A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 7; You Version Bible app, days 43-49
Today we look at a book of the Old Testament that was required reading for every soldier in the Israeli army before their 1967 war with Egypt. As you read through the book, you’ll understand why. It’s filled with stories of battle. It’s story after story of God intervening for His people, bringing victory to His new nation as they moved into the land He promised Abraham as an inheritance more than 600 years earlier. It’s a book that inspires courage. In fact, three times in the first chapter, We read the words, “Do not fear, for the Lord your God will be with you.” Do you think He means it?
Of course He does. Because God will ask us to do some crazy sounding things that would ordinarily bring fear to the most fearless among us. Just take a look at the first thing God asks Joshua to do in this conquest of the promised land and you’ll understand why He tells Joshua not to be afraid. God has to remind Joshua not to be afraid because He is the master of the events in the upper story and all we can see is the lower story we live in. We can’t always see Him at work so it’s easy for us to be afraid.
Look at the facts Joshua was dealing with as God told him not to fear the people of Jericho.
I’ve been part of planning several combat operations and even more contingency plans in case we were to go to war in various parts of the world. We spend days, weeks, sometimes years refining contingency plans to put the right force in the right place. Making sure the ratios are right. Making sure the supplies are available. Making sure the routes in and out of the objectives can be cleared and kept clear. Putting together everything we could think of to ensure victory before we ever started out on a campaign.
But I never saw a plan like this one...except in the book of Joshua. I think if our planning staff had ever presented something like this to our commander he would have fired us on the spot. Talk about a ludicrous plan. Talk about a way to dishearten your warriors before battle. Talk about a plan sure to fail before it starts. This is it.
Drag a million people across a fast moving river with no bridges and then give all of them minor surgery and tell them you’re going into hand to hand combat. Right! What would you think if you were those soldiers reporting to Joshua? “Don’t be afraid Joshua, I’m with you.”
But God, do you understand how war works? Do you understand that those guys are at least a head taller than all of us and have been warriors from birth? Do you understand that those walls are so thick that people build houses inside them? Do you understand you’re asking us to do the impossible?
“Joshua, don’t be afraid. I’ll be with you.”
When Joshua looked at what God asked him to do from his lower story point of view, it’s hard not to fear. The plan God laid out looked impossible, foolhardy. So God needed to remind Joshua it’s not us, but Him. Joshua had to look back through the last forty years and remember God was bigger than all the problems they had faced during their desert journey. Joshua, his soldiers, the rest of the Israelites, the people of Jericho before they perished, all the other nations around them, there was no question who won that battle. It wasn’t Israel’s soldiers. It wasn’t Joshua and his brilliant military tactics. It was all God.
So what has God asked you to do that seems ridiculous? What has He put in your mind that if you took the first step just makes you sweat bullets because you are so afraid of the outcome? What plan do you think He has for your life that seems so outrageous that others will look at you and think you’ve lost your mind because it is surely impossible to accomplish and the risks are just too great to even think about stepping out on that journey?
God told us in His word more than one hundred times, “Don’t be afraid.” He told Joshua, “Don’t be afraid. For I, the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Can you trust God to fulfill His promises in your life the way He did for Joshua and Moses and Jacob and Abraham? Each of those heroes we’ve watched in God’s Story have made the same mistakes you and I have (or worse). Yet God used them in tremendous ways, why? Because they trusted God had an upper story that was far superior to their knowledge in their lower story. They trusted God knew a better future than they could see in their short-sighted present.
That’s all God asks of us. Look up and recognize God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than ours. His upper story reaches far beyond what we can see in our lower story and He always works for good for those who love Him and work according to His purposes. When God asks us to do something others might think crazy. Something that even brings a bit of fear to our hearts. Remember God’s admonition, “Don’t be afraid. For I will be with you wherever you go.”
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.