“Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites…but [they] dwell among the Israelites until this day” (Joshua 13:13).
Doesn’t that phrase bother you?
God has given the Israelites the Promised Land. It’s ripe for the taking. All they need to do is claim the fullness of God’s blessings and proceed in His power! As long as Joshua helped them, they would evict the enemy. Once Joshua’s age became prohibitive and he could no longer expand the people’s access to all God had given them, the people settled to abide the enemy.
My personal motto is: “Content, but never satisfied.” Humor me for a moment. Although the two words “content” and “satisfied” are often synonymous, there is a nuance of difference. “Content” is an adjective which describes one who is at ease with his current possession. If one is content, he is no longer seeking for something beyond the borders of his blessings. “Satisfied” is a verb and literally means “do enough.” In Paul’s terminology, I wish to learn “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). Yet is my work ever done? have I ever done enough to evict the enemies from my God-given blessings? Have I finished my course for the cause of Christ? No, not until I breathe my final breath on this earth will I be satisfied or have done enough.
Caleb approaches Joshua and requests, “Give me this mountain…for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said” (Joshua 14:12). Caleb was one, at the age of 85, who remembered God’s promise to him through Moses and he claimed his rightful inheritance within the parameters of God’s blessing. To go beyond the borders of the Promised Land would have been discontent. To settle with the enemy feasting on your blessings is the sin of complacency. “To be content but never satisfied,” should have been the Israelites motto.
So I wish to be content with what God has given me but explore and expand within His blessing to know fully the scope of what it is I possess. Rise up like Caleb and take in the full horizon of God’s blessing in your life.
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Seek first the kingdom of God. What was Christ telling us? How does that instruction look in a devoted believer’s life?
Let’s take man’s natural inclination (which is not to seek God’s kingdom) and visit Genesis 11. There you see the descendants of Noah gathered together in the city of Babel. Nimrod, the defiant, had established the city and created a kingdom. It culminated in the people making this declaration, “Let us make a name for ourselves!” So they built the city and a tower whose top was to pierce the heavens, so they may arrogantly announce, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God!”
Their resources combined to seek their own kingdom, yet the very thing they wanted to mount stirred wonder in the psalmist. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars…what is man?” Then the exclamation bursts from his lips, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” He was not seeking his own kingdom, but was admiring the kingdom of God.
When we seek our own kingdom, we see the world differently. We use our life differently. Our ambition is to leave a mark for posterity. Our aim is self-gratification. We see the world as ours for our own consumption. When we seek the kingdom of God, we desire His mark on our life. We marvel at His creative force and are compelled to worship Him in humility. It revolves around the name.
Are you busy making a name for yourself or are you consumed with the excellence and adoration of the name above all names?
I’m sure we have all seen the old Western movies in which a picture of the fugitive from the law would be posted indicating that the sheriff just wants the criminal captured, whether dead or alive. In our reading today in Romans 6, we are challenged with the thought that God wants us to consider ourselves both dead and alive.
This critical chapter starts with Paul answering a question that some had apparently asked, “Since God’s grace is greater than my sin, does this give me the freedom to continue sinning?” Paul gives a very direct and pointed response of “God forbid!”, meaning “certainly not!” He then introduces the thought that we as Christians should consider ourselves as being dead to sin. According to verse 6, at the moment of our salvation, our “old man”, i.e. our sin nature, was symbolically crucified with Christ on the cross. So as Christ died on the cross, so too was our old man crucified with him.
Whereas we normally think of death in a negative light, this death of our old man is a wonderful thing! Verse 7 reads, “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Because our old man was crucified with Christ, our bondage to sin has been broken! We do not need to let sin reign in our lives and obey its desire and passions. Do we sometimes voluntarily yield ourselves back to the power of sin? Absolutely. However, that decision was our choice as the divine power is available for us to live victoriously over sin.
So while we are to consider ourselves dead to sin, verse 11 teaches us to “reckon” or consider ourselves to be “alive to God.” In contrast to yielding our bodies as instruments of sin, we are to present ourselves and our members as instruments of righteousness (vs. 13). Our same bodies that used to be a slave/servant of sin can now be used as instruments of righteousness to accomplish God’s purposes in our lives. What a blessed turnaround!
There is something majestic and romantic when you see an old wooden vessel. As it regally stands at attention in the harbor, imagine the life and experience of such a ship. Envision the exotic scenery, the splendid moments of valor it witnessed. Capture in your mind’s eye the torment of struggle in the squall of the terrifying sea storm. As some of these ships were eventually retired and dismantled, a writer documented how exquisite the lumber of these ships appeared. He tells of an oak beam from one ship which had been on the high seas for eighty years exhibited such coloring and distinctive grain it attracted the attention of many a passersby in a local furniture shop. A mahogany beam which had sixty years experience with colors deepened and grain defined was compared to the artistic value of a Chinese vase.
What conditioned this timber into such a spectacle? It was not age alone. The “straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and the many kinds of cargoes” transformed the original bright fiber into something of esteemed value.
James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3). You are that ship sailing on the seven seas of life. You face the hurricanes of tragedy, the gnawing of old age, the burdens of cares all which contribute to your exquisite character.
Suffering cannot be avoided. Eliphaz had that much right when he said, “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).
Suffering should be endured because it identifies us with Christ: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).
Suffering fashions you into a vessel of honor which will one day be a display of God’s marvelous works (Job 5:9).
“The Lord trieth the righteous. In the Lord put I my trust” (Psalm 11:1, 5).
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12).
The world we live in is out of control; humanly speaking. At times we cannot bear to watch the news. The headlines are filled with lies, threats, and hate. We must be careful not to forget that God is in control. It is easy to get our eyes off the Lord.
In Psalm 3, David is going through some tough times. His son was seeking to murder him, and people were losing confidence in him. Most of us would curl up in a ball if faced with such things. Not David! The Bible tells of another time, in 1 Samuel 30:6, when his world was crumbling about him; yet David encouraged himself in the LORD.
We all experience days when life seems too hectic, too depressing or too overwhelming. Days where we did not want to get out of bed. Some of us, to be honest, have hoped for the end. Instead of attending our own pity/poor me party, we should be encouraging ourselves in the Lord.
Listen to David’s plight, “LORD, How are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah” (Psalm 3:1-2).
We may think it is easier said than done. However, it can be done if we apply the right formula (follow the directions if you will). David followed Scriptural guidelines to invoke God’s help.
The first step is to recognize who God truly is. “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; My glory, and the lifter up of mine head” (Psalm 3:3). God tells us to fear not…He is our shield (Genesis 15:1). If God be for us who can be against us (Rom. 8:31)?
The second step is to realize that it is Him, and Him alone, that
can help us. Nothing on earth will work. Only God can be the soother of a troubled heart. In Ps. 5:1-3 we read of David directing his cares to the Caretaker:
Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: For unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
David realized Who to turn to. Is our voice among those that cry out to Him each morning?
The last step is to relax in His protection. “I will both lay
me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety” (Ps. 4:8). We need to relax in the comfort of God’s Word (Philip. 4:6). When we relax in God, we will truly experience Heavenly peace. There is nothing like it and only then can we truly say that it is well with our soul.