God’s Word Amidst Hard Changes (Part 3 of 3)

In our third and final guest blog from Tana Tuttle, Tana starts again with verse 2 of Joshua , but moves quickly on through verse 9:

 2b Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. 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 according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (ESV)

In the second part of Joshua 1:2 we see that the people were told to cross over “into the land I am giving to them.”tana Christmas

Note the implication that all the Israelites were going, not one would be left behind, as they enter the land God is giving “to the people of Israel.

In case they don’t get it, God clarifies in verse 3: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.”

This is covenant language, this is what God had already told the Israelites through Moses back in Deuteronomy 10:24. God is saying, “I told you. I promised!” God’s intentions were clear; He did not bring them out of Egypt to harm them. He did not set them up to be destroyed. He promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. They may have taken a 40-year detour, but now they were to prepare—to get back on the track of God’s good intentions.

The times when it seems God is silent, or that He has taken something from us, we must remember what God has said, and that God is faithful to fulfill what He has promised.

General promises are wonderful, but the specific promises He has made to you are equally sustaining.

We must know God’s unchanging character and His unchanging Word.   We must cling to what God’s Word ways. Never give up on what God has promised you.

God desires to fulfill His promise to you, to extend your influence, to take you to the next level, for you have been called to bear much fruit.

Verse 4 continues with God’s reminder that He will fulfill His promises: “From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.”

But did you notice that the Israelites’ territory includes the “wilderness”? Does it seem odd to you that the “promised” territory of the Israelites includes the wilderness?

Ever been in a wilderness? It’s usually characterized as a dry, barren place, a mysterious, unwanted, get-me-out-as-fast-as-you-can kind of place. Who wants a wilderness? Hmm. Apparently God does. The wilderness was not a good place for the Israelites. They spent 40 years there. I’m sure they wanted to leave it behind as fast as they could.   But God included it in their territory. You know what this tells us?

God never throws away our past, it is included in everything He is doing in and through us. The wilderness will work for us, even if all it does is remind us that we don’t want to go a certain place or do certain things again! Remember:

All your experiences work together for your good because God includes the wilderness! 

As we move along, the passage switches its focus from the land to God’s relationship with Joshua, and by extension, with us.

Verse 5 tells us: “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” You can face anything and anybody with God. God is a very present help in trouble. (See also Psalm 46:1.)

Never face anything alone. You don’t need to! Bring your life and your stuff to God. No matter how bad it is, He will be with you and never forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

You will always need God’s presence with you ~ past, present and future.

Moving along to verses 6 and 7, Joshua is told to “be strong and courageous” (and again to be strong and very courageous).

What’s the opposite of strong and courageous? Weak and fearful, right? Well, there you go. Only two choices—strong and courageous or weak and fearful. Which do you prefer? Which will you choose?

Every day, we must make the choice; and remember, if we do not intentionally choose to be strong and courageous, we will by default choose weak and fearful.

Who wants us to be weak and fearful? That is Satan’s desire and intention for you, you never have to wonder about that. God will never wake you up and tell you, “Today, I prefer you to be weak and fearful all day long!” As soon as we open our eyes in the morning, I believe God whispers to each of us, “Do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous, for I am with you.” I have read that the Bible contains 365 “do not be afraid” verses…..one for each day. How like a gracious God!

God’s call to every believer, not matter what, is to be strong and courageous. 

As a summing of God’s instructions about how to live victoriously, let’s look at verses 7 to 9. These instructions are vital if we seek to make it through change and on to what God has ahead for us:

  • Obey the Word (Be “careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.”)
  • Speak the Word (“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth.”
  • Meditate (or chew) on the Word (“You shall meditate on [the Word] day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

 And now, let me leave you with one final instruction from verse 9:

Do NOT be discouraged!

I may not know what you are facing or going through right now, but no matter what it is: do not be discouraged!

Discouragement is one of Satan’s biggest weapons against us. God will never discourage you and He will never call you to discourage others! (See Numbers 13:26-33 and 14:36 to find out how God feels about discouraging others.)

1 Samuel 30:6 tells us to encourage ourselves in the Lord. If one of the biggest weapons against us is discouragement, then the counter weapon is to encourage ourselves in the Lord. Many times in my life, I’ve had a crisis with simply no one to call on for encouragement. I’ve learned that I must encourage myself in the Lord by remembering truth—truth I’ve stored up over time in God’s Word and presence. The Holy Spirit will not fail to remind you of the truth you need! (See John 14:26 for some super-charged truth!!).

So, dear sisters in Christ, be encouraged today if you are facing change. He did not fail the Israelites, He has not failed me, and He will not fail you!

–Tana Tuttle

 

 

I Really Want to be Like Jesus…

I really want to be like Jesus…

Instead, I disappoint my friends, speak harsh words, and let the dumbest things get me off track.

It was one of those days. By lunchtime I was in tears over the ways I had failed. I flopped on the couch at our Take Heart office, totally discouraged.

Then my eyes drifted up to a picture on our wall, one of the framed pieces we’d used in our prayer chapel:

enterhisrest Enter His rest. Be still in His silence. Be renewed in His quiet.

As I read these calming words, I began to feel the peace of Christ wash over me, reminding me of the forgiveness that is available to all who ask.

I was reminded that God called us to Himself “while we were yet sinners.”(Romans 5:8) When Jesus said “come to me all you who are weary and burdened,” he didn’t say we had to get it right before we came.

In fact, he was calling to the discouraged. To people like me who start the day by the Spirit and too easily slip into the habits of the flesh.

I closed the office door, eased back down into the couch, and the tears that fell became tears of gratitude for the love of a Good Father. One whose arms are always open. One who calls us to be renewed in His Presence. One who readies us to go out again, to work out our salvation, learning to be like Jesus one moment at a time.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt:11:28-30

Discouraged for a Reason…

I’ve felt like a failure quite often lately.

I’ve dropped balls on tasks I promised to do. I’ve watched helplessly as friends and family struggle with problems for which I have no answers.

ImageI can’t even keep my house clean. (Seriously…this picture is of my desk right now!)

And this morning, as I struggle to write an encouraging word to my sisters in Christ, I can’t seem to finish a thought.

But I don’t share this so you’ll feel sorry for me. Or even try to make me feel better.

I share because I believe that God has allowed me to come to a place of discouragement for a reason:

Discouragement has reminded me once again of my desperate need for God.

Discouragement has forced me once again to decide: will I try to live life on my own, or will I trust God to be who He says He is, to do what He says He can do?

This spring, our Thursday morning small group studied the book of Ephesians. In the first chapter, Paul prays for the readers of his letter, saying:

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-19)

Paul goes on to say that “this power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead.”

Paul wants his readers to know that they have access to the same power that brought Jesus back to life. He wants them to believe it, to live according to this truth.

I confess that I often doubt God’s Spirit will really work in me and through me. But I am encouraged to know that the Ephesians apparently struggled too—I figure if they had already mastered this truth, Paul wouldn’t have needed to pray for them!

So, as I face today’s impossible list of things to do, as I watch loved ones struggle with issues beyond my help–even as I wade through papers to find the desk underneath–I am making Paul’s prayer personal. Perhaps, if you need to trust in God’s power at work in you as well, you’ll pray with me:

God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, I ask that you give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know You better. I pray also that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which You have called me, the riches of Your glorious inheritance in the saints, and your incomparably great power for us who believe. Amen!