"Do not just hear the Word of God and think hearing is enough. DO what it says!" James 1:22

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lesson 6, Servants of God

Joshua 13-21

Our Wrap Up from Mrs. Gettelfinger...

Today for our Wrap Up, I wore one of my husband’s suit coats but acted as though it was mine. In opening, I looked into a mirror and seemed very displeased with the jacket. I spoke aloud saying, “I’ve had this jacket for nearly an entire year and I still don’t like it. I thought I liked it when I purchased it. I’ve worn it a few times and I’ve never felt quite comfortable in it. I should have taken it back to the store a long time ago.” Then I removed the jacket and motioned as if I were hanging it in my closet.

What keeps us from “owning” or “claiming” or “counting on” God’s promises?

In chapters 13 and 14 of Joshua, God tells Joshua there is still land to be taken for the people of Israel. Joshua is getting older. Everyone knows that with age comes wisdom but weakness also comes with age. It’s just how life is. Yet Joshua held tightly to God’s promises made not only to Moses but all the way back to Abraham in Genesis 12 when God said to Abram, “I will make you into a great nation...” Remember the last time I offered our Wrap Up I told you “God’s promises are trustworthy and powerful.” Joshua believed that. He OWNED God’s promises. He CLAIMED God’s promises. He knew he could COUNT ON God’s promises.

The Israelites, on the other hand, spent 800 years dreaming of a land of milk and honey... 400 years from Abraham to Joseph and 400 years in Egypt. For 15 generations, Israel had dreamt of living in Canaan. Now the people were on the verge of fulfilling that dream. Their greatest obstacle was not the Jordan River. It was not the well-fortified cities. Their greatest obstacle was fear. This is why God repeats Himself so many times in the first chapter of Joshua to “be strong and courageous!”

In chapter 14 of Joshua we discover that Caleb courageously OWNS God’s promise of land made to Caleb through Moses. Despite Caleb’s age, he claims in verse 11-12 that he is “just as strong today as the day Moses sent me out...” Sometimes, CLAIMING God’s promises take just as much strength as going into battle. After establishing a place of worship in Shiloh, Joshua even speaks to the people of Israel in verses 3 of chapter 18 about the fear they were experiencing when he says, “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?”

At this point in our Wrap Up, I selected three students to stand. I told each of them to take of a piece of their garments (shirt, pants, shoes) so I could take them home and give them to my children. In all seriousness, that would be absurd. They wouldn’t give me these pieces of clothing because these are pieces they NEED and they OWN them. Their shirts, pants, and shoes BELONG to them.

God's promises BELONG to us.  God wants us to “own,” or “claim,” or “count on” His promises.

As Christ’s followers, we have three “blanket promises.”

We’re promised God’s power. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” (Acts 1:8) Among other blessings that come to us when we accept Jesus Christ is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Every Christ follower is given the indwelling presence of the Spirit to empower us to live Christlike lives. The word for “power” in the original language is dunamis, which is the same root word used in dynamite. God has placed spiritual dynamite in us so we’ll have the strength to overcome every scary challenge we face.

We’re promised God’s provision. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) God never asks us to do something without also giving the resources to do it. This means if God calls you to forgive, he’ll give you the strength to do it. If God calls you to step out in faith, He will provide what you need to take that step.

We’re promised God’s presence. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Christ followers always have Christ with them. The promise to Joshua is repeated for all believers in Hebrews 13:5: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” It’s comforting to know we never need to go through life alone.

We learn in chapter 20 of Joshua how God promises refuge. How comforting to see that the cities of refuge are set up in a way that “surrounds” the Israel nation! And as our lesson points out, this is a fore-shadow of how Jesus surrounds us as our Refuge. Once again we see yet another promise of God fulfilled in chapter 21 when God provides land, shelter, and refuge for the Levites.

Our Wrap Up was ended with me going back to my closet to pull out the jacket I had worn earlier. I had decided to return the jacket to the store (set up on stage with the assistance of a sales clerk –Mrs. DeWitt.) I explained to the sales clerk that I wished to exchange the jacket for one that was more suitable for my size and personality. I also told the clerk that I had had the jacket for nearly a year and that it had been worn a few times. Looking to the students as though I was fearful the sales clerk would turn me away, she cheerfully spoke up and said, “Well, for heaven’s sake! What took you so long?! Let’s go find you a better jacket.” Giving the students a “how about that” sort of look, I selected a new jacket and ended the Wrap Up with the following...

God, we could say, is like a supersized department store. God makes these incredible promises, but many times we can’t bring ourselves to believe they are true or that they are directly meant for us. When we are overcome by fear or despair, we eventually cry out to God. That’s when we claim His promises and the Lord always comes through. But along the way I wonder if God sometimes thinks, "For heaven’s sake, what took you so long?!"

Will you search God’s Word today for promises He makes directly to you? And just as you own the clothes on your body, will you OWN the promises of God?

reference: ChristianStandard