Just imagine following Moses as the leader of Israel. That’s not a job I’d sign up for… talk about pressure! But that’s what Joshua did, except for the fact that he didn’t win an election to be the next leader of Israel, God chose him to follow Moses.
Listen to God’s advice to Joshua, “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. Do 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” (Joshua 1:7-8). That’s God’s advice for how to “finish strong.”
Along the way, Joshua fought the battle of Jericho… and many others too! In all of these battles (with one notable exception, but I’ll leave that story for your own perusal) he was successful because he obeyed God’s commandments. He did not do more than God told him to do, and he didn’t do any less than what God told him to do.
Towards the end of his life we see Joshua making a covenant between the LORD and Israel, commanding them, “Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD…. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14 & 15). We later read, “The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel. …After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:7 & 10)
So Joshua finished strong… but Israel didn’t. We see these principles at work:
- It’s better to actually obey than to simply say you will.
- When we cultivate a consistent prayer and devotional life we stay connected to God.
- If you really live obediently to God’s Word, those close to you (like your friends and family) will see and know what’s most important to you.
Remember the ladder we use as an icon for this Vital Sign doesn’t mean we “climb our way to heaven” – it means that when we practice the Spiritual Disciplines we get a new perspective (a “bigger picture”) on life. If you want to finish strong, make sure you practice the Spiritual Disciplines. Read your Bible, spend time in prayer (more than just saying grace before meals), find an accountability partner, get alone and spend time alone with God in silence and solitude. If you want to start reading your Bible but don’t know where to start or how to understand what it says, please talk to P.Mike (he would love to talk with you and has devotional books you can use to get started).