There was once a young man who thought it would be great to be a soldier so he joined the army, but no sooner was he in than he realized that he now had an enemy whose sole purpose was to destroy him. Instead of a life of ease it became one of continual warfare. That’s the way it is for the Christian as well, only many times we don’t realize we are in a battle and wonder what life has so many challenges. The book of Joshua is a great handbook to show how these battles are to be fought and won. There are 12 lessons we can learn about winning the battles we face in life.
1. PREPARATION IS A MUST. Joshua replaced Moses as leader so God appeared to him to reassure and commission him (1:1-9). God gives Joshua many promises assuring him that He will always be with Joshua and will give him victory over their enemies. God knows it won’t be easy (and He doesn’t make it easy for any of us) but if Joshua obeys then His promises will be true. His key to success is remembering and believing God’s Word. God prepared His servant Joshua.
The people also were to prepare themselves. Even the army prepared by sending spies into the land to gather information to help them in their warfare.
We must be prepared for battle by knowing God’s Word, memorize His promises, and spending quality time with Him each day. We must be aware of what our enemy is doing by understanding spiritual warfare (ask for a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook to help with this).
2. STEP OUT IN FAITH. The Jordan River stood between the people and the Promised Land. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem to ford, but God brought them there at flood time and the water was very fast, deep and turbulent. He had parted the Red Sea while the people watched, but now He expected more of their faith so they were commanded to start down a steep bank assuring them that when their feet touched the water it was part for them to pass. As we mature God expects more of our faith. You may be hesitating to follow God because of the ‘deep water’ you’re facing. Anything that stands between you and God’s perfect will for your life is your Jordan River so step out in faith. Face your fear, conquer your sin, forgive those who hurt you – step out in faith and God will open the way for you through it all.
3. FOLLOW AFTER GOD. God went before the people as they went down the slope into the water. His Presence is the Ark led the way, but they had to follow and not wait. They couldn’t cross another time or place, only by following Him. Sometimes God seems to take our lives in a direction we don’t understand but He always knows what He is doing so we must just keep following!
4. REMEMBER PAST VICTORIES. After crossing the Jordan God told each tribe to take a large rock and make a monument on the other side as a reminder of what God had done there. When things got hard in the future they could remember this deliverance and renew their faith for future conflicts. As we saw in Deuteronomy, it’s important to remember what God has done, how He has been there for us in the past.
5.CONSECRATION COMES FIRST. Now that the Jordan is crossed the real battles can begin, but not until the people consecrate themselves by circumcision and observing the Passover, things they had neglected while wandering in the desert. We must turn from all sin and commit ourselves to live for God alone, making sure there is no sin in our lives, in order to have victory in life’s conflicts.
6. SEEK GOD’S BATTLE PLAN. Instead of trusting his own wisdom, Joshua asked for God’s guidance in how to fight the battle ahead. God reassured him of victory but gave some very strange directions – march around Jericho once a day for 6 days, on the 7th day march 7 days, shout and the walls will fall down and the city and people will be destroyed. Always seek God’s battle plan when you face an obstacle in life, then follow Him no matter how strange His leading seems to be.
7. FOLLOWING JESUS BRINGS VICTORY. Sure enough, God’s strange plan worked and the Jews had a total victory without one casualty! It takes patience and perseverance to keep following God’s plan, especially when it doesn’t seem to make sense. But when we obey there is always victory!
8. SMALL SINS BRING LARGE CONSEQUENCES. The next battle after Jericho should have been very easy, for Ai wasn’t much of an obstacle at all. How the Jews were defeated and 36 soldiers killed. When they turned to God for understanding He showed them that Achan had kept some of the things from Jericho which should have been given to God, so Achan and his whole family died as a result. How could such a small sin bring such a large defeat? Because no sin is small in God’s sight! If you think the sin you are allowing to remain in your life is ‘no big deal’ learn that it is! It will defeat you as well. Confess every sin immediately – there is no such thing as a ‘small’ sin in God’s sight!
9. NEVER ACT IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH. About this time a group of people called the Gibeonites came to make a treaty with Israel. Knowing they would be destroyed by God, they tricked Joshua into thinking they came from far away so weren’t under God’s order of condemnation. Without seeking God’s guidance Joshua made the treaty only to find out he had been deceived. Satan is the master deceiver. Make sure you have God’s guidance on everything. Listen carefully to Him alone or you, too, will be deceived and defeated.
10. GOD STOPS AT NOTHING TO BRING VICTORY. Imagine how awful Joshua felt when he got a message from the Gibeonites telling him that all their neighbors had attacked them for signing the treaty and Joshua would have to come fight to defend them? Still, God used this for good. All the other armies in that area were already gathered and God gave the Jews victory over them, first through their fighting, then through sending large hail on those escaping killing more than the Jews had, and finally by keeping the sun from setting for a while day so no one could escape. God stops at nothing in our lives as well. He does more behind the scenes and in the unseen heavens to bring us victory than we can ever imagine.
11. PERSEVERE UNTIL VICTORY IS COMPLETE. The final group of nations left in the Promised Land resided in the north. They had time to organize and plan their defense. They were much larger and stronger than the confederation in the south. And they had the giants whom has scared the Jews 40 years earlier. By this time they had been fighting for several years and were weary. They wanted it to end, but instead the battles got harder and harder. Don’t ever quit. Don’t ever slow down or take time off. Don’t get weary in your faithfulness and obedience. Depend on God’s strength, keep your eyes on Him, and keep moving ahead.
12. THE BATTLES NEVER END. Here’s the hardest principle of all – the battles never end! We think they will, we feel if we had enough faith we’d be fine, but life is a constant battle. That was true for the Jews. In fact they’re still fighting the same battles in the land that Joshua fought 3,000 years ago! As long as God has us on earth there will be battles to fight, foes to conquer, challenges to face. And they get harder as we get stronger – that’s the only way God can keep our faith growing!
Fortunately battles aren’t constant. God does give us a break to learn, grow and prepare for the next round. But they are lifelong. Instead of seeing them as painful difficulties, think of them as opportunities to trust God! We only can win battles while on this earth so let’s take advantage of every opportunity to trust and obey Him!