Deuteronomy 31:1-8 (Part 1) – What Do Kelly Bryant and the Bible’s Joshua Have in Common? – Following Greatness

Posted: April 30, 2017 in 05-Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 31:1-8 (Part 1 of 2)

Joshua Becomes Israel’s Leader


This past Thursday evening, Deshaun Watson, the all-everything quarterback for Clemson University’s football team for the past three years made the final step of being a professional football player. He was the 12th player chosen in the draft during the first round that night. He will now play football on Sundays for the Houston Texans instead of wowing us on Saturdays for the Clemson Tigers.


It was the end of a chapter for Clemson’s football program. Deshaun has been the face of the Clemson football program for three years. He may not own all of the Clemson quarterback records since he will not return for his fourth year of eligibility but what he did in three was nothing short of amazing. During his time as a Clemson starting quarterback, he amassed a 37-3 record, played in two national championship games, and walked away from his last game as a national champion. Not only was he a great college athlete, he was and is a great kid. He was shy but well-spoken. He was proud of what he and his teammates accomplished but was very humble about his role. I think the thing that was always a testament to the guy was how all of the players on the team looked up to him as the leader of the team.


His leadership of the team was never more evident than in the national championship game back in January of this year. Clemson had managed to take the lead from Alabama after having trailed the whole ball game until about 7 minutes remained in the game. However, Alabama, being Alabama, was not done. They immediately roared down the field in less than 5 minutes (after they had done nothing offensively in the second half) and scored a touchdown with under 3 minutes to go in the game. That’s when Deshaun’s leadership of his team shown through. They had struggled the whole ball to regain the lead ad they finally did, but Alabama just as quickly got it back. Some teams might have folded. Some quarterbacks may have not had the inner drive to rally the troops one more time. But Watson, being the unflappable kid that he is goes into the huddle on the first play of the drive and says to his teammates, “Lets go be legendary!” Clemson’s final drive took all but one second of the remaining time in the game and it was a thing of beauty under the artful direction of its all-everything quarterback. Clemson wins the national championship against the same team to whom it lost the same game last year. It was redemption for the team and it was Deshaun riding off into the sunset in his final college game. With a degree in hand (in only three years of actual college time) and a national championship to his credit, Deshaun rides off into the sunset as probably the greatest quarterback ever to wear a Clemson uniform. But, more than that, Tiger Nation is as much grateful to Deshaun because of the wonderful young man that developed right before our eyes. He was a great representative of the school and always will be. He loved the Clemson fans. He loved his coaches. He loves the university from which he graduated. What more could you ask for from a student athlete.


Now the question is, who will take his place. Although the Tigers are expected to be a really good team, a top 10 team, this coming season, they have a big ol’ fat question at quarterback. How would you like to be the guy that follows Deshaun. He is the standard now by which all future Clemson quarterbacks will be measured. How do you follow greatness? The heir apparent for the coming season is a local boy from Piedmont, SC (just an hour from the Clemson campus) is Kelly Bryant. It will be his position to lose as the rising redshirt sophomore knows the offense better than any of the highly recruited freshmen quarterbacks behind him. How do you follow a legend? Anything that he does that is less than national championship caliber will be scrutinized and criticized and examined. Even if he loses his starting position to one of the talented freshmen behind him, they too will be compared to the great one. But for now, it’s Kelly’s job. Kelly will be the Joshua to Deshaun’s Moses. The young dude taking over from the master.


That’s what I thought this morning as I read about the commissioning of Joshua as the new leader of Israel. Man, could you imagine the immense pressure on Joshua! Let’s read the passage together, Deuteronomy 31:1-8. Today, we will look at the situation from Joshua’s perspective and then next blog we will look at from Moses’ perspective.


31 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ 3 The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. 4 And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. 5 The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”


7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”


Man, could you imagine being in Joshua’s position. We all know that he went on to be one the great men of the Bible. However, at this time, he’s the unproven new guy. He’s the new starting quarterback for the nation of Israel. He is following the guy is the greatest quarterback of the nation in Moses. Moses was the all-everything, speaks to God directly, has meetings with the presence of God, entrenched superstar! Moses if he were a football player would be the national championship quarterback who is graduating to move on to the pros and you are the unproven replacement. Everybody knows Joshua’s got potential but really has never had to lead the team for a whole season. He has never had to be the face of the franchise. He has never had to lead and inspire the whole team. He has never had to be lead the whole team when the chips were down and everything is on the line. He has never had to lead the entire team to victory when it seems like the whole nation is about to lose the game.


Have you ever been in a situation where you are about to embark on something that you have never done before? Have you ever been up against what seems like something that is way beyond your capabilities? Have you ever been in a moment that requires greatness and you are not sure that you have the right stuff? Have you ever been in a situation that requires calmness and fortitude to get through the storm? We have all had these moments or seasons of life in one way or another. Sometimes, there will be people too that will question whether we have what it takes to take on what we have to take on. Sometimes, we will be criticized for not doing it the way that our predecessors did it or not doing it the way people want us to do it?


What does God tell us in this situation? Be strong. Be courageous. I will never leave you. So, no matter how high the mountain is that you have to climb, God will be with you always. God was in a roundabout way too telling Joshua not to try to be Moses. God was basically saying that He wanted Joshua to be himself and to trust the Lord in that. God will be with you, Joshua, during all the inevitable comparisons to the previous guy. God will be with you when you don’t trust that you are doing the right thing because it is uncharted territory for you. God will be with you and will lead you. God says to lean not on our own understanding but to press into Him. That is what He is telling Joshua here. You don’t have to be Moses. You have to be the humbly, submitted servant of the Lord that you are, Joshua, and I will be care for and protect you and show you what you need to do as a leader. Joshua just needs to continue to trust the Lord and let the Lord guide His steps and trust the Lord with the outcome.


We shouldn’t compare ourselves to other great Christians that we know. We have to be our own followers of Christ. God has a plan for each of us. God has given us each talents that He has given us to make us special and unique. We do not have to copy what someone else has done. We do not need to be a copy of another Christian. God has them on their own journey and He has you on yours and yours is unique. We each have a specific unique contribution to make to God’s kingdom. The first thing we have to do is not compare ourselves to others but look upward to the Lord for guidance on what we should be doing as our own unique expression of God’s mission for our lives. He has a plan for us and we must trust Him in that. When we trust fully in the Lord to exercise His unique plan for our lives, we can become bold to follow God’s lead whatever that might be.


Kelly Bryant does not have to be Deshaun Watson. Sure, Deshaun Watson will be a tough act to follow at quarterback for Clemson, but Kelly has unique talents that may make him effective in ways that Deshaun was not. Kelly is lightening fast and could prove to be a much better run threat than Deshaun which may make it easier for him to develop his passing accuracy. Because of his greater run threat, defenses will have to play looser coverage on receivers. So we shall see what happens. Kelly may become the next great one but if he tries to be Deshaun Jr., he will fail. Kelly must be his own man and trust the skills that God has given him to lead Clemson in the Bryant way not the Watson way.


The same with Joshua as Moses’ successor. Wow, talk about your pressure to perform! But it was important for Joshua to be Joshua and not Moses. He was the man for this phase of Israel’s development. He was the next man up. He was up for a challenge that was as great or greater than the things that Moses faced. His challenges are going to be different. He must trust the Lord that God chose him to be the molder of a nation and not the leader of a nomadic people. He is the man for this hour. He is not Moses. He is Joshua. What Joshua did was to trust the Lord completely to use Joshua’s unique talents to do God’s will. He trusted the Lord to lead him through uncharted waters. He trusted the Lord to guide in what to do and not compare himself to others.


It is the same for you and I. We may be forced into situations where we think we are not up to the task. We may feel that we do not have what it takes to perform at a high level in a task or a role that has been placed upon us. That is when God has us where He wants us – when we must trust in Him to get us through, when we must trust Him to guide our steps, when we must trust Him to show us what to do, when we must trust Him to pull us through. He wants us to trust Him. He sometimes allows impossible situations to come to us so that we will learn to completely trust Him. We must trust Him and not compare ourselves to others. We must trust Him and not try to copy what someone else is doing. We must trust Him and find our own voice. We must trust Him that He has us here because He believes we can do what He has for us to do – even when we don’t think we can do it and even when others don’t think we can do it.


Just gotta gotta gotta gotta trust the Lord!


Amen and Amen..

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