Chapter 1.
Bound for the Promised Land

Joshua 1

I. THE COMMISSION—1:1

The word "now" means "and." This word links the book of Deuteronomy with the book of Joshua. Moses is now dead and is referred to by the Lord as "the servant of the Lord." What greater words could be used to describe our actions and our attitude? God help us to be servants of the Lord.

{See the Special Study at the end of this chapter on "The Attributes of the Servant of the Lord" @ page 8.}

God's man is dead, but God's work continues to go forward. Leaders may change but God doesn't. The Lord raises up another leader to fill the gap. Joshua is waiting and he is available which makes him useable. All those years of Joshua's service and training under Moses have prepared Joshua for leadership of an entire nation. The Lord may have a great task for you down the road too. Our responsibility is to spiritually prepare ourselves and be available so that if an opportunity arises, we are prepared to serve and God can be used for the task at hand. Joshua was prepared, teachable, and available to be used of God.

II. THE COVENANT—1:2-5

Now that Moses is dead, Joshua is to arise and go forward over the Jordan River to possess what has been promised. It is interesting to note that this book begins with Moses' death and ends with Joshua's death. Every place God's people tread, God had given the land to them. This is what the Lord intended for His people forty years earlier. A young man was very impressed by a motto on a sticker that said, "LET GOD." He cut out the six letters, pasted them on a card, and hung the motto on his bedroom wall. Somehow the blessing he sought did not seem to come. One day, however, he found the last letter had dropped off his board, leaving the motto: LET GO. When we let go of all those things that hinder us, our will, plans, and selfish desires, then God's promises are ours and we find the truth of

Joshua 1:3—"every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you."

Israel ended up wandering in circles for forty years on a journey that was normally eleven days (Deuteronomy 1:2). What a waste! That is exactly what happens when we get away from God... we waste our life away!

It was at the Jordan where Israel left God's will for their lives, and it is at the Jordan where they begin to get back on track of doing God's will for their lives. The same truth is seen again in Jonah's life too (Jonah 1:1; 3:1). Jonah left God's will when he left the path for Ninevah. He got on track when he got back on the path he left. Are you out of fellowship with the Lord because of....

The land that God gave Israel was the heart of the world. It was the cradle of civilization at this time. The area was 300,000 square miles. They only possessed 30,000 square miles, one-tenth of their inheritance. Rabbinical scholars point out that they were not limited to 300,000 miles. Anywhere they treaded, they could possess. God gave them a blank check. Christians today have a similar offer.

Matthew 7:7—Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

1 John 5:14, 15—And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

God gives us His inheritance by faith to take. There are spiritual battles to be fought and victories to be won. We are to be laying up treasures in heaven by the way we serve Jesus Christ, by our godliness, purity, and holiness. Not everyone will have rewards in heaven. It will be a rude awakening for Christians who are wasting their lives now. Christians who quit or fall by the way side will lose blessings, glory, and reward (Colossians 3:23-25; 2 John 8; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

God's covenant or promise was that He would be with Joshua. He promised to never leave or forsake him. We have the same promise too (Hebrews 13:5, 6).

III. THE CHALLENGE—1:6, 7

The challenge is be strong and courageous. We can have courage because of 1) God's promise (vs.6); 2) God's power (vs. 7, 8); 3) God's presence (vs. 9). The nation of Israel may have wrestled with feelings of fear and courage. It was their fear that had defeated them before and their lack of faith and trust in the Lord. Our lack of faith and trust in the Lord defeats us too.

Joshua and Caleb were bold in their report forty years earlier because they knew God's promises and believed in Him. They knew God had given them the victory because they had eyes of faith. This would be like watching the Dallas Cowboys win the Superbowl on video tape. You already know the outcome. Courage and strength come from our confidence in the Lord and His Word.

The first challenge was to be strong and courageous. The second challenge was do not get sidetracked from God's commands. Jonah, Demas, David, Saul, Solomon, and Samson all got sidetracked. Obedience to the Lord brings His blessing.

IV. THE CONDITIONS FOR SUCCESS—1:8, 9

A. The POWER of the Word vs. 8 "This book of the Law"

No man before Joshua had received orders from God to regulate his conduct by the words of a book. Joshua was governed by the book of the Law. The book was prepared for Joshua according to Exodus 17:14.

Exodus 17:14—And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

Rabbinical scholars record that Joshua was holding the book of Deuteronomy in his hand when he was notified of Moses' death. We do not know that for sure but we do know that the Law of God was important to Joshua. God instructed him to meditate day and night upon God's Word so that he would obey God's Word. Meditation is not optional, but obligatory. It is a command of God. Meditation implies reasoning about the Word and deducing insights from it. Meditation always has application as its goal. God wants us to put His Word into practice. Meditation plus application equals success. This is the only place in the Bible where the word "success" is is used. This verse reveals that meditation and obedience to the Word of God are keys to true success. Joshua obeyed this principle and he was prosperous. If we are to prosper as Joshua did, then we are to act as he did.

H.P. Barker gives a graphic illustration that points up the need for both knowing and applying the truth's of Scripture. When he looked out into his garden one day, he noticed three things. He first saw a beautiful butterfly that would alight on a flower and then flutter to another just for a few seconds. It touched as many flowers as it could, but derived no benefit from the flowers.

He watched a little longer and a botanist came into the garden. He was equipped with a notebook under his arm and a big magnifying glass that he used to study the flowers at length and then write his findings in his notebook. After studying the flowers for several hours, he left. The third thing that was noticed was a tiny bumble bee that would land on the flowers and sink deep down into it, extracting all the nectar and pollen it could carry. It went into the flower empty and came out full. That is what the Lord wants to happen to us when it comes to studying His word. He wants us to get something from our study of the Scriptures that will satisfy us and fill us with His joy and power.

God promises His blessings when we meditate and apply the Scriptures, He even promises to bless us when we read His word.

Revelation 1:3—Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Psalm 1:1, 2—Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Meditation on God's Word is a mark of blessedness. David instructed Solomon with the same charge that Joshua received (1 Kings 2:1-4), but Solomon wavered and failed.

{See the Special Study at the end of this chapter on "Success and the Scriptures" @ page 13.}

B. The PARTNERSHIP With the Lord vs. 9

This is the second reason why we are successful.... God is with us. Jesus Christ is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

V. THE CHARGE OF JOSHUA—1:10-15

Joshua now commands God's people to obey.

A. PASS Through vs. 11

They were to spread the message. We are to spread God's message today too!

B. PREPARE Victuals

Why prepare? In three days the manna would cease. Christians are not only to pass through the world spreading the Gospel, we are to prepare for the Lord's return in three areas.

1. Salvation—2 Corinthians 13:5—Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

2. Sanctification—1 John 3:2, 3—Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

3. Serving Christ—Revelation 22:12—And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. We are to occupy till the Lord comes.

C. PASS Over Jordan

Pass over was the decision of going from disobedience to dedication and obedience. It was a decision to walk by faith, trust, courage and confidence in the Lord. Every Christian must make the same decision if he is to be a victorious believer.

D. POSSESS the Land vs. 11

God wants us to possess what He has promised. Salvation is promised... possess it! Victory and power are promised.... possess it! It's ours already for the taking. Use what God has given to you. Someday we will possess our possessions, our rewards, in the presence of Jesus Christ. For now, find out what God wants you to do and do it!

E. PONDER the Word vs. 12-15

This part of the charge is addressed to Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh. Remember the word of Moses. You must fulfill your responsibilities to your brethren. You can't enjoy your playground until victory is won on the battleground. Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh wanted to dwell on the land east of the Jordan River instead of dwelling in the land of Canaan with the other tribes. The price for having their way was going first into battle. The first to die in battle would be from their tribes. They took the greatest risks.

These tribes were a "type" of the carnal Christian.

1. They chose their land because it appealed to the eyes.

2. They were concerned about the physical instead of the spiritual. The land was well watered and rich in timber and grazing land. They got ahead of God, however, and were not willing to wait for His choice for them. They wanted immediate satisfaction and fulfillment.

3. They had a taste for this world and were eventually ensnared by it.

4. They wanted to live on the border as close to victory as possible, but not part of it. They picture someone trying to serve two masters. They are a picture of borderline believers.

Jacob said in Genesis 49:3, 4, that Reuben would be unstable. His prophecy was fulfilled. The Reubenites fought some battles, but other battles they would not fight (Judges 5:16). Barak led Israel against Sisera, but the Reubenites would not respond. They were unstable. James says that a double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). This was a picture of Reuben.

These tribes were the first to defect into heathen worship, wicked living, and rebellion. Carnal Christians live according to the dictates of the flesh, not the spirit. They are spiritually defeated or weak. The book of Judges states that these people did not drive out their enemies. These tribes were also the first of the northern tribes taken into captivity. Carnal Christians are spiritually weak. They experience greater struggles with the snares of sin. It's not so much how a man begins his Christian life, but how he ends it. Reuben started good and then flopped.

{See the Special Study at the end of this chapter on "The Causes of Instability" @ page 19.}

The descendants of these tribes are found in Mark 5:13. The story of the demoniac of Gadara is found here. Gadara is of the tribe of Gad. We find these people had drifted so far from God that they are now keepers of swine, in direct violation of God's Word. Carnal Christians have no respect for or obedience to the Word of God. They are not comfortable around the Word. These folks in Mark 5 asked Jesus to leave instead of listening to what He had to say. Carnal Christians shun the fellowship of believers and the Word of God.

VI. THE COMPLIANCE & CONFIDENCE OF THE PEOPLE—1:16-18

A. The DESIRE to Work vs. 16

B. The DEPENDANCE upon God vs. 17

C. The DEDICATION to Joshua vs. 18

Joshua had no revolts during his leadership. Unfortunately, the people did not fully obey and conquer the land. Where are you spiritually? Are you obeying the Lord, serving Him, or are you carnal and backslidden?

Special Study.
The Attributes of the Servant of the Lord

Joshua 1:1

Moses, the servant of the Lord is dead. The baton of leadership is now passed to another servant of God, Joshua. What are the traits of a servant of the Lord? A scan of the Scriptures provides valuable insights.

1. He RESPECTS AND REJOICES in the Lord.

Psalm 40:8—I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Psalm 2:11—Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

God's servants have a reverent fear of the Lord. They rejoice in His love and respect God's holiness.

2. He is REGENERATED & RIGHTEOUS. The servant of the Lord is a new person in Christ because he has been born again. As a new creature in Christ, we are pardoned from sin, but not excused from service.

Romans 7:6—But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Psalm 101:6—Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.

The servant of the Lord lives a godly life.

3. He is RESOLUTE. He has resolved to serve the Lord and only Him. The Lord is the focus of his life. Nobody really lives till he finds something big enough to give himself to. The servant of God gives himself to Christ.

Matthew 6:24—No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Acts 5:29—Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

The servant of the God has made up his mind to serve the Jesus Christ.

4. He is RESERVED & RESTRAINED. God's servant is a person of humility.

Acts 20:19—Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:

D.L. Moody said, "The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves."

5. He has a REGARD for Others. The servant of the Lord loves people. True love sees service as a privilege. True greatness lies not in trying to be somebody, but in trying to help somebody.

Galatians 5:13—For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

6. He is RESPECTABLE & REFRAINED toward Others. He is patient and gentle with others, especially those who are immature.

2 Timothy 2:24—And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,:

7. He is to be RESPONSIBLE. God's servant is faithful and dependable, especially in little, insignificant matters. Don't despise little things, a lantern can do what the sun can never do.... shine in the night.

Colossians 3:22—Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God::

Matthew 25:23—His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

8. He is RESPONSIVE & RESPECTS his master. God's servant is obedient to the Lord and to the authorities in his life.

Ephesians 6:5—Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;:

1 Timothy 6:1—Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

9. He is REFRESHING. He not only obeys the Lord but his desire is to please the Lord and serve others.

Proverbs 25:13—As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

Titus 2:9—Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;:

A pastor dreamed he had been given the opportunity to see both Heaven and Hell. He was ushered to a closed door and was informed that Hell was on the other side of the door. As he entered the door, he was surprised to see a banquet hall set for a feast. Everything was beautiful, but all the diners moaned and wailed in agony. The center of the table had a succulent, tasty dish of food. At the side of each person was a very long spoon. The food was long enough to dish out the food, but too long to put it in one's own mouth. Thus, the people were unable to eat and were starving and shrieking with hunger pains. The terror was more than the pastor could bear, so he asked to leave. When he opened the door to heaven, he was terrified to see the same scene. Everything was the same, only languishing had been replaced with laughter and joy. Those in heaven did not moan because they could not feed themselves. Instead, they used their long spoons to feed one another. There is joy in serving others.

10. He is REPEATEDLY REGULAR. The servant of the Lord is characterized by consistency in his life. He serves his master whether he is harsh or gentle. We are to serve the Lord in good and in bad times. Servanthood is not difficult to define; it is only difficult to achieve because it goes against our grain.

1 Peter 2:18—Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

11. The servant of the Lord RELINQUISHES his will to Christ. He is following the Lord and doing His will. God measures our service, not by our ability, but by our willingness.

John 12:26—If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.

Ephesians 6:6, 7—Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men::

12. The servant of the Lord is READY to serve. He is prepared. He looks for opportunities to serve God.

He is ready to Serve....

2 Timothy 2:21—If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

Titus 3:1—Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.

He is ready to Satisfy Questions...

1 Peter 3:15—But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear

He is ready to Speak for the Lord...

Romans 1:15—So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

He is ready to Stand before the Lord...

2 Timothy 4:6—For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

He is ready for the Second Coming of Christ...

Matthew 24:44—Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

13. He RAISES Up the Lord in his life. He exalts and magnifies the Lord and tells those who are lost about the Savior.

John 3:30—He must increase, but I must decrease.

Matthew 5:16—Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

1 Corinthians 6:20—For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Acts 1:8—But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

14. He is REACHABLE and has a REASON for Living. He has a purpose for his life.... to live for God. He is available to God's call. The available person makes his own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of those whom he is serving. This word "available" comes from an Old French term avaler which comes from the Latin word ad combined with the word valere. The word ad means "to" or "for" and valere means "to be strong; of worth." Availability then is the ability to add strength or worth to another person. It is the quality of one who stands ready to contribute of his or her own strength and talent to another.

Availability is recognizing that it is by making others successful that I myself am successful. Availability is not always a matter of duty. It is a voluntary attitude. Do not think of availability as "something I have to do," or you will destroy the spirit of it. Availability is something I am happy and willing to do because I am committed to the success or needs of the person I am serving. God wants us not only to have this attitude toward others, but also toward Him. The Bible teaches we are to be available and ready to serve the Lord. It is tragic when God's people are unavailable to the Lord. Isaiah said in Isaiah 63:5a—"And I looked, and there was none to help..." God help us to always be ready to serve Him.

Hebrews 11:24, 25—By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;:

Joshua 24:15—And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

15. He RELIEVES the load of others. We are to encourage and exhort others. This can be done by an encouraging word and also by physical or financial help. Most people are tuned in to channel WI I FM—"What's In It For Me?" What most of us need to do is hit the scan button and search for channel WCBG FM—"What Can Be Given From Me?" Switch to that station in your life and you will have a greater listening audience. You will find that God doesn't comfort His people to make them comfortable, but to make them comforters.

2 Corinthians 1:4—Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Isaiah 50:4—The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.

1 Corinthians 16:15—I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,):

Galatians 6:2, 10—Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

When you dig another out of his troubles, you will find a place to bury your own.

Special Study.
Success & the Scriptures

Joshua 1:8

One of the key sources of frustration today is the feeling of being a failure and not a success like everyone else. Men who face what is called a "Mid-Life Crisis" look at their life and become very frustrated because half of their life is over and they still have not accomplished their goals or dreams. They want to be successful at something. They want to be able to say, "I did this..." or "I accomplished this..." The pressure from the world to be a "success" is enormous today, even among preachers. The emphasis today on having a large church leaves some pastors feeling like failures because their church is not large like another man's ministry. I know of pastors who have quit the ministry because of the pressure of having a large ministry that would never come their way. They could not measure up to someone else's expectations. That is pretty sad if you ask me. One reason for the emphasis or pressure to be a success in this world is the world is living for now... for this life. The world has no concern for eternal or spiritual matters. For this reason we need to properly define the meaning of "success." The definition you live by will effect your outlook on life and your behavior.

Success... Two View Points Contrasted

God's view vs. Man's view on the issue of success is totally opposite. For this reason, you need to make sure that as a Christian you are following the right philosophy concerning this matter of "success." Failure to do so can leave you depressed, disillusioned, discouraged, and defeated in the ministry. Let's take the two views and line them up side by side.

Contrast 1—Power vs. Submission

The idea of this world is you are successful if you have power and influence. God's idea of success is submission to Him. God did not call us to be successful, but faithful. He puts a premium on faithfulness. Many times people will turn their back on the Lord if they become financially successful. They feel they don't need Him anymore. When success turns a man's head, it leaves him looking in the wrong direction. If success could make the heart swell like it does the head sometimes, the world would be a far better place.

James 4:7—Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Contrast 2—Freedom vs. Responsibility

This world is consumed with doing its own thing and having its own way no matter how its actions affect others. As believers, we are to be concerned about our responsibility to God and others. We belong to the Lord and are not to live any old way we please.

1 Corinthians 6:19, 20—What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Contrast 3—Gain vs. Giving

The world feels that money is the criteria for success. For this reason it is to be gained at all cost. God's nature is to give. He loves a cheerful giver because giving is an expression of love. Charles Tremendous Jones said, "Success is not a reward to be enjoyed, but a trust to be administered." Rockefeller said, "I have made millions of dollars, but they have brought me no happiness." When John Rockefeller was 53, his life was a wreck. He was the richest man in the world and miserable. He was sick physically, mentally, and emotionally. There was no joy in his life at all. His life was transformed when he decided to be a giver rather than an accumulator. He began to give his millions away. The Rockefeller Foundation was dedicated to fighting disease and ignorance in the world. He lived to be 98 years old and was a happy man because of his new definition of success.

2 Corinthians 9:7—Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Contrast 4—Immediate Fulfillment vs. Lasting Achievement

The motto of the world is live for NOW! Man will ignore the price tag of success. The reason many successful men are so lonely is they have trampled and sacrificed so many friends on the way up the ladder of so called "success." The ladders of success they are climbing are leaning up against the wrong wall. Many a family has been ruined. If you lose your family to be financially successful or famous, you are not a success. Think, if having lots of money is the criteria of being successful, then Jesus was a failure. We know that was not true. God does not want us to sacrifice our future on the altar of the immediate. He wants our labor to last. Losing your family, making moral compromises, and disobeying God's Word to achieve success is not success at all. Success is linked to obeying God's Word and having the right priorities.

Madison Avenue is resurrecting the father image. Mal MacDougall, chairman of The MacDougall Company, a New York Advertising agency, says, "We are redefining success. The ultimate hero now is the best dad. The Yuppie and macho man are dead." In a cologne advertisement, a pinstriped suit man was shown carrying a baby instead of a briefcase. The caption of the ad was "Success is knowing which appointments to keep."

The person who is successful has learned to work hard instead of depending on luck and lotteries. God honors hard work which does not rob you of spiritual growth. Some people dream of worthy accomplishments while others stay awake and do them. If you want to be successful in the right things, learn to work hard, especially if you are in the Lord's work. Working for Christ yields lasting achievement.

2 John 1:8—Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

Contrast 5—The Applause of Men vs. The Approval of God

The world puts a big premium on the "crowds" approval. Acceptance in the group is a must no matter what the group is doing whether it is right or wrong. Obeying the Lord and living a godly life as a Christian meets God's approval. An upright man can never be a downright failure in God's eyes. God considers glorifying Him as a "success." What is really a failure in ministry? What is a success in ministry? God says when we obey Him, are faithful, serve others, love Him, trust Him, pray, pursue holiness in our life, and spread the Gospel, we are a success.

1 Corinthians 1:31—That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Contrast 6—Being Served vs. Serving Others

This is the ultimate status symbol, having people serve you. Success is not a goal to be sought after but a by-product of learning how to serve. The greatest one, the successful one, is the one who is the servant. Danny Thomas said, "All of us are born for a reason, but all of us don't discover why. Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others." It's not what you get that makes you successful, it's what you are continuing to do with what you got. George Bush expressed it this way, "Any definition of a successful life must include serving others." Our aim should be service, not success. Your success is not determined by how many servants you have, but by how many men you serve.

Matthew 23:11—But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

Galatians 5:13—For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Contrast 7—Self-Gratification vs. Self-Control

A person without Christ is constantly seeking things or thrills to fill the emptiness inside. The need to be satisfied is enormous. Success requires we be successful in the right areas. We are to be successful in faith, character, wisdom, self-control, patience, gentleness, godliness, integrity and love. Having these traits is what true success is all about and what is really important and matters. Woodrow Wilson put it this way, "I would rather fail in a cause I know someday will triumph than to win in a cause I know someday will fail."

Lacking integrity will destroy the prospects for success in your life. A Fortune 500 company was going to implement a rare decision of promoting a 38 year old vice president to president. This man was an impressive business man who wooed and awed the board of directors. Upon completing the final interview, the men broke off for lunch with the intention of offering this man the leadership of the company after dinner. This young man went to lunch alone at a cafeteria, but was unintentionally followed by several of the board members who stood behind him. When the young man came to the bread section, he placed two three-cent butters on his tray and covered them up with his napkin. As he checked out, he never revealed the hidden six cents of butter. When everyone returned to the board room for what was to be a joyous occasion, the mood had drastically changed. This promising young man was not only denied the helm of the company but was fired from his position of vice-president, all because of six cents of butter.

2 Peter 1:5-8—And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; [6] And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; [7] And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. [8] For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Contrast 8—Pushing vs. Patience

No matter who gets in the way, the world pushes ahead and stops for no one. It is impossible to gain a foothold on success by acting like a heel. It is those heel-like, impatient decisions that lead to blunders. The patient man exhibits the traits of success because he can control himself and does not let his circumstances control him. The successful man has learned to learn from his failures and defeats instead of letting those failures defeat and overwhelm him. Winston Churchill said, "Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts." Michael Jordan put it this way, "Failure always made me try harder the next time."


Most successful people started out as failures.

When J.C. Penney was asked, "In one sentence, with as few words as possible, tell me the secret of your success in life as a business man and a Christian. Without hesitation he said, "Here's the answer in four words... "Adversity and Jesus Christ." The successful man does not let adversity defeat him. Thomas Edison said, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." F.W. Boreham stated that men often give up at the very stage which they should keep going on. Are you at the verge of quitting? Realize victory may be around the corner.

1 Corinthians 15:58—Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

James 1:4—But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Proverbs 16:32—He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

Contrast 9—Leading vs. Following

Many men have been leaders of many, but unfortunately were not successful because the people they led were led in the wrong direction. The example they set was the wrong example. Being famous or popular does not mean you are success. Realize also what fame you may have will not last very long. The world is very fickle. Out of the will of God there is no such thing as a success. In the will of God there cannot be any failures. Bob Jones Sr. said, "Success is finding the will of God and doing it!" Never make a plan without seeking God's guidance; never achieve a success without giving Him praise. The praise of the Lord is eternal.

Ephesians 5:1—Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;:

Special Study.
The Causes of Instability

When a Christian becomes unstable, he becomes just like water. He is fluid, not solid, and takes the shape of his container. The fluid Christian takes on the mold and shape of this world. He walks, talks, acts, thinks and dresses just like the heathen. Paul admonished us to break the mold and present ourselves to the Lord, not this world. We are to be solid in Christ.

Romans 12:1, 2—I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

What causes a believer to become unstable in his Christian life? Knowing the causes will help us to be on our guard against instability. A survey of Scripture gives a number of reasons.

1. DECEPTION—False doctrine and lies have led many a Christian astray to the point where they are totally ineffective for Christ.

Galatians 3:1—O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?:

Ephesians 4:14—That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive

2 Corinthians 11:3, 4—But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

2. DEVELOPMENT that is Incomplete—Spiritual immaturity and ignorance of the Word of God can create instability. For this reason a pastor is not to be a novice.

1 Timothy 3:6—Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

3. DEPTH that is Shallow—When a person is not grounded in the truths of Scripture and their relationship with Jesus Christ, they can be swayed.

Hebrews 5:11-14—Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. [12] For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. [13] For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. [14] But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

4. DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS—A person who tries to serve the Lord and the worldly crowd will be unstable. You must make up your mind whom you are going to serve.

James 1:6-8—But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. [7] For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. [8] A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Matthew 6:24—No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, a cotton-planter from Tennessee could not make up his mind which side to support, the Yankees or the Confederates. He had good friends in both armies, so he decided to be neutral. He wore the gray jacket and the blue trousers of the Union. One day he was caught smack dab in the middle of a battle. He shouted that he was neutral in the fight and expected to leave the battlefield unharmed. The Yankee sharpshooters saw the gray jacket and fired away and the Confederate marksmen saw the blue trousers and fired, both sides filling the man with bullets. This man tried to serve two masters, but proved you can't.

5. DISPLEASURE & DISGUST with the Scriptures—When people get mad at the preaching of God's Word, instability is in the shadows. This is what happened to those who followed Jesus and were offended by His preaching. They thought their way was the right way only to find it led to a dead end.

John 6:66—From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

6. DISTRACTIONS—When a person's heart is turned away from the Lord, he is facing the wrong direction. The distractions of Satan can make one unstable. When the love for the Lord fades for a love for something else, you will be unstable. He can use money, fame, a man or pretty woman to distract us and get our eyes off of God. Such is the case with King Solomon who started out so well, but got sidetracked later.

1 Kings 11:1-8—But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; [2] Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. [3] And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. [4] For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. [5] For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. [6] And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. [7] Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. [8] And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

2 Timothy 4:10—For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

Rev. 2:8—Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

7. DESERTION & DISREGARD for the Lord—The Christian life is a constant battle of wills... our will vs. God's will. When we become willful and reject what God has to say, we become unstable. Many find out when they get what they want, they are discouraged to find out it's not what they wanted.

Judges 2:17—And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so.

8. DIFFICULTY—Problems can overwhelm people and make them unstable. They panic, become fearful, and doubt the Lord's ability to solve their problems, and it is all downhill from there. One of the most difficult mountains for people to climb is the one they make out of a molehill. We need to realize that our difficulties test the strength of our faith. The ladder of life is full of splinters, but we never realize it until we begin to slide down. Paul was hesitant to take Mark with him because he felt he was sliding down and not able to cope with difficulty. There are two ways in meeting our difficulties. We can alter the difficulties or alter ourselves.

Acts 15:38—But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

9. A DEGENERATE Crowd—The wrong crowd can have a big influence for bad in a person's life. Many a Christian has backslidden because of the carnal friends he kept company with.

Proverbs 24:21—My son, fear thou the Lord and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change::

1 Corinthians 15:33—Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

10. DOUBT & DISCOURAGEMENT—When a person begins to doubt God, the door is open for Satan to make his move. Satan used this tactic on Eve in the Garden of Eden challenging what God had said. We are to never put a question mark where God has put a period. If you find yourself beginning to doubt, then don't. Don't be the typical man that believes his doubts and doubts his beliefs.

James 1:5, 6—If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

Hebrews 10:23—Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;):

A man was walking along a narrow path, not paying much attention to where he was going. Suddenly he slipped over the edge of a cliff. As he fell, he grabbed a branch growing from the side of the cliff. Realizing he coudn't hang on for long, he called for help.


Man: Is anyone up there?

Voice: Yes, I'm here.

Man: Who's that?

Voice: The Lord.

Man: Lord, Help Me!

Voice: Do you trust me?

Man: I trust you completely, Lord.

Voice: Good, let go of the branch.

Man: What? Voice: I said, "Let go of the branch."

Man: (After a long pause) Is anybody else up there?


Such is the case with many believers who get into trouble. They begin to question God's ability to solve their problems and endeavor to try to solve them on their own which many times creates more problems and instability in their lives.

11. DISORGANIZATION, DISCREPANCY, & DISARRAY—Chaos and confusion can create instability in one's life. Our inconsistency as a Christian in the way we live can create instability in the lives who follow our leadership or example.

1 Corinthians 14:8—For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?:

Ephesians 4:1—I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,:

12. A DELICATE Foundation for Life—When you build your life on yourself, on sinful living, on the fading things of this world, the foundation of your life is weak, not strong. The weakness of our life creates instability especially in our emotions and spiritual growth. The wise person will ground his life in Jesus Christ and center his life around the Lord.

Matthew 7:25-27—And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

{See the Review Questions for this Chapter on Page 296.}