Posts Tagged ‘spirit filled life’

So those in ambush arose quickly out of their place; they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and they entered the city and took it, and hurried to set the city on fire. And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and behold, the smoke of the city ascended to heaven. So they had no power to flee this way or that way, and the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back on the pursuers. Joshua 8:19-20

A Quick Recap

In Joshua chapter seven, Joshua acted carnally, grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, when in his flesh, he went out against the people of Ai without consulting the Lord. As a result he was handed a bitter defeat. This time around (in chapter eight), Joshua is obedient to the Lord’s directives and is given a sweet victory. The reversal serves to remind us that when the Lord is grieved, He is not angry at us, but yearns to express His compassion towards us. Our God is the God of enumerable opportunity!

A Picture of Jesus

I wanted to camp on this particular passage because it illustrates for us [again] how Joshua is a picture [or type] of Jesus Christ—a prophetic glimpse of our Lord and Savior. The verse talks about the enemy, in this case the people of Ai, becoming powerless when they thought Joshua had been beaten down and defeated. As it turns out they were the conquered ones.

It reminds me of how satan and his demons were similarly immobilized; believing for a short moment they had defeated Jesus. However, their powerless condition and hopeless destiny were realized three days later when they discovered no grave could restrain our King. Like the people of Ai, the sensation of helplessness was warranted.

A Picture of Us

For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity. Proverbs 24:16

It is a promise from God that in this life there will be tribulation. At the onset of these trials, the enemy and our detractors will look upon us and most assuredly delight in our sufferings. What they fail to realize is that these things serve to refine a believer, not defeat him. Predictably, witnessing us rise to our feet by the hand of Jesus causes them to crumple. It often seems as if the enemy has forgotten that their authority was stripped away two thousand years ago on Calvary. When we stand for Jesus our enemy calls to mind his helpless condition and relives his defeat. On the other hand if you want to make satan smile, stay down when you stumble.

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Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.” Joshua 6:26

Our Father is in the demolition business; that is to say He takes pleasure in tearing down the corrupt walls in our lives. It’s one of the countless miracles God lovingly executes for His children. There are likely scores of individuals reading this who can testify how the Lord appeared with His divine wrecking ball after having made petitions to Him to raze an obstacle or eradicate an addiction. In that light, it stands to reason that it would be foolishness to rebuild that which the Lord has demolished, but yet we often do.

In the text today, God through Joshua gives us a warning, “Do this foolish thing and someone’s gonna die,” (paraphrase mine). And in case anyone thought God was kidding, He would later give us an example in First Kings through a man named Hiel.

In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the Lord, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun. 1 Kings 16:34

Hiel dismissed God’s warning and as a result paid a hefty price. At this point let no man say this is a case of a loving God acting harshly, but rather [say] this is a case of an intelligent man acting recklessly. When we set out to rebuild that which the Lord has destroyed, someone or something is going to die.

It’s my own testimony (without exposing all the minutiae), that a long successful career was killed. Additionally, I have known many others who have lost family (both figuratively and literally) and in some cases, their own lives—all because they restored the walls that God had removed. I suspect that you can either relate or know someone who can.

God’s position is deadly serious—when He acts to eliminate a barrier, we would be best served to not re-establish it. Experience is without any doubt the best teacher, but our Father in Heaven would remind us that it doesn’t have to be our experience.

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And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” So it was…that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. Joshua 3:13 + 16

The Sermon You May Have Heard

Many a sermon has been written on Joshua 3:13, spotlighting the issue of stepping out in faith so that God’s power might be revealed. The doctrine is rightly supported upon the fact that the waters of the (then) mighty Jordan River were divinely split after the priests stepped into the torrent flood waters. It takes faith to act in such a manner and any teaching in that regard is certainly a valid one. Conversely, it stands to reason that to not plunk your sole (or soul) into the water is to be dry in the most spiritual sense of the word. If you are spiritually dry, you might further consider obediently diving into these uncharted waters.

Take notice that those who endorse the seeing-is-believing position typically don’t trust what they observe, but those who ascribe to the believing-is-seeing principle often get to witness that which they believe. Belief is made manifest in Holy Spirit-guided action and revelation is the byproduct of active faith.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

The Sermon You May Not Have Heard

I am intrigued by the understated significance of verse sixteen; the waters of the Jordan River were heaped up at a far away placed called Adam, beside the city called Zaretan. We know from the opening text that the Israelites stood on the shores of the Jordan River at Acacia Grove (aka Shittim). That puts Zaretan about nineteen miles upstream.

Why is that significant?

It’s meaningful because it clearly demonstrates how our Father in Heaven is working historically behind the scenes to make things happen in anticipation of our being obedient at a future time. So while it’s true God heaped up the waters as the priests dipped their tootsies in the water, it’s truer still that God acted beforehand having foreknowledge of their faithfulness. In other words, if that water was moving along at ten miles per hour, God stopped the river’s flow two hours before the first toe hit the water, but to those priests the miracle was seemingly instantaneous. The passage reminds us that while we may be fearful to step out in faith before the Lord provides a sign, that very signal may have already been given– it just hasn’t caught up to us yet. Turn away and it may never be seen.

God’s Timing is Perfect

In order for this miracle to be perfectly revealed, God’s timing and foreknowledge had to be faultless. What if the priests were faithless; what if by disobedience their timing was off? We can only imagine how the scenario would have played out—maybe the nation of Israel would have been turned back around to spend another forty years in the wilderness—we just don’t know. That alone should give every believer pause.

Has the Holy Spirit ever nudged you to do something and you delayed in doing it or chose to ignore Him completely?

“Go pray for that person,” God asks, but you linger.

“Sing that praise song I have laid on your heart,” He says, but you wait for someone else to start.

Speak to Me in that sacred tongue,” but you outright refuse.

Have you ever wondered about the miracle laying upstream; the one that was revealed to another because your timing was off or not at all because you emphatically rejected the urgings of the Holy Spirit? Please know that God still does miracles and consistently reveals them to those who walk by faith. If your walk is dry it’s likely because you have not dipped your feet in the stream.

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Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them–the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.” Joshua 1:2-3

It’s a Done-Deal

The Promised Land that God is referring to is approximately three hundred thousand square miles—a region about the size of Texas. God had effectively said this was a done-deal–it’s yours, just enter in and possess it. However, the most Israel has ever taken possession of was thirty-thousand square miles and that was during King Solomon’s reign. That’s about one tenth of what God desired to give them. The other ninety percent is still available.

What Does That Mean to Me?

The focus of today’s blog is not going to revolve around the territory modern-day Israel is due, but rather on how this passage is applicable to every Christian today. In other words, ‘What has God promised me and what, if anything, have I taken possession of?”

First Things First

We need to know that these Old Testament stories are much more then records of ancient history. They are in fact prophetic illustrations of that which would ultimately come in and through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Every single New Testament principle has an Old Testament picture that exemplifies it. So while the Book of Joshua is a precise account of Joshua taking Israel into the Promised Land, it most accurately depicts the born-again believer crossing over and taking possession of the Spirit-filled life. How do we know this to be true? Consider this passage from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples… 1 Corinthians 10:1-7a

The word example in the text is ‘tupos’ in the Greek which is where we get our word type. Here Paul uses it to mean a person or thing prefiguring a future person or thing.

“Don’t be ignorant of these things,” Paul is saying, “these Old Testament stories are types of things which have come to be in Christ Jesus.

So it is true Israel was held captive in Egypt, but Egypt is a picture of our bondage to sin. Its true God raised-up Moses as a deliverer, but he was a picture (or type) of our Deliverer Jesus. Its true Israel crossed through the Red Sea, but it was an illustration of the outward sign of water baptism. And its true Israel received water from a rock in the desert, but that Rock is a picture of Jesus Christ and the living water only He can provide.

The Second Baptism

The Promised Land spoken of in the Old Testament is not a picture of Heaven, but the spirit-filled life available to every believer here on earth. Therefore, the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land is a picture of becoming baptized in the Holy Spirit and receiving the Spirit-filled life that God has promised us. By His Spirit and for His pleasure, God has much for us. The question that remains is whether or not we have taken possession of these things for His honor, glory, and praise.

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly John 10:10b

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The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the leaders of the congregation, saying…”If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan.” Numbers 32:2 + 5

Crossing Over

Israel is poised to enter the Promised Land and constituents from the tribes of Gad and Reuben seek out Moses. Using a lame excuse, they make their case for staying behind and not crossing over into the territory the Lord had promised them. As we read on we learn this was a huge error on their part. Among other things, the fallout from the incident caused the tribe of Manasseh to stumble (they too would opt to be left behind). The entire episode is a valuable illustration for the church of today.

Comfortable Christians

Part of the problem with Gad and Reuben is the same problem that befalls most Christians now — finding ourselves either too lazy, too selfish, or too fearful, we languish in spiritual comfort zones. These brothers and sisters in Christ cry out, “Leave us alone; we are happy where we are!”

They probably are, but happiness of this sort lasts only for a season.

They refuse to put forth the effort it takes to mature spiritually — going to church is all they’re usually willing to do, if that much. Fellowship, prayer, and reading their Bibles, outside the boundaries of sixty minutes on Sunday morning is more than they want to handle. In this light we see how laziness and selfishness are one in the same.

Additionally the self-centered Christian is a hoarder. He accumulates the blessings that the Lord has freely given and does little with them, forgetting that all things belong to the Giver. Somewhere this Christian has forgotten that the miracle cure Jesus provided was to be shared by those He cured.

Finally there are the fearful; those Christians who cower at the thought of engagement on the spiritual battle field, failing to realize that this is where we grow and mature as Christians. These same folks may also dread giving up the sinful relics of the past: the old people, places, and things associated with their sinful behavior. As a result they are frequently dragged back down into the mud and oppression they were rescued from.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Jesus Christ has secured for us a better way. Let us not be a church that shrinks back in fear from the sanctification process and worshipful obedience. Let us not be as Gad or Reuben! Our Promised Land, the guarantee of an abundant, spirit-filled life lies directly before us. Let us rise and continue along His narrow, maturing path — let us cross over to that which He has promised us.


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