Joshua

Ex 33:11
The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

If you had been a trainee under the leadership of Moses, you would’ve learned about humility before God. You would’ve learned how to drop everything and act promptly in obedience to God. You would’ve learned that there is one thing that has to come before everything else you value. That one thing is time spent alone with God.

Joshua knew about a serious relationship with God when Moses spoke to Pharaoh and plagues came over the land. He knew enough to step away from the crowd so he could be a leader and not a follower. In Exodus 32:17 we read that Joshua wasn’t with the golden calf worshippers, but he thought the people sounded like war. In chapter fourteen of the book of Numbers, we read that all but two of the explorers of the land flowing with milk and honey treated God with contempt. The only explorers who gave a good report about the land and the only explorers who would return to that land were Joshua and Caleb. Joshua knew to make up his own mind and follow God.

After Moses died, Joshua was called upon to take the lead in his place.  In the first chapter of the book of Joshua, God told Joshua to be strong and courageous for there would be battles ahead. Joshua knew from his years coming out of Egypt that God would be responsible for their victories. God would supply them with everything they needed, whether food or battle strategies. All Joshua had to do was obey God.

In Joshua 24:29, we read that Joshua died at age 110 after charging his people with (24:14), “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, …But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” He wasn’t content to die knowing his life had been spent serving God. He wanted to share his one thing, the one thing he valued most, with his family and friends.

Joshua urged his community to always treasure that special time with God because without it they would be lost. A life of serving and honoring God was what Joshua wanted to pass down, not just to his kids or his community, but to future generations.

What will your kids inherit from you? What’s your one thing?

Daniel

Daniel 6:20

When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

I’m sure Daniel was expected to be like the other boys when he was told to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians. He used wisdom when he asked to be allowed to be on a veggie diet instead of the rich food the others were eating. God saw that Daniel set himself apart from the rest and continued to devote himself to God, so he gave him special knowledge and understanding. When God helped Daniel solve the puzzle of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, Daniel didn’t take all the credit for himself. Daniel (2:28) explained, “there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” After Daniel solved the mystery of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and told the interpretation, the king was in awe, not just because of Daniel, but because of Daniel’s God. In Daniel 2:47, he said, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”

For years, Daniel’s co-workers had to listen to words of praise for Daniel’s wisdom and integrity. After a while, they became so tired of it that they looked for a way to get him charged with a crime. They searched, but they couldn’t find any corruption nor any negligence. So they set him up. While Darius was king, they suggested that anyone who prayed to any god or human except King Darius would be thrown to the lions. Darius liked Daniel and realized that he’d been set up, so he told him (Daniel 6:16), “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

How nice it would be to have people think of us as people who continually serve God. That’s what the king said a few times about Daniel. Of course, Daniel was rescued. And then Darius made sure that the men who had set up Daniel’s capture were thrown to the lions.

It takes a strong man to stand up for what he believes when all around him are cowering and submitting to whatever new law is announced. All through Daniel’s life, he showed that his strength came from his relationship with the God in heaven who reveals mysteries.

You and I may never be thrown into the lions’ den, but we have a different challenge. Will we be as faithful to God in our comfortable circumstances as Daniel was in his life-threatening circumstances?

Won’t you seek God with me?

David

Psalm 27:4

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

When I think of strong men, I think of Moses who led millions out of slavery. I think of Caleb and Joshua who were the only two who brought back a good report from the land flowing with milk and honey. I think of Daniel who refused to worship anyone but the one true God, even if that meant being thrown to the lions. I think of John who identified himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, even at the cross. In the home of Lazarus, Jesus explained (in Luke 10:42) that “few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What was the “one thing” that both Mary and David knew was important? Being with God.

If you are someone who gets quiet before God and really listens, you are developing your “one thing”. Your relationship with God is such a precious thing. It must be nurtured and protected and valued.

David knew as a boy that his strength in protecting the sheep wasn’t his own ability. He knew his victory over Goliath wasn’t a man-made victory. He knew his time with God was the energy behind all of his triumphs.

David sang songs of praise to God in the sheep pastures. He wasn’t working on a singer-songrwriter career. He just wanted to praise his God. I don’t know if he realized he was building his strength in those moments.

It wasn’t a surprise to those who knew him that he danced before God like a wild man. In 2 Samuel 6:5, we find that David and 30,000 men were “celebrating with all their might”. Picture a procession of 30,000 energetic men playing castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals and guiding a cart with the ark of God on it. David wasn’t dancing to put on a show, but to honor and praise God.

A strong man can ignore the stares of people who don’t understand the joy of a relationship with God. A strong man can ignore jealous nay-sayers who are skeptical when he explains his celebration. A strong man can stay faithful to God even when his life is threatened by a giant.

How are you becoming a strong man or woman?