Weekly Devotionals by Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.
August 4, 2013 – I will never leave you.
The book of Joshua begins with the words,
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory, Joshua 1:1-4.
The description is clearly a very large territory, one that encompasses most of the Middle East. It is a restatement of the Palestinian Covenant first mentioned as part of the Abrahamic Covenant, Gen. 12:1-3, 15:18-20. The boundaries are restated in the Torah, Num. 34:1-12. Today, Israel occupies only a tiny sliver of land less than five percent of the actual territory God has promised them. Still, with all the promise of land and divine protection to Abraham and his descendants, God understands what Joshua must be feeling following the loss of his mentor and spiritual leader, Moses. Joshua was being thrust into leadership and was in need of divine encouragement.
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper (Sakal) wherever you go, Josh. 1:5-7.
God promises Joshua that He will be with him as He was with Moses. God promises never to leave Joshua or forsake him. We find this very same promise being extended from King David to his son Solomon, I Chron. 28:20; Psalm 9:10. This verse rings true in our ears because this is the very same promise that God makes to all His children;
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5.
This precious truth should encourage all of God’s children to trust and obey Him in every circumstance of our lives. We are never alone, never forsaken, and as far as His Word is concern, we are more than conquerors through His love,
Yet in all these things we aremorethanconquerors through Him who loved us, Rom. 8:37.
August 11, 2013 – What is truly biblically based prosperity?
It is here that the instruction Joshua received in the previous verses, Josh. 1:5-7, comes to fruition. I suggest everyone commit this verse to memory. It is an essential truth that if heeded, will carry you successfully through all the trials and tribulations of life, Rom. 5:1-5.
This Book of the Law (the Bible) shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous (Tsalach in Hebrew), and then you will have good success (Sakal in Hebrew), Josh. 1:8.
In the “name it and claim it, blab it and grab it” world of the prosperity gospel, many fall in the trap of believing that material success is somehow their birthright as believers. They say things like, “Abraham was a wealthy man, so why shouldn’t we also be wealthy.” They throw Job out there too, but leave out his sufferings. They use the promises of God concerning a fruitful prayer life, John 15:7, and turn them into magic formulas for their heavenly shopping lists. The presumption that God must bless us materially, because we tithe, or we serve Him in some way, is foolish carnality. This is carnal presumption, not biblical faith.
So what is the Word of God telling us in Joshua 1:8? In order to understand more fully we need to look at these words and their root meanings in their original languages. The first is the word “prosperous.”
Prosperous = Tsalach
1) to rush
2) to advance, prosper, make progress, succeed, be profitable .....a) to prosper .....b) to make prosperous, bring success, cause to prosper in one’s affairs .....c) to show or experience prosperity, prosper
So here, we have a clear indication that Joshua 1:8 promises to move in a direction that will cause one to succeed and prosper. This prosperity can include both material and spiritual success. To focus only on material success in general, and on monetary wealth in particular, is an erroneous interpretation of this great and precious promise. It is both shortsighted and it ignores all of the warnings against material wealth that are contained in the Word of God:
Solomon warns that those who chase wealth are never satisfied, Ecc. 5:10
Jesus tells us that we cannot serve God and money, Luke 16:13-14.
Paul warns that the love of money is the root of all evil, I Tim. 6:10.
James warns against the deceitfulness of riches, James. 5:1-6.
It is best to understand that everything we have belongs to God. We are called to be stewards of that which God allows us to oversee while we are this side of glory. It is the spiritual riches of serving and ministering to others that are truly priceless. To be rich in faith, rich in God’s grace and mercy, these are the true riches should be sought and cherished.
August 18, 2013 – What is truly biblically based success?
The promises contained in Joshua 1:8 include both prosperity as well as success. The Hebrew word for success has a different connotation than the English word “success.”
Success = Sakal
1) to be prudent, be circumspect, wisely understand, prosper .....a) to be prudent, be circumspect
2) to look at or upon, have insight, e.g. biblical common sense
3) to give attention to, consider, ponder, be prudent
4) to have insight, have comprehension .....a) insight, comprehension
5) to cause to consider, give insight, teach .....a) the teachers, the wise
6) to act circumspectly, act prudently, act wisely
7) to prosper, have success
8) to cause to prosper
This word in the Hebrew, e.g. sakal, has a distinctly “non-material” aspect to it. It seems to focus on the biblical common sense aspect of success. Meaning, to be Holy Spirit led in one’s thinking will lead to success in all areas of life. However, the real key to understanding how the Word of God can bring about success in the lives of God’s children is rooted in the instructions that precede and follow verse eight.
“Be strong and of good courage… Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you… that you may prosper (Sakal) wherever you go…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go,” Josh. 1:6-9.
Our strength and courage should be focused on our trust and obedience to the instructions contained in God’s Word. The promise of success for a believer is the supernatural empowerment of God’s grace to live a joyful, prayerful, and thankful life:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, I Thess. 5:16-18.
August 25, 2013 – Our prosperity and success in Messiah is not monetary
We are guaranteed success, even though we are surrounded by a body of death, Rom. 7:24-25. When we understand the implications of God’s promises to His children, we should be greatly encouraged to love and serve others:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, theseHe also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Rom. 8:28-31
Its God’s Word that answers the question of the Apostle Paul (and all who trust in the Lord Messiah Yeshua) “who shall deliver me (us) from this body of death?” Paul declared without hesitation, “Thanks be to God – through Messiah Yeshua our Lord!” Paul understood that success for a believer was not linked to keeping traditions, even biblically based traditions. His answer to the paradox of new life in Christ while trapped in an earthen vessel, II Cor. 4:7, was simple. First, declare the truth of the gospel in no uncertain terms and the freedom that has been achieved because of that same gospel.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death, Rom. 8:1-2, & 9.
It is in the Messiah that we have true prosperity, success and power to overcome all that comes against us. When we focus on material things, we loose sight of what is really important, Christ in us, the hope of glory.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, Col. 1:27-28.