, not just to correction, but to joyful response. Do you tend to focus on God’s correction with those you minister with? Where might God call you and the people you work with to simply rejoice in God and find strength for what is ahead? Jesus, merciful savior, let the joy of the Lord be our strength.
“Though the fig tree does not bud…yet I will rejoice in the Lord…” I wonder sometimes if we are vulnerable as Christian leaders to “success”. What if God calls us to the ministry of a Jeremiah or a Habakkuk? What does it mean to be faithful in these ministries? Can I still rejoice in the Lord when the tree doesn’t bud, when there’s no immediate signs of success? – Sovereign Lord, be my strength; make my feet like the feet of a deer, enable me to go on the heights.