Sunday, February 21, 2016

"I will be with you wherever you go ..."

Day #53 

Scripture Reading:  Joshua 1-5 …

What would it be like to KNOW that God's presence and power were with you wherever you go?  What would it be like to know that you were an instrument in God’s hands and that so long as you follow His leading in your life, you will be “successful” ... even in those times when it LOOKS like things aren’t going your way and when it FEELS like God is far away?  What would it be like to have such confidence in God that you are ready to step out in faith, knowing that unless He is involved in what you are about to do, you are sure to fail?  That’s what life lived with God and for God is like for those who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ!!  In fact, that’s what life was like for those who lived by faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob even before Jesus came!  These lived by faith in God’s promises and you and I are called to do the same!!

Reading through the first few chapters of Joshua you can't help but be aware of God's presence as He speaks to Joshua and encourages him as he takes over leadership of Israel from Moses.  God promises, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you" (1:5).  He says, "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (1:9).  Wouldn't it be wonderful to have God speak to YOU like that?

If you have drawn near to God through faith in Jesus Christ, God HAS spoken to you like that!  In the book of Hebrews (13:5-6), the writer says, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?’"  As God was with Joshua and Israel, so God IS with believers today.  In fact, the very Spirit of God lives within us.  "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body" (I Corinthians 12:13).  We are NEVER alone - EVER!!

As Joshua now began to lead Israel, God cleared the way for His chosen people to enter the land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob hundreds of years earlier.  Once again spies were sent into the land, as they had been forty years earlier, but this time they came back with this report:  “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us” (2:24).  Actually, they were melting in fear because of Israel’s GOD!!  Rahab had said to them, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.  We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt ...  When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (2:9-11).

What a testimony!!  God had opened the eyes and changed the heart of this Gentile woman and she would be spared when Israel destroyed the city of Jericho.  In fact, she would become the great-grandmother of King David!!  Those who see no grace in the Old Testament have missed countless examples of God’s sovereign work in the lives of those whom He chooses for His own purposes.  It is that same grace that makes believers His children today through faith in Jesus Christ.

As Israel crossed the Jordan the priests, from the tribe of Levi, carried the Ark of the Covenant.  As they stepped into the water of the Jordan River, which was at flood stage at the time, God stopped the flow of the river and the people passed through the river on dry ground, as they had crossed the Red Sea forty years earlier.  The Ark of the Covenant was not a magic box, but rather a picture of God's presence and power and faithfulness, so the people would know that it was God who went before them.  The twelve stones they set up after they had crossed the river were a reminder that God had brought them into the land He had promised to their fathers. 

Now the whole nation was circumcised, as a reminder of God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants.  At the end of Chapter 5, as they approached the fortified city of Jericho, the commander of the LORD's army (an angel) says to Joshua, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy" (5:15).  God had said the same to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  As God had been with Moses, He was now with Joshua.  He would keep His promises to these people and would bring them into the land.

As surely as God was with His chosen people in the days of Joshua, He is with those who put their trust in Him today.  Whether there are new ventures that lie before you or you need courage and strength to stand firm in times of trial, Jesus is "Immanuel," "God with us!"  As you step out in faith, you will be given all you need to accomplish all God desires you to do for His glory, and there will not be one moment when you will be alone.  As He said to Joshua, so He says to you, "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (1:9).  Whether through the manna for forty years in the wilderness, or now the "milk and honey" of the promised land, God provided for Israel, and He will provide for you.

“Success” is found not in God doing what you want HIM to do, but in you doing what He wants YOU to do!  God was with Joshua as he led the people into the land, trusting God to be with him and His people.  As the Israelites celebrated the Passover as a reminder of God’s deliverance through the blood of the lamb (5:10-11), so we celebrate the blood of Jesus being shed for us for our salvation, our deliverance from sin and death.  Read Psalm 27 today, a Psalm of David, and testify with him:  “I am confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).

"Thank you, Father, for your continued presence with me as I walk through my days in this world.  Empower me by Your Spirit that I may glorify you as I live by faith in your promises.  In the name of Him who is Immanuel … Your Son, Jesus, my Savior and my Lord.  Amen"

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