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How to move forward with your life! – Words to Live by

Lonnie McCowan

By Pastor Lonnie G. McCowan

Joshua lived his life in a shadow—not of disappointment or failure, but of a remarkable personality—his predecessor, Moses. People from our past can also dictate our present, even people of good influence who were disposed in our interest, like parents or teachers.

In the opening chapter of the book of the Bible that bears his name, Joshua is confronted by the Lord with these words: “Moses My servant is dead.” (1:2) God was saying to Joshua, “First, get hold of this: Your predecessor and anything that may have been intimidating to you in the past is dead.”

God wasn’t making a negative statement about Moses. God was just acknowledging a fact: Moses is dead. Why? Because even for an outstanding leader like Joshua, coming behind a towering giant like Moses could be daunting and restrictive. In order for Joshua to lay hold of the tomorrow God wanted him to know the past is over and dead.

God is saying that to us as well, whatever has shaped your life until this moment doesn’t have any claim on where He wants to take you from here on. Whatever has been intimidating, problematic or disappointing, the Lord calls us to come to terms with this: It’s dead! That’s what the Cross was all about—the nailing not only of all our sins, but also of everything that restricts us from stepping into tomorrow.

Where does “Moses” fit in your life? The starting place for laying hold of tomorrow is acknowledging the dead things of yesterday—not just the disappointing or painful, but also those things that were once glorious and good and have now served their purpose. After settling that fact, the Lord tells Joshua, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you.” (1:3) God has already provided for him; all Joshua has to do is go and possess!

When God is ready to do something new in our lives, it’s up to us to choose: Will I possess the dimensions of what God has both promised and provided, or will I be satisfied with just a corner? Will I live in the shadow of the past? Or will I open to the possibility that the Lord has greater vistas and horizons for my life? Will my tomorrows unfold or will they fold up?

That is the question we all face. And everything rides on our response to the same things that the Lord says to Joshua. The Lord gives Joshua a three-fold charge, each preceded by these words: “Be strong and courageous.” In Hebrew, it means to keep a firm grip, and not to go weak. Once you’ve laid hold of it, keep hold; and stand your ground.

Even though Joshua was an accomplished warrior, a leader well-trained by Moses, he was also a person like you and me who needed fortification from God to move ahead. Each time the Lord tells Joshua, “Be strong and courageous,” it bears reference to a different facet of understanding what he is to lay hold of.

Lay Hold of God’s Promise

“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.” (1:6)

First, God tells Joshua, be strong because I promised this. God is sating I promise to keep my promise. God doesn’t need to say things twice, but He understands our nature and seals His promise with an oath. I don’t know what promise of God applies to your specific situation, but I will tell you how to get the promise of God: ask Him for His Word regarding your situation you may not hear a Voice in that moment, but I guarantee that the Lord will give you the promise from His Word that will fit your situation.

Lay Hold of God’s Pattern

“Be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to the law which Moses My servant commanded you.” (1:7) Your pathway into tomorrow basis of God fulfilling His Word in people who lay hold of it. It is the power of the Holy Spirit making the Word alive in you. That’s God’s pattern.

Lay Hold of God’s Presence

“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (1:9) Be strong and of good courage.

“First, be strong and courageous and lay firmly hold of My promises, lay hold of My patterns for life, Joshua most important and lay hold of Me.

Lonnie G. McCowan is pastor at The Miracle Center of Ventura, in Ventura, CA. He can be contacted through email at or by visiting

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