In Joshua 1, Joshua and the nation of Israel stood at the border of the promised land. Previously, they had rebelled against the Lord, believed the bad report the ten spies brought back, and failed to go into the land.
Forty years later, there were still the same obstacles as before – nations with armies, walled cities, and giants. What made the difference? Why did they go in the second time?
In Joshua 1:9 NLT it says, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” The biggest enemies Joshua and the Israelites faced were not armies, thick walls, and giants but fear and discouragement.
This time, the children of Israel took God at His Word to be with them and went in and conquered the land. Instead of bowing to the spirits of fear and discouragement, they chose to believe Almighty God.
We can do the same. We must not allow fear and discouragement to define us. Instead, we can take hold of the Word of God like a dog with a bone, unwilling to let go. We can meditate on it until it gets down into the depths of our spirits.
The Scripture says, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do” (Joshua 1:8 NLT). We can allow God’s Word to change the way we think, so we see ourselves as victors rather than victims.
God enabled Joshua and the Israelites to take the promised land. God is no respecter of persons, “He treats everyone the same” (Romans 2:11 TLB). What He did for Joshua, He’ll do for you. Possess His promises and He’ll bring you into your promised land.
Recently, I read some interesting facts about the sequoia tree, which grows along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The giant tree can grow up to three hundred feet (20 to 25 stories) and weigh as much as twelve million pounds (comparable to a small ocean-going freighter). The circumference of the tree trunk at the base can be over one hundred feet (one-third the length of a football field).
The one thing I found especially interesting is that the sequoia requires fire in order to grow. The small green cones containing seeds awaiting germination grow near the crown of the trees. But if there is no fire or insects to crack open the cone, the seeds remain trapped inside. Fire dries out the cones, so that they crack open and deposit their seeds on the floor of the forest.
Fire also thins out the debris caused by the trees and shrubs which grow around the base of the sequoia. This debris is a barrier, blocking the seeds from reaching the soil. The shade from the smaller trees makes the ground too cool for the seeds to survive. Fire burns out the debris and trees and creates patches of sun and a clear forest floor, which is perfect for the germinating seeds.
Another benefit is that fire loosens the soil, allowing the seeds to fall into rich earth and to gather moisture previously taken up by the larger plants. And lastly, as the forest debris increases again, it protects the seedlings from the cold and seed-eating creatures.
As human beings, we all face fire in our lives – the heat of poor health, not enough money, broken relationships, addictions, wayward children, the loss of a loved one. But through the fire, God is saying “nothing can ever separate us from (His) love” (Romans 8:38 NLT). As born-again believers, we are protected in the fire, covered by His precious blood.
Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three Hebrew men thrown into the fire because they wouldn’t bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image? The next morning when the king went to check on them, he said in amazement, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25 KJV). Just like Jesus stood next to those men in their fire, He’s standing next to you in the fire that burns around you.
In the fire, God reminds us that “I am the Lord who created you; from the time you were born, I have helped you. Do not be afraid; you are my servant, My chosen people whom I love” (Isaiah 44:2 GNT). As God told the Israelites when they faced the sea in front of them and the enemy behind, “…’Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today…The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm’” (Exodus 14:13-14 NLT).
As fire enables the sequoia tree to grow, the fires we face refine us of our impurities and allow us to see the hand of Almighty God go to work on our behalf.
In this Blog, I want to share with you some of the things I've learned from many years of following Jesus.