Joshua is the kind of person that every leader would want to have by their side. He shared a relationship with Moses that no one ever had. This close relationship with Moses resulted in him having a similar relationship with God that he had.
Joshua’s story is woven throughout the Pentateuch, but his best-known stories are found in the Old Testament book that is titled after his name. Joshua was a loyal disciple of Moses and he was a great encouragement to his Mentor. He faithfully served as a spy in the land of Canaan, he served as a military leader who fought and won great battles and he became a great leader who ushered the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. Here are some key components of this man’s amazing life.
Background of Joshua
Joshua: The Faithful Disciple
Every mentor is doing an excellent job when they have a faithful disciple(s) at their side. Moses is no exception. In the earlier days of his life, Moses was given an enormous God sized task to accomplish. There is no question Moses could have never accomplished what he did without God being present in his life.
Moses needed loyal men and women around him to accomplish many of the tasks set before him. It is vital for any Spiritual leader to be surrounded by faithful and loyal people to both mentor and disciple. Moses had several… but none more loyal than Joshua. Joshua was Moses’ “go to guy”. If he needed something done and needed it done right and without any lip, Joshua was his man. We do not read anywhere that Joshua ever questioned Moses’ strategies, commands or leadership, no matter how outlandish they may have seemed at the time. He trusted Moses exclusively, because he knew God was with him and he was completely submitted to God.
In Exodus 17 Moses tells Joshua to assemble an army and go out and fight the Amalekites, Joshua didn’t look at Moses like he had a third arm growing out of his body… he says, “Yes sir!” When Moses tells Joshua to take some spies and check out the land of Canaan. He did as he was told and he was one of two men who came back with encouraging news about how he felt they could defeat the Canaanites.
Moses and Joshua had a special bond. Moses would take Joshua with him when he went to the tabernacle to worship God. In Exodus 24:13, Joshua goes up to the Mountain of the Lord with Moses. In 33:11, Joshua stays with Moses in the tent as the Lord speaks to him.
Overall, Joshua has a deep love and respect for Moses. In return Moses pours his life into this young man and he mentors him to become the next great leader of the nation of Israel and who would inherit the promise of God.
Joshua: The Faith-Filled Leader
Joshua was a loyal servant, assistant and successor to Moses. He was not just a loyal man to Moses, he was also a loyal and dependent leader of God. Joshua had to be both a faithful servant and a faith-filled man of God. Joshua was a busy man, he had a full plate both as a Spiritual leader and a military leader. As a result he had to make some pretty tough decisions regarding sin in Israel, and he faced challenges that required a faith that seemed extraordinary.
The four key distinctions that made Joshua a faith-filled leader.
There is so much more to the life of Joshua than I was unable to touch on. I look at his loyalty to both God and his mentor and I desire to be and to have a Joshua in my life. As followers of Jesus Christ, it is imperative that we be men and women of our word, be people of faith, make tough calls when it comes to the glory of God and be men and women who are willing to pray big faith-filled prayers.
Moses is a key individual in the history of the nation of Israel and it is through Him God establishes the Laws of the Nation, performs miracles, a structure for worship and deliver’s his people from slavery.
A Little Background
Moses: The Leader
Moses was called by God.
This is probably one of the most important qualities of any spiritual leader PERIOD. Read Exodus 3:4, 10. As Moses was in the desert serving his father-in-law he came upon a burning bush and heard the voice of God calling him. The voice of God called him by name and gave him specific details as to what He had in store for Moses. God tells Moses He is going to use him to deliver the Israelites out the hands of the Egyptians. Calling is essential to the work of God.
I run into people constantly who have no concept of calling and leadership. Believe it or not leadership (especially in the body of Christ) is a calling and is not necessarily something that is learned. Certainly people can go to school, college, seminaries etc. and learn how to be a leader of the church but if God has not called this individual to this role they will never be effective for the Kingdom of God. There are people who are able to attract a lot of people, build large church buildings, and convince people to support them in various ways but God will not put his hand of blessing (spiritually speaking) upon an individual who is not called. As humans we have the tendency to associate success with human accomplishments, charisma as a leader and the likeability (or attractiveness) of an individual. When we read this passage no where does God refer to Moses’ human qualities, confidence or character as a way to accomplish his will. As God speaks to Moses you can see God uses the word “I” a lot. God is the one who accomplishes success and as leaders we would do well to understand and believe this.
People have asked me, “How do you know that you are called to the ministry?” It is a question I cannot honestly answer other than saying, “I just know I am.” I certainly did not have a physical burning bush experience in my life but I do know that God has been with me every step of the way. This leads me to the second quality.
Moses was Dependent on God.
When you are called by God you also acknowledge that you cannot lead on your own. In fact when you are called you respond much like Moses does in Exodus 4:10 – 12 (Read). When I received my calling my initial response was, “Um, God… Are you sure you have the right man here? I mean look at me, I am overweight, I am not a dynamic speaker, I don’t fit any mold for a Pastor and besides I was never a leader, I was always a follower in my younger days. Maybe you were talking to someone next to me and I overheard the conversation.” It took time for me to come to the understanding that God wasn’t calling me because of the things I thought I needed to be, He was calling me in spite of me. A called leader knows that success comes when we are completely dependent on God. Ultimately I have no control over the success of my ministry. My job is to be available when God calls and completely dependent on him when he does. Read Exodus 33:12 -16. Moses basically says, “I will go wherever you call me to go, however I will not go unless you go before me.” A true leader knows he cannot accomplish anything for God unless God goes before him.
Moses prayed for his people.
A leader must always pray for his flock. There were times when Moses was praying that God would shut the complainers mouths and I am sure there were times when he prayed God would get a little tough with them, but I also know he interceded for his people as well. Read Exodus 32:11 -14 and Deut. 9:25 – 29. Little did the people of Israel know that Moses was interceding for them. There are a number of times where God says to Moses, “I’ve had it with this rebellious nation! I’m going to kill them all and start all over.” Yet Moses as the leader intercedes for them and because of this the Bible tells us that God relented.
Moses was in continual fellowship with God.
Since Moses was a man of prayer we also know he spent time with God. He was on a mountain with him and was shown the tail end of God’s glory (the most any man or woman in the Bible ever saw of God). The end result was Moses’ face shined the Shekinah glory for days after being in the presence of God. Exodus 33:7 – 11 tells us Moses would leave the camp of Israel and make a tent and fellowship with God. They respected this and they knew the presence of God was with him. I love that verse 11 says, “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to a friend.”
Time with God is a very important time of a leader’s position. This is why it is important for leaders to take time away and just be with God. We sometimes need to leave the camp (or our offices) and go spend time with the Lord. I love to do this and I plan to do it more in the months to come. It is during this time with God that He speaks to us as a man speaks to a friend.
Moses was not perfect.
Moses was a flawed individual. He was not perfect, he misrepresented God at times, made bad decisions, and generally ticked off the masses but this did not disqualify him as a leader. In fact this made him a better leader to the people because in his flaws and quirks the people could see that it wasn’t Moses who was to be glorified, it was God who needs to be glorified. Read Numbers 20:10 – 13. This is a sad day in the life of Moses. He misrepresented God to the people. It was a mistake that Moses would live to regret. However God continued to use Moses even after this fatal flaw.
As a leader I am aware that I am far from perfect. I know my limitations and I know there are times I have missed out on a blessing because of my stubbornness or my stupidity. I do know that God has not abandoned me in my sin. I know God still chooses to work through me (even when I can’t understand why). God displays his mercy to us so that we may display mercy to others. I for one am glad that God uses imperfect people to accomplish his perfect plan.
The story of Moses’ life is one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible. It gives me encouragement to know that God is not out actively seeking for men and women who “have it together” to accomplish his will. I look at the successes and failures of Moses during his lifespan and I see the hand of God in all aspects of this mans life. As individuals and as a congregation we can also be encouraged that God’s hand is upon us to accomplish his will here is Spring Valley. God has done some amazing things in the history of the nation of Israel (I would encourage you to read through these stories in the outline) and I believe He can and does still have amazing things in store for his Church as well; what they may be, I don’t know, we can only pray, wait and see.
I preached a sermon yesterday at First Presbyterian and below are my sermon notes.
Have you ever wondered what life would be like if God answered, “Yes” to every prayer you ever prayed?
I thank God for not always answering prayers the way I want. I look back on my life, I am so thankful that God said, “No” to many of my prayers. Do you think that when God says, “No”, this makes him a mean God? Does he not care about us when he says, “no”? Does it mean God wants us to be miserable and unhappy? No! I believe it’s just the opposite. God never says, “No” just because. There is always a purpose behind his “no” and today we will see how this was true for Paul and it can be for us today.
Acts 16:6 - 15
Hindered by the Holy Spirit
Vs: 6, 7: Paul and his companions were on a mission’s trip and they were in the towns of Phrygia and Galatia with the intention of going to Asia. Paul’s heart was to go to Asia (Asia Minor) to preach the Gospel, but we are told the Holy Spirit had forbidden Him to go. They changed their plans and when they came to a place called Mysia they decided to go north to Bithynia and once again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
We don’t know exactly why they were not allowed to go to Asia and Bithynia, but we see later that God had other plans for them. We also do not know how they were hindered to go (did God literally and physically restrain them or did he close doors and shut down opportunities?), we just know the Spirit of God would not allow them to go. As far as we know Paul was not doing anything wrong nor was there a known sin that was hindering him. He was zealous. He wanted to proclaim the Gospel and he wanted to bring the good news to places that hadn’t heard it yet. Paul’s desire was for one place and God’s plan was for another and they were not the same.
Vs. 9, 10: In a town called Troas Paul receives a vision of a man from Macedonia who was urging him to come down to him to help them. It seems at this point God’s plan was to bring the Gospel to Europe instead of Asia (Not that the Gospel would never come to Asia, it just wasn’t the right time). It is also at this point the author and physician Luke joins their missionary team because in verse 10 the writer begins writing in the first person (we instead of they). From this point on Luke travels with Paul on his missions journeys.
Vs 11 - 15: The men set sail from Troas they went north to Samothrace and Neopolis and eventually ended up in Macedonia to share the Gospel (in a city called Philipi). They remained there for many days. On the Sabbath the group went to the riverside to find a place of prayer. They began sharing the Gospel with a few women who were there. One of the women who heard the Gospel was Lydia. Lydia was a gentile woman who was a seller of purple (a very expensive and luxurious purple dyed cloth) and the Spirit of God was at work as He opened her heart to receive to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She was baptized (with her household) as a believer into the family of God.
This is an important event in the history of Christianity because Lydia became one of the first Christian converts in Europe. She was probably a wealthy woman because she offered to put Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke up in her household. This is significant because Jews typically would not stay in the home of a gentile, let alone a gentile woman.
When God Says, “NO”
The Spirit of God is at work in this passage. We get a pretty vivid picture as to how God works for His glory when he does things we are not expecting. We see the importance of seeking God’s will and allowing His will to overshadow our will. Paul’s desire was to proclaim the Gospel to the people of but this wasn’t what God had in store at this point of his life. This is often true for so many of us as we are determined to do what we want that we can end up not being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit of God.
We plan. We set goals. We create and cast vision and mission statements. But we sometimes fail to seek God’s over our desires. Sometimes our will and God’s will do not line up. Often our desires and plans are not bad, sinful or selfish but they are not what God has willed at this specific moment. This can be frustrating on a personal level because we put a lot of time, effort and resources into our plans just to see the door closed on us. We think we have wasted all of our time, effort and resources when in reality the closed door is pointing us in the God’s direction. Pastor James Montgomery Boice writes, “We need to understand that ‘closed doors’ though they are a type of negative guidance, are nevertheless true guidance.” It is important to be sensitive to the Spirit of God and flexible to change when God is the one who initiates the change.
Why God Says, “No”?
This brings us to the question many have asked, “Why does God say, ‘No’”? If God truly loved us why would he say, “No”?
Here are four reasons.
Are You On the Right Path?
How do we know we are in God’s will? How is it that we can make sure we are doing the right thing He called us to do? Maybe you are in a difficult point of your life today and you are uncertain as to what God is up to and where he is leading. Here are a few suggestions to help you determine…
 Boice, James Montgomery: Acts, Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1997 p. 274
I love grilling. What guy wouldn’t? It contains the three ingredients of manliness…Meat, fire and the great outdoors. I feel a great sense of satisfaction when the meat is grilled to perfection (in most cases) and I serve the food to my family and/or guests and they consume it with delight. I especially don't want people leaving unsatisfied and hungry. I want people to leave full and satisfied.
I sometimes think grilling the perfect steak or hamburger and preaching a sermon have some similarities and differences. I enjoy serving the meat of God’s Word through written word and preaching. I love taking the time to create and craft the “perfectly grilled” message (through much prayer, study and listening) and sharing it with whomever will consume it. However, I do not want the recipients of the messages I write or preach to leave full and satisfied. I actually want them to be hungry and wanting more. Why? You may think, Isn’t the job of the pastor to feed the people? Yes and no. Pastors have a responsibility and calling to preach the Word of God, to feed the people He has put under their care and we are to do it with excellence. I approach each sermon or devotional with the intention of challenging and encouraging the individual and to glorify God. As Pastors we need to preach the Word of God carefully, prayerfully and clearly.
I have heard individuals say, “I come to church to fill up my spiritual gas tank so I can get through the rest of the week.” I have also heard some say, “I am just not getting fed at my church.” I personally struggle with these statements. On one hand I agree, the sermon should “be enough” to satisfy and fill up, but on the other I do not think the sermon should be the only spiritual food one consumes. As Pastors we want people to be hungry when they leave a worship service. We want their hunger or desires to be stirred up and left longing for more God in their life. I call this holy dissatisfaction. I equate this with the feeling of being hungry and eating but not satisfying your hunger. When someone eats, the hunger pangs may subside for a moment but you are far from full and satisfied. You want more! This is how I view the sermon. It is food (hopefully good food) that causes the pangs to go away for a moment but it ultimately leaves you longing for more. It is not meant to fill up, it is meant to stir up.
A pastor is a shepherd (or undershepherd) and one of his jobs is to bring the people under his care to the place where they can feed themselves… i.e. green pastures where they can graze and feed. I, nor any other Pastor cannot force one to go this place and we certainly cannot make you eat, but we can lovingly direct you to the place where you can eat all you want. I have said to people in the past, “If you are depending on me or anyone else's sermons to be enough spiritual food to get you through the week, then you are going to be one undernourished and weak believer.” This is why it is important to read God’s Word, pray, and seek out individuals who can “do life” with you. Sunday is not the day for filling up on God’s Word. Sunday is the day to stir up a hunger for God’s Word so that you can feed on Him for the rest of the week.
Hopefully this message has been “grilled” into your heart… Take charge of your spiritual diet and feed on the Word of God; this is where true feeding and satisfaction is found.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
Preview or purchase Jeff's Books