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The Call of Joshua

Joshua 1:1-7

The average sermon outline on this passage might typically be something like this:

  1. The Call of Joshua
  2. The Command of Joshua
  3. The Conquest of Joshua
  4. The Courage of Joshua

The able pastor can make a few good life applications within the framework of this traditional outline. What often happens, though, is that listeners lose interest because the outline contains merely predictable points, rather than life changing principles. A principle preacher might outline the same passage of Scripture as follows:

1. Don't Get Stuck in Life's Passageways (Josh. 1:1-2)

Life is like a mansion. Many of us spend our life in the hallways, stuck between the big room of a regrettable yesterday from which we cannot get free and the fantasy of the large room of a tomorrow to which we are going. Many of the persons I know seem to be going nowhere. They are stuck somewhere between a yesterday that enslaves them and the fantasy of a tomorrow onto which they cannot grab. Life is like that, and too many of us are frozen between potential experiences that beckon us and the memories that enslave us.

After the death of Moses, God said bluntly to Joshua, "Moses my servant is dead. Stand up and lead this people forward." Perhaps the most obvious difference between emotional, mental, and spiritual maturity and a lack of it is the ability or inability to live in a world where a thousand escape mechanisms beckon to us. God strongly pressed Joshua into reality. "Moses is dead. Life goes on. Stand up. Go forward." God gives us tears to weep, but not forever. He allows our hearts to break, but not indefinitely. There is almost a sternness in the text as God says to his servant, "Life goes on. Face reality. The man is dead. The job is yours. Get on with it."

2. God's Already Been Where You're Going (Josh. 1:3)

Fear of tomorrow can be as crippling as slavery to the past, but God is already in your tomorrow. He's already been where you're going. Child of God, do not fear what lies ahead. He holds the future, and He holds you in His hand. God has gone before you and secured tomorrow on your behalf. Notice God does not say, "Everywhere your foot shall trod I will give you," but rather, "I have given unto you." He's already done it. With God, there's no yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He not only sees the beginning and the end, He is the beginning and the end. Tomorrow is already today with God. Don't be afraid to walk into it.

3. God Has a Wonderful Blueprint for Your Life (Josh. 1:4)

God is in every detail. He has prepared all things for you and they will work together for your good. Our Lord has left nothing to chance. He is never surprised or caught off guard. He is a sovereign God who has carefully planned a beautiful life for you. He who loves you more than you know has left nothing to chance. What a perfect blueprint God outlines! He promised Joshua vast territory on every side—from the desert to Lebanon, to the great Euphrates River, all the land of the Hittites, all the way to the great sea where the sun sets in the west.

God also outlines the north, south, east, and west borders of your life. God's will is going to be done in your life if you love Him, trust Him, and go forward. He has prepared everything specifically for you so that all things will work together for your good.

4. Yesterday's Faithfulness Guarantees Tomorrow's Courage (Josh. 1:5-7)

God will be with you, just as He was with Moses. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will prosper you wherever you go. How could young Joshua be confident and courageous in the challenge of tomorrow? The answer lies in God's faithfulness Joshua had observed in the life of Moses yesterday. What He has done, He will do. Be strong and be encouraged.

The text, of course, continues, and the principles are endless, but this example models the power of principle preaching. Ninety-nine percent of your hearers will have forgotten by next Sunday that you talked about the call, command, conquest, and courage of Joshua; but they will never forget God's great principles as they apply to their own lives.

Principle Preaching: How to Create and Deliver Sermons for Life Applications.

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