As you read the end of the book of Joshua, we learn that the Israelites had driven out the inhabitants from their promised land. The land was divided among the tribes of Israel, so that each tribe had their own lands to establish their people. Once again, God had fulfilled his covenant promise to Abraham’s seed. The people were now settled and no longer needed to fight for what God had promised them. They could rest in their land and have freedom and peace from their enemies.
“Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). God looks forward to keeping his promises to us. Most times, God is waiting for us to move forward and do what he says. The generation of Israelites in the book of Joshua, did not make the same mistakes that their parents made. Their parents were too afraid to move forward to possess the land, when God told them that it was time. The result was that they died in the wilderness while their enemies lived in their land for another forty years.
We are grateful to God that he restores. So a missed, opportunity due to fear or lack of faith, will often present itself again. That is how faithful God is and he will create many opportunities for us to walk in his will. We sometimes miss out on the rest and peace of God through lack of faith. There are burdens that we have carried for longer than necessary, because we have not entrusted them to God. There are opportunities that we have missed out on, because we have chosen to take matters into our own hands. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
Our God is faithful despite our human failings and he is ready to forgive and to cleanse us from all disobedience (1 John 1:9). We can choose to start over at any time and once we submit ourselves to God, he makes all things new. “for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:10).
We are believing God in this season for restoration of things lost or stolen. Notice the word rest-oration is derived from the word rest. In order for restoration to take place we have to find rest in God and in his promises. Rest is an elusive concept in our twenty first century. This is due to the drive to try to do more and constantly earn more in order to make progress. Someone may ask; how do I rest when I have work, school, a family and other demands?
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). When I first heard this scripture, I never understood how taking on a yoke would give us rest. This is because it sounded like carrying an additional burden. I researched this scripture for the meaning and I found out that a yoke is what is placed on two oxen for them to carry a load together. As such Jesus wants to be yoked with us in order to walk with us and help us carry our burdens. What an assurance of our help and a constant companion to share in our struggles.
God cares for us and he does not want us to be weary, stressed out, burnt out, sick and tired. Jesus has borne our grief and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
We find peace and rest when we take our worries and cares to Jesus in prayer and surrender it all to him. We surrender in knowing that he hears us, that he cares. We know that he is walking with us, yoked with us and helping us to carry our burdens. We are never alone and there is joy and peace in abiding in his rest.
God’s promise to the children of Abraham, was that after their deliverance from Egypt, that He would bring them into a land of promise. They would inherit cities that they did not build and houses full of good things. This represented God’s restoration to greater than what was before. The Jews may have felt like they missed out on living in their promised land. This was because of their time of harsh slavery in Egypt. This land that they would possess, originally belonged to Abraham. This was passed down to Isaac and then Jacob who lived there until the famine.
During the famine, they went to Egypt but the people settled there long after the famine. The result was cruel and harsh punishment and slavery. I wonder if the Israelites had overstayed their welcome. What might have happened if they left after the famine and returned to build on their own land? The reality is that Egypt was not their country and this was not the land which God had promised them.
The good thing about God is that he restores even when we have made mistakes. Even if them staying in Egypt was through lack of insight or foresight, God would keep his promises. And that is the nature of God that he honours his word above his name. Before one jot of his word should pass away, heaven and earth would have to pass away (Matthew 5: 18). So even before Israel went to Egypt and became slaves, God had a plan to deliver them. Why was their deliverance so important to God? Because of his promise to Abraham that he would have a people and a great inheritance.
We share in Abraham’s promise and we are confident that there is an inheritance in store for us. We can lay claim to every promise in the word of God and we call them into existence. “and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 6:11-12)
There is freedom in serving Jesus and during his time on earth, they brought to him those who were sick and paralysed so he could lay his hands on them for them to be healed. Many came to Jesus that were demon possessed and Jesus healed them (Mark 1:32-34)
Whenever Jesus went to a region and people knew that he was around, they knew that all they needed to do was to get close enough to him to be healed. Imagine people that were lame from birth, who could then walk or run and move their limbs; persons blind could then see and those oppressed had freedom.
It is through our relationship with Jesus and developing intimacy with him that we discover freedom. And having been set free we can move forward to fulfil our purpose and destiny and accomplish our assignment on earth. God placed destiny inside each and every one of us and the Devil uses negative circumstances to try to distort God’s plans.
We go back to the source and our creator to find liberty and freedom so that we can move forward in accomplishing what he has created us to do. And Jesus sets us free from the hurt from our past, from fear and anxiety, from our insecurities and feelings of inferiority. He sets us free to be who God created us to be and then we can go forward uninhibited.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
The religious leaders were angry when Peter and John taught about Jesus Christ. They healed a man who was crippled from birth and when they were questioned about it, proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well” (Acts 4:10). The religious leaders were confounded by their proclamation, but too afraid to harm the disciples. This was because the people were amazed by the miracle and believed in Jesus Christ.
The most that they could do was to threaten the disciples and warn them not to speak anymore about Jesus. “But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name” (Acts 4:17). The disciples were not deterred, but were ever more determined to continue because they recognised the power in the name of Jesus. “while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:30).
There have been many attempts throughout history to censor the use of the name Jesus. Artists have been signed to labels who forbade them to use the name of Jesus in their songs. Why does the Devil go to such lengths to try to stop the use of the name of our Lord. The Devil thought he won the victory against our Lord when he had him crucified on the cross. What he did was allow the blood of Jesus Christ to flow as a healing balm to cover our sins.
Despite the attempts at censorship and our modern day political correctness, we boldly declare that there is one way to God. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to God, except through him (John 14:6). “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
We have power when we call on the name of Jesus. There are people around us who we perceive to have power because of their positions and status. There is a name whose power transcends any other name that ever existed on earth. And we have access to that name and can use his name and the power associated with that name. Jesus said that if we ask anything of the father in his name that it will be granted unto us (John 24:13).
Jesus promised us that in his name we will cast out demons; we will speak in new tongues; we will pick up serpents with our hands; and if we drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt us; we will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18). Demons tremble at the name of Jesus. Sick bodies are healed at the name of Jesus. Troubled minds are set free at the name of Jesus.
We speak the name of Jesus into every dead situation in our lives and command them to come to life in Jesus Name. We command every challenge and difficulty that we face to bow at the name of Jesus. We declare that the weapons formed against us will not prosper because we stand in the name of Jesus.
We speak healing to our minds, bodies and emotions in the name of Jesus. We declare victory over every trial and every battle that we face in the name of Jesus. We command every enemy and strategy designed to come against our destiny to move out of our lives by the power that we have in the name of Jesus.
We always have to remember that God knows best. That he sits in heaven like a parent who sees our faults and failings and knows the season’s, times and the purpose for everything.
Like parents who are wise enough to know at what stages their children can manage certain freedoms, so the father understands what we need in each season. We never understand the reason for difficulties. We do not understand why some seasons are so hard pressed and why we are tested.
God responded to Job after his lamentations about his situation when he had been stripped of all he had. “Who is this who darkens counsel, by words without knowledge? Prepare yourself like a man and I will question you and you answer me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth (Job 38:2-4)? Like Job, God can handle our questions as long as we wait long enough to listen for his response. He uses circumstances to test us and to help us to grow. Difficulties reveal his might and power and there is new revelation in seasons of testing.
We won’t understand the need and purpose for every trial that we face. Some situations are as a result of our choices and decisions. Other circumstances are simply allowed to test us. We grow wiser through every storm and pain. God uses it to strengthen us and to help refine us. We have imperfections that only tests and trials will remove.
Trust God even when we do not understand. He will lead when the road is darkest. Even in the most difficult situations he sees up ahead the way around it. He is our help, our rock and defense and our strong tower. He already knows how this will end. And when we trust in him and let him lead, we are guaranteed victory.
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways” (Romans 11:33)!
In Genesis 22, we see the ultimate test of Abraham’s faith. God asked Abraham to take his only son to offer him as a sacrifice. Now this was the same son that God promised Abraham to multiply his seed as the sand of the sea. This was the son that Abraham bore when he was over a hundred years old when Sarah was ninety. This same son whom Abraham waited for and hoped for beyond hope, God asked Abraham to offer as a sacrifice.
And knowing the heart of God better than anyone, Abraham did not hesitate, but obeyed the Lord. He took his son with the wood and the fire and made his way to do what God said. Understandably so, Isaac was puzzled and questioned his father. “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering””(Genesis 22:7)? Abraham’s response was unflinching conviction in God’s character. “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8).
So Abraham built the altar and reached out his hand with the knife to slaughter his son. Only then did the angel call out to Abraham. “He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me”” (Genesis 22:12).
What a relief at this point in the story, when Abraham realised that he did not need to sacrifice his son. “And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:13).
I don’t know if I have as much faith as Abraham and I believe that I would have many words for God if he asked me to do something like that. To sacrifice the very thing that we hold dearest. I suppose Abraham was so acquainted with God that he though God would either raise Isaac back from the dead, give him another son or provide another sacrifice. Either way, God proved to Abraham that he would meet his need for a son of promise, provide a seed for his inheritance and provide the sacrifice for his offering.
Moses understood first hand the might and power of God. He came face to face with God and through him, God worked signs, wonders and miracles. “I AM THAT I AM,” is how God described himself to Moses, when he sent him on his mission to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. Tell the children of Israel that I AM has sent you to deliver them from bondage (Exodus 3:14-15). The term “I AM” symbolises the one who is all powerful, all knowing and who is able to do the impossible.
God has great power to set us free in those areas of our lives where we feel bound or trapped. His word is sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1). There is absolutely nothing that God cannot do and his ways are past finding out.
God has power to set you free from negative thoughts and fear that holds you captive. His power will set you free from the hurt of the past and from painful memories. You don’t have to live in fear and torment. God will comfort those who mourn and he will restore light where there is darkness. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8)!
There is freedom when we trust in God. There is comfort, assurance and peace that he has a good plan for us. As we walk in purpose, God will light the path before us. We serve a great and mighty God and he is good and faithful. God is ready to mend those broken places in our lives and set us free. The Lord our God is mighty to save.
“The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing”(Psalm 34:10).
As believers, we are called to be different and to be set apart from the world. God made us in his own image and likeness and describes us as his workmanship. Created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared ahead of time, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). We live in this world but we are not of the world as Jesus was not of this world.
As human beings, we have a need for acceptance and rejection can be heartbreaking. There are times and circumstances where we are not meant to fit in. There are people who God does not want us to be close to or to be associated with. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”(2 Corinthians 6:17).
There are many situations where we can look back in retrospect and see what God was protecting us from. How many closed doors did we cry behind when they were shut? How many relationships did we grieve when people walked away? How many times have we reflected on the past and thanked God for sparing us from some people and perceived opportunities?
Many missed opportunities are God’s hands of protection. Many relationships ended because God intervened. Many people rejected us because God did not want them in our personal space. Some people aren’t rejecting us but rejecting the God that we represent. At times our relationship with God may serve as a source of conviction for others. Do not worry about rejection as this is often God’s way of redirecting us. No longer cry about closed doors or missed opportunities as we cannot miss what God has in store for us. No one can take the relationship or opportunity that God ordained for us. If it belongs to you and God knows that it is good for you, then you cannot miss it.
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness”(2 Corinthians 6:14)?