Feed My Sheep

…And He said to him a third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”
Joshua’s Prescription
(Joshua 1:8)
In a fast-pace world like we live in, there are so many voices telling us how to achieve success. There are books, tapes, videos with titles like “
10 Recipes for Success”, or, “7 Steps to Financial Success”, or, “5 Secrets of Success
”, and on and on it goes.
But true success lies within being in the will of God and living to please Him with all of our Time, Talent, and Treasure. The Bible is replete with examples of God’s people deciding to either live with that objective or not. One individual that picked up on this theme we will exam in today’s study;
“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land our dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15; NKJV)
“Most of the world struggles to survive. The majority of Americans are striving for success. Yet, few people ever achieve a deep sense of significance.  I want to give the rest of my life in helping all the peoples of the world find significance.” ~ Pastor Rick Warren
Most people settle into one of three areas:
survival, success, or significance
. And, if you’re like many people, you may be struggling just to keep your head above water. You’re in survival mode. Whether because of circumstances, setbacks, or poor choices, you have to put a tremendous amount of effort into just making it day to day. If you’re working hard to make life better for yourself and your family, then I applaud you. Keep working.
But once you’ve gotten to a place of stability, then what? What will you live for? Will you serve yourself or others? Will you put all of your energy into success, in trying to get farther ahead than others? Or will you work toward significance? Will you try to make a difference by helping others get ahead?
This is what Joshua faced as he assumed the reins of power from Moses to lead God’s people into the Promised Land.
Joshua’s actions as the “
heir apparent” to Moses’ great leadership were based on the application of God’s Word as is stated in Joshua 1:8, “This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth; but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Here, we see four basic principles of success, as the Bible defines it, from this passage in Joshua. They are as follows……..
Constant Conversation – “This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth”
Continual Meditation – “but you shall meditate in it day and night”
Consistent Application – “that you observe to do all that is written in it.”
Confirmed Validation – “For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success”
It is probable that at that time there were few written copies of the whole law during this particular time. So, probably only at the main Jewish feasts (e.g. Passover, Weeks, & Tabernacles) the people had the scriptures read to them; and therefore God appointed them, at least for the present, to write some select sentences of the law, that were most weighty and comprehensive, upon their walls, or in scrolls of parchment to be worn about their wrists; and some think that, from that context, these phylacteries were so  used among the Jews going forward.
Christ blames the Pharisees, not for wearing them, but for affecting to have them broader than other people’s as a means of showing them off instead of internalizing them so as to have a profound outward expression by their godly behavior.
Constant Conversation “This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth”
The optimum word in this scripture is “diligently”!!!  We are to constantly and diligently speak the Word of God. Whether in our reading, our music, or in listening to good, solid teaching/preaching, we are to rehearse God’s Word in our mouths.
Paul told Timothy in I Timothy 4:13, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
Reading is “Familiarization”. Constant conversation of the Word of God begets familiarization.
Today, with all the electronic versions of so many translations of the Word of God, with so much accessibility of commentaries, helps, dictionaries, concordances, etc., online, there still seems to be such a “dearth” of the Word of God.
For a nation that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, there seems to be such Biblical illiteracy, even among the churches in America. The Prophet Amos made this observation of his people in about 750 B.C…..
I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, and baldness on every head; I will make it like mourning for an only son, and its end like a bitter day. “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.   They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it. (Amos 8:10-12; NKJV)
Amos was a contemporary of Isaiah, prophesying to the continually wicked Northern Kingdom in about 787 B.C.
With all those “voices” of different medium out there, espousing the most worldly and godless propaganda, God’s Word is being drowned out to every succeeding generation.
How did we, as a Christian nation, get to this point??? Here are some suggestions.
Social networking, texting, television, video games and places dedicated to amusement (e.g. “amusement parks”) pull our attention away from God’s Word. These fun and interesting activities occupy time that we could spend reading, studying and memorizing the Bible and they distract our thoughts during time we could spend meditating on God’s Word throughout the day. When we walk from one meeting to another, are our thoughts naturally moving to Scripture and prayer?
Misplaced Priorities
Priorities are not as simple as “God first, family second and church third.” What does that expression mean anyway? Every time I have to choose between reading my Bible and spending time with my children, should I read my Bible? No. Priorities aren’t based upon a simple hierarchy; they require the proper balance of activities in relationship to one another. But it is a fitting question to ask: For a person who is working full time, what is the appropriate quantity of time that should be spent (on average) with one’s spouse or children, in house or yard work, exercising and resting? How much time should you devote to building relationships with unbelieving neighbors or serving in your church?
Unwarranted Overconfidence
Of all the myriad of comments we have heard from Christians over the years regarding this subjection, the one that is probably the most disturbing more than any other is, “we already know more of the Bible than we put into practice anyway.” This comment betrays far more about the speaker than it does about reality.
First, it demonstrates that the one who said it isn’t trying very hard to learn the Bible.
Second, it reveals that the speaker is passive about applying it. And…
Third, it confirms that the speaker assumes everyone shares the same passive attitude about the Bible.
The pretext of being too busy
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:7-9; NKJV)
The scriptures should be as evident and prominent in our lives as our everyday activities as this passage in Deuteronomy suggests. 
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your nearest kin, (Proverbs 7:4; NKJV)
Continual Meditation – “but you shall meditate in it day and night”
The Hebrew concept of “meditation” had to do with putting something into one’s mind, specifically, something of value.
The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130; NKJV)
As you can see from the longest chapter of the Bible, Psalm 119, God’s Word is prevalent in its observation and application. Notice from the passages below the common theme throughout scripture what should be the priority of God’s Word in our lives.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he MEDITATES day and night. (Psalm 1:2; NKJV)
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; NKJV)
“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21; NKJV)
My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. (Proverbs 6:20-21; NKJV)
My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister, and call understanding your nearest kin, (Proverbs 7:1-4; NKJV)
Over and over again in scripture, the theme of having God’s word resonating from the deepest recesses of our hearts is the standard approach!! This type of meditation is in direct contrast to the eastern mysticism of “emptying” one’s mind
The English meditation is derived from the Latin “meditatio”, from a verb meditari, meaning “to think, contemplate, devise, & ponder”. This is closely associated with Hebrew word
There is evidence that Judaism has had meditative practices that go back thousands of years. For instance, in the Torah, the patriarch Isaac is described as going “לשוח” (lasuach) in the field—a term understood by all commentators as some type of meditative practice (Genesis 24:63). 
Similarly, there are indications throughout the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) that meditation was used by the prophets. In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words for meditation: hāgâ (Hebrew: הגה‎‎), which means to sigh or murmur, but also to meditate, and sîḥâ (Hebrew: שיחה‎‎), which means to muse, or rehearse in one’s mind. 
This also parallels the theme in the Psalms and Habakkuk, where the scripture mentions the work “selah” 74 times (71 time in the Psalms and 3 time in Habakkuk). The word means to “pause and reflect” or “ponder and meditate”.
So, from the context of these passages of scripture, it seems clear that the Lord wants His people to ponder, reflect, muse, memorize, and otherwise familiarize oneself with God’s Word by “rehearsing in one’s mind.”
When our thinking is dominated by the filter of God’s Word, we can then start lining up our actions from a distinctive Biblical reference. The Apostle Paul picks up this theme in the New Testament in Philippians 4:8…..
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate (KJV – think) on these things.”
Consistent Application – “that you observe to do all that is written in it.”
Once the principles of God’s Word begin to dominate our thinking, it will then be natural to order our steps accordingly. This third step speaks of the application of God’s Word in our daily lives.
The book of Proverbs (23:7) states that as a “man thinks in his heart, so is he”.  Jesus also reiterated this concept when he stated, “from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12 & Luke 6).
“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ (Deuteronomy 6:1-3; NKJV)
“Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always. (Deuteronomy 11:1; NKJV)
“Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess, (Deuteronomy 11:8; NKJV)
Once again, the Psalms re-iterates this theme in chapter 119, verse, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word” (KJV).
By consistently applying God’s Word to our daily lives, the principles therein will dominate and dictate our behavior. Once again, the 119th chapter, verse 133, of Psalms illustrates this concept, “Order my steps in Thy Word; and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” (KJV).
Even the secular world sometimes understands this principle. Motivational Speaker Tony Robbins once quoted, “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently”.
“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” ~ Jim Rohm
Of course, no dissertation on this subject would complete without a quote from Pastor and Motivational speaker, Dr. John Maxwell when he once quoted on this theme, “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” (The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth)
Confirmed Validation – “For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success”
What kind of success are we talking about here? Riches? Notoriety? Power? Influence?
Well, when we look at the scriptures description of success, we get a little more detailed of what Biblical success looks like.
Solomon asked the Lord for “
an understanding heart” to rule His people. Jesus stated that the greatest commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength.
Because Solomon’s heart was “in tune” with God’s will, the Lord went ahead and granted him all the things the world would consider success (e.g. riches, military strength, prosperity, leadership favor with other nations, health, etc.).
In the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostle Paul (as well as the other authors) tell believer that they will go through trouble and hard times, which the Bible calls “
trials,” which we will be able to endure with great peace and direction. We then will begin to understand that God uses those very trials to strengthen our inner person (John 16:33; James 1:2
In other words, trouble in life does not cause us to fail, but to walk through trouble with God’s grace and wisdom. By obeying God, we gain freedom from the curses of this world—hate, jealousy, addictions, confusion, inferiority complexes, sadness without reason, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, selfishness and more. This is another facet of the Biblical success that we can expect when we put those principle of Joshua into practice.
One last word on Biblical success. While transformation of our inner lives is God’s goal for us, He also abundantly provides good physical gifts to His children (food, clothing, houses, etc.), and He loves to do it (
Matthew 6:25-33). Yet, most of us, at one time or another, focus on the gifts rather than on the Giver. That’s when we regress in our contentment and joy and we quench the Spirit’s transforming work within us, because we are focusing on the wrong things. That may be why the Lord sometimes limits His gift-giving to us—so we do not stumble over the gifts and fall away from Him.
Picture two hands. In the right hand there are the offer of true contentment, the ability to handle life’s problems without being overcome by them, amazing peace that sees us through all circumstances, wisdom to know what to do, knowledge and constant direction for life, love for others, acceptance of ourselves, joy no matter what, and at the end of life, an eternity with the God who freely gives all these gifts. The other hand holds all the money and power and success the world has to offer, without any of what the right hand holds. Which would you choose? The Bible says, “
Where your treasure is, there also is your heart” (Matthew 6:21).
That which is in the right hand is the biblical definition of success!!!!!

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