Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Our Promised Land ..."

Day #56

Scripture Reading:  Joshua 16 - 20 ...

We have seen that being part of the people of God involves receiving an inheritance and it is important to understand that the inheritance was not only a piece of land.  Being part of the nation of Israel meant that God was with them!  Whatever happened in the future, God promised that He would be with them, that He would fight for them.  If they would humble themselves before the LORD their God, He would give them all they needed.  In acknowledging their dependence on Him, they would find His faithfulness and His providential care over them sufficient for their peace, their joy and their contentment.  The same is true for us today!

How often (or how rarely) do you think of receiving an inheritance from the Lord?  Do you think about God’s promises in Christ?  Do you realize that receiving the Holy Spirit, being born again, means that you are a adopted into God’s family and that now YOU are a part of His chosen people?  Too many today who claim to be “Christians” think far too little of what God has promised and far too much about what they WANT from God in this world.  Some preachers tell those who listen that God promises health and wealth and an easy life now, with a rare mention about heaven.  Even heaven is presented as a place where you get what YOU want.  Where is GOD in all of this? 

Truthfully, GOD Himself is the inheritance of His people.  You and I receive no good thing unless it comes to us through our relationship with God by faith in Jesus Christ.  We deserve nothing, we earn nothing; it is all a gift from God to those who are His children.  James writes, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all He created” (James 1:16-18).

We read in Psalm 73:25-26:  “Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  What a beautiful testimony.  The MORE God is to you, the more your relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ and the life of His Spirit inspires you, the LESS the world will hold you captive to search for your happiness from the things of this world.  As someone has said, “God is most glorified in us (believers), when we are most satisfied in HIM!”  How true that is!  HE is our inheritance!!

Looking back at these chapters in Joshua, the division of the land continued as each of Jacob's sons (and the two sons of Joseph: Manasseh and Ephraim) received an inheritance in the promised land of Canaan, the land God had promised to Abraham and his descendants more than 400 years before.  Tribe by tribe, name by name, the land was assigned.  It was like the reading of a will and all who were part of Abraham's family received their share of the inheritance.  There are a number of very important things to consider from these chapters.

First, their inheritance, like ours, comes from God.  This was not Abraham's land.  Remember that God had told Abraham to leave his father's house and land and go to the place HE would show him (Genesis 12:1).  Because the inheritance came from God, the very basis for the inheritance was GRACE.  The people of Israel did not choose this land for themselves or do anything to deserve this land - it was a gift from God.  This picture is repeated over and over again throughout the Old Testament.  God’s choosing of Israel, and God’s choosing of believers today, is one hundred per cent grace, undeserved favor.

Second, the detail of the division of the land reveals that God knows each name and the place of each.  It is as Paul says to the men of Athens in Acts 17:  "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live" (Acts 17:24-26).

All of this points to another promised land and another inheritance that God has promised to those who are part of Abraham's family by faith in the "Seed" of Abraham, Jesus, the Christ.  As you read through the Bible you will discover that God's Word points us to an eternal state of joy and blessedness ... to a new heaven and a new earth.  The new "heaven" is the atmosphere and space around a planet created by the voice of God, and the new earth is ... well, a new planet.  Some believe that God is going to simply improve THIS planet, but II Peter 3 says, "the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. ...  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. BUT in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (II Peter 3:10, 12-13).

God will do what He says He will do.  Even the "cities of refuge" remind us that God knows the heart and offers forgiveness to those who draw near to Him.  “GOD is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear. ... There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall!” (Psalm 46:1,4-5).  We look forward to our inheritance, knowing that the promises of God come to us through our relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is to those who believe in Jesus that the promises are given - not to all.  GRACE is given to those whom God chooses and to us the inheritance comes.  A thankful, heartfelt response of a life lived for God is the only response worthy of God's love and promises.

"Father in heaven, the joy of knowing You and being part of Your family cannot be compared to anything this world offers.  I thank You for setting Your love on Me, for saving Me through the sacrifice of Jesus, and for Your wonderful promises of a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness, where You will live WITH us - forever!!!"  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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