FAITH BLOG

POSSESSING THE LAND

In Dt. 9:5 Moses explains to Israel, "It is not because of your righteousness, or even your inner uprightness, that you have come here to possess their land. Instead, because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out ahead of you in order to confirm the promise He made on oath to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Then in Dt. 31:3,6 he says, "As for the LORD your God, He is about to cross over before you; He will destroy these nations before you and dispossess them...Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the One who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you!" (NET)

 

In our passage in Judges 1 we read how the Israelites continued to possess the land after Joshua died. We find repeatedly that they failed to drive out groups of the inhabitants, and as a result they were negatively influenced by the wicked people God had told them to destroy. Judg. 2:1-3 summarizes the situation, "The LORD’s angelic messenger went up from Gilgal to Bokim. He said, “I brought you up from Egypt and led you into the land I had solemnly promised to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my agreement with you, but you must not make an agreement with the people who live in this land. You should tear down the altars where they worship.’ But you have disobeyed me. Why would you do such a thing? At that time I also warned you, ‘If you disobey, I will not drive out the Canaanites before you. They will ensnare you and their gods will lure you away.’”

 

The situation Israel faced seems relevant to our personal lives with Christ. He wants our entire life to be dedicated to Him and gives us power through the Holy Spirit to conquer any strongholds of the world that are still lingering in our minds and actions. But how often do we choose to not 'conquer the land', but allow the world to influence our lives? This is disobedience to the Lord just as the Israelites were disobedient when they didn't completely drive out the inhabitants of the land, and especially when they adopted their gods and practices.

 

Another passage from today, Luke 21:34-36 speaks on the importance of remaining diligent as the day of His return draws near. “But be on your guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day close down upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will overtake all who live on the face of the whole earth. But stay alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that must happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

Another passage from today, Psalm 90:12 has a similar reminder. "​​​​​​​So teach us to consider our mortality, so that we might live wisely."

 

Lord, show us places we are harboring sin and help us to conquer it through the power of your Holy Spirit so that we will live lives that honor You and be a light to those around us.

 

Posted by Ken Zook with

DIE

Mark and I just celebrated our thirty-sixth anniversary.  March 5, 1983. Clear Lake City, Texas. University Baptist Church. 3:00 PM. This past Monday, he presented me with thirty-six red roses! We worked hard for each one of those years, some more than others, so we celebrate. When is your anniversary? Does God remember it like you do? You bet. He was there that day you recited your vows and He still takes them seriously. He’s committed to your marriage and He’s in it.

When you said those promises to each other, did you know that, in essence, you were dying to your single self, your old way of being and doing, so that you and your spouse could forge something new?

This new way of being and doing trumps the old. Which way do you value more? The old way or the way of being with your spouse?

On that special day, whether we realized it or not, our deep-seated beliefs about our rights came under threat. They were lurking there in the recesses of our hearts while the words of those vows of companionable companionship escaped from our lips. If we’d have listened to our skeptical thoughts, we might have heard, Oh, really? or maybe, uh-huh, yeah, sure, or maybe, we’ll see how this works out. The human heart clutches to desires, interests and expectations like a child’s little finger holds onto a new toy. Mine. I call these big three our inner treasures. The acronym, DIE helps me remember them.

Desires.

Interests.

Expectations.

All the beliefs we create and nurture down in our hearts, the seat of where all our most important transactions happen, work at keeping and restoring our rights so we can do whatever it takes to see their eventual outcome. They guide, make us happy, make us who we are.

What do you mean give them up? Do we really need to give them up?

Desires, interests and expectations derail relationships. They are the little culprits making noise, demanding, and the cause of conflict, pain and heartache. (James 4:1-4) But, they aren’t always bad. Inordinate desires are neutral. Inordinate interests are okay. Inordinate expectations are understandable. In order to function in this life and to go forward, we need these inner treasures. The difficulties come when two people’s treasures vie for pre-eminence.

It’s why our voices escalate. We whine. We pout and slam doors. Isn’t it funny how we think the more right we are, the louder we need to get?

So, back to that day at the altar. We agreed (whether we like it or not) to die to our rights that our little noisy, hands-on-the-hips, my-way or no-way, passions would come out on top and win. Self-centered spouses have not done this. Nagging spouses have not done this. Unreflective, busy, task-focused, achievement-oriented, nose-pointed-at-the-phone, spouses are too distracted and busy to do this.

But this is our primary work.

We must allow the Spirit of God to come alongside us and shine His light on the disturbing, naughty tricksters and let Him call them out.

When we won’t listen to what the Spirit is trying to say to us, we grieve or quench Him and then become dull of hearing, hard-hearted, and probably, difficult to live with. It’s a battle, but God must win, if we want marital harmony.

Marital harmony costs something. The price we pay is to value this new way of being, in harmony with our companion, more than we value the rights to our inner treasures. We each determine how companionable our companionships will become. The Lord will help us and take control if we yield all that’s going on in our heart to Him. He’ll create the joy we so want. He’ll create the environment of peace and love and make it easier for us to hand over those wants.

He’ll transform us and our marriages.

He’s committed to this thing he invented.

Don’t be afraid to give up your rights.

It’s in the laying down that amazing things happen. Try it.

Posted by Dana Red with

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