We will possess

Now since the Lord, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right do you have to take it over? Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess.

Judges 11:23-24 (NIV)

What God has given, no man can rightly take away. God gave Israel an inheritance. A good land where they could live and prosper so long as they remained obedient to God. While I’m not Jewish, nor do I live in Israel, God has given me (and you) a great many things that no man can ever take away.

The trouble comes when believers live in shame, pain, poverty, foolishness, sin, and more because they don’t know what they have. So many believers haven’t taken the time to learn the promises of God and, in the words of my brother-in-law, live their lives broke, busted, and disgusted because they believe that is where God would have them remain. Not so!

Here are just a few of the things that we don’t need to ask God for—He’s already given them to us.

Eternal life.

And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.

1 John 2:25 (NIV)

Forgiveness.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 (NIV)

The Holy Spirit.

…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Luke 11:13b (NIV)

Guidance and truth.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 16:13 (NIV)

Physical sustenance and clothing.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:31, 33 (NIV)

These are just a few of the many promises we have been given as children of God. But we often forget about them. Our focus turns to things other than God. We begin to worry and allow the day-to-day cares of this world to bring us down. We become like Israel—forgetting who we really are and what we have already been given.

Once God has given us something, the only one who can prevent us from obtaining it and maintaining it is ourselves. Whether it be by losing focus, getting distracted, a lack of faith, or all-out rejecting God, only you stand in the way of your promise.

So keep this in mind: if God has promised it, He will perform it.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NIV)

Read: Judges 10-11. Luke 9:1-36

In and out

I’m scheduled to leave for a short missionary trip to Mexico in just a few days. This morning I received a phone call from the mechanic (where I managed to push my car after it broke down in the middle of the road yesterday) saying I needed a new fuel pump. It’s not a cheap fix. Cheaper than needing a new car, but not cheap.

I then got to thinking. This isn’t the first time something really crappy has happened right before I’ve left for a missions trip:

  • Just days before I left on my first trip to Peru, my great-grandmother passed away, almost a year to the day since my grandfather passed away—my grandfather was supposed to accompany me on that trip.
  • Again, just days before leaving for Costa Rica, I broke a toe. It may seem insignificant, but is quite significant when you can’t put on proper shoes to walk through a squatter village.
  • Upon returning from another trip to Peru, I came home to learn that my employer had filled my position in my absence—an absence I had scheduled and made arrangements to be covered until my return.

In addition to these points, I’ve dealt many times with lost or delayed luggage, differences in opinion with leadership, and a plethora of other small issues that, when I think about it, really add up.

Does this mean I’m destined to deal with garbage every time I go on the mission field? Possibly. Does it discourage me? When I look at the bill for my car, maybe. Will all this stop me from future missionary work? No. Because I have a list of promises from the Bible—both in the Old and New Testaments—that say I can expect more.

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord you God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessing will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (NIV)

This is an Old Covenant blessing, but I don’t believe that the New Covenant completely voids it. I don’t believe that God withdraws His blessings, He adds to them.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)

My inheritance in Christ doesn’t included broken down cars, broken toes, or lost jobs. My inheritance includes every spiritual blessing in Christ. According to Ephesians 1:18-19 it also includes the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Just because we may deal with junk in life doesn’t mean that we can’t also expect good things from a good Father. In Deuteronomy, the blessings of the obedient Israelites were to serve as a sign to the nations that they belonged to God. In Ephesians, we were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Bad things happen. It is the nature of a fallen world. But it is our response in those situations that will either push us ahead or drag us down. I choose to believe that every attack I have encountered before a missions trip is yet another sign that I am on the right track. The enemy won’t waste his time on people who have no intention of accomplishing anything for the Kingdom. I choose to believe that God has a plan for me and that His plan is a good one.

I choose to believe that, even in the trial, I will be blessed when I come in and blessed when I go out.

Read: Deuteronomy 28, Mark 15:27-47

Shadows and light

All through Bible school, I heard the term type and shadow in reference to comparing the Old Testament against the New. It’s all type and shadow. After you hear something over and over again, it can either become a great revelation or it can cease to carry meaning altogether. I claim the latter on this particular term. Until today, that is.

I’ve always known that the New Testament is a brighter reflection of the Old Testament. There are many parallels to be found between the two. But it wasn’t until reading Stephen’s last message to the high council that the light finally came on. He is telling the tale of Jewish history. (This is moderately amusing because, who would know Jewish history better than their high council?) Stephen starts with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel), and goes on to Moses.

And so God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected.

Acts 7:35a (NLT)

That sounds familiar.

Come to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by the people, but he is precious to God who chose him.

1 Peter 2:4 (NLT)

Moses was a man rejected by his own people. Jesus was a man rejected by his own people.

He was the mediator between the people of Israel and the angel who gave him life-giving words on Mount Sinai to pass on to us.

Acts 7:38b (NLT)

Israel needed a mediator between themselves and God so that they could receive the inheritance God promised to them. Hey, I know someone else who needs a mediator to receive an inheritance.

The is why he [Jesus] is the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, so that all who are invited can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them.

Hebrews 9:15a (NLT)

Could it be that God had already proven it possible that a man rejected by his own people could still be their saviour? The Jews, knowing the account of Moses, should have been well-prepared to receive Jesus. Yet history repeated itself, the Old Testament becoming a shadow in the light of the New Covenant.

The great difference is this: where Moses was unable to reach the Promised Land, Jesus has already gone ahead of us. Our way is paved and ready to go. We have two choices—we can be like the ten scouts who saw only giants and impossibility or we can be like Caleb and Joshua, ready, willing, able, and full of confidence.

You can live in the shadow of the Old Covenant or bask in the light of the New.

Daily Bible reading: Job 4-6, Acts 7:20-43

It worked

Once all the tribes of Israel had received their inheritance, it was Joshua’s turn. Because of his loyalty and leadership, God said he could have any town he wanted. Any town in all of Israel! There were a lot of towns to choose from. And, it seems, with no hesitation, Joshua chose Timnath-serah. In the hill country. Of Ephraim.

After all the land was divided among the tribes, the Israelites gave a special piece of land to Joshua as his inheritance. For the Lord had said he could have any town he wanted. He chose Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. He rebuilt the town and lived there.

Joshua 19:49-50 (NLT)

Oh, that hill country! Joshua chose to take land and make his permanent home in the land that wasn’t enough for the descendants of Joseph. That had too many trees and too many Canaanites with iron chariots.

I’d like to think that Joshua took that particular spot to prove a point. The tribe of Ephraim wasn’t satisfied there. But Joshua and his family would be. What Ephraim saw as a burden, Joshua would prove to be a blessing.

If God has given you a blessing that requires work, but you refuse to do the work, do you think it will stay in your possession forever? Of all the places Joshua could have taken, he took the place that another tribe had made little of. Joshua was able to see the potential in the problem and decided it would be for him and his own for generations to come.

If you don’t work your blessing, someone else will.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 19-20, Luke 5:17-39

Work it

I love moments of sarcasm in the Bible. One of the best is when Elijah is on top of Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal for the purpose of calling down rain. When the rain doesn’t come, Elijah taunts the prophets suggesting that their god is on vacation or perhaps relieving himself. Who says the great prophets were boring old men?

In Joshua 17, the tribes of the descendants of Joseph come whining to Joshua that they have not been given an inheritance of land in accordance with their numbers.

The descendants of Joseph came to Joshua and asked, “Why have you given us only one portion of land when the Lord has given us so many people?”

Joshua 17:14 (NLT)

Joshua offers them the hill country. It is both inhabited and forested. They can drive out the inhabitants and go into the forestry industry. They didn’t so much like that idea since it would require more than a little work on their part so they told Joshua that they would be unable to take that land (I’m sure they were hoping for some additional prime property, something move-in ready).

Then Joshua said to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph, “Since you are so large and strong, you will be given more than one portion. The forests of the hill country will be yours as well. Clear as much of the land as you wish and live there. And I am sure you can drive out the Canaanites from the valleys, too, even though they are strong and have iron chariots.

Joshua 17:17-18 (NLT)

Never tell a leader you’re big and strong and then try to convince them you can’t do the work they’ve asked you to do. Joshua would have none of what the descendants of Joseph were trying to hand out. He offered them a prosperous land. If there were tribes living there, surely it wasn’t a horrible place to live. If they had iron chariots, surely the land would be prosperous. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh didn’t want to involve themselves in the work required to take their inheritance.

Sometimes, a blessing looks like work. I don’t think Joshua was trying to be mean when he gave those tribes exactly what they didn’t want. I’m willing to bet that Joshua saw the potential in the hill country—something the descendants of Joseph could not see at the time.

Even though God promised a large portion of prosperous land to Israel, they weren’t able to just walk in and move in. Their blessing took work. A lot of work. After five years across the Jordan River and they had yet to claim everything that God had promised to them.

Don’t despair if what’s before you doesn’t look like a blessing. If a blessing looks like something else at first, work it.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 16-18, Luke 5:1-16

Prove it

We are often so caught up in our activities that we tend to worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.

Charles Swindoll

Do you live a life that reflects the glory of God? Would people know you’re saved just by the way you speak and act? Why? Why not?

John the Baptist went ahead of Jesus preparing the way for the Messiah.

Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God. Don’t say, ‘We’re safe—we’re the descendants of Abraham.’ That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into children of Abraham.

John 3:8 (NLT)

That would be similar to me saying, “I’m good. My parents are Christians. My grandfather was a pastor.” While that statement is all fine and good, it says nothing at all about my personal relationship with Jesus. The fact that my parents are Christians doesn’t necessarily reflect in my own life. People won’t know that about me simply by the way I act.

My faith must be my own. It’s great if you have a heritage of faith in your family—mine goes back almost as far as we can trace—but even if you don’t, even if you’re the first of your family to find salvation, that fact should be proven by the way you live.

Remember what you have been saved from and always put before you what you have been saved into—a new family with a rich heritage and an even richer inheritance. You have a Father with unlimited power and supply and a Brother who can raise the dead. Don’t you want to prove that to everyone you know?

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 9-10, Luke 3

inherit

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Matthew 25:34 (ESV)

If you’ve ever received an inheritance, you’ll know that it’s a bitter sweet experience. It’s sad because it means that you’ve lost someone. It’s exciting because it means that someone thought enough of you to make arrangements prior to their passing to be sure that you would receive a portion of their estate.

Last year, I received an inheritance from my paternal grandmother. In her last years, I didn’t spend as much time with her as I would have liked. The majority of memories I have of my grandmother take place in one kitchen or another. My grandma lived in the kitchen. When I found out I’d be receiving a portion of her estate, I immediately began to think of how I would spend it. I wanted to honour the person it came from. Even though she’ll never know how the money was spent, I wanted to somehow have her stamp of approval. I bought my first new set of pots a pans. Nice ones. Grandma would have like them.

What do pots and pans have to do with the book of Matthew? Nothing. Nothing at all. But, like my grandmother made preparations for me long before her death, God has also made preparations for me. Only His preparations started long before I was even a twinkle in my father’s eye. God’s preparations for me started in Genesis 1:1. In the beginning.

From the very start, God had plans for me. Plans to prosper me. Plans to bless me. And this inheritance doesn’t even have an ounce of bitterness, because it’s a living inheritance. I get to take part in it now and for eternity. It’s not just from God, it’s with God.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 7-9, Matthew 25:31-46