Friday, May 18, 2012

The Life Of A Believer - Seizing The Promise

Deuteronomy 31:3-6 “Yahweh your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as Yahweh has said...Yahweh will give them over to you, that you may do to them according to every commandment which I have commanded you. Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for Yahweh your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

After the Exodus, after turning back at Canaan’s border, and after spending forty years camping in the wilderness; Israel was once again at the threshold of their promise. None of the original whiners and complainers were there to see this day. Not one of the ten fearful spies were still living, nor were any of the people who listened to them. Out of that entire generation, only two men remained - Joshua and Caleb. Every other person standing at the edge of the Jordan River that day grew up in the desert.

These were the group of kids that watched God show Himself on Mount Sinai. They were the little ones who grew up seeing God’s glory over the tabernacle. They knew nothing else but the miraculous provision of manna every day. They watched the older generation drop like flies in the desert when the consequences of their sin arrived. Over and over again they learned about the time when their parents almost made it into their promised land. And as they grew up, they learned that they were the ones who were going to possess what their parents turned away from.

Now, Moses was on the way out and Joshua was on the way in. Now they stood at the edge of what God had waiting for them all along. This time, they were prepared. Listen to their words to Joshua, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage.” They weren’t playing around this time! They were willing to execute anyone at the slightest hint of rebellion against Joshua. Why? Because they refused to lose their opportunity to possess what was theirs!

Joshua truly did lead them to victory. Seven Canaanite nations were destroyed or subjugated. Thirty of their fortified cities were taken and one of them (Jericho) was leveled and abandoned. In a single battle, Joshua and the Israelites wiped out five Amorite kings with their armies. After that they proceeded to conquer southern Canaan. After this, no fewer than fifteen kings from the north joined forces and attacked Israel. Joshua wiped out their combined forces - then proceeded northward and captured all of their land.

A beautiful summary of Joshua’s leadership is found in Joshua 11:15 - “As the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.

Now, a lot of people have the idea that the Promised Land is symbolic of Heaven. That’s why we hear songs about “crossing over the Jordan” and coming to the pearly gates. But let me ask you, does a lifestyle of battle and conquest sound like Heaven to you? Why did things occasionally go wrong for the Israelites (think Ai) if they were supposed to be symbolizing Heaven for us? Canaan wasn’t a picture of Heaven, it’s a picture of the promises that God has made to us here on Earth!

Just as it was for the Israelites, our promises have to be fought for. The Israelites fought seven nations of people for theirs - but Ephesians 6:12  tells us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood. Our enemies aren’t natural, they’re spiritual. They are the spirits of this world’s system that are trying to keep us out of the promises of God on this earth.

When the Israelites were led out of Egypt, they were led by a savior. They didn’t have to do a thing to be rescued except apply the blood of the Passover. That is just like salvation. We were saved without having to do anything except receive the blood of Jesus to wash away our sin.

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they were faced with their worst enemy - themselves. They struggled with their own craving, discontent and rebellion. Still, Moses led them patiently and God never left them. Even when they refused to go where He was taking them, God still had mercy and took care of them. Most Christians are in this place right now. They are still their own enemies. They’ve never been victorious over their flesh. They’ve continued to crave the things that they were delivered from. And they’ve only known Jesus as their Savior.

But there’s more to this life than our salvation and our struggle with our flesh. Jesus wants to become more than our Savior. If we ever want to obtain the promises of God that the kingdom of darkness is trying to keep us out of - we have to recognize Jesus as our Commander. You see, even though we were saved freely by grace - in battle, obedience equals victory. Only when we obey the Word of our Commander will we start to live a victorious Christian life.

Are there promises in your life that you have yet to possess? Are you still finding yourself to be your own worst enemy? Have you been living a less-than-victorious life? Then, my friend, it’s time to move past receiving Jesus as your Savior, and receive Him as your Lord! Read His Word, recognize His commands, and follow His lead. Then, it won’t matter what spirit tries to keep you from His promises! Let everything in this world go to pieces, but you’ll stay on top!

Pastor Tracy Harris says it this way, “When you make God’s enemies your enemies, He’ll make your battles His battles.”

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