Three Keys to Success

“Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance.” Joshua 1:6 HCSB

Self-help and roads to success books seem to be as plentiful as the stars in the sky. Everyone is interested in discovering how to be successful. Many people think that prosperity and success comes from having a powerful position, influential friends, and a drive to get ahead and beat the competition. But God describes three ways that Joshua could be successful in everything he did. Over the next three days we will look at these three avenues to success.

The first thing that God said was important was to “Be Strong and Courageous”. When facing a difficult task we need to show strength instead of weakness. We need to be courageous instead of afraid. We can have confidence when we know that God is with us. God expects us to play a role and to be a part of His plan.

Challenge: Be strong and courageous. Do your part in accomplishing God's plan. Know that God always keeps His promises and will help you be successful if you will follow His leadership and direction.

Facing Challenges

No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you. Joshua 1:1-2 HCSB

I , like others, have faced many challenges in my lifetime such as learning to walk, going to school, learning to read, learning to ride a bike, speaking in front of a crowd of people, leading conferences, changing jobs, getting married, and becoming a father and grandfather. I have also faced the challenge of working with difficult people and having people mistreat me.

Life is filled with challenges, but nothing compares to the challenge that Joshua faced. He was about to lead approximately 2 million people into a new land and conquer the people who currently occupied the land. He had already faced the challenge of dealing with people who were complaining and unfaithful to following God's laws. I am sure the task seemed overwhelming not to mention that he was trying to fill Moses' shoes and follow God's instructions. God knew that Joshua had some doubts so He affirmed him and told him that He would be with him and never forsake him. No one would be able to stand against Joshua because God was on His side. All that Joshua needed to do to be successful was to trust God and follow His leadership.

Challenge: Interestingly, the same is true today – if we are going to be successful we must trust God and follow His leadership. What would you attempt to do if you knew that God was with you and you could not fail? No matter what challenges you are facing in your life right now, know that God is with you and will not forsake you.

The Apprentice

After the death of Moses the Lord's servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, who had served Moses. “Moses My servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites.” Joshua 1:1-2 HCSB

God has allowed me to lead many Sunday School leadership conferences across the United States and even in Belarus. I try to help Sunday School leaders know how they can be more effective as leaders and in teaching God's Word. Having an apprentice teacher is the best way to train and equip new leaders. An apprentice teacher helps with teaching and fills in for the regular teacher when he needs to be gone. The ultimate goal is for the apprentice teacher to develop the skills needed to teach a new class.

Joshua was one of two spies that had come back from Jericho with a report that they could defeat those in Jericho even though they were large in stature and well fortified. He knew that with God all things were possible even though the other ten spies said they could not do it. He had served as an apprenticeto Moses for 40 years and was now ready to take the leadership role. Moses and God had prepared Joshua for this important task.

Challenge: If you are a teacher, enlist an apprentice teacher and begin training him to eventually take your place or teach another class. If you are not a teacher, pray and consider becoming an apprentice teacher. Even at your place of work you should be training new people to do your job.

Grow in Grace and Knowledge

Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:17-18 HCSB

I enjoy having a small garden in the backyard. This year we planted corn, green beans, okra, banana peppers, green peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, and squash. We enjoyed eating some of the fruits of our labor all summer long. To get the plants to grow they needed just the right sunlight, water, fertilizer, and insecticide. Too much or too little of any of these components would not have helped the plants to grow.

Peter admonishes us to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord. It is through the reading of God's Word, praying, participating in a small group Bible study, and worshiping God with others that we are able to grow as Christians. Just like a plant, if we have too little of any of these elements we will not grow properly in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. I contend that one can even have too much of any of these elements that could cause one to not grow. We need a balanced approach to spiritual growth.

Challenge: How well are you growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord? In which of the areas (reading God's Word, praying , Bible study, or worship) do you need to spend more time? Just like a plant, if you do not grow you will die. Spiritual growth is a constant process; no one ever arrives at the perfect place of spiritual growth and maturity. No matter how good we are, there is still room for improvement. Our model is Jesus Christ and we can never be as spotless as Him.

Left Behind

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. 2 Peter 3:10 HCSB

While vacationing in Louisiana one year our van was broken into while parked in the motel's valet parking lot. The vandal broke the side window and then stole games and toys that belonged to our children, a television, video tape player, some video tapes, and my golf clubs. A thief often works at night under the cover of darkness so others will not see him.

There is a series of movies that tell the story of what might happen when Christ returns and raptures the believers from the earth. The first movie in the series is called Left Behind and portrays the message in this verse, that at the twinkling of an eye or like a thief in the night Jesus will return at a time when people least expect it.

Challenge: Do not be left behind when Christ returns. You can watch the 2000 version of the movie on YouTube at There are four movies in the original series. There is a 2014 version of the Left Behind movie that you may be able to rent or purchase.

The Patient Father

Dear friends, don't let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 HCSB

I have always heard that the older you get the faster time goes. I can remember as a child feeling that it would be forever before Christmas or my birthday would arrive. Now that I am older it seems that time flies. We are at the end of 2016 and it seems that only yesterday we were ringing in the New Year. The reality is that the amount of time is the same but our perception of time changes.

In these verses Peter reminds us that God lives outside of time. God is not on our timetable (see Psalm 90:4). His time is not measured by human terms. What may seem like a long time may be only a short time from God's perspective. God is like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son who patiently waited for his son to return home. God patiently waits with the hope that all people will repent of their sins and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Challenge: We must not sit and wait for Christ's return, but we should realize that time is short. It is important for us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who need to accept Him as Lord and Savior. We must live our lives in such a way that we are always ready to meet Christ, who may come at any moment of any day.

Judgment Is Coming

They willfully ignore this: Long ago the heavens and the earth were brought about from water and through water by the word of God. Through these waters the world of that time perished when it was flooded. But by the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:5-7 HCSB

God's Word is very clear that someday Jesus will return and this sinful world will be judged. Nobody knows the exact time, but we can be assured that it will happen. In Noah's day God brought judgment on the sinfulness of men by flooding the world with water, but when Christ returns the world will be judged by fire (see Revelation 19:20 and 20:10-15).

The same power that formed the earth will also command the day of judgment. God is patient and His love for all mankind and all sinners causes Him to delay the return of Christ so that others might come to know Him as Lord and Savior. Everyone will answer to a Holy God and give an account of his or her life. Those who have rejected Christ as Lord and Savior will be sent to hell, a literal place where they will spend eternity separated from a loving and caring God.

Challenge: Are you ready for Judgment Day? Have you accepted Christ as Lord and Savior? It is as simple as A-B-C: Admit you are a sinner. Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, lived a perfect life, died for your sins, and rose again. Confess Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

We Are In The Last Days

First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4 HCSB

Many predicted that the world would come to an end when the calendar turned to 2000. Others predicted that at the minimum, computer networks would fail world-wide. Over the years there have been those who claim they know when the end of the world is coming. They have made predictions of the exact day and time but none have been true. Jesus said that no one knows when the last day will come so if someone is predicting a specific time, it will not be at that time.

In Peter's time some ridiculed Christian believers who had said that Jesus Christ was coming back and that the end of the world was coming. These scoffers were skeptical because nothing in the world seemed to be different and they did not believe that God was getting ready to end the world. Consequently, they did not see any need to commit their lives to Jesus or change their sinful living habits.

Challenge: The last days are the days between when Christ left this earth and when He returns to this earth. We are all living in the last days. Even if Jesus does not come back in our lifetime, we are living in our last days. Everyone will die and we only have a short time here on this earth. We all need to live as though Jesus were returning today.

Guaranteed Protection

Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25 HCSB

There are several home security systems available on the market. Each claims to be better than the other or promises to offer the same level of protection at a lower price. A home security system is designed to protect your home from someone breaking in and stealing valuables or to protect those inside from an intruder. I have heard of people who failed to turn on the system and their home was burglarized.

These verses remind us that God is our Protector. He will protect us from the evils of false teachers if we will stay close to Him through the reading of His Word and prayer. Even though false teachers are all around us, we do not need to be afraid. We can trust God to protect us if we are rooted and grounded in Him. He provides the best security system!

Challenge: We are vulnerable to the false teachings and doctrines of today. We are tempted to give into sin. Do not give up. God will keep us from failing and guarantees that as believers, we will someday stand blameless before Him. That will be a great day of joy and we will give God all of the glory.

Love the Sinner – Hate the Sin

Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Jude 22-23 HCSB

Having been in full-time ministry for over 40 years, I have been trained in several different witnessing programs. The first was Evangelism Explosion. The second was Continuing Witness Training, and the last one was Faith. All have different presentation methods, but the common goal is to share the Gospel message with those who need to know Jesus as Lord.

Jude is encouraging us to have mercy on those who doubt and do not believe. We are to witness to them so that they might be saved from the fires of hell. He also cautions us to be careful that we are not contaminated by the sins of the world. I like the way the Message Bible interprets these two verses, “Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.”

Challenge: It is the responsibility of every believer to witness and share the Gospel message with others. Effective witnessing saves people from God's judgment and leads them to forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Sometimes the best way we can witness is by loving the sinner as Christ loves them. At other times we must be bold in presenting the Gospel message so we might snatch them from the gates of hell. Unbelievers are in need of salvation. We should not take witnessing lightly; it is a matter of life and death. We must love the sinner but hate the sin.