So Will He Do

But Sihon the king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him… And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to take possession, that you may occupy his land.’ Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Jahaz. And the Lord our God gave him over to us, and we defeated him and his sons and all his people. From Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and from the city that is in the valley, as far as Gilead, there was not a city too high for us. The Lord our God gave all into our hands… 

Then we turned and went up the way to Bashan. And Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have given him and all his people and his land into your hand. And you shall do to him as you did to Sihon the king of the Amorites.’ So the Lord our God gave into our hand Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people. And we took all his cities —sixty cities, the whole region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides very many unwalled villages… I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’” Deuteronomy 2:30-33,36; 3:1-5,21-22

We face formidable enemies every day, sometimes everywhere we turn — voices that say just this one piece of gossip you must tell or know, foes of sloth, taking glory, belittling a fellow image-bearer, choosing my advantage over another’s, the glitter of idols. When God brings us into fellowship with Jesus, He presents a new land of holiness, a world not different from where we have always lived but in which we are free to say yes to Him, and He calls us to fight and possess this land of faith. He knows the wiles of our enemy and works to give us victory. We are strengthened with each win over the enemy’s pull, and gain spiritual muscle to be able to do it again.

Ingram Falls, Telluride, CO

Climbing a steep slope can be likened to this walk of faith, requiring gumption and commitment, then a putting of one step in front of another, over and over, with complete victory– the summit– as the goal. Any time we give in to lethargy, half-heartedness, a nodding of the steeled mind or closing of the ready eyes, we risk the enemy’s sneaky toe-hold or slipping back in spiritual maturity. Our mighty God Who fights for us and has won our hearts will continue to infuse His strength and resolve; we need yield to Him and keep on.

Lord, keep me pressing on to take possession of the victorious life You have for me. Yours is the greatness and power and glory and victory. (1 Chronicles 29:11)

Confounding the Ordinary

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘I have given Jericho into your hand.’ Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord.  And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually… So they did for six days. On the seventh day they rose early, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. At the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, ‘Shout, for the Lord has given you the city.’ As soon as the people heard the [long blast with the ram’s horn, they] shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that [they] went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. “He it was who struck down… all the kingdoms of Canaan.” Joshua 6:1-2,5,12-16,20; Psalm 135:8,11

Israel, though newly present in Canaan, was already known and feared for its military victories and mighty inexplicable acts of its God. Jericho, shut itself up in defense, melting in fear, must have baffled at the strangeness of the army marching around their walled city, before and after the priest-transported ark, in silence, save for trumpets blowing continually, day after day. This odd circling of their city must have been as intimidating as it was confusing. Is this how Israel conquered great peoples? The seventh day answered “Yes!” when, after seven trips around, there was a long trumpet blast, an eerie, lustful shout, and the whole wall fell down flat. No siege works, no axes, just God Almighty acting supernaturally on behalf of His obedient people.

Louisville Bridge over Ohio RIver 3

The LORD was His nation’s King, and they must trust Him as they moved in to take over the land. Strategy and results were His, He was to be obeyed. His ways and wisdom, at times unordinary, would be their secret to conquest. (Joshua 2:9-11)

When has the Lord orchestrate events in our lives that confound us? Changes of career path, loved ones’ choices, moves to a new city, seemingly coincidental meetings that turn into meaningful relationships, small improvements in attitude or changes in perspective with which we had no part? His ways often are not our ways, and His wisdom may seem to us foolish, yet “the foolishness of God is wiser than men… God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.” (Isaiah 55:8; 1 Corinthians 1:25,27)

When faced with each day’s fresh opportunities, or with what seems an impossible conundrum, do I clap together my own instincts, make plans and get moving, or look to my God Who may turn my ordinary into His extraordinary?

Wondrous Lord, have Your way in my every endeavor, and make me aware of Your hand in all things. As You lead, keep me silent, marching in Your presence, fully trusting Your trumpet blow and marvelous ways. All victory, all glory, is Yours!

Grit From Holy Ground

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, ‘What does my lord say to his servant?’ And the commander of the Lord‘s army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” Joshua 5:13-15

Joshua had just succeeded Moses, and like his predecessor at the beginning of a new, divine campaign, he is met by a strange vision and is told to remove his sandals, he is on holy ground. Surely Joshua, as his long-time assistant, knew of Moses’ experience, and had received directly from the Lord his commissioning to lead Israel into Canaan and conquer it, but my heart skips a beat at God’s personal attention to Joshua here. It’s as though He is waving His hand in front of his eyes and saying, ‘Look at me. I’ve chosen you to be on My side and be the captain of all I will accomplish here. I’ve made the marvelous way before you through the Jordan, and will continue to go before you. Don’t get distracted by the work, though it is a great one; be consumed with Me. Don’t ask Me to be on your side; stay on Mine. Never forget this is My campaign and will be My victory. I am holy.’ (Exodus 3:1-5)

mt8sy5ihT1iSig63ydRkHA

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God would visibly show up as a warrior every time we embark on a daunting unknown, a formidable endeavor, a risky defense? Is He teaching here that He is in charge and wherever He meets with us, and calls us to be, He is present and therefore we are on holy ground? Mustn’t I remove my sandals, surrender whatever habits and practices I’m accustomed to, the tools and equipment and talents I think necessary, the wise strategies I’ve developed, to His higher, holier enabling? Instead of asking Him to sidle up to me and bless my plans, shouldn’t I be aligning myself with His?

I love how God arrested Joshua at his point of embarking. Joshua took a moment to look up- whether at Jericho’s looming walls or to the heavens in prayer, we do not know, but the LORD met him at his gaze. It takes a deliberate pausing, physically, of mind’s racing, of heart’s passion, of runaway fear, to behold the Lord and take in His word for me. Will I look up when the Jerichos are before me?

Oh mighty and holy Commander, fix my attention and focus on Thee. Keep me on Your holy ground, shoeless for Your adorning, hands lifted in dependence, whenever You call, wherever You lead. (Psalm 134:2)

Stand Still in the Brink

The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, “When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.”’ And Joshua said, ‘Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you… Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.’ So the people set out… to pass over the Jordan… and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away… Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.” Joshua 3:7-8,10-11,13-17

There are times we’re called to act, and times we’re called to stand. God established Joshua as the one who would lead Israel into the promised land by instructing him how the marvelous entrance would take place. The priests who transported the ark, representing God’s presence, were to step first into the raging river, then plant their feet and hold as the waters also stood upstream, by God’s mighty hand, and the people passed by across the river bed.

Rushing stream, Hoosier State Park, CO

Sometimes when we move, we miss the glory of the Lord. While He equips us for battle and often commands us to act deliberately, there are also times He says, get ready, take the first step, then stand firmly in my promise and watch what I will do. (Exodus 14:13; 2 Chronicles 20:15,17)

Are there instances where am I trying to help God, where I am pushing ahead on my way when He’s clearly led me to a certain place but is saying, let me now take the reins? It takes a setting aside of our fear at not being in control, but by standing in faith we prove His might and care over and over. It takes trained discernment and keen listening to know when to step forward, armed for battle or advancing, and when the next step is to stand in the brink of God’s great activity and hold on to Him. It might be that He says prepare, educate yourself, then step into prayer and trust Me to change the heart, raise the conversation, orchestrate the next steps. Watch Me divide the impossible Sea. He is always faithful to be present, faithful to lead.

LORD, You lead Your people to make for Yourself a glorious name. Keep me still and watchful before You, standing firm in faith, so I know how to follow. (Isaiah 63:14; 1 Corinthians 16:13)

The Deeper Glory of Clouds

I bow my knees before the Father,.. that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

I recently read a piece on the depth of prayer modeled in the Scriptures compared with what we tend to pray for. There is a place to ask God to meet practical and urgent needs, for healing and protection, but what would change if we were to pray with Paul’s heart for the deeper things? It is easy to see the specific answers of a passed exam, a benign diagnosis, safe passage, but it also does something profound for us when we seek adjustments of mindset, changes in affections, quelled rebellion, needed spiritual discernment, increased fruit of the Spirit like patience and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Alma, CO sunset 2

Clouds make for more spectacular vistas than clear blue does. I think of a clear day’s prayers as those that scratch the surface. Just as clouds in the sky make for a richer, more layered glory, life-clouds– challenges and longings and tragedies– drive us to more significant searching, to grow in many-faceted understanding of God’s character and ways, to fortify our faith and trust in His supernatural intervention, to develop godly attributes. Is this our desire?

“It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

When prayer goes deep, vision is elevated, our expectation is broader, our thinking is more cogent. We worship and serve an infinite, indescribable God Who longs to do in and for us beyond our imagining, and to sanctify even our prayers, unto His beautiful honor. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

“We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Colossians 1:9-12

Father, drive me down on my knees deeper into Your truths and character as I pray. Inform my thinking and take control of my hopes and wants, that they reflect what You want for me and those for whom I pray. As You work in response, may Your magnificent glory be revealed, relished, and proclaimed.

 

Undimmed Eye, Unabated Vigor

“Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land… And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabatedAnd there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” Deuteronomy 34:1,4-7,10-12

What an example is Moses to us! As he breathed, he was faithful to God’s people, and to close his days he pronounced truth and blessing over them, giving his best. After all the years he had led likely two million Israelites through the hot wilderness, when the LORD told him his time to die was near, he didn’t throw in the towel, didn’t complain it was now “his” time, he deserved better, or a break. No, he kept on climbing, continued conversing with the LORD, and obeyed, to the end. His vision of God’s land for God’s people was as strong as ever, and with lusty vigor, he ascended Mount Nebo to behold it across the Jordan, then peacefully rested in his beloved Lord. A life well-lived, a life worth of emulation.

IMG_4140

When we are weary, feeling the wear of demands, requests, responsibilities, needs before us that we do not know how to meet, have we allowed these pressures to dim our vision of what really matters? Do we spend vigor on what does not last, or have eternal value, and wonder why we am sapped of energy necessary for the priorities the Lord has made clear? Certainly Moses grew tired his long days of journeying, settling conflicts, listening to incessant whining; yet, his vigor for the eternal, for communion with his God, was unabated. His secret store of strength came from an inner life fueled by his Sovereign, an eternal perspective that never wavered because of circumstances or emotion. Would that we can do the same!

Lord on high, as You daily bid me rise, may I shine, redeem the time, and be spent for Thee. Sanctify my sight, infuse me with Your zeal and vigor from age to age. You are the LORD, the Giver of every breath, and my times are in Your hands. (Job 12:10; Psalm 31:15; Isaiah 60:1-2,5,15,16; Ephesians 5:16)

The Best Encouragement

Moses said to [all Israel], ‘I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, “You shall not go over this Jordan.” The Lord your God himself will go over before you. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.’ Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land… It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.'” Deuteronomy 31:1-3,6-8

Moses gave the best encouragement: truth that didn’t focus on him, but on the able, faithful God Who would lead the Israelites into their promised land. ‘Don’t weep for me; be strong, count on our great God! He will do everything He said He would!’ He told them all, then he told Joshua personally in front of them, displaying a great vote of confidence for the LORD and His assigned successor-leader. How encouraging to Joshua this must have been, a blessing rooted in the very word of God!

IMG_4169

‘En-couragement.’ ‘Put courage in.’ We do this for others by reminding them of the truthworthiness of Scriptures, what is unshakeable and true about Who Almighty God is, how He works, and what He has promised He will do. Am I taking every opportunity to speak courage into those I love and come into contact with, those who confide about struggles and heartache and need? Am I familiar enough with the scriptures that I have a ready word? Does my life show how I am trusting Him in my dark places, that God’s word has proven true for me?

Even though Joshua had been prepared, after the death of Moses his mentor, reality of his absence sank in. The LORD, to illustrate He would indeed be with him, appeared and spoke His encouragement again, one-on-one. “[He] said to Joshua, Moses’ assistant, ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them…Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses… Be strong and courageous…Be strong and very courageous… This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’” (Joshua 1:1-3,5-9)

And God does the same for us today. Through His divine word, He washes His encouragement over and into us, reminding us that He is ever with us, is for us, and will never fail us. (Romans 8:31,38-39; Hebrews 13:5)

Lord, You continually encourage me with Your true word. Keep me faithful to do the same for others. (Psalm 19:9)