Joshua-Wayne Barber/Part 10
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|I want to do is to summarize some of the things we’ve been talking about in the book of Joshua. I’m going to call it the Recipe for Trusting God. I’m going to take the six chapters that we’ve looked at and I’m going to put them together a little differently.|
Recipe for Trusting God (Joshua 6b)
Well, you can turn to the book of Joshua, and you’re wondering what I’m going to do. Well, this is not what I’m going to do normally, but it’s what I’m going to do tonight. What I want to do is to summarize some of the things we’ve been talking about now for several weeks in the book of Joshua. I’m going to call it the Recipe for Trusting God. I’m going to take the six chapters that we’ve looked at and I’m going to put them together a little differently. It’s going to be the stuff we’ve studied, and yet it’s going to be put in a little bit different way.
We’ve seen several go through the waters of baptism. Now, baptism is only a picture of what happens at salvation. Baptism doesn’t save us. It’s an act of public witness before others. “Buried in the likeness of Christ; raised to walk in the newness of life.” Now, baptism is a testimony to the whole world that we’re different people. We’re brand new creatures. Romans 6 is the picture of what’s happened to us. We’re brand new creatures as 2 Corinthians 5:17 say, “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a brand new creature.” We now have His life in us.
My favorite illustration is one I’ve used of the white cloth and the bowl of red dye; we used it this weekend. You put that white cloth in that dye, but not only is the cloth in the dye, the dye is in the cloth. And that’s a beautiful picture of what salvation is and how that Christ comes to live in us.
Now these that have gone through these waters have life within them. Not because of the waters, but because prior to this they received Christ by faith. But how do they appropriate the life that they now have. And that brings us back to Joshua. And for all of us tonight, the victories of yesterday never determine the victories of today. We need to be reminded that of this over and over again.
In our study of Joshua what we’ve been doing, we’ve been talking about how Israel possessed the land that God had given to them. Now, God didn’t give us a land. We don’t have an external covenant, we have an internal covenant. He gave us a life—not a land, but a life. Now how they possessed what God said was already theirs is the same way we possess what God says is ours in Christ Jesus.
Now tonight we are going to go through and, like I said, put a little more succinctly those first 6 chapter that we’ve studies, and we’re going to talk about trusting God. What does it mean; the recipe for trusting God? We are breezing through Joshua, much quicker than I like to go through a book and I’m sure you like it better, but I’m a little slower than that. But I want to make sure we are getting it; we’re holding on to it and so I want to do this. Paul said in Philippians 3:1 “Finally, my brethren [and I love this verse, I’m going to put it somewhere in my house to remember it], rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again, is no trouble for me, and it’s a safeguard for you.” So I’m not going to write it to you, I’m going to speak it to you. But to speak the same things again is no trouble to me, and may be a safeguard for you and encourage your life. What have we learned in Joshua about trusting God?
- Trusting God is believing in Him
First of all trusting God, we have learned, is believing in Him. Now in chapter 1 God speaks to Joshua, now Moses is dead, and He says, “Moses my servant is dead.” Verse 2, “Now, therefore, rise and cross this Jordan, you and all this people to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place in which the sole of your foot treads I have given to you just as I spoke to Moses.”
Now as we remember, and as we’ve studied, the significance of “I am giving to them” vs. other passages where He says I have already given it to them, is very, very important. What He’s talking about is: I have given it to you, yes, but you will not experience it except to the degree that you’re willing to walk in obedience to Me.
Verse 3 is really a key. He says, “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads I have given it to you.” I am giving it to you: every place on which the sole of your foot treads I have given it to you.” That’s simply saying, you’ve got to learn to trust Me. In every step of the way, trust Me. Believe in Me, is what God is telling Joshua.
The sole of the foot was the bare part of the foot, the tender part of the foot. And of course at the burning bush, He said, take your shoes off. In Joshua 5 when a divine captain arrived, he says take your shoes off. The idea is when you take your shoes off, you’re humbling yourself before God and you’re saying, I’m taking every step in obedience to you. That’s the part of it, when we’re willing to trust Him, to believe in Him and to consider every step holy unto Him then we walk in the victory, we experience what He said is ours in Christ Jesus. This is the first part, really, of trusting God. Or really what I could have said is the walk of faith—same thing. And that is learning to believe in Him. Allow God to dictate. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead our lives. This is what makes us so different than any religion in the world. Because it’s not going to church on Sunday and Wednesday. It’s not just that, it’s moment by moment, breath by breath, believing in Him.
But along with that, this is all in that first step of believing in Him, there is something else involved: You believe in Him which also takes it a second step in verse 7 which means you’re in His word. If you believe in His character and you trust Him, then you’re going to trust His word. People that aren’t in the word of God, don’t trust the character of God. But if you believe in the God of the Word, then you will automatically be in the Word of God.
I had a man tell me one time, “Wayne, you talk about the Word all the time. I think you love the Word more than you love Jesus.” I want to be as kind as I possibly can by saying that that’s the stupidest thing I think I’ve ever heard. I’m in love with my wife; she’s my best friend. I kind of enjoy hearing her talk. If I didn’t hear her talk, I wouldn’t know how to please her. Any man who says he understands a woman would lie about anything. I mean, I love her. And because I love her, I want to hear what she has to say.
How many times in our marriage, years ago, we’d be riding down the road and she’d get quiet and I’d say, “What’s the matter? What are you thinking?” “Nothing.” Raise your hand if that’s ever happened to you. Okay, thank you. Thank you! “What are you thinking?” “Nothing.” “What are you thinking?” “Nothing.” And finally I just have to stop, and we’d get mad over what she’s thinking or not because I want to know what she’s thinking. I need to know what she’s thinking. I love what she says because I love the woman who’s saying it.
That’s the way it is with the word of God. Can you imagine a believer saying he doesn’t love the Word of God! Verses 7-8 put the Word into the equation: “Only be strong and very courageous. Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses, My servant, commanded you. Do not turn from it, to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.” Then verse 8: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do so according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous. And then you’ll have success.”
He says you get into the Word of God. You soak in it. It’s not just a matter of memorizing it. I know people that have memorized it, matter of fact, the Jewish people over in Israel, precious people, but they’ve memorized the Word of God, but they’ve missed the Christ that’s right there in front of them. It’s easy sometimes to memorize the Word, but that’s not what we talking about. We’re talking about meditating upon the Word of God. It’s great to memorize it, but it’s hiding it in your heart that’s much more than just in your mind. It’s meditating upon the Word, chewing on it, pondering it. This is why we are going to spend so much time as a church in the Word of God, because it needs to saturate everything that we say, and everything that we are. It needs to go deep inside of our life.
Now does that mean we’re going to do everything right? No! But we’re going to have a standard within us that’s going to tell us what is right. We still have a choice. And many times we’ll choose the wrong way. But we need to know what does God say.
The most beautiful illustration I’ve used, and this is just a little review tonight, has been Abraham in Genesis 22. When Abraham was told some pretty tough things, had he not loved the God of the Word, he never would have obeyed the word. And it says in Genesis 22:2, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I’ll tell you.”
Do what? I mean, can you imagine? You would have to trust the character of God. This is what the people of Israel are having to learn as they follow Joshua across the Jordan river. “So Abraham” it’s in verse 3, “So Abraham!” He didn’t flinch, he didn’t blink an eye. Do you realize that this is the way we are supposed to be living. All of these that have walked through the waters tonight are saying to the world, “I live a different way, now.” What way is that, Wayne? I live by faith. Paul said the same thing in Galatians 2:20.
What does it mean to walk by faith? It means exactly what Abraham did. It’s exactly what Joshua and Israel were led to do as they crossed the Jordan river. Trusting God is believing in Him. It’s taking every step as being holy onto Him. And we’re willing in doing that to die to our own understanding of what we thought God was going to do and where we thought God was going to lead.
“What do you mean, kill my son?” Abraham could have said. I mean, he’s the door to all the covenant promises. You kill Isaac, you’ve just taken away the redeemer of this world because the seed was a part of that covenant. And if you take away Isaac then you have no seed that will one day come on the scene and get his humanity from the nation of Israel. But he didn’t say that. It says, “So Abraham.” He obeyed immediately. It says in the book of Hebrews that he even believed that if he had to kill his son that God would resurrect him from the dead. He believed in the character of God. That’s what walking by faith is. Trusting in God is believing in Him so that we’re willing to die to our fleshly emotions.
“Take your son, your only son, whom you love.” Abraham could have said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute! Not that son, I love this son. Let me do something with somebody else.” No you die to your emotions. You die to your understanding. You die to your emotions. And trusting God is being willing to die basically to our flesh/will. It’s saying, “Lord, I’ll do it.” “So Abraham,” verse 3 of Genesis 22. Only when we trust in the character of God, believing in Him, can we receive what His Word has to say, but the two are joined together. It doesn’t start with the Word, it starts with the God of the Word, but then the Word of God becomes a part of our life.
The instructions to Joshua and Israel were no different than what He’d told to Abraham in the sense of what they had to do and of how He speaks to us today. People who want more than the Word of God in our day, are telling everybody something. They’re telling people they don’t love the God of the Word, and they are looking for something different than what they really need in their life.
Now when we’re believing in Him there’s one more thing that’s involved here. It’s like a triage. It all comes together, but it’s not I’m separating it because for the sake of explanation, but when you say “yes” to God all these things are involved. It happens at the same time. When we are believing in Him, God gives us a knowing, an inward knowing, that He goes before us. Kind of like what it says in Romans 8:28, “for we know,” and that’s intuitive. That’s something God has to give. We “know that God causes all things to work together for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose.” He puts an inward knowing in our lives. He removes the fear of taking the step once we are submitted to Him and once we are trusting in Him. He removes that fear.
Chapter 2 has told us of sending the spies over into Canaan. You see, he only sent two spies, and those two spies were going to let him know what they were facing when they got to Jericho. It had been 40 years since Joshua had seen it, so he sent these two spies over secretly. Didn’t tell the people about it. And those two spies, when they went over what they learned and what happened to them, came back and became a great assurance to Joshua, and it ought to be an assurance to you and I. There’s no what ifs. They’re going to come back and let him know there’s no what ifs when you say yes to God.
In chapter 2 we were introduced to a lady by the name of Rahab. She used to be a prostitute. She is no longer a prostitute; God has brought her to Himself. She has believed in God. She’s a convert over in the land of the enemy. God had prepared her to protect His people.
And I don’t about you, but that’s just beginning to mean so much to me. I mean, some of the things that God tells us to do, and you think, “Lord, that’s going to cause a lot of pain.” And God says, “Do you trust me?” “Yes, I trust You.” “Then you do it.” And as you take that step, the fear diminishes and you know He’s already gone before you. He’s always going before us preparing the way. She hid the spies and protected them while they were there. And later made them promise, “Look I watched after you, you watch after me.” And certainly they did that. But it was through Rahab that they learned that the enemy was already terrified. That the victory was going to be a piece of cake, if they’d just obey God. They didn’t know that. But now they know.
In 2:8, “Now before they laid down, she [Rahab] came to them on the roof and said to the men, ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land and that the terror of you has fallen upon us and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.’” When we walk by faith, you see God always gives us that assurance. We don’t need a Rahab in another land. We don’t need the spies to come back and tell us. We have the Holy Spirit that lives within us. But God assures our heart if we’re willing to say yes to Him no matter what it is He tells us to do, because we trust Him, we know somehow He’s already prepared the way. He’s gone before us.
So if we are going to possess the life that God has given us in Christ, it starts with believing in Him. That’s part of the recipe of trusting Him, is believing in Him. Believe in the God of the Word so that you can receive the Word of God. And when you do He’ll give you the assurance that you never had known before. You know that God causes all things to work together for good. You know that He’s gone before you.
Now, that’s the first thing that we’ve looked at in Chapters 1 & 2. You say: Wayne, you didn’t cover everything. I told you I’m not going to try to cover everything. I’m trying to put in a succinct way so that everybody can get a handle on it. Because every day of our life the line is drawn in front of us as to whether or not we are willing to say yes to Christ. Situation by situation; I’ve said that how many times since I’ve been here, and that’s the way it is in my life. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t want to know what tomorrow holds. I just know who holds tomorrow. And when I get there I trust Him, and I trust His Word. And we’re willing to say yes to Him, therefore, we know He goes before us.
- Trusting God is clinging to Him
But the second thing in the recipe of trusting God that we’ve been looking at in 6 chapters in Joshua is: clinging only to Him. Clinging to Him. You say, “Wayne, what do you mean by that?” Hang on, I’ll tell you.
The river Jordan was flooded. Now you remember this, we’ve studied it; at a time when they were supposed to cross over it, it was flooded. Chapter 3:15 tells us, “And when those who carried the Ark came into the Jordan and the feet of the priests carrying the Ark were dipped in the edge of the water,” and then he says, “for the Jordan overflowed all of it banks, all the days of harvest.”
Now this is interesting, God didn’t let them cross the Jordan when it was at a normal time. At normal rate it would be about 100 feet wide and that wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But on a flooded time, at a harvest time, when the snows have run off of Mt. Lebanon and had come down and have flooded the river, it was at a mile wide. Can you imagine! It’s a big difference in 100 feet and a mile wide. Why did God do that? This is so beautiful, and I don’t know if I can get it across. The older I get the worse I’m getting at getting it out like it gets in. I hope you’re seeing this. God creates circumstances in our life that are overwhelming, flooded rivers if you please. Why? Because He’s trying to teach us to cling to Him, and to do that He has to remove all options.
You see, over in Romania, when I was going those years, they had a saying, “When Jesus is all you have, that’s the only time you realize that’s all you need.” Because we have Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan E. I mean, even if we don’t like the church we’ll go someplace else. We’ve got all kind of plans over here. But one of these days, God’s going to put a flooded river in front of you and in front of me, if we’re honest about our walk with Him, that’s going to drive us so much to the end of our self, there is no other option. And if you’re going to cling, He’s the only option you have left. And in clinging to Him, that’s when you realize what trusting Him is all about.
Listen, I’ve done it over the years. I’m a “tape-ite” and a “book-ite.” Over the years I’ve listened to this person’s tape and that person’s tape and this person’s book and read that person’s book and try to get as much in me as I possibly could. You know how much it meant to me? About this much. Oh, I had information. You wouldn’t believe it, if you asked me any question, I had the answer. It didn’t mean anything to me until God put me in situations from time after time and almost log them down to when I had to cry out to Him and then suddenly all that information dropped down into the right slot and transformation was the result.
God has to put us in situations to where we don’t have any options left. The flooded Jordan River was not a spiritual battle. How many people think that every circumstance in their life is a battle? It’s not a battle. It was simply—not a result of some sin they had committed; no—it was a circumstance that God had created because He wanted His people to learn to cling to Him.
I love that word in the New Testament. It’s like glue. Glue themselves to Him. There is no other option. Oh God, if I let go of You, there’s no other hope, there’s no Plan B. Well, God will put us in those type of circumstances. God orchestrates life to drive us to the place of desperation to where we cling only to Him. Then and only then, trusting Him, believing in Him, clinging to Him, like I said, makes all the sense in the world. It is then that we won’t flinch.
Abraham did not flinch. God has a way of bringing us to those places of trusting Him. And we step out into the waters of His will, at that moment He proves Himself strong. The flooded Jordan River stood between them and all that God had for them. What stands between you right now and what God has for you? You’ve heard it and you know it. Was it a song that said, “I’m tired of being stirred and never being changed.” Have you heard that? And that song goes over in my mind. Those words: “I’m tired of being stirred and never changed.” What stands tonight between you and everything that God says is yours in Christ Jesus? What circumstance has He orchestrated in your life?
Chapter 3 tells us about the Ark of the Covenant that was to go out in front of them. In other words, they were not going to be alone. We looked at the Ark and we saw how it was made of acacia wood which was a picture of the humanity of Christ. It was almost impenetrable. It was a hard, hard petrified wood. But not only that, it was overlaid with gold and that was the picture of His righteousness. A beautiful picture of His divinity. A picture of the God-man.
Not only that, we saw within the Ark there was the golden pot of manna. Did that grab you all when we were going through it? Did you catch what He was saying here? The Ark is a picture of Christ that lives within us. The golden pot of manna was a picture of His divine provision. He is our bread of life. “When do I ever get to know that, Wayne?” When the river get flooded. You see, I’m not going to partake of Him when everything is going well, there’s money in the bank, everybody’s healthy, everything’s going sweet. God has a way of driving us to this truth. But in Him, He is the bread of life. He’s the one who sustains; He’s the one who satisfies. He’s the one who is sufficient for everything that we need. There’s nothing outside of Him that we need, but we don’t know that until the river gets flooded. We don’t know that until we walk into the valley of the shadow of death. It’s in those times that we learn what these truths really mean.
Also, in the Ark was the budding rod of Aaron. Beautiful picture behind that, we preached on that and I’m not going to go back and do that again, but the rod itself pictures the incarnation and the death of Jesus Christ. The bud pictures the resurrection of Christ. And the blossom, the flower, pictures the exaltation of Christ, and the almonds, the fruit that it produces, pictures the reproduction of Christ as He reproduces Himself in the lives of those who trust Him.
The tables of law were also inside the Ark. But over them was the Mercy Seat, and I love this picture and maybe I didn’t bring it out strong enough when we went through it. Our failure is always apparent, but covering our inability is His ability. The Mercy Seat sat on top. Every day of my life, I’m reminded of what I’m not. How about you? How are you doing? Are you reminded of what you’re not? What happened in your life today that you wrongly responded to and found out real quick what you’re not? And in that desperate moment you came before Him and said “Oh, God, Your Word convicts me, Your spirit convicts me.” God’s blood covers you. Over your inability is His ability and His cleansing power in Your life.
The Ark was a beautiful picture of what we have in Christ and the Ark went before the people as they went into the Jordan. God said I’m not going to create this circumstance and not be with you, I’m going to walk through it with you. But until we believe Him to the point that we cling only to Him, we don’t experience His provision in our lives the way He wants us to experience it.
Israel, like us, had to learn that life’s circumstances teach us to put feet to what we say we believe. When the rivers are swollen is when He tells us to move. And that’s when we trust Him. And that’s when we experience Him in a fresh way. When they trusted God’s character and they believed God’s Word, they yielded to His will, they experienced His power like never before.
Would you not like to have been a flower on the wall, if there’s a wall there, but a flower somewhere and watched as those priests put their feet in that flooded river. I just have that kind of mind, and my mind just goes crazy thinking what that would be like. Mel Gibson helped me out, just to put your step right out and touch that water. Flooded banks, and all of the sudden that water rose up. Whoosh! You can’t see it, I’m sorry. You all just need a life. That’s all I’ve got to say. That thing rose up and backed up 17 miles and the river would have been muddy. Why? So they could walk across: two and a half million of them. But they had to be willing to step out into what they did not understand. They had to be willing to step out into that which was overwhelming to them in order to experience what God said they were going to experience.
That’s the beautiful thing about trusting God. Trusting God involves believing in Him, but it also involves clinging to Him when life is overwhelming. And letting His word richly dwell in your hearts. Stepping out in His will. That’s what walking by faith is. If you ever hear me saying, “walk by faith,” here it is in the first 6 chapters of Joshua. Trusting, believing in Him, and clinging only to Him. Glued to Him and to His word. There’s nothing else.
- Trusting God involves obeying Him
But thirdly, trusting God involves obeying Him. We’ve been hitting around it, but let’s go ahead and say it. Chapters 5 and 6 tell us about the battle of Jericho. Now Jericho was the biggest battle that they would fight. Isn’t it interesting, God could have taken the smallest battle and put it first and worked them up to it, but He put the biggest one first. It stood right there blocking the pathway to the central highlands there. It stood in front of them threatening to take away from them the rest of all that God has given to them in Christ.
Isn’t it interesting, you have an experience in your life, you didn’t even know that you hadn’t experienced God in a particular way and God is so good to us He puts some pain in our life. He brings us to the end of ourselves and we cry out to Him and oh, we see Him like we’ve never seen Him before.
The next thing you think is, “Oh God! I don’t want to ever move away from here.” But the biggest thing that’s going to stand in your way now is your Jericho. There’s a Jericho looming in front of us. To us our Jericho is our besetting sin. Every one of us have a besetting sin.
I want to take a little test tonight. If you’ll take out a sheet of paper, I want you to write it down and sign it. NO! There are a lot of people who do not think they even have one. It’s incredible! You have a besetting sin. Here’s the unique thing about it: all of our besetting sins are not the same. That’s why you see people hammering people who have the sin of immorality that’s their besetting sit.
Oh, man, the Pharisees and the bigots love to hammer them. They don’t understand it. They deal with pride or it might be covetousness or it might be another sin, but all of us have a besetting sin. It’s a Jericho that looms in front of us and God says there’s so much more. Oh there’s so much more! But you’ve got to learn to deal with your Jericho first.
Now the Jericho’s not like the Jordan. The Jordan was simply a circumstance to teach them how to trust God. The Jericho was a spiritual battle. Once you begin to experience Him, that’s when the warfare starts. That’s when the battle begins. The only thing that threatens us to our possessing the life that we have in Christ Jesus is our besetting sin. The Jordans of our life teach us how to trust God, and it is then we began to possess what He’s given. But it’s the Jerichos of our life that threaten what we’ve just experienced. Just as we trusted God in our Jordan experience, we must trust Him in our Jerichos.
We must learn, however, to distinguish between the two. We’ve got to distinguish between the two. Even though the answer to both of them is the same, we’ve got to learn to distinguish between the two. When you have a bad thing happen in your life, you don’t run and say, “Have I done something wrong,” unless God convicts you of it in your spirit.
Do know the difference between conviction and condemnation? Condemnation is when you have no hope, that’s condemnation. That didn’t even come from God. Conviction always has hope in it. And a lot of people, they have a bad trauma, the rivers got flooded and they’re overwhelming to them, and they think it’s because of something they’ve done wrong. Not necessarily. It could just be a Jordan in your life to lead you into a deeper understanding of who He is. But the Jerichos are plain and clear. We learn to distinguish between the two and this will help us greatly.
We saw in chapter 5 people had to be prepared for this battle. It’s amazing how getting into the land has a lot to do with being prepared. Once you’re in the land, everybody has a different mindset. First of all, they had to circumcise the men first. This was to renew their covenant with God. You see it says in 5:3, “At that time the Lord said to Joshua, make yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel, the second time. So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath Haarolath. And they became a disgrace.”
You see, they had become a disgrace to the covenant God had made with Abraham and when He told them to be circumcised in the 17th chapter because they hadn’t been circumcised, they were living in shame. Circumcision was a mark of the external covenant.
It says in Chapter 5 vs. 9, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” The moment that they renewed their covenant was the moment that God took the reproach off of them. They were no longer a disgrace and shame to everything that He stood for. Once this was done, then their Captain was revealed it their life. If you followed the flow of chapter 5, that’s when the Divine Captain showed up. That’s Christ is the Old Testament. Christ appeared to Joshua and had his sword drawn ready to lead him into battle. Just like He took them through the Jordan, He was going to lead them into battle.
They just simply shouted and that shout has a logical meaning. You see, they shouted “Jubilee, Jubilee!” We’re coming back to take the land God says was rightfully ours. But only when they renewed their covenant, and their approach was taken from them, was their Captain revealed.
You see, that’s the way it is in our life. If I’m going to be ready for battle, tomorrow, it’s the same way I got ready for battle today. And how’s that? Renew my covenant. “What covenant are you talking about, Wayne?” Theirs was external, by circumcision of the flesh. Ours is internal, and it says in the epistles that we’ve been circumcised of the heart. In other words, the flesh has been rendered powerless in our life and our renewing of our covenant is bowing before Him and presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable before Him, which is our reasonable service of worship. And not being conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. That is a renewal of our covenant. And when we renew our covenant, then all the shame that we have brought to Christianity and to other Christians by the way we have been living is removed, and at that moment our Captain is revealed in us, and people see Him. They don’t see us any more.
We don’t overcome sin, but Christ overcomes us. And sin is defeated. When you realize it is no longer Wayne, but Christ in Wayne, then the victory is already been won over the Jericho in my life. You can’t say yes to Christ and say yes to sin at the same time. Saying yes to Christ is saying no to the Jerichos of our life. So it’s not so much that we deal with the Jericho as we deal with God and we get our heart in line and in tune with Him. It’s then we walk in victory that He has already given to us.
So trusting God involves believing in Him. Not just believing Him, but believing in Him. Trusting His character. It involves yielding to Him in the midst of unbelievably difficult circumstances. “Oh God! I have no Plan B. I’m clinging to You. You are my plan. You are my circumstance. I’m going to cling to you.” And it involves obeying Him no matter how strange His will seems to be. We obey Him.
Somebody sent me this, and I love illustrations that you all send me. Thank you! Keep them coming. Some of the funniest things you’ve sent me I have laughed my head off. Don’t stop them either. But I love these profound illustrations. You all come across and you send them to me and they just minister to my heart. One of them I want to share back with you. It’s about the ant and the contact lens.
Brenda was a young woman who was invited to go rock climbing. Although she was very scared, she went with the group to a tremendous granite cliff. In spite of her fear, she put on the gear, took a hold of the rope, and started up the face of the rock. Well, she got to a ledge where she could take a breather, and as she as hanging out there, the safety rope snapped against her eye and knocked out a contact lens. Well, here she is on a rock ledge with hundreds of feet below her and hundreds of feet above her. Of course, she looked and looked hoping it had landed on the ledge, but it just wasn’t there. Here she was far from home. Her sight was now blurry. She was desperate and began to get upset. So she prayed to the Lord to help her find that contact lens. When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but there was no contact lens to be found. She sat down despondent, waiting for the rest of them to make it up the face of the cliff. She looked out across the mountain range, range after range of mountains, thinking of the verse that says, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth” and she thought, “Lord, you can see all these mountains. You know every stone, every leaf, and you know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me!”
Finally, they walked down the trail to the bottom. At the bottom, there was a new party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted, “Hey, you guys, anybody lose a contact lens?” Well, that would be startling enough, but do you know why the climber found it? How he found it? An ant was moving slowly across the face of a rock carrying the contact lens on its back. That’s what caught his eye.
Brenda told me that her father was a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a picture of an ant lugging that contact lens with the words, “Lord, I don’t know why you want me to carry this thing. I can’t eat it. And it’s awfully heavy, but if this is what you want for me to do, I’ll carry it just for you.” Then there was a note at the end of that email. I think it would probably do some of us some good to occasionally say,”God, I don’t know why you want me to carry this load, I see no good in it, and it’s awfully heavy, but if you want me to carry it, I will.”
God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. He is my source of existence and my Savior. He keeps me functioning each and every day. Without Him, I’m nothing, But with Him I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I thought to myself, I couldn’t sum it up any better. That’s what the Christian life’s all about. Sometimes we feel like that ant carrying a load we haven’t got a clue why we have to carry it. But because we believe in Him, we’ve learned to cling to Him, and we’ve learned to obey Him. That’s the way we experience what God says is already ours in Christ Jesus.
What’s on your back tonight? What’s the river that’s flooded that awfully heavy and overwhelming in your life? And God’s saying to you, “I love you, I love you, the pain is to draw you to Me. I want you to experience Me like you’ve never known Me before. And that’s Joshua chapter 1 through chapter 6.