The Principle of the Path

Bible Book: Joshua  1 : 1-9
Subject: Purpose; Meaning in Life; God's Will; Vision for Living

Joshua 1:1-9

Recently, I was reading through a book distributor’s magazine and began to think about some of the titles: The Cure for the Common Life, Destined for Greatness, Surviving, Four Pillars, Starting Point. I decided to use one of these titles for my sermon: “The Principle of the Path.” I want to share with you from Joshua 1:1-9 about the Principle of the Path

A soldier was standing at attention during a parade drill when he waved to one of the spectators. The drill instructor growled, “Soldier don’t ever do that again!” As the company marched past the reviewing stand the young man waved a second time. When the troops got back to the barracks, the drill instructor burst in and barked, “I told you not to wave! Aren’t you afraid of me?” “Yes, Sir!” the private replied, “but you don’t know my mother!” (Our Daily Bread 11-9-97)

Fear is a natural part of life. All of us are afraid of something. As you approach graduation and look to the future, it may be that some of you are anxious, even fearful. Events in our country and around the world are changing so quickly that it is normal to have great concern about the future.

It could be that you are feeling a bit like Joshua when God called him. Try to put yourself in Joshua’s shoes. Moses, the one with whom God spoke, had died. The unfaithful generation had died. Who would lead them? Would God continue to be with them? Would they survive?

You are entering into a new phase in your life. It is natural to be apprehensive. You might even be to the point of panic as you face uncertainty concerning the future ahead. You might be unsure of your next step. People in all generations have worried about the future. What kind of options do you have as you face the future?

I. Respond in Faith

You can respond in fear or faith (1:6, 7, 9)

Joshua must have been anxious and fearful because of Israel’s past failure to enter the Promised Land and because of the death of Moses. God’s message to Joshua was “be strong and courageous.” The message was so important that God repeated it three times.

As you face your future and the adversity of life, you can respond in fear or faith. You can let circumstances dictate your actions, or you can have faith in God to give you direction. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) indicates “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Solomon writes, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” As you face adversity in life you can respond in fear or in faith. I challenge you to respond in faith.

II. Trust the Promises of God

You can trust in your own strength or trust in the promises of God (1:5, 9).

Since Joshua had a threefold task to perform, God gave him three special promises, one for each task. God would enable Joshua to cross the river and claim the land (vv. 3–4), defeat the enemy (v. 5), and apportion the land to each tribe as its inheritance (v. 6). God did not give Joshua explanations as to how He would accomplish these things because God’s people live on promises and not on explanations. When you trust God’s promises and step out by faith (v. 3), you can be sure that the Lord will give you the directions you need when you need them.

God told Joshua to go into the land that “I have given.” This verb is in the perfect tense which shows a completed action. For generations God had promised to give them the land. Now, once again He was reaffirming his promise. God’s action was so certain to come to pass that it could be written as if it had already happened. It’s money in the bank! God had already done his work. All God’s people had to do was be obedient.

As students you have been equipped with knowledge. It would be easy to trust in that knowledge or your natural abilities. But God calls us to a different life. He calls on us to trust in him. We must step out in faith and claim the promises of God. If God takes care of the sparrows in the sky, how much more will he take care of those He has created in His own image?

Failure to trust God was the root cause of ancient Israel’s rebellion. They did not believe, and so they disobeyed. You stand on a new horizon. You have two options: trust in your own strength or trust in God.

III. For Forward With God to be Successful

You can be satisfied with the world’s definition of success or go forward with God and truly be successful. (1:7, 8)

Joshua had been one of the original spies sent out to see the Promised Land. The memory of its beauty had not dimmed. But he also remembered the walled cities and trained armies. But notice, Joshua’s instructions for success had nothing to do with the upcoming battles. To be successful, Joshua had to do three things. Joshua was told to meditate on God’s Word and to talk about God’s Word, and be careful to do all that was written in the Book of the Law. If he did, he would be successful.

If you want to be successful in life, you need to live according to God’s Book. That means that you need to obey all his commands, not just pick and choose. He doesn’t want us to change them to suit our needs. Faith and obedience are everywhere, linked in Scripture, for true faith releases us from our fears and results in obeying God gladly.

Just like Joshua, you must be very careful not to forget the law of the Lord. I read about a man named Sam. He was on vacation and stopped in Montgomery, AL for gas. After pumping gas, he got in his car and had driven more than 5 hours before he noticed that he had left something behind—his wife (Our Daily Bread 1-1-99). It is hard for us to understand how Sam could have forgotten his wife, but I’m afraid we’re not much different when it comes to our relationship to God.

How does the world define success: More things and more money? How does God define success? The Bible indicates that when salvation comes to a person, that person has been brought from death unto life. He or she is transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. The very life of God takes up residence in the life of a person who has been changed by the power of God. Jesus indicated that he would give the peace that passes all understanding, and an abundant life. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

If we want to be successful in our lives, according to God’s definition, we must do these three things: meditate on God’s Word, talk about God’s Word, and live according to God’s Word. If we are careful to do all that God commands we will be successful, not successful in a worldly sense, but in a godly sense. The key to successful living is careful obedience to all that God commands and success can never be measured apart from God’s purpose. God’s promises never fail because God never fails.


The Book of Joshua records the fulfillment of the three promises that God made to Joshua here in this passage. At the close of his life Joshua could remind the leaders of Israel that “not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed” (23:14, NKJV).

As we stand looking unto the future, what do we really need to face it: More gadgets? More places to go? More things to do? No!! We need to be strong and courageous to do everything He has commanded us. God provides just what we need to lead us into the future: His action on our behalf and His assurance that our lives will be successful if we will obey all his commandments.

An old sailor repeatedly got lost at sea, so his friends gave him a compass and urged him to use it. The next time he went out, he used the compass. But, as usual, he became hopelessly confused and couldn’t find his way back. Finally he was rescued by his friends. Disgusted, they asked, “Why didn’t you use the compass we gave you?” The sailor responded, “I didn’t dare use it. I wanted to go north, but as hard as I tried to make the needle aim in that direction, it just kept pointing southeast!” He was so certain he knew which way was north that he would not trust the compass (Our Daily Bread 1-27- 98).

We must not be like this sailor who was so certain about the way to go that he refused to trust the compass. How should you face the future? I challenge you to try God’s way. Don’t respond in fear. Respond in faith! Don’t trust in your own strength. Trust in the promises of God! Don’t be satisfied with where you are or with the world’s definition of success. Go forward with God and be successful!

I challenge you to do what David did, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 (ESV)