“All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence with them.”

– Hudson Taylor

In life, we all have those moments in which we have a goal we must reach but don’t quite know how to reach it. In business, there are monthly and quarterly financial goals which a company must reach in order to be successful. It is up to those in charge to create a plan for how to reach those goals. In science there are theories and speculations about specific things that must be true about the world around us. It is up to a scientist to make a step-by-step plan on how to prove his or her theory or scientific speculation. In Christianity, the process is no different. God calls His people to perform certain tasks for His kingdom. Yet, sometimes we receive a calling on our lives from God that we don’t quite know how to accomplish. This can be frustrating because we know that God has given us a goal to reach, but we don’t know how to do it successfully.

The Bible reveals the life of a man named Joshua who faced the same issue. Joshua was faced with leading thousands of people into the land of their birthright to claim their land according to the promises of God. Joshua was faced with one of the greatest callings in human history and yet he had no clue how to accomplish the goal that God had set before him. God recognized that this task seemed daunting to Joshua, so He spoke to Joshua and told him exactly how he would fulfill the calling of God. It is through this speech and the life of Joshua that we can learn the same important lesson as Joshua.

Fulfilling the Calling of God Upon Our Lives

  1. Be faithful in the little things- Joshua 1:1-3

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, “My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. 

Here we see the enormous task that was set before Joshua. Not only was he to lead thousands of people to claim the land of their birthright according to God, but he also had to fill the shoes of Moses, one of the greatest leaders of all time. Moses, through the power of God, freed the Israelites from slavery and bondage, performed countless miracles and led his people through desert and wilderness to the border of their promised land. God communicated with Moses face to face, and it was through Moses that God gave the people of Israel His laws and teachings which would guide the rest of their lives. Moses was a great leader and yet God chose his assistant, Joshua, to fulfill the task that God had originally given Moses, to lead the people into the Promised Land. God’s Word teaches us that “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”[1] Joshua was a prime example of this principle. For a large portion of his life he was a simple assistant to one of the greatest men in history, but he was faithful, and stayed loyal to God’s chosen, as well as to God. In so doing, Joshua was called by God to one of the greatest callings in history. Sometimes, God asks us to be second rather than first. In so doing, He is asking us to be faithful in the little and often overlooked tasks in order to prepare us for a greater calling.

  1. Victory is found through God alone – Joshua 1:5

No one shall 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 not fail you or forsake you.

God tells Joshua that he will not fail or abandon him and he will have victory over all who oppose him. According to William Tyndale, “the emphasis [in this passage] lies with God’s role as warrior, fighting on behalf of Joshua and Israel.” Without God fighting on behalf of His people and for Joshua, victory would not be accomplished. It is through God’s presence in his life that Joshua would fulfill his calling. When success enters our own lives it is easy to forget where this success comes from. It is easy to say that we, by ourselves, fulfill our call. Yet, as God informs Joshua, the true fulfillment of our call is found in the presence of God upon our lives. Our success comes from God going before us, clearing the path of all who oppose us. It is through God alone that we find victory in our lives.

  1. Great callings are not for the Faithless- Joshua 1:6

Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them.

This is the first of three times that God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. Each time is for a different reason. According to Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman of Vilna, God’s command to be strong and courageous are commands to be physically strong and emotionally strong. Physically strong means to show no physical signs of fear or doubt, like trembling. Emotionally strong means Joshua needed to have no doubt in his heart or mind that he will have the victory that God promised him. When God gives us a calling or task, our first action must be to face that task with faith. We must believe that if God has called us to do something then He will see it to fruition. Faith takes strength, physical and emotional strength. Great callings are not for the weak but are for those who trust that God will do exactly what He says.

  1. With a great calling comes great responsibility- Joshua 1:7-8

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful.

This passage is probably one of the most important passages in Joshua chapter 1. Here we see God command Joshua to, again, be strong and courageous and to follow the teachings of Moses. The Hebrew equivalent of the first portion of this passage emphasizes that following the teachings of Moses will, in itself, take strength and courage. Now, why would God, in the middle of encouraging and calling Joshua, tell him that following the teachings of Moses will take strength and courage. This seems almost out of place. However, it no longer seems out of place when we see that God tells Joshua that following the teachings would lead to success in his calling. God also tells Joshua what it means to follow the teachings of Moses. First, these teachings must not depart from his mouth, meaning he must speak them for others to hear. Second, He must meditate, meaning to think about them with a deep focus. Third, his actions must reflect the teachings of Moses. God tells Joshua that following His teachings that He gave to Moses by speaking them, focusing his mind on them, and doing them, would lead to success in his calling. But God seems to warn Joshua that doing this would take great strength and courage. Following His commands would not be easy, but if he remained diligent in his obedience to God then he would be successful in his calling. This passage shows the importance of obedience to God in the success of the task He has given us. If we are to fulfill our calling, then we must respond to God with our obedience. God does not promise that this will be easy. In fact, God says that it will take strength and great courage. However, if we allow the teachings of God to consume our lives, to consume our words, our thoughts and our actions, then through our obedience we will have victory.

  1. Don’t forget, we cannot do it alone- Joshua 1:9

I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Now, at this point, like Joshua, you may be a little overwhelmed. Not only does following the calling of God take great faith, but it takes supreme obedience. You may be wondering how you can do all of this AND fulfill the calling or assignment God has given you. The answer is, you can’t. There is no human on this earth that can muster up enough faith and completely obey all of God’s teachings by themselves. This is why we have God Himself. God tells Joshua in this passage that he must be strong and courageous because God is with him. God’s presence is the source of Joshua’s strength, courage, faith and obedience. Even the greatest leaders of all of human history could not have enough faith or completely obey God without the presence of God upon them. As Christians, we must recognize that this is the very reason that God sent His Son and His Holy Spirit to us. It is solely through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we are able to fulfill God’s calling upon our lives.

Joshua had to be told and reminded that he alone could not accomplish what God had asked him to do. We must learn this same lesson ourselves if we are ever to accomplish what God has asked each of us to do. Nothing can be truly accomplished without God. And if this is true then the opposite is also true, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”[2] We must never forget that Christ is the source of fulfillment in all that we are asked to do.

Now that we understand that we cannot fulfill the calling of God on our lives by ourselves, we can give a proper analysis of what God’s calling is for each of His people. This will be the subject of next week’s post. Until then, take some time this week to recognize your need for God in everything that you do and thank Him for always being in every area of your life and for the fulfillment His presence has provided in your life thus far.

[1] Luke 16 :10

[2] Philippians 4:13

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