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From the Pastor’s Heart

Set your mind on one thing only: Jesus Christ.

This month we remember Dr. Stanley’s birthday on September 25th. He taught us so much about living in Christ, trusting Him, and responding rightly to trials that come our way. We all need courage to walk through the world day by day, even with the Lord by our side. 

Here’s something Dr. Stanley shared about a challenge he faced in his younger years—and what he learned for the future.

When I was a young man and experiencing the biggest challenge of my life so far, my mother said, “I want to give you these verses of Scripture.” She pointed to Joshua 1:7-9 in her Bible, where God encourages the new leader of the Hebrews. 

I read it over several times, and as I left the house and made my way up the street, I’d memorized the passage and could quote it to myself! Somehow the Lord just locked those verses into my heart.

In God’s words to Joshua as he took the mantle of leadership following Moses’ death, I learned what would become, for me, the most profound truth in all of Scripture: Jesus Christ is my life. 

Now, you might be asking, “How does God’s message for Joshua point us to Jesus?”

Think about a time you faced a big challenge—a moment that made you feel weak, fearful, or discouraged. Well, that’s how Joshua was feeling. Even though he was a mighty warrior, he was facing the greatest test of his life: leading Israel into the Promised Land. He remembered how the people had once wanted to stone him, and he was probably very afraid when God placed him in charge of the tribes. But the Father wasn’t setting Joshua up to fail. He laid out a plan for his success. And it’s the same one God has for us.

First, if we want to be strong and courageous, we must trust that God is with us. 

Whatever we face, we’re to be optimistic and confident. Why? One simple reason: He’s there. He promised to be with Joshua “wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9). And Jesus said to His disciples just before He returned to heaven: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). We have the same promise from Christ.

Second, we have to obey. 

There are many books on success, but nobody can beat this principle: “Be careful to do according to all that is written in [the Book of the Law]; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success” (Josh. 1:8). If we want our lives to prosper, we too must do what God says. For this, we have the Spirit of Christ to help (Phil. 4:13).

Third, we must meditate on God’s Word. 

We need to read Scripture and think about it over and over until it becomes part of our thinking. Then, verses will arise in our minds when challenges come. Jesus is our example; remember how He quoted Scripture when tempted in the desert (Matt. 4:4)? And He gave us the Holy Spirit to “remind you of all that I said to you” (John 14:26).

Fourth, we need to avoid distractions. 

In Joshua 1:7, God says: “Do not turn from [the Law] to the right or to the left.” The key here is focus. When Joshua didn’t do as God said, he faced setbacks and failures. If you want to succeed, don’t get pulled away from His instruction by people, society, or anything else. Do exactly what God says.

Finally, if your focus is on being bold and courageous, you’re still focusing on the wrong thing. 

Set your mind on one thing only: Jesus Christ. 

He’ll give you His power and strength for obedience, His presence to rely on, and His love to encourage you. Success requires “looking only at Jesus” (Heb. 12:2). Focusing elsewhere leads to defeat.

The most important things in your life are getting on your knees every day (this can be an attitude of your heart if you are physically unable to kneel); reading or listening to the Word of God; and talking with Him. When those practices are consistently part of your daily routine, everything else somehow works out.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to eliminate all your challenges. But it does mean you can remain strong and confident as you face them.

It’s easy to be bold and courageous if everything is going your way. But you’ll never fully discover who Jesus Christ really is unless you walk through one life-stretching, faith-forming challenge after another. As you do, you’ll discover that Jesus truly is your life.

Whatever you might be facing, today or tomorrow, we pray you find this message from Dr. Stanley encouraging. Remember Joshua 1:7-9—and all Jesus is to you—whenever you feel pressured, unsure, or fearful about a situation. Till next time, God bless you.

For His Glory,

Your Friends at In Touch Ministries