The Lord your God is with you

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you g0.” -Joshua 1:9

This isn’t just a suggestion to Joshua, this is a command. To be strong and courageous, to not be faint of heart or discouraged. If this is where the verse ends, I don’t think it would carry as much weight in my heart as it does. It’s easy to encourage someone and tell them to be strong, but its another thing to recognize where that strength comes from. I can’t simply turn a switch in my brain and suddenly be strong and without fear (as much as I wish I could), it’s the second part of this verse that speaks a powerful truth, “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” It is because He is with me that I can be of good courage, that I can move forward and not be afraid. The god and ruler of the universe cares for me and is always with me, why should I be scared? He is all powerful and all knowing, not a hair on my head is touched unless He allows it. I can be confident in knowing that He loves me and He knows what’s best for me. I was dead in my sin, yet He made me alive together with Him, forgiving me of all my wrongs and trespasses, with which He nailed to the cross. It is by His grace alone that I am able to be called a child of God. I no longer have to strive for acceptance and an earthly inheritance, He is my cup and the portion of my soul. My life is hidden with Christ in God. I don’t have to be afraid any longer. He is my strength and my inheritance. He is with me wherever I go.

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Numbers 18:20 says,

“Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.”

God speaks to Aaron in this verse and tells him that in the in the land of the children of Israel, he shall not have a distinct portion of land like the other tribes will. God wanted Aaron and the Levites fully devoted to service and free from worldly entanglements. He provided everything that they needed, and He asked that they would trust Him.  The Lord keeps bringing me back to this verse, to remind me that my value and purpose is found in Him- not my circumstances. That has been a huge lesson that the Lord has been teaching me in Ignite. Now as I find myself looking to what’s next, He continues to show me this truth that I have as His daughter. I am in this world, but no longer apart of it. “O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.” (Psalm 16:5) My future and my hope are found in Him, held in the shadow of the wings of the Almighty. I no longer have to fear, He has my entire life in His hands. My contentment can be found in Christ, not the place or way I serve. This world is fading, but God is eternal. Am I wasting my life laying up treasures here on earth, trying to attain an earthly inheritance? Or am I living a surrendered life to Him who has given everything for me? Psalm 16 continues in verse 6 with, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance.” I am a daughter of the King, loved despite all my mistakes and sin. This is my inheritance, this is the better life.

Giants

Numbers 13: 27-28

“We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.”

The Lord had commanded Moses to send spies into Canaan, which was the land God promised the Israelites. Moses encouraged them to be of good courage as they scouted the land, to see whether the people who dwelt there were strong or weak, whether the land was good or bad. The spies came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation and told them this passage in verse 27-28 of Numbers.

They start off by stating how beautiful the promised land was, how it truly did flow with milk and honey just like the Lord promised them. It reminds me of how God is faithful, even when we are not. He is so good and His promises never fail, but how often do I doubt the promises that He clearly speaks? Instead of trusting in the sovereignty of God, the spies continued on to say that the people who dwelt there were too strong, and the cities were too strong and fortified, and worst of all, how they saw the descendants of Anak there, who were giants. Almost a year ago in June, I went on my first mission trip to El Salvador, and I can’t help but be reminded of the message that one of my team leaders shared. He spoke about the giants that we face; the trials that seem impossible to overcome. When David faced Goliath, everyone around him told him it was absurd, and that He could never defeat a giant like Goliath. But David knew that it wasn’t in his strength that he would kill the giant, it was God’s strength. He trusted in the Lord, no matter how frightening it may have been to be face to face with Goliath.

In my life, I can look at the giant and think it is impossible to beat it. But that’s not what God asks of me. He knows that I am only human, and I can’t do it, but He can. David didn’t beat Goliath by Himself, He had the Lord behind Him, and His victory was secure in the promise of his Saviour. All David had to do was be faithful to what was asked of Him and trust that God was working through it.

(verse 30) “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.’” Caleb, along with Joshua, were the only two spies that trusted that God would fulfill His promise to the Israelites, no matter how strong the people of Canaan were.

Sadly, the only response of the other spies was, “We are not able to go up against he people, for they are stronger than we.” (verse 31) They doubted the promise of God because of what their eyes saw. How many times in my life am I the exact same way? Why do I doubt in the darkness what God has shown me in the light? He is faithful and His Word is true, and He simply asks that I trust Him. He gave everything for me, so why am I so reluctant to give my all to Him? Father I pray that You would help me to overcome the fear that so easily ensnares me; to walk in confidence in light of Your goodness, and to not be overtaken by my circumstances and the “giants” that I face. You are there with me every step of the way, and not a hair on my head is touched without your consent. I am Your child, I don’t have to be afraid anymore.

The Importance of Prayer

Numbers 10:9-10

“When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies. Also in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God.

This really stuck out to me as I was reading in my morning devotionals. The Lord used this passage to show me just how important prayer is. When the Israelites would go to war, they would sound the trumpets for the Lord to remember them, like they were calling out to Him. But it wasn’t only when they were in trouble or about to go to war; they would also sound the trumpets in the day of their gladness, when they had their feasts and joyful celebrations. How could these be? Two complete opposites that God asks the Israelites to do the same thing in. When they were in trouble, they called out to the Lord. When they were celebrating, they called out and thanked the Lord.

In my mind, I replaced “sound an alarm with the trumpets” with “pray”. and thought about it in relation to my own life.

“When you go through trials and afflictions, then you shall pray, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies. Also in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, you shall pray and give thanks for what the Lord has provided; and they shall be memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God.”

What God asked of the Israelites then is what He still asks of me today. To pray and call upon His name no matter what may be happening in my life. When life get’s hard and I feel overwhelmed, He simply asks that I call upon His name. If I expect my earthly father to help me when I talk to him about my problems, should I expect anything different from my Heavenly Father? Luke 11:11 says, “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?” But how can I expect anything to change if I don’t even ask Him? James 4:2-3 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.”

Yes, He may know all of my thoughts and everything about me, but He still wants me to pour out my heart to Him. That’s what it means to be His daughter; to be identified with Him and to have a relationship with Him. He desires to speak with me and to build my faith in Him. Even when things are great, that is no reason to stop praying. I should be thanking Him and remembering that it was Him that provided for me, that it was Him gave me strength to get through it all.

If I have a friend, and I only come to them in my time of need for help, what kind of friendship is that? Through the good and bad they are there. They are there to help me and to celebrate with me, and I am grateful that I have them as my friend.

So Lord I pray that I would never forget the importance of prayer; what it means to be in constant communion with You and to call upon your name in both the good and the bad. You are there with me always, and your desire is that I simply ask rather than try to do it all in my own strength. Zechariah 4:6 “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.”

Numbers 8: 18-19

“At the command of the Lord the children of Israel would journey; and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped. Even when the cloud continued long, many days above the tabernacle, the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not journey.”

For the past couple of months I have been going through the bible starting in Genesis, and now I find myself in Numbers. It’s amazing how I never expected to take so much from these books, but the Lord has spoken to me in such an incredible way through the lives of the children of Israel. What I love in these two verses is that the Israelites would journey only at the command of the Lord. When the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle the Israelites would continue their journey. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey until the day it was taken up. They were completely dependent on God and His guidance in their lives, and so should I be. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” He will guide me, but only if I am willing to deny myself and what I think is right and trust Him with my life. He has a plan for me, one that is far above anything I could ever think or imagine. 

James 4:13-15 says, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city; spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? it is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. In stead you out to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that”

My flesh certainly would love to make plans for myself in this next year, what I think I ought to be doing, but my life is not my own to live. I live for my God, and it is His will for my life that moves me, just like the Israelites. When the cloud stayed above the tabernacle, the children of Israel remained and waited. Even when the cloud continued for many days above the tabernacle, they would not move. I imagine that must have been hard to be sitting there for so long knowing that there was so much land to travel, so many things to do, and yet they waited. The Lord’s timing is perfect, and many times He makes us wait so we can grow in our trust in Him. Perhaps it’s not the timing I want in my life, but its what I need. The Lord is the good shepherd and He wants what’s best for His sheep, but His sheep often times are stubborn and self-consumed with what they want. Of course by the sheep I mean me, and when I can finally turn my attention away from myself and the world I can focus it on Him, where it ought to be, and let Him guide me. Father, I pray that you continue to teach me what it means to be completely dependent and guided by You. I want my life to be marked by Your guidance, knowing that wherever I am or wherever I go it’s in your will.

Exodus 35:5

“Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart,”

As I was finishing up Exodus, this verse really stuck out to me. In fact, the whole rest of chapter 35 did. It talks about the offerings given for the tabernacle of the Lord in the camp of the Israelites, and the Lord asks in this verse for those who are willing to give. Throughout the rest of this chapter the emphasis of freewill continues to show itself. For example:

“Then every some came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing,” (vs 21)

“They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart,” (vs 22)

“The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the Lord, all the men and women whose hearts were willing,” (vs 29)

Now the Lord may not be asking me to bring material to build a tabernacle in the literal sense, but He is asking me to serve Him with a willing heart. It’s a choice that only I can make. He can prepare a way for me, but it is only I that can choose out of my own freewill to step out onto the water and follow Him. The Lord doesn’t force me, He only asks that my heart be willing. It means absolutely nothing if my service isn’t of a willing heart, because is that really glorifying to Him? If I am going to serve Him, I want it to be out of a thankful heart for what He has done in my life, not because I feel like its a burden that I must do. Just look at how many times the word “willing” or “freewill” is used in chapter 35, if it was repeated so many times it’s probably for a reason. That is my prayer, that whatever task I am given, I do it with a willing heart no matter what it is. Whether teaching in schools, running kid’s club, cleaning or outreaches, it all means nothing if I’m doing it and my heart isn’t in the right place. What the Lord asks for above all is a humble heart and open hands, willing to receive and have taken away. I am willing to be used for His glory, to be His servant, and His hands and feet. I am willing to be taken outside my comfort zone to the open waters where I can know more of You.

He is my Peace and my Way

After the Israelites decided to worship the Golden calf, they were severely punished for it at the end of chapter 32. In the next chapter, God commands Abraham and the Israelites to leave mount Sinai and continue on their journey to the promised land. This already struck me as odd, considered the great sin they committed and yet God is still giving them the land He swore to them. Why? In verse 1 of chapter 33 God says to Moses, “Depart and go up from here you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying ‘To your descendants I will give it.'” 

It’s because God made a promise to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. He knew before the foundations of the world that He would give it to them, and He also knew that they would sin and fall short of His glory, yet through all that He kept His covenant. This just brings out another beautiful character of God in my mind, to think of how quickly the world changes, yet God never does. He remains steadfast and holy. He remains faithful to His people and promises to fulfill what He had spoken. 

Yet that doesn’t mean that the Israelites still would not face the consequences of their actions. The Lord spoke to His people in the next verses saying that He would not go with them in their journey, but rather send His angel in His stead. God told them that they were a stiff-nicked people, which in my mind makes me think of someone who is unwilling to bend their neck, unwilling to change, most importantly, unwilling to disregard their own vain glory and pride and be humbled, whether by another or by God. Because of this the Lord refused to go with them. 

I could look at this text as just another story and think to myself, “wow, those Israelites sure didn’t get it”, but the ironic thing is, I’m just the same. Many times I find myself unwilling in my heart even if my actions say something different, but this doesn’t fool God. He knows my heart better than I know myself and asked that I walk faithfully with what He puts in front of me. But many times my stiff neck gets in the way of what God desires for me. I can even find myself missing out on the blessings He is giving me because I refuse to see them as such, rather in my flesh I see them as a burden and pity myself. 

But at the end of verse 7 we find that Moses set up a tabernacle of meeting outside of the camp, which he would go to in order to speak with the Lord. And in verse 11 it says, “so the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Now we know that no one can see the face of God and live, but what we do know is that the Bible is full of symbolism, and in this case this beautiful image speaks of unhindered communion with The Creator and His creation. I just love the conversation that they have in the next couple of verses where Moses asks God to show him His way, that he may know Him and find grace in His sight, so he might consider the nation of Israel His people. 

No matter how incredible this conversation may seem, it’s the same for us and sons and daughters of a Christ, who have been brought near by the blood of Jesus. It’s a matter of getting alone with the Lord, as Moses did with the tabernacle of meeting outside the camp, and asking for Him to show us His way, rather than our own. Asking for forgiveness of the stiff-necked self that so easily rules in my flesh, so that He can rule in its stead. And next in verse 14 we find God’s response to Moses: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” It is only in the presence of God that I can find peace and rest in my heart. It is only when I am in His will and His path in my life that I can rest at ease knowing that He is with me and I am not alone. I am safe. Not because of a lack of danger, but because of the presence of God that is with me. How beautiful is that? So Lord I pray that you help me to get alone with just you, away from all the distractions so that I may seek your face alone. Father, help me to bend my neck and not resist the corrections you wish to give me that I know will only provide to be for my benefit. Most importantly, show me Your way and help me to know more of You and Your Character. Lord, help me to operate in the peace that you have already given to me.