Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a small assignment? You really to see God work in and through your life, but you just don’t see how that could happen in the place where you are right now? We’ll talk about it today on Revive Our Hearts. 

I want to remind you that you’re able to hear practical counsel from God’s Word like what you hear each day on Revive Our Heart, in large measure, because of our Monthly Partner Team.

This is a group of listeners who are actively involved in making this ministry possible as they pray, and they support the ministry financially each month, and they share the message with others.

To help us continue speaking to women on the air around the country, we’re asking the Lord to provide at least 800 new monthly partners in the month of September.

When you sign up as a monthly partner this month, as our way of saying "thank you for your investment in this ministry," we'd like to send you a copy of the new hardcover gift edition of my book that's called, The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus. And as a monthly partner, you’ll get one conference registration each year. I hope you’ll get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. 

And would you pray that the Lord would raise up additional monthly partners so that we can continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ with listeners in your area and all around the country?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, September 9.

Education is very important, and we want our kids to learn all they can. But at some point they’ll leave school and use what they’ve learned or start teaching others.

Acting on what you’ve learned is a big step of maturity, a process Nancy describes in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 4): Following God's Lead to Lead."

Nancy: We’ve spent much of the last few weeks looking at the life of Joshua in his early years. We said that during those early years, Joshua was a learner. He was learning how to be a faithful follower and servant. He was learning to worship.

We’ve had some glimpses into his private life and service. He had some public moments, but by and large those early years as a learner were his private life. This is where he was being shaped and molded and formed for what God had for him later in life.

We’re coming now to the season of those mature years of Joshua’s life, when he was still a learner but now becoming a leader. He had learned to worship; now he was going to have to learn to use what he knew about God in warfare.

We see him moving from the private life that he had enjoyed for much of that time into public life and service. And before we finish with Joshua, we’ll see his final years when he is leaving a legacy.

So you see a picture of a life well lived—early years learning, mature years leading and fulfilling God’s mission for your life, and then your final years leaving a legacy for the next generation. Joshua provides enormous continuity between the era of Moses and his leadership and what followed with the judges and the kings after Joshua.

Now, going from the years as a learner, his early years, to his mature years in a position as a leader required a transition; and it wasn’t one that took place overnight. There was a period of transition.

There was a handoff of leadership required from Moses to Joshua. That transition process was important not only for Joshua’s sake but also for the people’s sake. They had followed Moses for a long time.

By the end of his life, it was eighty years that Moses had been leading the Children of Israel. So there wasn’t going to be anybody who could just jump right in and fill those shoes and take that position without a transition process.

You know, that kind of transition is rarely an easy one, especially when the new leader is following a strong, gifted leader who’s been tenured. Some of you perhaps have been part of a church where there’s been a pastor for many, many years—a faithful man of God, a faithful shepherd who’s been there thirty, forty, fifty years in some cases.

The person who follows, that’s not an easy transition when there’s been such huge respect and following of the previous leader. I remember in our ministry back in the late 80s—our founder and for many years director of Life Action Ministries (the parent ministry of Revive Our Hearts) became ill.

He was diagnosed with a brain tumor that eight months later took his life. He was in his early forties.

When we realized that unless God intervened with a miracle, Del was not going to be there to lead us into the next chapter of the ministry’s life. We met as a leadership team not just once but over a period of weeks and months to seek the Lord about what was next.

God ultimately did take His servant home, and we had a lot of meetings and a lot of prayer times of seeking the Lord. Who should be the successor? What should happen next in the ministry?

Now as I have become acquainted with other ministries, I’ll often hear ministries—especially where there’s an older leader—talk about a succession plan. What does that mean?

They’re thinking ahead. When God chooses to take our leader home, what will be the process by which we will determine who God wants to be at the helm of the ministry or how God wants the ministry to go forth from here?

In the case of Joshua and the transition from Moses, the transition was clearly and wonderfully orchestrated by God, and that’s why it worked so well. It’s always best if God is the one who gives the direction.

Let me ask you to turn to Numbers 27. Over the next couple of sessions, I want us to look at a couple of passages about how this transition took place.

Numbers 27:12–13,

The Lord said to Moses, "Go up into this mountain of Aberim and see the land that I have given to the people of Israel. When you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was.”

He’s saying, “You’re going to die.” Moses is 120 years old. He has lived a long and faithful life, but he’s not going to be allowed to go into the Promised Land. Why?

Verse 14:

Because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes.

You remember what happened back there at the rock when God said to Moses, “Speak to the rock, and water will come out.” In his anger, Moses struck the rock. In his impatience he did not uphold God as holy before the people, and God said, “As a result, you will not enter the Promised Land.”

So Moses now is 120 years old. He has led the Israelites for eighty years. He knows that he is soon to die.

What is he thinking about? What is he concerned about? What’s on his heart? Any unfinished business? What does he want to talk to the Lord about?

We find out in verses 15–17.

Moses spoke to the Lord, saying, "Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.”

What is Moses concerned about? He’s concerned about what will happen to the flock after he’s gone, to God’s people. I think this request says so much about Moses’ heart.

He’s concerned for the people he’s cared for all these years. He’s burdened that they not be left as sheep that have no shepherd.

Years earlier in the Midianite desert, Moses had tended sheep long enough to know that without a shepherd, the Israelites would be helpless and vulnerable. They would be easy prey for their enemies.

They needed a shepherd. They needed someone to represent God’s heart to them and to lead them in God’s paths.

As we look at this prayer, we see that Moses humbly and wisely asked God to make the selection and the appointment. He knew that God had chosen him years earlier.

I wonder if he didn’t think back to that moment when God called him at the burning bush there in the Sinai Desert, and how he’d been sustained through many difficult days and experiences by the realization that he had not taken this role upon himself.

Moses wanted his successor to have that same confidence—to know that this was not a position he had sought after or manipulated to get; to know he was not appointed by a man (even a man as great as Moses; but to know that this new leader would have a divine calling and commission. So Moses laid this important decision before the Lord.

He said, “You make the decision. You make the selection. You make the appointment.” He made it a matter of prayer.

Now, certainly after all these years of leading these people, Moses must have had his own opinions about who might be suited for this job. Surely he must have thought of Caleb or Joshua, that they might be a good choice, or perhaps some other promising younger leader that he knew of.

But I see Moses leaving the matter totally in God’s hands. He didn’t even so much as make a recommendation to God. “Lord, I think it would be good if we consider . . .” or “What do You think about . . . ?”

He just said, “Lord, You decide. You chose me. Now You determine and tell us who is to be next.” “Let the Lord . . . appoint a man,” he says in verse 16.

Then in verse 18 the Lord responds. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.’” So God designated Joshua to be Moses’ successor.

Why Joshua? Well, as we’ve seen, there are several things that prepared Joshua to be a good and godly successor to this great leader that Moses had been. Let me just highlight some of those that we’ve talked about.

First, we saw a number of weeks ago in Exodus 17 that Joshua was experienced at warfare. When he had led the Israelites in the battle against the Amalekites, he had witnessed the supernatural power of God to defeat Israel’s enemies. So he knew how to fight, and he knew how to depend on God in the fight.

Then we see that Joshua had become an acknowledged, recognized leader in his own tribe, the tribe of Ephraim. So long before God raised him up to lead the nation, he had proven himself to be an effective leader of a smaller territory.

We’ve seen that Joshua was a man who knew God—not just knew about God, but knew Him—he had a personal, intimate relationship with God and a heart for the presence of God. We’ve seen this through the life of Joshua.

We’ve seen how, as Moses’ assistant, Joshua accompanied Moses up to Mount Sinai and sat and waited for forty days while God spoke to Moses and gave him the law. Joshua just waited in the presence of the Lord there.

Remember in Exodus 33, we read about when Moses would go into the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord would appear to him there. Then Moses would go back to the camp.

But we have that interesting verse, Exodus 33:11, that says, “His assistant Joshua . . . a young man, would not depart from the tent.” He’s a man who had learned to live and linger in the presence of God.

Certainly that had been part of equipping him for the leadership role he was to pick up now. What better preparation could there be for leadership than being in the presence of God?

I’m so thankful for the years the Lord gave me in my teens and twenties and thirties, long before He gave a national platform and ministry through Revive Our Hearts, to be studying, listening to Him, learning.

Now, I was serving Him. I was taking advantage of opportunities that presented themselves to serve the Lord. But I’m so thankful for those years of relative obscurity, where there was time to build a solid foundation of studying God’s Word and coming to know God.

Now that my life is so very, very full and busy, I still need to maintain that intimate, personal relationship with God. But I’m also able to draw out of years of having been growing to know and love God. So Joshua had this as he was preparing for leadership.

Then we see that Joshua had been faithful in the role he’d had over the last forty or more years as Moses’ assistant, since he was a young man. During those years, Joshua had seen some uprisings. He had seen some revolts, some rebellion.

He had seen the time when Moses’ sister and brother, Miriam and Aaron (in Numbers 12), had revolted against Moses, had been disloyal against him. He saw when Miriam got leprosy as a result.

He was there when Korah and 250 other leaders revolted against Moses (in Numbers 16). They had a faction, and they said, “You’re not the only one who can hear from God.”

But you never see Joshua’s name being associated with the rebels. You always see him being a loyal, supportive, right-hand man to Moses.

I’m sure he didn’t worship Moses, because only God is to be worshiped. I’m sure he knew that Moses had his faults and failures. But you see him being loyal and faithful in his role as a supportive right-hand man.

There’s no evidence that he was ever less than content in that role, or that he’d been spending the last forty years thinking, “I can’t wait until I get this position.” You don’t see any evidence that he aspired to this position or that he ever sought to upstage Moses. He just sought to be faithful where God had put him.

I think of what Jesus said in Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” If you’re not faithful with the little place of influence and ministry that God gives you, what’s to make you think you’ll be faithful when God gives you a bigger sphere and scope of responsibility and ministry?

I have people come and talk to me—a number of times young women, teenage girls, girls in their twenties—who really want to serve the Lord; young moms, young wives saying, “I’d love to do what you do. I want to write books. I want to speak at conferences.”

I really believe their heart intent is a good one, but sometimes what I hear them saying is, “I want more and bigger and broader ministry than what God has given me right now.”

What I want to say is, “Be faithful with what God has given you right now, and let God, in His time and in His way, as it pleases Him, expand the breadth and the scope of your ministry.”

You want God to give you more responsibility? You want a bigger sphere of ministry? I talk to young moms who are feeling very "stuck" at home right now. Some of them are gifted teachers of the Word. They are saying, "I'm talking to three-year-olds all day. I'm talking to toddlers all day. I don't feel like I'm using the gifts that God has given me at this season of life."

I say, "You want a bigger sphere of responsibility? You want broader ministry? Be faithful to what God has already entrusted to you in this season of life."

Watch what happens as it happened with Joshua being faithful all those years as Moses’ assistant, not scrambling to get a better position but striving to be faithful in the position he had, to be a faithful servant.

When it was God’s time and in God’s way, God said, “You’re the man. You’re the one I want to take the leadership of the people.”

I tend to think that the people who make the best leaders are the ones who least aspire to it. When God puts His hand on their life and says, “I want you to do this task or to have this broader responsibility,” typically the best leaders are the ones who say, “Who, me? I can’t do that.”

They know they can’t do it without God. They’re not sitting there saying, “I’ve got all these credentials. I’ve got all these degrees. I can do this. I’m ready for this.”

I think those people are more often doomed to fail in leadership. So wait, and let God put His hand on you for His calling, His task in your life.

Joshua had also demonstrated the ability to stand alone. We’ve seen over the last several sessions how, as one of the twelve men sent to spy out the land of Canaan, he took an unpopular position. He stood in faith and obedience and courage, and that prepared him to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land.

But let’s go back to the text we’re looking at here in Numbers 27. What did God see in Joshua, in addition to all these things we’ve just listed, that made Joshua a good choice? Think about all the qualifications God might have highlighted about Joshua when He told Moses, “Joshua is the man.”

As I think about what God might have said, I think about what qualities we often look for in leaders today. Notice what God didn’t say, some of the things we tend to highlight.

He didn’t say, “Choose Joshua because he’s got a great intellect. He’s well educated. He has three seminary degrees. He’s cut out for this job.”

He didn’t say, “He’s a great strategic thinker” or “He’s a brilliant military strategist” or “He’s a dynamic communicator.”

God didn’t say, “He’s creative, he’s innovative; this will be good for this new challenge” or “He has strong people skills” or “He’s got great public image” or “He’s a gifted administrator” or “He’s got high approval ratings with the people.”

Aren’t those some of the things we tend to look for today when looking for a pastor or a leader or someone to lead a women’s ministry in the local church? None of those is what God highlighted about Joshua.

It’s not that Joshua didn’t have a lot of those qualifications. He did. But God singles out one specific qualification above all others, and I want us to take these last few moments to note that.

Verse 18 of Numbers 27: “So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.’”

When we fast forward just a little bit to the days after Moses’ death, the Scripture says, “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid hands on him” (Deuteronomy 34:9).

Two times, God’s Word singles out this all-important qualification. He was a man in whom was the Spirit. He was a man full of the spirit of wisdom.

The Holy Spirit placed within Joshua an inner enabling for leadership. God had equipped him with the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

The laying hands on him, as Moses did and as there was later in a public ceremony, was just an outward, public recognition of what was already inwardly true. This was not a job any mere man could handle. This was a job that required the supernatural presence and enabling of God.

So God called out and set apart Joshua for this task, already having qualified and prepared and fitted him for that job by the gift of His Spirit. We see again and again in Scripture how God did this, preparing people to serve Him.

You read in Genesis 41 what Pharaoh said about Joseph: “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” (v. 38). Joseph rose to leadership in the land because even the secular, pagan people saw the evidence of the Spirit of God in him.

In Acts 6, when Stephen was chosen as a deacon to serve the early church, “They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (v. 5).

And remember that wonderful passage in Luke 1? The angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, You’re going to have a child, the Son of God. And Mary said to the angel, How can this be? I’m a virgin. This isn’t possible.

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (v. 35).

It was also true of Jesus. As I was meditating on this session just before we came to the studio today, I thought of that verse in Isaiah 11, speaking prophetically of the Lord Jesus.

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom [same spirit Joshua had] and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord (v. 2).

This is often referred to as the sevenfold Spirit of God. You see those seven qualities that the Spirit of God brings.

So what qualified, what equipped, what fit Joshua for his new task? What qualified Joseph, Stephen, Mary, and even Jesus to fulfill His earthly ministry?

It was the power of the Holy Spirit, which is exactly the very same thing that will qualify, equip, and fit you to do whatever God has called you to do.

Whatever season of life it is—in your workplace, in the church, in your Bible study, as the mother of a three-year-old or a teenager, as the wife of a husband—whatever your role and season in life is, you cannot fulfill God’s purpose for your life apart from being a woman who is filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

That’s where the power comes from. That’s where the enabling comes from. We cannot fulfill our calling apart from God’s Spirit within us. It’s not by might; it’s not by power; but it’s by His Spirit. [See Zech. 4:6.]

That’s why Paul—the great apostle Paul, who we think of as such a spiritual giant— said to the Corinthians,

I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in [impressive] words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power [Why?] That your faith [as you listen to me and receive the message] might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:3–5).

You see, when as a mom, a wife, a single woman in the marketplace, a widow, a teenager—whatever your seasons of life—when your life reflects the fullness and the power of God’s Spirit, people will look and say, “She couldn’t do that. That must be God in her.”

And their faith will rest not in human power or wisdom but in the power of God. And that’s what we want.

Lord, I pray that You would cause us to long for and enter into and experience fully what it means to be filled with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that You’ve provided for us the equipping, all that we need to fulfill what You have called us to do.

Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who lives within each one of us who are Your children, and that You enable us this day to do all that You require of us. May our lives reflect the greatness and the power of the Holy Spirit within us, I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Ultimately, leadership is not learned at a university or passed on at a seminar, but it comes from the Spirit of God. This important message on being a learner who becomes a leader is part of a series called "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 4): Following God's Lead to Lead. 

Nancy’s teaching on the life of Joshua in several series through the fall. It’s the kind of in-depth Bible teaching listeners have come to expect from Revive Our Hearts. We are looking for some leaders to help keep this program coming to you each weekday.  

Now, as you grow in age, God continues to have a unique assignment for your life. Find out why you never retire from building God's kingdom. That's tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version. 

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