March 20 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“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.” ~Joshua 1:7

Joshua is chosen by God to be the people’s new leader. It is his job to save the people from their enemies and to lead them to their long awaited home. In this ancient portion of the great story, the Lord tells Joshua to be bold and courageous. He must keep the Word of God before him at all times and obey it without compromise. If he does so, while calling on God’s people to follow his example, he will be successful and prosperous. Do not assume, modern reader, that you know what those words meant to Joshua. Success and prosperity must be understood in the biblical context. The community will in fact succeed at defeating their enemies and entering the land of promise, and they will in fact take possession of its prosperity and enjoy its cities, homes, and vineyards.

Biblical context matters here, as it so often does, but it does not preclude a contemporary application. In fact, understanding what success and prosperity meant to Joshua helps us to recognize what form these concepts might take in our own lives. For the Christian, there are inherent problems with the word success as it is defined in modern culture. It has been defined (wrongly) to mean money, power, and fame. But is a wealthy business tycoon a successful person if he alienates everyone in his life and dies an unhappy alcoholic? There are a thousand examples of success that challenge Western culture’s idea of it. Like the missionary who leaves hearth and home to joyfully serve the poor in the slums of Kibera, for example. I think success is better defined like this: Do everything God calls you to do, and do it well for the good of humanity and the glory of God!

Jonathan Edwards was likely getting at this very notion when he wrote, “Resolved, to live with all my might while I do live.” The key to success, whether one is a poet, a preacher, a plumber, a professor, a pilot, or a piano tuner, is living for God with all our strength so that neighbors benefit and God is recognized. Live boldly and courageously, not fearing challenges, and keeping God’s Word always before you so that you remain true to Him. Like Joshua, we will face battles, enemies, setbacks, and even our own wayward hearts! But if we are courageous and do what God calls us to do, and do it with all our might, we will succeed and enjoy God’s blessing. Let’s do it!

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.