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God and money -- Success, Joshua 1
Many things to many people
What is success? There are many different answers to this question. To some, success is measured in titles. To have the corner office with the view, to be called Sir or Ma'am by subordinates, to be addressed as Dr., or Commander, or Your Honor is what some people aspire to. To others, success is measured in recognition. These people want their name to be seen in newspapers, announced on the radio and television, and bannered across the internet. Many people want positive recognition for their accomplishments, or their gifts and talents and abilities. But there are some who will take any recognition. If they can't be famous they are willing to be infamous.
Some people measure success in amounts of money and quantity and quality of material posessions. To them, the luxuries of life are the goal that marks them as successful. They dream of having a Mercedes Benz, or a Lexus, or Bentley, or Maybach. They want a large house filled with valuable furniture, artwork and the necessary accessories that will showcase to everyone that they have "made it". They need to see a large number in the bank account and the investment account. And there is usually some special thing that they desire to have, the having of it letting them know they are successful.
No one sets out in life to be a failure. Everyone has dreams and goals and desires. We don't always get them, however. Sometimes life takes unusual twists and turns and we end up in a very different place from where we intended to be. Its all right to have dreams. It's all right to be successful. Successful people benefit the people around them. The person with a title is usually in a position that involves serving the needs of many people. People in authority make decisions that affect many lives. The person who wants to be recognized has to work hard, using and developing their skills and talents. Along the way, they touch a lot of other people--employing them, encouraging them and being an example to them. The person who wants money has to find a way to accumulate it. This person will create jobs in the process. When they buy the luxuries they desire, someone makes money selling this stuff to them. Whether we realize it or not, we are interconnected, so that when one person prospers, many other people prosper as well. So there is nothing wrong with a person's desire to do well, or their efforts in that direction.
Does God look like this?
God has a success formula
God recognizes that people want to succeed in life. But He is concerned with how you get there. Whatever measure you use to define success, you have choices as to how you will achieve your goals. There are several places in the Bible in which God tells people the way in which He wants them to succeed. I plan to look at this over several hubs. In this article I want to look at God's words to Joshua concerning success.
In the end of the book of Genesis, the family of Jacob goes to Egypt to live. But they overstayed their welcome and things got hostile. So in Exodus, God calls Moses to help the people get out of Egypt and go back home to Israel. This should have been a two week trip, but instead they fool around and spend forty (40) years wandering around in circles. You can chuckle and say, "those silly Israelites" but that's how some people live their lives. You can make life simple and get where you want to go, or you can make it complicated and wander around aimlessly for years.
Anyway, they finally get to the end of the journey. But right then, Moses finds out he's not going. He had an apprentice, Joshua. God tells him that Joshua is the one who is going to take the people forward from this point. Moses gives a great farewell speech, which is like the whole book of Deuteronomy, and then he goes up on a mountain and they never see him again. Now Joshua is left with these people, who started out about seventy or so when they went to Egypt but now there is like a million of them. He is looking at all these people and thinking, "WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH ALL THESE PEOPLE!?!" He is scared silly. That brings us to Joshua chapter 1.
Encouragement from above
God realized Joshua was a little nervous about leading all these people. So He gives Joshua a pep talk and He gives the God formula-for-success. God tells Joshua, "Look, Moses couldn't do anything without my help and neither can you. But I am going to help you and you will do just fine, if you follow my instructions."
Then in verses 7 and 8 of this opening chapter, God gives Joshua the instructions.
"Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shall meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." (King James Version)
What's that got to do with you?
The same success formula God gave Joshua is intended for us. If you really want to get somewhere in life, you have to let God drive the car. This is what these verses tell us:
- It takes strength and courage to succeed. There are going to obstacles and challenges along the way. If it was easy, everyone would be there. But everyone is not. Most people are not going to make the effort it takes to "make it". Many people would rather blame, whine and complain about why they never "get a break". You have to be willing to do things you don't want to do. You have to be willing to do things you are scared to do. You may feel like you are out there with no one but you and God. But if you are willing to face these giants, you can come out a winner.
- You have to do the things God tells us in the Bible. People often look for shortcuts, but there are none. You have to be fair, demonstrate integrity, be honest and do what is right. You have to do this even when others don't do it. You have to do it even when people would punish you for it. This can be really hard sometimes. You have to develop a faith that believes that if you do things God's way, He will make it work out right. Sometimes it doesn't look like this AT ALL and you can be so tempted to give up and just do what eveyone else is doing. But God is clear on this: don't turn away from doing it His way.
- You can't do what God wants unless you KNOW what He wants. This is where most people fall down. They want to do what is right, but they don't even know what it is. There are a lot of things you will never know without studying the Bible. There are things you think you know, but you are mistaken. God tells us to speak Bible, think Bible and then do Bible. He says the "do" part twice, so that means it is the most important part. Keeping the word in your mouth is to go around speaking it. Words you speak are powerful. That's where the affirmation people get it from. Meditate on the word means to study and think about it. Unlike some Eastern religions, where meditation involves emptying your mind, Biblical meditation involves filling your head with scripture. Doing means just that--do what it says.
Finally don't miss the last two words--"good success." This lets you know there is bad success, too. There are successful drug dealers, who make lots of money. There are unscrupulous business people who reach great heights. There are crooks in every profession and line of work and some of them seem to do quite well at what they do. But bad success has a bad end. I hope you don't want that and I know God doesn't want that for you. God speaks clearly to Joshua, and to us, about how to be successful. No matter what success means to you, this is the way to get there.