Grow in Place – Faith-Filled Future

A Look At Joshua | Part 3

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”
Psalm 37:3-9

Being patient is one of the most challenging traits to master. Once you think you have it down – Boom! Something comes at you to where your anger flares up, your circumstances seem overbearing, or your plans change, which prolongs what was coming. And many times, when you find out you have to wait, there’s nothing more you can do to make it happen. Yes, you can cry, complain, or go out kicking and screaming, but that doesn’t make the waiting easier. All you can do is wait.

Ah, but there’s worth to the waiting. It is the time where God wants to refine your character to look more like Him, smoothing out those rough areas. Patiently waiting allows you to deepen your relationship with God as you trust Him in ways past unknown. If you are forced to wait, how are you going to wait? As the Psalmist mentioned, there’s a call to wait faithfully – even when it’s long, stressful, or seemingly impossible – there’s a promise on the other side. A reward to those who trust in God“Those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:9).

Now wait a minute – I thought we were talking about Joshua from the Bible… the one who seized the promise land? Who had cities trembled when he came near? The same man who brought victory whenever he went? What does waiting have to do with Joshua- the book that bears his name?

While it’s easy to gravitate towards the victorious, there’s always a valley before the mountaintop. Even then, it’s a trek up the mountain! It’s valuable to see others who have conquered giants and overcame incredible odds. These individuals instill a new sense of hope for our journey in the faith. We need it! But we cannot neglect the ‘road less traveled’ in how they arrived there. Those same ones who overcame also suffered much. Or the preserving believer who faced persecution for his or her belief in Christ. And still, there are also the heroes of the faith who had to wait before they could champion the cause God had in store for them.

What better way to “Grow in Place” than to wait patiently before the Lord? So far, we’ve seen how Joshua has embraced his process for the promise to come. He does not want the promise prolonged or passed up, but prepares accordingly to what he knows. (Grow In Place- Process). Joshua seeks the Lord when no one is looking, hungering for more of God in hidden places. While everyone else is content with the outward acts of God, Joshua wants to know the heart of God. (Grow In Place – Hunger in Hiddeness). As we’ll see, preparation has its perks when Joshua gets tested. Will he pass? What has all this been leading towards?

We are now in the book of Numbers. While it’s named appropriately for all the numerical information, it’s also recorded numerous complaints (Valerie thought of this one!) from the Israelites. One of these complaints reared its ugly head again as the 12 spies (which Joshua was one of them) came back with a report from the promise land.

“They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak[1] there.” – Numbers 13:27-28

Here’s the problem – there’s a lack of faith. The spies – excluding Caleb and Joshua – cannot fathom that God can route their enemies. Although they have proof of the promise land, they do not believe they can inherit it. The fear of the 10 spies produced a negative report that caused the rest of the Israelites to cry aloud, complain, and rebel.

“Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.” – Numbers 14:5-10

Although Joshua and Caleb saw the giants, their response was drastically different. They responded in faith, not fear. These two men believe that the provision of God was enough for them to take the land as it has been to wander in the desert. They not only saw God at work but believed His word.

It shows you that two people can look at the exact circumstance and have a completely different response. One can be intimidated by a giant while the next person could believe they can slay that same giant. What makes one person respond differently from another?

It goes back to what you feed your soul.

Joshua was in a place where he would sit in the Tent of Meeting when no one was looking. (Exodus 33:11) While everyone was content in simply showing reverence for God, this was only an outward act. Joshua wanted to know the heart of God beyond his dutiful ritual. He hungered for God in hiddenness rather than filling his soul with worldliness.

How can I be so sure of this?

The Israelites consistently complained about everything. Joshua did not. Complaining is an outward manifestation of what’s going on in the heart. Ungratefulness and bitterness fester inside before it is spoken (See Luke 6:43-45). Joshua was being mentored by Moses and hungered after God. His time being in God’s presence transformed his mind to focus on “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy— to think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8).

Conversely, the Israelites had their mind occupied elsewhere as their circumstances conditioned them. We then choose what conditions us – the means of the world or the ways of the Lord. The ‘renewing of our minds’ (Romans 12:1-2) is an everyday act as faith is not developed overnight.

When the time came for testing – that what was in their hearts was revealed. The Israelites had fear – so much so, that they wanted to go back to slavery! (Numbers 14:3-4). Joshua and Caleb had built up their faith so they responded accordingly, even at the potential cost of their life. (Numbers 14:10). Did Joshua pass the test? Here’s what God says next:

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, ‘As surely as I live,’ declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’” – Numbers 14:26-34

Joshua indeed passes the test. Out of approximately 2 million people, only Joshua and Caleb will be older men who enter the promise land. The Israelites have pronounced their own judgment (Numbers 14:2) and have passed up the promise to their children. Joshua and Caleb followed God wholeheartedly (Numbers 32:12) and responded with faith regarding their future.

Here’s the hard part to swallow for our boy Joshua – although he was faithful, his future was tied to his people. Meaning he would have to wait 38 ½ more years before they could enter the promise land. That’s a LONG time! He would still be under Moses, wandering the desert patiently, waiting until that day came. Even then, he still did not know that he would be the one to lead them until Moses was about to die and asked the Lord for a replacement:

“So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit and lay your hand on him.” – Numbers 27:18

Joshua had to ‘grow in place’ once again, but it was for his development and the people he was called to lead. As recalled earlier, Joshua was willing to:
· work out the process for the promise to be filled
· know the Lord in greater & deeper ways, in the hidden places
· build up his future filled with faith & hopeful expectation

When the time came, Joshua was ready to lead the people to victory. As he was about to enter the promise land, the Lord spoke these words to him as the new leader:

“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:5-9

As the story goes, Joshua experienced victory after victory until the day he died. He waited patiently upon the Lord while feeding his soul upon the Word of God. It was all preparation so he could fulfill what was his God-ordained purpose – to take and inherit the promise land.

Your ‘inheritance to the promise land’ is different than Joshua’s, but the process is the same – a willingness to surrender to God’s will and ways, even through the waiting. How do you see the Lord challenging you to ‘grow in place’ this year? Has there been something you have been resisting? Are you feeding your soul with fear or with faith? What do you believe God is building within you? These questions are meant to encourage you towards all God is creating you to become in preparation for those promises. So don’t give up and hope in the Lord! He will do what He says – trust, wait, and respond in faith. What was spoken to Joshua, I speak to you: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Have a blessed week!

[1]  They considered Anak descendants of giants known as the Nephilim. As verse 33 explains further: “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim).”

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