Joshua

Steve Arterburn

Have you ever experienced the frustration of knowing the truth but no one believed you?  Joshua did’and he had to live with the consequences of this for almost forty years.  

Joshua was one of the twelve Israelites chosen to spy out the land of Canaan.  Their report on what they saw would help and entire nation of people make a decision about entering the Promised Land.  When the twelve spies gave their report, ten said it’d be impossible to conquer the land.  Joshua and Caleb agreed that the task would be difficult, but they urged the people to trust God to help them.  They saw God as loving, powerful, and able to lead them safely into the Promised Land.

The people, however, rebelled and sided with the majority report.  They ran from the responsibility of surrendering their lives to God.  The result of their irresponsibility was tragic.  A whole generation’with the exception of Joshua and Caleb’died in the desert.  

Many of us think we can escape pain by avoiding responsibility and its demands.  What we fail to realize is that we often experience a much deeper pain when we run away from responsibility than we do when we accept it.  Joshua experienced significant pain in his life despite putting God first in his life.  But that pain was used by God to develop him into one of the most effective leaders in all of history.

James And Jude

Steve Arterburn

Do you have an older sibling?  It can be difficult to live up to the high standards set by older brothers and sisters.  It can be equally difficult, and sometimes more painful, to live down the reputation of a notorious or embarrassing older sibling.  James and Jude are two men in the Bible who had to deal with both challenges.  Their older brother Jesus was both perfect and, in their minds, embarrassing.

Jesus must have been a hard act to follow, don’t you think?  It may have been difficult for James, Jude, and the rest of their siblings to feel close to their wonderful, though different, big brother.  

After Jesus’ public ministry began, his brothers James and Jude seemed to take a stand-back-and-watch attitude.  One day Jesus would do great miracles and be acclaimed as a hero.  The next, he would present a convicting message and offend the powerful religious and political authorities.  In the end, he angered too many people and was sentenced to death.  He’d claimed to be not only the promised Messiah but also God himself!  No doubt, James and Jude thought their brother had gone off the deep end.

Yet the resurrection of Jesus overcame the doubts of his younger brothers, who later became leaders in the early church.  Both brothers are remembered for the letters in Bible they wrote.

This same power that transformed James and Jude can transform you, too, and turn you from an unbelieving cynic to a faithful follower of Christ.

Isaiah

Steve Arterburn

God called Isaiah to be a prophet.  His ministry extended for more than forty years.  
All we know about this prophet indicates that he was one of the greatest people of his time.  His name means, ‘The Lord is salvation.’ This meaning is especially appropriate since he speaks throughout his book of God’s gracious promises of comfort and deliverance for his people.  His book is a masterpiece, suggesting that Isaiah possessed considerable intelligence and education.  But that’s not all; Isaiah was also a husband and a father.  

So what can modern men learn from this prophet of old?  Although Isaiah had many gifts, his success was primarily a result of his humility and faithfulness to God’s will for his life.  When God called him, Isaiah had an overwhelming sense of his own sinfulness.  He started where all men need to start:  He admitted his sin and sought God for cleansing and renewal.  Then, when God revealed his will for Isaiah, the prophet pursued God’s plan with determination.  He spoke and lived out God’s will for him despite the opposition he faced.  As a result, God used him to confront his people with their sin and to comfort his people as they faced a painful future.  Through his words and life, Isaiah has blazed a trail for the spiritual growth of all men.  

If you’re a man, you’re called to lead well’to lead well you need to begin with humility and faith.