Growing in Grace – People of the Book

Jeremy MarshDevotional Blog

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. ~ Joshua 1:7-8

What does it look like to live courageously in 2020?  I think some answers can be found in these verses in Joshua 1.  Here, the Lord tells the commander of the Israelite armies that the source of the strength and courage necessary to lead the Israelites into the promised land comes from obedience to God’s Word, the “Book of the Law.” 

Earlier this week, a friend asked me what Jesus would say if he were part of the conversations we are having in our living rooms, dining rooms, classrooms, and board rooms?  Where would he stand on all of these contentious 2020 issues?  How would he act if he were navigating these things (COVID, masks, election, etc.) alongside us?  What words of truth would he speak into the chaos of our 2020 lives? 

While we can’t know exactly what Jesus, the Incarnate Word, would think, do, and say about these things, we can get a good sense of it through his written Word. That is why we are called, above all, to be a people of the Book.  That is why God tells Joshua that the secret to “good success” is not the science of warfare but the deep study and application of God’s Word.  Twice in these verses God tells Joshua “to be careful to do according to all” that is written in the Book.  And God makes clear that doing so means not just reading it, but meditating on it—day and night!—so that Joshua can faithfully DO according to ALL (not some) that is written therein. 

What does it look like to live courageously in 2020? The same as it looked for Joshua. If we are to find good success in the challenges before us, we, like him, have to be careful to do according to all that is written in his word.  Which may mean we have to spend less time meditating on the news and commentary streaming from our preferred media outlets and more time meditating on God’s word.  Which may mean we need to take a hard look at how we’re spending our time, making sure that we’re being intentional about spending significant time in God’s word and in prayer.  Which may mean we need to reprioritize worship and the ministry of the Word through Christ-centered preaching in our lives. 

As one commentator said, it is only through deep study of God’s word that we can master the principles of conduct laid down there and appropriate for ourselves the guiding and sustaining power which the word of the Lord gives. By regularly familiarizing ourselves with the ethics of Scripture, and with the hope of glory which is ours through Christ, our minds can be made up upon a great many thorny questions as to what we ought to do, so that when crises or dangers come, we are able to fall back upon the principles that decide our conduct and that are essential to a successful Christian life (MacLaren’s Expositions).

Finally, be encouraged by the blessing that accompanies being a person of the book: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3