3 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittimand went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits[a] between you and the ark; do not go near it.”/ Joshua 3:1-4
I heard this message preached in a sermon yesterday and I heard some truths that completely turned my world upside down. I was going to send the whole chapter because of the enormous amounts of gold in it but to save you some time reading, we’re going to take this piece by piece and dig into it so we can scrape every piece of gold we can from this Word. After a season of life where I’ve constantly tried to drive the car, be in control of all the uncertainty of my life and just figure it out. With each day of driving in circles, not having a clue where to go, and running low on gas, the Lord has continually showed me to let go of the wheel because I’m not capable of driving. I guess letting go and giving it to God is what I knew I needed to do but I constantly failed to fully let go. I struggled as to why but the simple truth was in my view of God. I didn’t want to give up control because I didn’t realize just how much He was in control. Not seeing God in a deeper view of who He is as my Rock, my Provider, my Refuge, it was hard to have faith in Him to handle these question marks in my life.
After reading this passage and seeing what the Israelites went through on their journey to the promised land the Lord has simplified every question in my life and magnified His presence in it and I pray that this lesson can do the same for you. The context of these verses in Joshua is the Israelites had been going through the wilderness for many years after leaving Egypt and they are now on a journey to the promised land. The Lord had constantly brought miracles of deliverance to the people along their journey but they couldn’t seem to bring their belief to His deliverance to get them to the promised land. Because of their unbelief they doubted God and chose to put their trust in many different gods who could never provide. The Lord allowed the first generation to die off during their years of wandering, why? I thought it sounded harsh but in that sermon the preacher made a point that sometimes people have to die to get to the places He has planned to take them. We have to die to our self and the view that we need to be in control before we will ever take our hands off the wheel and trust in His provision. You would think after so many times of driving in circles that I would realize this simple and powerful truth, I CAN’T but HE CAN!! The less we lean on ourselves the more we tend to lean on the only One who can save us and lead us to the promised land, which is freedom in this life walking into the eternity. The people are about to cross the river of Jordan now on the way into the promised land and Joshua, their leader, is spreading the officers out to give the instructions that the Lord had spoke to him.
I know you’re probably reading this and thinking, “what gold could come out of this?” I literally read these verses at first and had no idea what to do with it. Sometimes digging into the Old Testament scripture doesn’t make a lot of sense and not super exciting when its rules and instructions but man!! There is way more punch packed in these Scriptures than we could ever imagine when we look at it deeper by not skimming over it. The instructions don’t sound too wild or even that big of a deal but it was the simplest of commands that God had His people following on their way to the promised land and the provision He had promised them for generations.
The officers are saying to keep the ark of God close by at all times and follow it in whatever direction it takes you. The ark of God is God’s presence during this time and is still true today. Keeping God close by and in front at the lead of our lives, where He’s driving the car and giving the directions changes everything. So look at this, they put God front and center at the lead of all the people before they do anything else. Then they say to “move out from your positions and follow it.” Before the Israelites could move and follow the ark (God), they had to make sure He was in His rightful place. At the lead. That just shows that it’s easy to talk up a big game and follow God on our terms, terms that sound real good and we still play a role in but actually following God is complete surrender, laying yourself, your wants, your weakness to the side and putting God in His rightful place in our lives. The #1 priority and authority over every move we make. When the Creator of all, the Rock, Redeemer, Refuge, and the only One powerful enough to save us from a life of hopelessness and brokenness, the God that parted the Red Seas to deliver the Israelites away from the Egyptians, when the TRUE and ALMIGHTY God stands at the lead of our lives, us trying to drive the car sounds ridiculous.
With God in the HUGE, powerful, daggum I’m literally running out of words to describe God that would do any justice but there aren’t enough words to ever describe Him. He’s God and He’s really really awesome. In a truer view that the Word allows us to see and learn of God with each Word, He’s at the lead of our lives. Before the Israelites could do anything else they made it a priority to put God at the lead and with God at the lead following Him isn’t as hard as we make it out to be. Think about it, God’s at the lead driving the car that means you are behind Him following Him. You see why God told them to do that first because if they didn’t He knew how much we love to attempt driving and going the way we want to go.
Then with God at the front of the people, THEN the people will know which way to go. Verse also says its simply that they had never been this way before anyways. I constantly have fought for a piece of control in my life, trying to figure out which way to go but not only am I not capable of driving, I have no idea where to drive to. It’s crazy how simple and huge these instructions were for the Israelites and they are just as big for me and you!!! With God at the lead, the almighty and capable Lord of Lords, move in your trust with Him behind the wheel. Not sitting there with God at the lead but move with Him and faithfully walk with Him, and at times it may be scary because you don’t know which way to go or what move to make but remember. He is at the lead and He will show you which way to go so don’t stop sit and wait on the Heavens to open up for God’s miracle of provision and deliverance in your life. But also, the last instruction, not to get to close to the ark. Think about it, the moments you are just “sitting” in your problems and letting your wild circumstances of life chain you up the easier it becomes for the devil to plant lies in your head, “you’re not good enough, better stay here because you can’t take that next step, why trust in God at the lead, why don’t you try something the world has to offer?” You see how it can so easily and quickly escalate the more we’re not on the move, step in step with the Spirit. God tells the Israelites to MOVE and FOLLOW God. Also, they’re told not to get too close to the ark. The closer we get to the lead position, the moment we start getting prideful, thinking well we made it this far we can figure out where to go and get the rest of the way. God specifically tells them to stay a certain distance back and it seems like no big deal but it’s just a picture of God leading and putting His people in a place that they won’t go ahead of Him or get behind, a place that He knows is best for them because He wants nothing more than to give us everything we need and put us in a place where we can live and rest in the freedom and security that only He can give. He wanted them to walk in His victory, move and follow with Him at the lead and He wants that for us to.
How good does that feel. Knowing that God loves you and wants nothing but the best for you. So what do we do now? Just live this life enjoying the fact that God is driving the car and in full control. Follow Him as the #1 priority and authority of your life. Only He knows where you need to go and only He can take you there so rest in this truth. Pay close attention to the position, the position you’re putting God in your life. It’s cool how when He’s positioned in the right place in your life, He leads you to “move out of your position and follow Him.” Being in “Your position” has only had you driving in circles, low on gas, not getting anywhere. God says to “move out of your position and Follow Him” because He’s wants to take you higher, running freely in His provision and protection, where victory has taken the place of defeat in your life.
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. Interlude”
I don’t really have a whole lot to say today. How can I find words to be of any more encouragement than this truth about the awesome God we serve. Facing mountain tops and valleys today, worshiping Him in His blessings and forgetting Him in my troubles, I have no idea how to stand firm without Him. Even when I give it my best effort I fall. Putting my want for control, strength and answers aside, I wait quietly with the Lord. I pour everything out to Him because without Him I’m nothing but only He gives the peace, hope and love needed by such a weak person. Thank God in the good. Thank God in the bad. Thank God all the time. Even though it may be tough at times I pray for you to trust in these truths of Who God is. Please pray for me also to live, move, and trust in Who He is. The need for Him is just as great in the valley as the it is in the mountain top, the need is constant just like His love and faithfulness is so constant to us. Rest and take refuge in Him today. Stand on the Rock
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
““His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
After receiving a powerful message from my buddy Craig tonight on “purpose”, these verses just hit on it even more. Whether you say you struggle with purpose in life or not, most all of us do. Recently discovering the simplicity in this truth, the “purpose” God has given you can’t be found in a job title, your bank account, your recognition before others, or any of the other stuff in our life. I’ve wasted many days of my life searching for purpose in these different avenues but God had it right in front of me the whole time. I constantly seek “purpose” because I’m not satisfied with the places and magnitude of my settings but the purpose God has set for all of us isn’t our image of purpose at all.
Today, thanks to these truths from God’s Word and His Word spoken through people He’s placed around me, I don’t have to continue seeking for purpose or a bigger, better version of what I think it should be. His purpose for our lives is to live in view of our relationship with Him and simply serve. That’s it. Like my buddy Craig said it, everyday you wake up with breath to breathe, God has a purpose for your life, every day is an opportunity to serve. No matter what the setting, where you’re at, what you’re doing or even how you feel. Christ has created us as new creatures through our resurrection with Him from old life to new. He has given us a purpose to serve and do good works.
What’s even cooler about this simple purpose the Lord has given us to serve, our good works of serving begins in the little things. I find myself not content with the place I’m at in my life, with money, with my job, but the truth my purpose is still the same as it was the first day I came to know Christ. I constantly get stuck in wanting more in life, wanting more purpose on a bigger platform but why do I deserve that if I can’t even serve others and display the love of Christ to the people God has placed around me right now. It’s serving in the little things, being faithful in the small amount we have around us in our life and that is living out God’s purpose for your life.
God’s purpose and serving sound so big like we have to go to a soup kitchen or across the world on a mission trip, those are great places to serve but God has given us places to go and people to serve right in front of us everyday. Whether it’s through words, telling someone something nice like how much you appreciate them, or in your actions, holding the door open for somebody, going out of your way to help someone in need. Serving isn’t just doing charity work, it’s living your new life with Christ and loving the people God placed around you wherever and whenever that might be. It doesn’t have to be going and telling someone about Jesus, you tell somebody about Jesus by how you serve and love them. Just start with the littlest of things, embracing each moment to be the smile someone needs to say, the compliment someone needed to hear, or the help someone needed. Good works doesn’t have to be saving the world because Jesus is already all over that, our purpose is to do good works and serve wherever God puts us with whoever is around.
Jesus came to this earth as the Son of God and did nothing but serve and love throughout each step He took. If anyone had reason for entitlement and wanting more it was Him but He continued to live out God’s purpose for Him and set the example on how we should live God’s purpose. Serve, love, serve some more, love some more, keep serving and keep loving no matter how bad your life may seem, how much more you think you deserve, or how you feel. No matter what it looks like in our foggy vision, Christ has given us new life to live. Each day we have breath to breathe God has a set our purpose, embrace every little moment and person you encounter as Christ did. Love and serve them with all you got. We’d be surprised the impact and kingdom work that can be done if we live in God’s simple purpose.
Our purpose in this life is to live in light of eternity and serve, we may not see the impact in this life but in the life to come we’ll get the chance to stand before Jesus Himself and look at the impact He’s made through each small, seemingly insignificant moment of service.
“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.”/1 Samuel 17:45-50
One of my buddies asked if I could do a little devotion for the boys basketball team before their game on Friday. It being my old school where I was known to ball a little bit back in my day (not a lot, just a lil bit), I’ve been so stinkin jacked just thinking about it!!! All that excitement dimmed down a good bit when I finally sat down thinking, “oh man, what am I going to tell them?” I had no idea but after awhile of procrastinating, it hit me! It’s a message I’ve shared a few different times, mainly because it’s one of the manliest Chuck Norris type stories in the Bible, David vs. Goliath. The cool part is with each time I’ve gotten to share it, the Lord brings out bigger truths every time that speak so loudly to the struggles I’m going through at the moment. So today you get the sneak peak of what’s going down Friday because we’ve all got a Big Fred in our lives and I pray you’ll see how the Lord has ole Fred under control.
I had shared this message about David and Goliath along with my story about Big Fred before but this time Big Fred wasn’t just a ridiculously large and very good basketball player. When I was a freshman in high school I made the varsity basketball team, not because I was all that great I was just one of the tallest kids that a 2A school had to offer. I wasn’t exactly prepared to play against grown considering I was coming off a huge growth spurt so I hadn’t even grown into my frame yet. I was skinny as a bean pole, not very strong, and could jump high enough that you might be able to slide a piece of paper under my feet on a good day. I was way out of my league.
One of our first games was against Westside who had one of the biggest, baddest players around playing center. Standing at 6’8, muscled up from head to toe, Big Fred lived up to the name. I was coming from playing against middle school kids and he belonged on a college basketball team. We walked in the gym and got a glimpse of how big they were. Oh boy. Then getting to watch them warm up, seeing how much bigger, faster, and better they were, none of us thought we stood a chance against them. Every piece of my awkward skinny frame was shaking in fear of what was about to happen. I played the same position as Fred since I was what we considered a “big man” and not long into the game our starting center got in foul trouble so guess what?!? Yep. All my nightmares had came true. I went into the game and walked up beside Big Fred like I was about to go into a haunted house. The first few plays I just avoided getting the ball because I figured, Fred’s not going to let me score anyways. A few plays later I got the ball with this giant in front of me, I didn’t know what to do so I just shot it. IT WENT IN!!! I went back down court with a little bit of pep in my step, thinking, “you ain’t nothing Fred, you ain’t ready for me.” I was pretty pumped up until a few plays later.
Big Fred got the ball on a fast break and the only person close enough to run in and try to stop him was no other than yours truly. I knew Big Fred was about to tear the goal down with one of his big dunks so I had a choice to make. I slowed down my run and just got out the way. He went up with two hands like he was mad at the rim and dunked it. I was afraid to get dunked on so I didn’t even try to stop him, I ran away.
David in this story with the giant Goliath is in a similar situation except Goliath is way bigger than Fred and out to kill anyone who gets in his way. David takes a different approach to his giant than I did with mine. Instead of running away scared, pretty much acting like the Israelites and being too scared to show up and fight like I did, David makes his way to the battlefield, past all the voices that said “there’s no way, he’s too small and Goliath is too big. He’ll get killed.” David doesn’t see the size of Goliath and run away or gets afraid because his hope and trust was in God. The God that is so much bigger than any giant. So David speaks with boldness, acts with supreme confidence, and defeats the impossible odds sleighing the giant, how? Because His identity was in God. He knew God would deliver Him in this moment when things didn’t look too good. He knew God would go before Him and sleigh the giant so all he had to do was live it out and trust that He was a child of God, the mightiest, most powerful, and ONLY God.
How often do we hear just have more faith, be like David and take down your Big Freds. Does that ever really help? When the Big Freds of life come knocking at your door everyday, fear, doubt, worry, addictions, tough circumstances and constant weakness, do you feel like the Israelites and like young Jordan. You just want to run away because you’ll never beat Big Fred, he’s too big, too strong, in our eyes it’s impossible odds, he won yesterday he’ll probably win today too. Just like in that game, there’s a lot of days I lose to Big Fred before I ever take step on the battlefield. If you believe you’re going to lose then guess what, you’ll most likely lose.
The coolest part is we don’t have to defeat the Big Freds in our life because Jesus has already went face to face with him and knocked him out cold. Jesus paid the price of our sins on the cross, sacrificing everything to win the battle. After 3 days when everybody thought Big Fred was going to dunk again, NOPE!!! Jesus rose from the grave with our victory and freedom in hand!!! He did all that for me and you, He did all that so we wouldn’t have to face Big Fred alone and so we wouldn’t have to lose. He’s already beat every Big Fred out there, He took the ball away went down court and dunked all over him and when we walk onto the field of our life. We should know that we can’t win this battle because He already has. Walking with Jesus and His victory in hand we can step up to all the outside voices that say we’re not enough, or we’ll never win, and step to the battlefield not even to fight but to remind our enemy that the battle has been won. We can trust that Jesus has won the battle and walk out our days in the freedom of knowing nothing or no one can hurt us, or take us from our Lord and the eternity He has in store for us.
We don’t have to be a superhero or be like David, we just have to show up to the game with supreme confidence and our expectations not set in what we see but what’s been done, our vision set on things above and the victory won not on the little Freds that try to take away a victory that’s already set in stone. Whatever Big Fred is for you, Jesus has beat Him so when you come face to face with Him today believe what Jesus has done, watch Fred start shrinking and enjoy the victorious freedom that He has given us. Even if you think it looks too impossible to win, all you have is a ling and stone, you’re too small, too weak, Jesus has won the war and He’ll give you more than enough of what you need to win these little battles. If you believe in the truth, that Jesus has already won then forget being afraid, having faith in the victory of such a Big God will allow you to play BIG and live BIG. Big Fred should know by now of the dunk that’s coming for Him but just in case He comes at ya like he doesn’t know, remind him. Jesus has won and we get to live every day celebrating the biggest, most awesome win of all time!
Playing a game you can’t lose is pretty daggum fun right?!?!!!
Big shout out to my buddy RC Sloan for telling me to check this song out awhile back! I usually try to share what I’m going through, struggling with, or a piece of God’s Word that really hit me but when this song came on today while I was going down the road it was just too awesome not to share. There is so much encouragement and hope packed in these lyrics showing how we serve such a powerful and capable God. There was a few lines that hit me extremely hard that I wanted to share.
‘Cause You know my body’s broken
You know my eyes can’t see
You know I’m looking for a miracle
So why not here? Why not me?
Even when it all seems hopeless
Even though we don’t know how
Lord, we’re believing for a miracle
So why not here? Why not now?
We go through this life everyday and the more we live, the more we are shown just how incapable we are. If it was up to us to be strong and see the goodness of God at work all around us, we’d be living a pretty hopeless life. Thank God that even though our bodies are broken, we don’t know how, and all seems hopeless in our eyes He gave us hope and strength through Jesus! We may be incapable but Jesus is more than capable. He gives us strength when we’re too weak to move. He opens our eyes to see His presence all over our lives and in the world around us, constantly opening us up to see the truth in His Word. He gives us hope when everything around us looks so impossible. A hope that gets us out of bed every morning, a hope that continues to push us forward past the uncertainties and obstacles that lay in our path. Jesus Christ, the Son of God lives in us and with us, think about that!! THE SON OF GOD!! To have a personal relationship and identity in Jesus Christ, He gives us the hope and freedom to walk out every single day saying “WHY NOT NOW?” He’s so powerful and so capable, doesn’t that raise your expectations and belief of the miracles He’s capable of doing in your life, whether big or small, Why not now? When things look hopeless, when your situation sucks, when your told you aren’t good enough, your not strong enough to get past your struggles, say “Why not now?” Let your belief in the powerful and capable God you serve raise your expectations and keep moving forward. That simple little question puts everything back into perspective that God is more than capable of doing more than we could ever think or think.
I wanna see the mute start talking
I wanna see the lame start walking
Walking through the darkest night
Shouting out ’cause You bring the light
I wanna see the closed doors open
I wanna see the left out chosen
Chosen from the start of time
It’s ’bout time You let faith arise