The Christian walk is not supposed to be up and down, in and out, but victory after victory. Why then does God allow His children to experience defeat? It is not God’s desire it comes through disobedience. We either do things His way and taste victory or do not and taste defeat. Just because we are saved does not mean that there are no consequences when making the wrong decisions.
We are to be holy as God is holy, which is only possible through Holy Spirit. As disciples, we are set apart from the ways of the world our life is now hidden in Christ. Everything we do, everything we have is to be dedicated to God. Our old life and everything about it is to be burned. If we continue out of greed to use the things of this world for our personal gain we will be punished.
A man named Achan stole dedicated things from Jericho and it cost Israel humiliating defeat at the hands of Ai. Failure can move one forward if life lessons are learned. So what was the life lessons from Ai?
First of all, we must always acknowledge God before going into battle. No matter how small the situation without God’s wisdom we are bound to fall. No battle is too big for God but without God, no battle is too small in being defeated.
Yesterday’s victory might be today’s defeat if we don’t take the time to make sure our heart and the people we lead is right with God. We must never assume anything. God knows all things and He must be acknowledged for sound judgment to follow.
Defeat should not cause us to give up and head to the sideline it is an opportunity to learn, and grow, where failure actually moves one forward.
As a young football coach around 21 years old and newly saved, I was hanging out with my Jr. High team at the High School game, we were wrestling around, and a teacher who was an Athiest and didn't like me, singled me out and had the Sheriff remove me from the game, it was so humbling. I wasn't allowed to go to another game for the rest of the year.
It is one thing to be persecuted for doing nothing wrong it is another thing to be prosecuted for getting caught for doing wrong. The children of Israel experienced defeat because one person did wrong, but as the saying goes, "one bad apple spoils the bunch." When one player doesn't do what was asked of him or dogs it during practice, the coach makes everyone face punishment because they have to learn to think like a team. As members of the body of Christ, our choices affect the other parts of the body whether for good or bad.
The best way to deal with sin is to repent right away to God and all those that our sin affected, the punishment will then be much less severe. If we do not then God will expose our sin and the punishment will be much more severe as we see through the example of Achan in Joshua 7. If the sin we have committed is stealing then we must return everything we have stolen before we can be made right.
One way that we rob God as it says in Malachi 3 is with our tithes and offerings. Those who bring their tithes and offerings to the storehouse will be blessed. Those who do not will live under a curse. Everything we own must be dedicated to God that which we hold onto as our own becomes the stumbling block or access point in which the enemy can enter in. We can do things in the name of God but if we don't do things in the way of God it will not have His seal of approval. If we put money before God, money has become our God no matter what we do in His name.
Psalms 24:1 says “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness therein.” Romans 8:17 says we are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” With this understanding, we can take claim to an area that God has shown us.
The children of Israel had been promised the land of Canaan and now that they had crossed over Jordan they were to take what was rightfully their own. The problem they now faced was the inhabitants were not just going to bow down and surrender. As Matthew 11:12 says “the kingdom of God suffers violence, but the violent take it by force.” Now since we “wrestle not against flesh and blood” as it says in Ephesians 6:10 we must fight this battle in the spirit in order to enforce the reign of Christ.
Like the walls of Jericho, the land is full of strongholds. Advancing the kingdom of God and spiritual warfare go hand in hand. Mark 3:27 says we cannot enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up and plundering his house.” We must seek God for discernment so we recognize Satan’s devices and then as God gives us the wisdom to identify what we are facing, bind it in the name of Jesus and release the presence and power of God to take its place.
For example, we can identify the spirit of greed in our community and war against it and casino businesses will shut down. But, if we are not ready to replace them with family-friendly entertainment evil will return seven times worse (Matt. 12:45).
God has a strategy to demolish strongholds in a territory but it takes the combined spiritual strength and grace of His leaders together to accomplish such feats. Joshua was instructed to have the fighting men and himself march around the town of Jericho seven times for seven days with the priests blowing horns before the wall would collapse.
We are going to need to be marching together, praising the Lord in one accord before we see the walls in our land come down and the enemies works defeated. It is not an easy task, many have tried, failed, and given up. Yet, what else do we have to give our life too? It is a cause worth dying for. Do we want to face judgment because of the multitudes in the valley of decision that we did not reach because we retreated rather than advanced from the opposition?
As long as God is leading nothing can stand against us. If we are marching forth in the union of God’s Spirit every wall that stands in the way will come tumbling down. Then clothed in our spiritual armor we can go forth and wipe out the Lord’s enemies.
There is a time to be silent and a time to shout both are effective depending on the situation and how the Spirit leads. As the carriers of the ark of the Lord’s presence, every opposing spirit must bend at the beckoning of our command.
We must not settle for any less than seeing every work of darkness completely destroyed in our land. There is no compromising with the world as citizens of the Kingdom of God, no half stepping, it is either all or nothing. We are to be in the world but not of it, we got to trust that the God that saved us will keep us. No excuse will work for stepping back from following through because of how tough things get, or being influenced by the world while we are out doing good, both excuses will end in judgment.
If we just see the Lord’s work through we will earn a great reputation in our land because of the transformation that takes place from the presence of the Lord. People discredit Christianity because in their mind it is all talk. We must prove to them the reality of God through our acts of love and the power of His Spirit.
Sunday October 14th
We talked about last week how Joshua had an encounter with Jesus, but he didn’t know who Jesus was. In the same way, at different times in our lives we have all gone through difficult moments where we didn’t understand that Jesus was right there with us.
The process of Inner Healing allows us to go back to those painful times and re-experience them with a greater understanding, so that we can receive the peace and wholeness that comes by knowing that Jesus was, and is, and always will be with us not matter what we face.
Listen to this explanation from a CBN article on inner healing through prayer:
“If we learned to believe during hurtful life events that we were unworthy, not good enough, others cannot be trusted, etc., or as an abuse victim who feels terror, helplessness, dirty, and shameful, we will go through life interpreting situations through that grid. Therefore, what is needed is mind renewal, a revelation of truth at the core foundational memory level.
We need for the Lord to give us some Heavenly, corrective lenses.”
We believe that the corrective lenses that will release us from the lies of the past will come through God’s word.
As one person put it “Inner Healing Prayer is a way to invite the Spirit of Christ to minister to the inner parts of our person that have been damaged (by past hurtful experiences).”
In that CBN article “Soul Shepherding”, the writer uses this very insightful example of what needs to be done. He says:
“A computer analogy I use is that of typing in an e-mail address; before we can finish typing, the address or a similar address pops up. Why? Because the computer has been previously programmed with that address or a similar address.
In a similar way, when a person is triggered by a current life event, past programming pops up just like the e-mail address and all the pain floods in from earlier life programming or experiences. In these historical memories the person may have experienced being helpless and powerless. They believed they would be hurt if they told anyone. They may feel the emotions of fear and anxiety.
They may believe that they were bad, that it was their fault or that they were dirty and shameful as well as fearful and helpless. Even though in their logical, adult mind they may KNOW these things not to be true, they EXPERIENCE them as true.
The problem is that we go through life reacting and living from the experiential part of our mind. That is why we need a truth encounter in memory with Jesus so His truth can be revealed and expel the lies internalized in these earlier life events.”
In particular, Psalm 46 has proven to be very useful in helping believers to reframe past experiences. This Psalm is broken into three distinct sections. Each section ends with the Hebrew word Selah, which means to take a pause or a break, and maybe to take some time to reflect on what has just been said.
So let’s explore the first 3 verses and then take our first Selah:
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.
Those verses certainly describe times of great distress, and yet they remind us that we as believers need to “not fear” because God is our “present help” during our times of trouble. But maybe in our past we didn’t recognize that Jesus was “present” with us in the midst of our pain. So this is what we want to encourage you to do during this Selah (as written in the prayer guide called “Soul Shepherding”)
“Now it’s time to recall a painful memory or struggle and invite Jesus to minister God’s healing power to you. Ask God to help you as you imagine what happened. See yourself as a child or vulnerable person in that situation and deep inside of you today. (The child of your history may be the child in your heart today.) Feel your emotions and needs from that time.
Consider that during that painful situation the risen Christ was present with you in Spirit, but probably this was in ways that you didn’t notice or appreciate. At that time you weren’t able or didn’t know how to put your confidence fully in the Lord and enter into the spiritual reality that God’s kingdom truly is your refuge. God is in the eternal now, where past, present, and future are one, so ask the Lord Jesus to come to you in this memory and show you how he was and is present for you.
Now let’s move to the next section of the Psalm:
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
Think of yourself in the midst of God’s river of healing. Let it wash over your entire being. Listen to these words from “Soul Shepherding” as we take our next Selah:
“Take as much time as you need to be quiet and still before the Lord. You’re offering your painful memory to God as if it were on a movie screen. Look and listen for Jesus there with you, paying attention to any images, thoughts, or sensations that He may bring into your awareness…
Now finally, let’s enter into the final third of the Psalm:
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
In many versions, verse 10 is written as “Be still and know that I am God.”
And to be still, or to cease striving, is harder than it sounds!
One writer declared that “silence is an act of war against the competing voices within us”!
It may help you to calm your thoughts and keep your mind and heart open to God if you start by just asking God to help you to “Be still”.
Sunday October 7th
Joshua 4 and 5
The main focus of Joshua chapter 4 is a memorial sign that God wants the people to establish after crossing the Jordan. We see this in verses 1-3:
Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, 2 “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.’”
And then in verses 6 and 7 Joshua explains to the people what the significance of these stones is:
6 Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
That’s the value of our testimony! We proclaim the power that God has displayed in our lives – for all to see!
In chapter 5 God asks them to remember another sign:
2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” 3 So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. 4 This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. 5 For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised.
This circumcision was necessary because the old generation of Hebrews that originally came out of Egypt wasn’t going to be allowed to enter into the Promised Land because of all their grumbling and complaining along the way. But in His great mercy and grace, God was raising up a new generation of Israelites to inherit the covenant promises. Keep in mind that God’s real desire was that His people would live with circumcised hearts.
Look at Deuteronomy 30:6 “Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.”
Now look at what the Lord pronounces over them in verse 9:
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
When God says that He has “rolled away the reproach of Egypt”, He is indicating that He has removed their shame and their pain.
This was crucial for them to enter into the fullness of what God had promised to them. And it’s crucial for us as well, which is why we want to ask God for a greater measure of inner healing for our past wounds.
In addition to renewing the circumcision observance, the Israelites also remembered to keep the Passover feast. And an interesting thing happened the very next day:
12 The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.
The fact that the manna ceased was an indication that a new era has begun. God had provided food for the people in the wilderness, but now they would eat of the fruit of the Promised Land. Isn’t that true for us as well?
Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
In a sense, the manna was like milk. God had to hand-feed the people along the way, the same way that a mother feeds her baby. But now God was expecting the people of Israel to be mature enough to gather their own food in the Promised Land.
There is one more interesting encounter at the end of this chapter:
13 Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” 14 He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15 The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
This commander of the Lord’s army is actually considered to be an Old Testament appearance of Jesus. There are several times in the Old Testament when Jesus does that – shows up in the form of a human being.
One reason why we can believe that this was Jesus and not just some angel is that the “captain of the host” allows Joshua to bow down to Him, which is something that angels never allowed people to do.
We also see that Joshua is in the presence of the same God that appeared to Moses in the burning bush. That’s why Joshua is told to “Take off your sandals” - the same thing that Moses was told in Exodus 3:5.
But what’s important for us to realize when it comes to inner healing is this significant point:
Jesus was there with Joshua, but Joshua didn’t know that the Son of God was right there beside him!