First, I want to say thank you for the tremendous feedback we received from the three posts last week on forgiveness and being released from the wounds of the past. We do not usually know until later how certain things we are led to say or do are needed and appreciated. It seems that these teachings were very timely and a great blessing to many. Thank you again for the feedback.
As you know, if you follow these daily posts on a regular basis, my goal is certainly to focus on issues that need corporate prayer. However, they are also intended to be devotionals and teachings, to help you in your personal walk and growth. And, of course, they are meant to inform you of issues you may not hear of elsewhere, that need our prayers.
I want to pick up on a teaching I gave a week or so ago regarding God‘s instructions to Joshua when he was assuming the leadership over Israel. In that post, I pointed out that when Joshua was about to step into this important assignment, which involved possessing the promised inheritance God spoke of to Abraham, Yahweh began with some very interesting instructions: “Remember the basics, Joshua. Listen to Me, obey Me, meditate in My words, don’t be afraid,” and more. Have your devotions first, then go to war! Nothing should ever stand in the way of our personal times with our Father.
It should be understood that the book of Joshua is a picture for us of how to possess or inherit our spiritual promises from God. What Israel did physically - possess the land - we do spiritually. We are to apply the lessons and principles given to them in order to possess our spiritual inheritance in Christ. Joshua was not the original name given to this leader. His name was changed from Hoshea to Joshua, which comes from the same Hebrew word as Yeshua, because he was going to be a very wonderful type or picture of Christ. Just as Joshua led Israel into their inheritance, Christ would lead us into ours. And many lessons are to be gleaned from Israel’s experiences and applied to the possessing of our promises.
Here is our lesson from the book of Joshua for today. Seven times in the first chapter of Joshua the word “command” is used by Holy Spirit. Twice the phrase, “be careful to do, according to all” was used. This means a total of nine times in the first chapter when preparing Israel to possess their inheritance, God emphasized the need to obey Him very carefully. It is as though Yahweh was telling them, “Settle this now. You do not have the freedom to think about whether or not you will obey Me. You must obey Me immediately and without hesitation. This is not a suggestion; it is a requirement.”
The first act of obedience was then required. The Lord told Joshua, “Start packing. In three days you are going to cross over the Jordan and begin this war.” No debate. No negotiating on the timing. Just, “Get started. You have three days.” One would think that after 40 years of waiting God could’ve given this multitude of people more than three days to pack everything and prepare to move. But, no. God had a schedule in mind and He did not want them to wait. This would be done in His timing. They did not realize that much of what they did was based on God‘s eternal calendar, that the day of their crossing over would one day coincide with the events of the cross. God’s timing was about more than their convenience and certainly beyond their understanding. But He needed it done on that day. “So start packing, Joshua.”
Some Christians want to find out what God wants, then they’ll decide whether or not they want to do it. This is a recipe for failure. We must decide, in advance, that He is in charge and we will do whatever He asks of us, whatever the cost, regardless of how much it stretches our faith. We must obey if we are to inherit our provision through Christ. We may not always like the process, but we will always love the fruit.
This does not mean we are “earning” God’s blessings. It means we are walking in step with His instructions, which guarantee life and victory. God’s commandments and instructions are to bless us, protect us, lead us in the right ways, bring freedom to us, and advance His purposes - not to produce bondage or a performance mentality. Simply stated, He knows what is best. We are to say along with the Psalmist, “I delight to do your will” (Psalm 40:8).
There are five New Testament words for a servant/serving. One day I will teach on all of them in a post. But two of them are doulos and latris. A doulos was a bond-slave. Latris, however, from the verb form latreuo, means to serve, not out of compulsion but from relationship. A parent serves his or her family by providing and caring for them - not as a slave but out of the motivation of love. This is latreuo. Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, “which is our reasonable service.” (KJV) Other versions of Scripture translate the phrase differently, and appropriately so: “which is our reasonable service of worship.” (NASV) They do this because the word is latreuo, not doulos. We are not being told to present our bodies as a living sacrifice because we are God’s slaves, but rather to do so because we are in relationship with Him and we want to please Him. He knows what is best for us and we trust Him. And as we do this it is considered worship, not just service.
Yes, God owns us. This is true by the right of creation, but also because we are bought with a price by the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). As Lord, He can tell us to do anything He wants. And the apostle, Paul, regularly referred to himself as a doulos, God’s bondslave. In the early days of the Charismatic Movement we frequently sang the song, “He is Lord.” And He is.
But God’s heart is not to treat us as slaves “owned” by Him, but to relate to us as His children and friends (John 15:14-15). He wants us to serve Him from a heart of love and worship, from relationship. When we move into this type of relationship with Him we become co-laborers with God, working together with Him. We embrace the great commission as a co-mission. Our hearts have become one with His and we want what He wants. We’re members of Abba’s household of faith. This motivation changes everything.
Yes, Paul referred to himself as a bond slave, but he also said the love of God constrained him to do what he did (2 Corinthians 5:14). As we move forward in praying and working toward the great harvest that is beginning, we must establish that we will obey God fully. But we must also realize that we are His partners, friends, and kids. As the Senior Partner, He will give us direction, but He delights in involving us in the process.
Pray with me:
Father, Your heart toward us is amazing. As the infinite God, You want relationship with a human family. We are overwhelmed at Your incredible plan of the ages: creating us, redeeming us, and giving us a membership in Your heavenly family. May we never take this for granted.
We are reminded today that You are indeed the Lord and Master. You are Almighty God. But You are also Father. Abba. You love us with an everlasting love. And as we pray, may we always remember that we are working together with You, not just for You.
So as we intercede today, we remember that we are agreeing with You, not attempting to talk You into something. We ask for revival and the great harvest because You want that. We ask for salvation to come to people because it’s what You want. We ask for miracles because You want to perform them. We ask for deliverance because You want to set people free.
We extend the victory of the cross into the earth now and we declare a spirit of deliverance be released throughout the world. We call forth the great awakening and harvest that is in Your heart and release it into the earth now, in the mighty name of Jesus.
We decree that we are co-laborers with God on the earth and as such, we move in His plan and authority. We bind every work of darkness that is attempting to thwart the purposes of God on the earth. We forbid its success.
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