The Holy Spirit continues to urge us, by examples from the Old Testament, to obtain the promises God has given to us. For the Children of Israel, God promised a new land free from oppression. He called it a "land flowing with milk and honey". With this promise, He gave them day to day miraculous signs to simply follow. He demonstrated His presence dwelling with them as a "fire by night and a cloud by day". He also told them very precisely, through His servant Moses, of things to come.
You and I each have a "promised land" that we are longing for in our lives. Not only in the general promises that God has made to "all who believe" but also in the specific needs and desires that we individually possess. We need to be following God, hearing from God and obeying God precisely for us to inherit our promised land. This land includes divine health, freedom from lack, wisdom, long satisfying lives, peace, security, joy and so on.
Just as God did not miraculously 'zap' the children of Israel causing them to supernaturally, immediately enter this promised land, He probably is not going to just instantly take you from where you are in suffering, insufficiency, etc. and transplant you into everything you've ever wanted. He is the God of Suddenlies and I have experienced and do believe in suddenlies taking place, but there is this race of faith that we are called to run. We are running to obtain the prize, running to please God in our finishing the race with joy.
So in the time that it takes for us to go forward from where we are today, to arrive where God wants us to be, we must learn from and follow the same admonitions and instructions given by God as recorded in the Bible. Hebrews 4:1 "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said." And in verse 11 "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience."
What example of disobedience is God referring to? This is referring to the Promised Land that God made and gave to His people. When Moses sent twelve men into the land to spy it out, they came back with this report; "It truly flows with milk and honey! NEVER-THE-LESS, we are not able to go up against the people for they are stronger than we." And the people who heard this report lifted up their voices crying and wept all night. They complained against God and they accused God of bringing them into the desert to die. Even though all twelve of these spies came back to the camp, carrying samples of the bountiful crops, ten of them sowed seeds of discouragement and basically told their fellow sojourners that God had misled them and that He was not able to fulfill His promises to them. However, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, gave a good report. "If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us … only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of this land (they were giants), for they are our bread. Their protection has departed from them and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them!" Joshua and Caleb did not deny the facts. They acknowledged that there were indeed giants in their land. But they chose to believe God and had learned to trust God. They knew that He could easily handle these giants and also bring the children of Israel into the land to dwell there.
Because the people believed the bad report they feared their future. They were immediately thrown into despair. They mourned their imagined losses all night. By mornings light, they were angry and spoke rashly with their words against God. Because of this, as a consequence of this sin of unbelief, God said that none of them would enter into the Promised Land, but that He would cause them to wait in the desert until every adult had died. The Promise Land would be given to their children but they themselves had forfeited the promise by their unbelief. Think about this; there were around half a million people that God gave the promise to. Of that estimated 500,000 people, only Joshua and Caleb obtained the promise of rest.
The bible says "many are called but few are chosen." Many were called to inherit the land of abundance, bounty and safety. The land was the reward or recompense for 400 years of slavery and bondage to the Egyptians. Look around you today. Every professing believer has been promised great things … Abundant life! Freedom! Liberty! Health! Life! Peace! Yet how very few people obtain the promises. Many are called to receive them, but few are chosen to receive them. Joshua and Caleb were chosen as a reward to their faith. This is the same way that we are chosen to receive, on the merits of our simple, childlike trust in God. Just believing that what God has said, He is faithful to do.
Joshua and Caleb didn't just believe that God could deliver the giants into their hands. They judged God faithful. "He is well able …" They were chosen because of their belief. The bible does not say that these two spies were mighty warriors and that through their own feats of strength and superior intelligence they entered in and possessed the land. No, it was because they believed what God said rather than in what they saw. These men had a revelation of God's GREATNESS.
What giants are in your promised land today? What is keeping you from going in and possessing your land? Have you hardened your heart against God? Are you being rebellious in how you believe? Joshua and Caleb were not being stoic. But neither did they have a "woe is me, I'm just a poor little victim here, no one cares, why dare to believe" attitude. With quiet confidence, steadfast endurance with hope and joy to the end, they were able to partake of His promises.
One of my favorite faith scriptures is found in Habakkuk 3:17 & 18 "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls – YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION." God is faithful to you whether or not your life is looking good right now! No matter how bad things look, no matter what giants are currently possessing YOUR promised lands, no matter how desolate, alone or even near death you seem to be, if you want to obtain all that God has promised, you must "be diligent to enter that rest."
As we were taught in the last letter, it is dangerous ground to allow your heart to become hardened against God. Never can even a slight thought of accusation against God be in your thought life, your emotions or your feelings. The Bible says "guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flows the wellspring of life." Guarding your heart is an action. The only way you can enter into the abundant life of salvation, possessing all the promises of God that Jesus bought and paid for on the cross and through His resurrection from the dead, is if you believe God. "Today you must listen to His voice. Don't harden your hearts against Him as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested God's patience in the wilderness. There your ancestors tried My patience, EVEN THOUGH THEY SAW MY MIRACLES FOR FORTY YEARS. So I was angry with them and I said 'their hearts always turn away from Me they refuse to do what I tell them.' So in My anger I made a vow: 'They will never enter My place of rest.'" Hebrews 3:8-11
The writer goes on to say "Be careful then, dear friends. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, as long as it is called; 'today', so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. FOR IF WE ARE FAITHFUL TO THE END, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. But never forget the warning." And "they were not allowed to enter His rest because of their unbelief."
We can hear the good news of God's Word but if we don't purposely mingle it with our thoughts, mix it in and unite it together with our thought life, it will not profit us and will be choked out by the cares, pressures, tests and trials of life. The only way we can truly believe is not to give mental agreement to the promises, but to take the promises into our thoughts. Believing God, once more, is an action. Every time we read and hear the Word of God, we allow our minds to be renewed. Whatever it is that we dwell on, meditate on and think about, is what we will believe. So if your faith has seemed shaky lately, if you're struggling with your confidence in God, then you must put more of what God is saying into your thoughts than that which you are seeing, hearing and feeling. The promises that God made to the Children of Israel did them no good because they didn't believe what God told them. For only we who believe can enter His place of rest. Are you living in peace today? Are you resting upon His goodness, His love, His care, His attentiveness to every detail in your life? If not, then you must "labor to enter into His rest." Promises are appropriated to us by OUR FAITH. We enter in by believing God – not circumstances, not time, not feelings. "Through faith and perseverance we inherit the promises."
Our faith comes and is built up in direct proportion to how much time and attention we give to God's Word. The Bible says "hide the Word in your heart that you might not sin against God." Unbelief is the sin. The Bible says "meditate on the Word day and night and you shall have good success." If we will read and think on the Words that God speaks to us our minds will automatically be renewed by it, as long as we are tender hearted and teachable before God. The Word will abide in us, we will abide in the Word, and "we shall ask what we will and it shall be done unto us."
Hebrews 6:17 & 18, "God swore with an oath that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that He would never change His mind. God has given us both the promise and the oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, WE WHO HAVE FLED TO HIM FOR REFUGE can take NEW COURAGE, for we HOLD ON TO HIS PROMISE with CONFIDENCE." (Like Joshua and Caleb).
Friends, the choice is up to us. None of us will enter into the good things that God has prepared on this earth for those that love Him, if we will not be like Joshua and Caleb. We can know what He has promised but if we are not carefully guarding our hearts, like the 500,000 thousand others who didn't believe Him, neither will we enter into the His rest and obtain the promises.
"Labor to enter into rest." Don't pray and ask God to bring you in. You take action. Fill your hearts with truth – believe that God is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Rest is a calm resolve to wait for the salvation of God. It's not inactive. It's a powerful force that causes every giant you are facing to lose power. "Their protection has departed from them" as Joshua said.
God desires a people who will not be afraid of the circumstances they face but who will stand strong on the foundation of God's Word, in full confidence and assurance that God is faithful! All that He has promised, He will do. It takes our faith to be able to please God by receiving every good and precious gift He has already planned for us and provided to us, for our benefit.
Have a light and easy week in service to others. Ask not what others can do for you but ask what you can do for the people God has asked you to serve, as His representative in the earth. Fulfill your divine assignment out of love for God and a sincere desire to please Him. As you seek FIRST this Kingdom He has instituted, you will find "all these things added unto you" (that you have need of). Judge these words by the Holy Word of God. Look carefully to your own heart. And prepare to receive the outpouring of blessings that God has laid up for you, as your inheritance. "Blessings coming upon you and blessings overtaking you."