Jadav Payeng has lived his entire life on the river island of Majuli in India. In his lifetime, he has watched his island shrink and become barren due to soil erosion, deforestation, and other environmental reasons. At the age of 16, he had the big idea to replant the forrest one tree at time.
For over 40 years, Jadav has persistently and consistently planted trees and his efforts are bearing fruit. His forest is now about 1400 acres. In comparison, Central Parks is 843 acres. The Molai Forest includes a revived eco-system as well as a home for elephants, deer, monkeys, rhinos, and a wide variety of birds. His goal is to plant an additional 5,000 acres on the island.
This is an example of what one man on mission can do with persistent resolve and consistent action.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
Reflect and Pray
- Ask the Holy Spirit to birth in you a persistent hope and consistent faith
- Make a plan to build habits of Biblical Practices so it becomes who you are.
What Direction Are We Headed
Joshua 1:1-2 NLT
After the death of Moses, the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua, son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.
The vision was born when God met Moses at the burning bush, choosing Him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. But Moses would never see the vision fulfilled, so Joshua was chosen to lead the charge.
Joshua was well equipped to take the lead. He had personally experienced Egyptian slavery, and his military strategy was admirable. But most of all, he was faithful in asking God for directions in the challenge that he faced. Joshua was also confident that the Promised Land could be conquered. He and Caleb were the only two, out of the twelve scouts sent to explore the promised land, who were not afraid and had no doubt that the vision was possible. While the others backed down, Caleb exclaimed “Let’s go at once! We can certainly conquer it” (Numbers 13:30).
God had purpose for Joshua and made that known at the Tabernacle when Moses was about to die. That purpose was to complete the God-given vision of possessing the Promised Land.
GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR US
Whether it’s as an individual, a family, a community, or a church, God will birth a vision in a person’s heart and inspire you and motivate you to pursue it. He will supernaturally lead you to the right people at the right time to help you fulfill it. Through faith, prayer, obedience, and endurance– you can be assured, even through challenges and disappointments –God will do what He says He will do.
God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
- Has God given you a vision that you are currently pursuing?
- Are you a part of a visioning team?
- Are you waiting for the revelation of a vision?
- Pray for a clear vision of where you are going
- Pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to motivate you and encourage you in fulfilling your part of the vision
- Pray God would align the desires of your heart with the desires of His heart as you formulate and implement the vision
- Pray for commitment and confidence in yourself and your team
How Will We Get There
Joshua 6:1-5 NLT
Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.
Strategy is everything
Reaching the end is the destination, but the journey is how you get there. Sometimes, even though you have planned well and wise, adjustments have to be made in order to proceed and succeed. And sometimes you have to take risks that might seem foolish.
In this passage, it was time to conquer Jericho, but Jericho had fortified walls that were 25 feet high and 20 feet thick in some places. Soldiers also stood guard on top of the walls so they could see for miles. This obstacle was going to take some creative planning to catch the city by surprise.
Joshua was given specific and seemingly crazy instructions for his men to follow.
- March around the town once a day for six days.
- Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn.
- On the seventh day, march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns.
- When the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, all the people will shout as loud as they can
It took a lot of faith to follow these instructions, but Joshua knew that God was faithful. Instead of leaning on his own understanding, he leaned on the understanding of God. He knew that when his men succeeded, it would be undeniably clear that the battle had belonged to God.
What risks are you willing to take when God speaks to you?
Reflect and Respond
- Trust Him with all your heart
- Not lean on your own understanding
- To seek His will in all you do
- See which path to take
- Not be afraid to take risks when you know they are from the Lord
What Are We Willing to Give
Joshua 24:14-15 NLT
So, fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.
Now that they were settled into the Promised Land the Israelites were tempted by the false gods from their past and in the new land around them.
Joshua knew the Promised Land would not have been conquered if it were not for his full submission to God and His plans. The Lord spoke through him, reminding them of His faithfulness from the past and how they had gotten to where they were. All the way back to Abraham, God’s people were witnesses of the miracles ending their days as servants to the Egyptians. Now God was bringing them to a place of decision about the future. If the inheritance of the twelve tribes were to be passed on to future generations, their full surrender and complete devotion to God would be required.
Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and all of those who led the Israelites to freedom had one thing in common: they did not serve two masters. They served One. They served and worshiped the One True God and surrendered their decisions, their wisdom, their strength, their power, and their lives to Him.
It is our nature to want to choose power, popularity, greed, or other things as our god and let Google and the worldly wisdom lead us in our vision planning. But if we are to be successful and help our future generations be successful, we have to make an intentional decision to let Jesus change our hearts and minds and give all of ourselves to Him.
CHOOSING TO SERVE THE LORD MEANS
- Humbling yourself before your Creator
- Giving God thanks for what He has done, doing now, and will do.
- Allowing the Holy Spirit to influence your decisions and your path.
- Being willing to give up your own desires in exchange for the greater desires of God.
READ AND REFLECT
Read Joshua 24:1-28
- Think of times when God has proven his trustworthiness to you.
- Take some time this week to thank Him for His faithfulness in seeing you though those times.
- Make a list of where you draw most of your ideas, wisdom, and planning from.
- Do your efforts point to Jesus, to someone else, or to yourself?
- Spend time in prayer this week
- Ask God to help you be bold in putting Him first above all others, and be an example of a godly servant, exhibiting His grace and glory.
How Are We Preparing
Joshua 1:7-9 NLT
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Pray as if everything depended on God. Work as if everything depended on you.
Joshua’s new job must have been very frightening: conquering a strange, new land while leading tens of thousands of people along the way. And not just any people…God’s people. There certainly would need to be a plan and a lot of preparation to make this successful. And he was having to prepare a whole new generation for an old vision because the originals, their fathers, wandered in the wilderness and died due to disobedience.
Any vision God gives you will always be bigger than anything you can do on your own. It can feel overwhelming and daunting, so your reliance on Him is imperative. God wants to see His vision fulfilled even more than you do, so He will take your planning and preparation and His power to bring that vision alive.
The Lord taught Joshua all He needed to succeed:
- Be strong and courageous
- Immerse yourself in study, reflection, and application of the Bible
- Let your faith be greater than your fear
- Know God is leading the way
As you read today’s passage…
- Ask God to reveal any areas in your life that are not pleasing to Him.
- Ask Him to straighten your path so you can accomplish all He has planned for you.
- Pray for strength and endurance to power through opposition and human deficiency
- Get your calendar out and commit a time each day for prayer and study of God’s Word.
Practice our Identity
Joshua 8:30-35 NLT
Then Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal. He followed the commands that Moses the LORD’s servant had written in the Book of Instruction: “Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools.” Then on the altar they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to the LORD. And as the Israelites watched, Joshua copied onto the stones of the altar the instructions Moses had given them. Then all the Israelites—foreigners and native-born alike—along with the elders, officers, and judges, were divided into two groups. One group stood in front of Mount Gerizim, the other in front of Mount Ebal. Each group faced the other, and between them stood the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant. This was all done according to the commands that Moses, the servant of the Lord, had previously given for blessing the people of Israel. Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction. Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them.
The Israelites followed Moses, then Joshua, into extraordinary victories. They also made some costly mistakes. The God of Israel remained faithful to his people through everything. Israel’s faithfulness and success was supposed to be an outgrowth of the people’s identity.
An oak tree is the outgrowth of its identity. The genetic design inside the original acorn guided every day from sprout, through four seasons year after year, and in response to all kinds of weather. The tree has no decisions to make about living out its identity. It doesn’t forget what it is during bad or good seasons.
Human beings remember or forget who God says we are. We decide to live out our identity or to react to the season or our environment in convenient ways. God gave Israel many ways to reinforce their identity as his people. The law of Moses told them their own history with God, as well as how God wanted them to live. Hearing it all once wasn’t enough, though.
Like Israel, we need to:
- Hear our backstory of how God brought us to himself
- Hear how he expects us to live
- Hear these things and to reaffirm our loyalty to the Lord regularly, together.
When the true words on the page move from our memories (what we’ve read) into our assembled bodies (what we’ve commemorated together), we are deciding again to live our identity.
Time of Reflection:
- How does your identity in relation to Jesus affect the decisions you make?
- What circumstances or times are most likely to hide your identity from your decision-making?
- What kinds of things do you find in the Bible that could help you live out your identity?