Summary: Urge students to do their best in the new school year

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(Back to school Sunday)

Last week I talked with a high school student in our neighborhood. I knew he liked to play football, so I asked him if he was going to play this fall.

“No,” he said. “My grades aren’t good enough.”

“But they could be, couldn’t they?” I asked.

He nodded. I encouraged him to do his best so his grades would improve.

During the past couple of weeks, whenever Sue and I went to the stores, some aisles were crowded with kids and their parents carrying lists of things to buy for school. Their carts were filled with backpacks, notebooks, note pads, pencils, pens, crayons and all kinds of interesting things. Most of you students probably went shopping, too. You want to do everything you can to be successful in this new school year.

Some of you will be home-schooled. Some will go to a school that looks like it did last year. Some will attend a school where classrooms have been remodeled. Others may go to a brand new building. But you know and I know that all the finest school supplies and the best building in the world will not make you a good student. Your success in school depends on you. If you are going to succeed in school, you will need to do your best.

Students, I hope that’s what you want to do. And I hope your parents and people of the church will encourage you to do your very best. God wants you to do your very best,

Today I want to take four lessons from the book of Joshua that will help us understand that God wants his people to do their best whether they are students or not. If you are in school, I want you to listen especially well. If you are not in school, then you should be able to apply what I say to your own life.

Most of you remember the story of Moses. He was the one who led the people of God out of Egypt where they had been slaves for many years. They worked hard and life was not easy for them. But God gave Moses instructions and they left and headed for a new land that God has promised them. However, they ran into trouble when they got to the Red Sea and had no way to get across and what’s more, Pharaoh and his army were coming behind them. That’s when God made a dry path through the water and they walked through safely to the other side.

Then God called Moses to the top of a mountain and gave him the 10 commandments They are the most important laws ever made because they were made by God. They were good then and they are good now. The people promised to follow these commandments as a way of saying thanks to God for saving them from slavery. However, because they didn’t always follow the commands God gave them, it took them 40 years to get to the promised land. Moses couldn’t go in because he had disobeyed God, so Joshua became the leader when Moses died.

So it was Joshua who led the people into the promised land. When they got there, the first thing they saw was Jericho, a city with big walls around it. The Bible tells us that God told them to walk around Jericho once each day for a week. And on the 7th day, they were to walk around it seven times. When they did that, God made the walls fall down and they were able to conquer that city. Again and again we read that God fought for them and soon there was a long list of kings and cities they had taken and more and more of the land was theirs to live in. G kept his promise to give them what he said he would.

But, unfortunately, they didn’t always follow God’s instructions. Maybe this has happened to you in school. Your teacher told you about some assignments or exercises you were supposed to do and she told you that the first ones would be easy, but you needed to do them so you could learn how to do them and then be able to do the more difficult ones later. Well, those first assignments looked awfully easy. Anyone could do them. They were just a waste of time. Besides, since they were so easy, skipping one or two of them wouldn’t matter. So you skipped them. But, guess what. Pretty soon when it was time to do more difficult assignments you were completely confused and you got it all wrong.

That’s the way it was for God’s people sometimes. For example, God told them to chase all the people out of a certain city, but they didn’t always do it. After all, what will it hurt if a few of them stay around? And pretty soon more and more of their cities had people in them who didn’t care about God. And later that made it difficult for them to obey God.

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