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Sunday, January 6, 2019

posted Jan 6, 2019, 9:14 PM by Site Administrator

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BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS!

 

Joshua 1:1-18

Key Verse 1:7

 

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.

 

First, Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land… (1-2). Look at verse 1. After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: The book of Joshua starts right after the death of Moses. Moses was a great spiritual leader. He went to Egypt and brought the Israel people out to God; he was their shepherd who carried them in his heart. But God did not let him bring the Israelites into the promised land; instead, God gave this mission to Joshua, the son of Nun. It was because that much was what God had designed for him to do, and the job of bringing them into the promised land belonged to Joshua, whose Greek name was Jesus. Moses served God’s will in his generation, and then, when his mission was over, he fell asleep. 

 

Now God chose Joshua as his successor. What kind of person was he? He was a son of Nun, an Ephramite. This passage describes Moses as the servant of the LORD, and Joshua as Moses’ aide. He was Moses’ aide. He didn't have his own title or position, but Moses' aide. We have a handsome brother, Sam, and he felt so irritated to be called or known as Roberto's brother. Instead, he wanted to be known as Sam. In this way, we all have the desire to live our own life. But Joshua lived as Moses' aide for forty years. When Moses was tired, it was Joshua who ran to Ralphs, bought Redbull energy drink and brought it to him. When Moses needed some copy papers, it was Joshua who ran to Sam's club and bought the box of copy papers. When Moses needed stamps, it was Joshua who ran to the post office and bought them. Joshua did not live his own life, but as a part of Moses' life. How could Joshua live as Moses' aide, not just one or two years but forty long years? He could do so because he was loyal to God; his service to Moses was the expression of his service to God; the fact that God chose Joshua to be the successor of Moses shows that in God's eyes, Joshua was loyal to God; in God's eyes, Joshua was his loyal servant whose heart and life were completely dedicated to him. As Joshua remained faithful and loyal to his servant Moses, God was very pleased to have such a loyal servant - indeed, he was a reliable man of God. God chose him to be the top leader for his people Israel, because in his eyes, he was great.

 

Now after Moses’ death, God spoke to Joshua, 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. God was going to bring them into the promised land. But the problem was, the land was already occupied – the Canaanites were living there; and neither these people would simply yield their homes and vineyards to the Israel people and evacuate, nor God would remove them from the land. Instead, they, the Israel people should go in and take possession of it. By believing in God’s promise that it was already given to them, they must march in, attack and capture the land inch by inch, yard by yard. By faith that God was with them and that God would really help them to win, they must wage a war against the Canaanites, challenge and conquer them. For this purpose, for this mission, they had been trained for the past forty years in the desert, and had been established as soldiers and warriors. This was the purpose of all the training they had been through for the past forty years in the desert. 

 

God commanded Joshua, You and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land... The first step they should take was to cross the Jordan River. The Jordan River was the border line. The river was a clear cut barrier that separated them from their enemies. The enemies felt secure because of thisbarrier, and the Israelites also felt secure because of the same river. So far, they were in the training session in the desert; what they did was to eat manna, spending most of their time in meditating on the word of God and resting; there was the ark of the covenant, and God's presence was there at the center of the camp of Israelalso. There was no challenge, no danger at all. 

 

But once they crossed the Jordan River, everything would change. It would be complete trespassing, and their enemies would not tolerate it at all. The Canaanites would do all things to destroy the invaders, and the Israelites also would have no other choice but charge forward, attack, destroy the enemies and capture the land. Crossing the Jordan River meant the end of their training and the beginning of the conquest; it would be the end of an easy-going life as God's people, and the beginning of their new life aswarriors and soldiers. Once crossed the River, there would be no turning back or retreat. God commanded them, Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land...

 

One day, in his vision, David heard God the Father saying to God the Son, Jesus. Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. David was so happy and excited, and praised God, prophesying, The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. (Ps 110:2-3) Jesus is ruling in the midst of his enemies until God makes all his enemies a footstool for his feet. In this situation, what are you, Jesus’ believers, his troops, doing? Do you want to live as civilians, enjoying a comfortable life? You are not civilians, but Jesus’ troops, and the Bible says, Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. God commands us, Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land. In our life, God has been with us, molded us and trained us to become soldiers for Jesus Christ. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.(Eph 2:10) Especially, in the year 2018, God has blessed us to taste the goodness of God’s word and to learn of living on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. God has taught us how to handle the word of God and equipped us with the weapons to attack the enemies. God commands us now to cross the Jordan River and wage war against our enemies so that we can conquer them, and take possession of the land. Let’s pray that in the year 2019, we may advance God’s kingdom massively, establishing 200 disciples. Get ready to cross the Jordan River! 

 

Second, I will give you every place you set your foot (3-5). Look at verse 3. Let’s read this verse together:

 

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.

 

This was God’s encouraging promise for Joshua and all his soldiers. There might be great challenges; enemies would outnumber them, having more advanced weapons than the Israelites. But no matter what, wherever Joshua set his foot, that place would be given to him. Here, the word, set has the implication of permanence or completion as we say, It’s set!Setting one’s foot in some place is different from just passing by one time; it comes with decision. Setting one’s foot in one place always comes with his or her complete heart’s determination. Once Joshua tried to set his foot in the enemies’ territory, the enemies would not leave him alone to occupy and live in their land; instead, they would try hard to push him back so that he might not set his foot there. Joshua’s struggle was not that he should do everything from scratch to its completion in conquest. Rather, despite all challenges, difficulties and dangers, he simply set his foot in a certain area, then, God would do his work, helping and empowering the soldiers to capture the land. God also said to him, No one will be able to stand up 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. What great encouragement it was for Joshua! God confirmed that He would be with him in this conquest all the days of his life.

 

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. This is God's promise for all his people. When God's people go out and pioneer God's churches in a new area, all of them without exception come to experience a lot of challenges and difficulties; simply, enemies there do not want anyone to come into their own territory. Once, there were many pastors who tried to serve poor people in an urban area; these poor and isolated people in big cities seemed good target for the gospel. But the problem was that these people were so poor that the pastors could not be paid; so all these pastors had exceptional difficulty financially - they suffered so much that eventually they gave up one by one and two by two until only one pastor was left. This pastor too suffered so much - skipping meals was almost daily practice, no health insurance, his two children cried a lot for hunger, and finally, his wife left him with the children. But this man, even at such pains and difficulties remained there, still taking care of those homeless people. Then, God established a great ministry through this man. We remember Dr. Peter Kim's ministry in Kiev, Ukraine. Many people went to Ukraine as missionaries. But due to financial difficulties and health problems that were related to the Nuclear Plant accident in Chernobyl in 1986, they gave up and went back home, except Dr. Peter Kim. He also suffered a lot financially, and his wife had miscarriage three times. He also thought about going back to Korea. Then, one day God's love that God even sacrificed his son for him touched his heart andhe was determined to lay down his life; simply, he decided to serve God's work and die in that land no matter what. At this, many Ukraine college students were touched, and God blessed him to establish His church in Kiev, Ukraine. When there was a conference in Moscow, Dr. Peter Kim's family brought 60 UkraineCollege students to the conference - in order to attend this conference, they traveled about 30 hours by train. 

 

I will give you every place you set your foot. This is the spiritual principle. God has given us all college campuses as the promised land. It is God's will and desire to establish God's kingdom powerfully on college campuses. But who will establish God's kingdom on college campuses? Only those who set their foot on the campuses despite all challenges and difficulties. Now we struggle hard to set our foot on the college campuses, and our enemies work hard to push us back; we experience a lot of difficulties and challenges, such as, financial difficulties, or lack of time – simply, the tuition is too expensive, or academically, they are too demanding that we don't have much time for God's work. In that way, these days, schools fortify themselves more and more. Sometimes, we are greatly discouraged when several sheep do not show up for Bible study; sometimes, they become rebellious; sometimes, we get bad grades. Surely, there are many difficulties and frustrating moments. But despite all these challenges, we still remain loyal and faithful to God's mission and keep serving college students through the word of God. As we do so, we come to develop some know-hows and figure out how to serve God's work effectively, and God eventually establishes his ministry powerfully through us. God promises, I will never leave you nor forsake you. As he was sending his disciples to the whole world, Jesus said, Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Mt 28:20) So, by believing in God for help, support and provision, we, despite all challenges and difficulties, remain faithful to God's mission to the enddespite all difficulties, we set our foot there with our heart's complete determination, then, God gives that land to us, establishing a powerful ministry through us. In the year 2019, let's pray that we all may be found faithful and loyal to God despite manychallenges in our mission life. 

 

Look at verse 4. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. 

 

God was going to give the Israelites the promised land. And, God gave Joshua its exact boundary. Their land would be from Lebanon on the North to the Paran desert on the South, where they had been wandering for forty years, from the Mediterranean Sea on the West to the Euphrates River on the East. It was a vast land, covering modern day Jordan, Iraq, and the Northern part of Saudi Arabia - basically, about the half of the whole Middle East. God had really a big plan for Israel. If the Israelites worked hard and captured the whole land, God would give them this much land, then, the world history would have gone in a totally different direction – the nation Israel would not have been a small country amongst many big empires; instead, Israel would have been dominant in the whole Middle East. That’s God’s original plan for Israel. But because the Israel people occupied only a fraction of the promised land, the history has gone based on that also. 

 

This makes us think a lot about how we must live our life as God’s people. God has a great vision for you – you will be the father of many nations; you will be the mother of many nations; God wants to bring his blessing to all people through you. If you work hard and live up to this great vision, the world history will go in that way and your life will be so amazing and great. But if you give up or just live for the fraction of God’s vision only because of some difficulties, then, your life will go that way also. God has a great vision for our church – establishing 50 churches in California. Once this vision is fulfilled, all Californian college students will have a chance to study the Bible, know God and become powerful spiritual leaders. But that’s not all. Once this vision is completed, it will be just the beginning of the real great thing. We will pioneer all 50 states in America, raising up young people as powerful disciples of Jesus through Bible studies. Those churches that recognize what God is doing through us will come to us and we will teach them Genesis so that they can do the same thing. Then, America will be the city on a hill for the whole world once again. Then we can conquer the whole world, sending out missionaries and establishing Shepherds Church in all nations. If we work hard, the history can go that way, and when things go that way, our life will be really great. This is really thrilling. But if we don’t work hard and thereby, fulfill just a fraction of God’s vision on us, then, we will remain as a small church in this hilly billy city Gardena. And we just praise each other saying, You are a great man of God, Your testimony was great! I enjoyed it. Or, we vainly brag about our church, saying, Our church is no ordinary church. If we do not advance powerfully, but just remain as 70 people church, then, eventually, it becomes a family church or community church where people come and enjoy some fun time without any real mission, or vision. Then, about 60 years or 100 years later, the church disappears, without leaving any trace. Which one do you prefer? Of course, the former case. We must strive wholeheartedly to live up to God’s great vision. When we do it, we come to see many great things, and we will be truly happy and satisfied. Let’s give ourselves fully to God’s work so that God’s vision may come true in our life. May God bless us with 200 disciples this year. That will be the real beginning of God’s work in the land.

 

ThirdBe strong and very courageous (6-18). Look at verse 6. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.

 

Be strong and courageous! This was one of the two instructions God issued for Joshua as he was going to lead the Israel people into the promised land. God did not ask him to have the most advanced weapons or special battle skills, but to bestrong and courageousWhy did God give him this instruction? Of course, it was because there would be many challenging moments as he served this conquest. They were completely outnumbered by the enemies. Many Canaanite kingdoms had iron chariots,equivalent to modern day tanks, while all Israel people were foot soldiers. The Canaanites were living in the fortified cities, well organized and protected. Some of them were the descendants of the Nephilims – the gigantic tribe, 9 feet tall like Goliath or the Incredible Hulk. Naturally, Joshua might be terrified when he faced these challengesAlso, some inner conflicts might occur in the camp of Israel as well - maybe, some disagreement among the leaders, or some people may not like his leadership, or some people may have a sin problem; sometimes, they would be routed and casualties would be there - certainly, discouraging situation. But God told him to be strong and courageous no matter what, repeatedly over and over. In verse 6, God said, Be strong and courageous. In verse 7, God said to him, Be strong and very courageous. In verse 9, God said, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged. God never said that there would not be any difficulties. But what God meant was that, despite all these challenges and terrifying moments, Joshua would not be affected by them; instead, he would keep saying, We can do it. God is with us, and he would encourage his people to attack the enemies boldly. 

 

Why should Joshua be strong and courageous? God says, Because you will lead these people to inherit the land,… If Joshua lost his heart and courage due to some challenges and difficulties, then, he would not be able to fight and continue the conquest. So, being strong and courageous was a must for him to lead God's people into the promised land. And it is a must for all God's people serving God's kingdom work. If we are discouraged or terrified because of some failures, or enemies’ attacks, or some challenging or painful moments, then, we cannot function as soldiers for Christ, leaders for the lost souls in the world. Many people are waiting for you to come and help them and lead them to the kingdom of God. You are carrying out a very important mission for God and for God’s people. So, be strong and very courageous no matter what. While bombs fall around us, while missilesbullets and arrows pass right above our heads, we stand firm and do God's work continually. God says, For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. As we serve God’s work, surely, God is with us; he knows what we are doing, and what we have faced, and what we have been going through. Knowing all these, he encourages us, saying, Be strong and very courageous!... Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged.

 

Look at verses 7 and 8. Let’s read these verses together:

 

7Be 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. 8Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; 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.

 

God says, Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you. The other instruction he gave Joshua was to be careful to obey all the law of GodIn the law, God reveals what He desires for us to do and what kind of life we must live – God’s laws reveal God’s will and purpose very well. There are 613 laws in the Old Testament, and all these laws are God’s instructions of what we must do and what we must not do in regard to our relationship with God and with our neighbors – duties and obligations to keep well these relationships. The whole thing of the laws in regard to our relationship with God is to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and God wants us to keep it. Thus comes our struggle to seek God’s name, God’s kingdom and God’s will above our own things, denying ourselves, submitting ourselves to His will and serving God’s will and purpose. The whole thing of the laws in regard to our relationship with our neighbors is to love them as ourselves, and God wants us to keep it. Thus comes our struggle to not be selfish or self-centered, but be sacrificial, spending our time, money and energy for others. 

 

When we read this passage prayerfully, we can see that the emphasis is on be careful to obey... be careful to do everything written in it. We must be very careful to obey God's words. Many people are so casual about obeying God's words; simply, they assume that they obey God’s laws because they go to church once a week, or because they have not murdered anyone. But keeping God’s laws is far more than that. Some people assume that they do what God wants them to do – in many cases, they just do whatever they feel like doing. Or even some people say, I prayed about it, and I have peace in my heart about it. But often, it is what they desireA prominent man of God said that whenever a decision making time came, he always chose a harder way, and it turned out to be the right way. Jesus' disciples' way is the way of self-denial and cross-taking. We need to be very careful to obey God's laws - God's will and purpose. 

 

God says, Do not turn from it to the right or to the left.Turning to the right or to the left means emphasizing a certain point of God’s words based on their preference or political or national view. Many God believing people have done so. As a result, history shows that in the name of Christ, people have donemany evil. God clearly says, Do not turn from it to the right or to the left.” The word of God is not there to support our political or national view, but it is there to correct us so that we can grow as real citizens of the kingdom of God. Sometimes, Joshua might not understand why God gave him a certain direction; sometimes, the direction might look a little harsh for him to obey - maybe, even against his own human sympathy. But Joshua should not turn from it to the right or to the left; he should not add his own ideas to it; he should not omit anything from it only to suit his own styles; instead, he should stick to what God wanted him to do absolutely.  

 

God says, that you may be successful wherever you go.This is an interesting point: Obeying God’s laws carefully and precisely is directly related to success and prosperity. Joshua was going to have a war against many powerful nations in Canaan. Surely, he wanted to have success in this war; he wanted to win. God showed him the secret way of success - that was to be careful to obey God's laws - not casually, not just assuming, but being very careful to do everything God wanted him to do. His success would be dependent on his struggle to obey God's lawsSo, while he struggled to fight to win the wars, his real struggle was to be careful to obey God’s laws. This is the secret of living a truly successful life in God. Don’t you want to be prosperous in God? Don’t you want to be successful wherever you go? Be careful to obey God's words, God’s will absolutely - do not turn from it to the right or to the left, then, you will be successfulWhat does it mean to be prosperous and successful? It means that you have a good and high-paying job, and at work, you are so recognized and promoted continuously; academically you get good grades, and you have Master’s degree, or Doctoral degree, or you have a very good license; your business goes very well that you become rich; your family life goes very well and your children become successful and prominent in the society; and spiritually you save many souls and establish many disciples.Indeed, you bear good fruit in your life, and many people are blessed because of you. That’s what it means to be prosperous and successful. When your life goes that way, you are so happy. You live as Jesus' disciples according to God's will and purpose; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, but remain in his will no matter what, then, you will bear much fruit in your life as Jesus' disciples, and you become great. This is exactly what Jesus says in the New Testament continually. Jesus himself says, I know that his command leads to eternal life. So, his whole struggle was to do everything God commanded him, even to the point of what to say and how to say it. Jesus says, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. He also says, If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s command and remain in his love. (Jn 15:10) 

 

Again, the emphasis here is to be careful to obey God's laws. It means to obey God's laws precisely, or specifically. Many people say, I believe in Jesus; I love God. With this, they think that they are good Christians - simply, they take their life of faith so casually. Some people after reading the Bible a little, say, I know the Bible. They think that they are God's friends because they go to church every Sunday. But God commands us to be careful to obey all his commands; he commands us to live our life according to his words precisely and specifically. So, what should we do to obey God's words precisely? 

 

God says in verse 88Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it… We mustnot let this Book of the Law depart from our mouth. It does not mean that we should attach the Bible to our mouth; it means that we should talk about the word of God, study the word of God and teach the word of God; simply, it means that the word of God should be the center of all our conversation - simply, we keep talking about the word of God wherever we go and whatever we do. When we gather at the church, we don't talk about worldly or fleshly stuffs, but the word of God - we study and teach the word of God; when we gather at home, instead of just watching the TV, or talking about the stock market, we talk about the word of God. This is possible when our real concern or interest is the word of God. Whatever is stored up in man's heart comes out. So, God says, Meditate on it day and night. We love the word of God more than anything in the world, so we think about it, try to understand it day and night. We eat daily bread; we struggle to write deep and sincere testimony every week. Through all these struggles, we come to grasp what God is really talking about - God's real intention, his heart's real desire in giving such commands and regulations. Then, we can truly obey God's will and purpose - not just religious life, but the real life of obeying God and doing what He wants us to do. That's how we can be very careful to obey God's words - not just casually, not just assuming. When we struggle with the word of God this way, God's promise is ours - Then you will be prosperous and successful. In the new year 2019we pray to do great work of God, establishing 200 disciples; also, we want to get a good job; we want to be successful. These things cannot be done with our own strugglesalone. What we can do is limited. But when we meditate on God’s word day and night and obey His will and purpose carefully, we will be indeed prosperous. Do not let God’s word depart from your mouth. Let’s meditate on the word of God day and nightIn this way, we all will be successful and prosperous - in the job matter, in the school matter, and in the matter of establishing many disciples. Then, we will shout for joy.

 

Look at verses 10 and 11. At God’s instruction, the General Joshua ordered people, saying, “Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.” God was going to help them win the war, yet how come Joshua ordered them to get their supplies ready? It was because, even if God would be with them, it was still they, the Israelites, who would fight in the war. “Get your supplies ready.” As we prepare ourselves for God’s work in the year 2019, we need to get our supplies ready – we need to sharpen our Bible study notes, we need to sharpen our spirit through sincere prayer struggles. During Bible study, John Boos came up with a suggestion to rearrange our Group Bible study time. Now a lot of us go to campus after work, so our time for God’s work is limited. Yet, the problem is, we cannot use Wednesday for God’s work due to our Group Bible study, and on Thursday, since there is Women coworkers have Group Bible study, all the brothers have to watch kids, so, Thursday, we cannot go to campus, and then, Friday testimony meeting is there. So, our time is really limited. One of the most important supplies we need is time. So, we are working on it.

 

Look at verses 12 through 15. But to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua told them to go ahead of all other people in the battle. These two and a half tribes had already secured their own homes and farms and pasturelands on the east side of the Jordan, before they crossed it. So, compared to other Israel tribes, they were called, Trans-Jordan tribes.Joshua told them that they should not settle until all other tribes secured their lands and homes in the promised land; only after that, they would go back to their own homes. Maybe, this would take many years. At this, what was their response? Look at verses 16 through 18. Let’s read these verses together:

 

16Then they answered Joshua, Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!

 

They had absolute obedience to Joshua because he was God’s chosen servant. Indeed, as they said in this passage, they fought inthe front line wholeheartedly, and only after all their brothers and sisters secured their lands and homes in the promised land, did they go back to their own homes.

 

God has given us the promised land – colleges and universities. This promised land is flowing with milk and honey – we will enjoy beautiful vineyards and farms, beautiful churches, powerful disciples, and pure-hearted men and women of God. But only after we capture them. By believing in God’s promise, we must cross the River, go in to the land, set our foot there, and capture it. In the year 2019, let’s capture the land and establish the kingdom of God on our campuses.

 

One Word:God Says, I Will Give You Every Place You Set Your Foot.

 

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