Links Daily Devotional

Will I Succeed?, Part 9

“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 success.” (Joshua 1:8, NASB)

Note closely the text above. Who is the person that makes one prosperous?

When I first put this verse to memory, I did not answer this question correctly. I thought the “you” was God.

It is not God.

Read Joshua 1:8 again. Let’s ponder it briefly today to see what God does and what we do in the process of prospering at life. For although God gave Joshua this promise and the conditions for success, Joshua was responsible for making himself prosperous.

God did what Joshua could not do.

But He did not do what Joshua could do.

God caused the meltdown of impregnable walls at Jericho, but it was Joshua’s responsibility to show up seven straight mornings. He was responsible for day-to-day actions in obedience to God. For readying himself for battle.

Jerry Bridges, in his book The Fruitful Life, writes: “We need to learn that the Bible teaches both total responsibility and total dependence…the nine character traits listed as the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5… address our responsibility.

“Paul tells Timothy, ‘Train yourself to be godly’ (I Timothy 4:7). The Greek word rendered ‘train’ here originally referred to the training of athletes. The solution to the seemingly incompatible statements that we are both totally responsible and totally dependent is found in Philippians 2:12-13. ‘Therefore, my dear friends…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.’”

Jesus said, “…without Me you can do nothing.” True. We are to be totally dependent on Him. But what Jerry Bridges writes is also true: We are totally responsible for our character development and training in godliness.

We make choices and train ourselves in character that makes us “prosperous.”

One of our brothers on the PGA Tour leads the FedEx Cup race as we approach the final tournament. Whether he wins or loses, it will be a highly successful year for Webb Simpson. Though gifted with eye-and-hand coordination, touch and strength from God, he has “made himself prosperous” by long hours of training and hard work.

Yet, from now until he completes play on Sunday, he will be totally dependent on God for the very breath he breathes.

So what is prosperity from God’s viewpoint? I do not presume to know the answer. But it must be more than financial or material success. That may be one result, but it’s much more. I have a hunch that if I truly prospered in my life and work, God might look on me as He did the prophet Daniel and say, “You are highly esteemed” (Daniel 10:11, 19).

Wally Armstrong and I were there at the 2011 PGA Championship in Atlanta when Larry Nelson received the highest honor given by the PGA of America, the Distinguished Service Award. Larry was “highly esteemed” by his PGA colleagues that evening.

After receiving accolade upon accolade, Larry stood to accept the honor.

He thanked Gayle, his wife, his sons, all his family and numerous friends who had been part of his life and the receiving of this highest of awards. Then he said what I believe it means to truly prosper at life. With great humility, he said what I will never forget: “…I’ve tried to live my life so that when it’s over, I might hear Him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”

Maybe living life well, as Larry was recognized for, comes close to what God meant when He instructed Joshua to make his way prosperous.

Jim Hiskey

September 21, 2011

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