Are you anxious or worried? Do you long for peace? Are your chains weighing you down? Do you feel defeated? Have you lost hope? Are you tired of the rat race?
The other day, I was reading through Joshua (the story about conquering Jericho) when God hit me over the head with an undeniable truth. One sentence – one word from God – and my perspective toward my own struggles changed. I think it will ignite something in you as well.
Let’s begin in the Old Testament Book of Joshua. The people of Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, were about to conquer the land God promised to His people decades before. After forty years wandering in the wilderness, God’s fulfilled promise is about to come to fruition. The people crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, set up a memorial, and prepared themselves. Oh were they were ready.
But here’s the problem… the land was occupied. And not just occupied, but the people in Canaan were big, the warriors strong, and the gates shut tight. It seemed an impossible task. How would they overcome this fortified city?
Hmmm good question. The answer lies in the VERY big God standing with a nation of people. The people were outside glaring into the face of a huge obstacle, but inside, the inhabitants were cowering in fear. Why? Because they had heard about this God of the Israelites. They just knew that He wasn’t a God to be messed with.
And God was about to reveal great power and supreme majesty again.
As the Israelite army awaited directions from their commander, listen to what Scripture says: “The LORD said to Joshua, ‘I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors'” (Joshua 6:2).
Sometimes we have to read a passage more than once for it to sink in. All of a sudden, it hit me. The land had already been claimed. I knew this. But now it jumped off the page. The land belonged to God and He had already given it to them. Therefore, they would not need to fight. All they had to do was believe and walk in obedience. And then claim it!
Guess what? God has promised us a life full of goodness as well. A land flowing with milk and honey, so to speak. I’m not saying that in Christ, life will always be hunky dory. A bed of roses. Or without struggles. No, just the opposite. But we’ve been handed a full life. Jesus Christ bought the property full of riches through His death and resurrection. He conquered the promised life God chose for us. He signed the papers with His blood. A finished deal.
So, what exactly does that mean for you and me? It means that we can live victorious, even in this difficult world. Instead, many of us live in defeat. How is that possible? Well, if it happened to the Israelites, it can surely happen to us. Let’s take a look at what God has already given to us (ponder each verse)…
A rich and satisfying life: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10).
Peace: “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).
Freedom: “So Christ has truly set us free” (Galatians 5:1).
Rest: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Joy: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22).
Victory: “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Hope: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
Are you experiencing these things to the full? Are you satisfied in life? At peace in this crazy world? Released from addiction? Unrestrained from rules? Sleeping well? Set free from guilt and shame? Joyful in the struggles? Victorious over sin? Hopeful in the midst of darkness?
Here’s the thing: the full-life things – satisfaction, peace, freedom, rest, joy, victory, hope – are already ours. Jesus Christ laid His life down to give us a full life. So, why do we often struggle to live this way? Why does this full life allude us?
To discover the answer to this question, we need to go back to the Old Testament and look into the life of the Israelites. When God’s people left Egypt, they were given the promise of a new land (Exodus 3:8). But shortly into the wilderness, they did not believe and they would not obey Moses, who was God’s spokesperson. Hence, their unbelief and disobedience kept them from claiming what was rightfully theirs.
But it seemed they had learned their lesson forty years later. By the time Joshua takes the reins of leadership, a whole new group of people had emerged. And with these new people, came new attitudes. Listen to what they said to Joshua: “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go” (Joshua 1:16). The writer of Hebrews says it clearly: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days” (Hebrews 11:30).
This story alone gives us two crucial pieces to experiencing the “promised” (or full) life…
FAITH + OBEDIENCE
So the moral of the story is that we can have the full life Jesus came to give us, but only when we walk by faith (believing God) and obeying His Word. Let me close with some questions we might want to ponder. I’m asking myself the same things.
- Are you trusting Him in your circumstances, or are you complaining and worrying?
- Do you believe what He has said, or do you doubt?
- Are you obeying His precepts, or are you simply doing what you want?
- Have you said “yes” to God, even if you don’t understand God’s way?
- Are you holding tight to His promises, or are you neglecting His Word?
Now, think of your own question if one of those above does not apply. In what areas do you need to believe and obey? If you’re still unsure, then ask God.
I pray that each of us will grab onto what is already ours.
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