HUMBLE YOURSELVES AND HE WILL EXALT YOU

In Deuteronomy chapter 8 we read why God led the Children of Israel the way He did to the Promised Land. He said, “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

You see, even though we all have various sins and troubles throughout our lives, there is one thing I’m sure of and that is pride is at the bottom of it all. We all enter this world deceived. We all grow up thinking we are “independent” beings, we’re in charge of our own lives, and no one is going to tell us otherwise. So God led the Children of Israel in such a way in order for them to see the true state of their hearts. God is God you see; so He already knew it, but it took a bit of time for their eyes to be opened. Theoretically, if the Children of Israel were already humble, God could have gotten them into the Land much sooner.

The Promised Land is for mature believers. It’s not that they were to stop trusting God but the manna was going to stop, they were going to have to plant their own crops, care for their own homes and deal with any opposition they would face. When it comes to us, God wants us to grow up too. He wants us to move into the inheritance He has given us in Christ. You see His plan involves a whole nation of priests, a whole nation of people who have learned to walk in His Spirit in order to represent Him to the world.

God started from scratch with Israel. He fed them manna and kept their clothes from wearing out. He did this in order to teach them He was their true source of life. It was the discipline of God; His way of training them to walk in His ways. In other words, if we haven’t been through anything how would we ever know He can and will provide? The Children of Israel had to be tested before they could enter the Promised Land. They had to grow up a little and become responsible before God would let them live there.

The Apostle Paul gave Timothy a bit of similar advice when appointing leaders in the church. In 1 Timothy 3:6-7 Paul told Timothy an overseer shouldn’t be “a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” I thought this piece of advice given to Timothy for overseers was very revealing. The warning was about the “condemnation incurred by the devil”, and “the snare of the devil.”

To understand this we have to look back into Ezekiel chapter 28 where we learn “Satan” started out as an exalted being. He was blameless…until unrighteousness was found in him” (Ezekiel 28:15). Verse 17 tells us “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground…” So there it is! Pride was the root of Satan’s downfall. I wonder if this is because he was never tested. Could it be that he was created and placed in a high position from the very beginning? Could this be why the Apostle Paul said, “they shouldn’t be a new convert?”

I’m simply speculating but could this be why throughout the New Covenant we read things like, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2). What about “we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance…(Romans 5:3). In other words, maybe those that have walked through the most painful and trying times are the very ones God is preparing to walk into the Promised Land. Remember all but two of the Children of Israel who left Egypt died in the wilderness. Only two ever entered into what God had promised them years before. The very things the enemy throws at us wanting us to give up are the very things God looks at as our opportunity for faith. You see God knows how to promote one just as well as demote another. Either way the test is meant to humble us and show us what’s really in our hearts. We must learn the lesson of humility, and see our utter powerlessness apart from Jesus Christ. We are invited into rest but we must learn how to receive what God has for us with humility and if there’s to be any promotion we have to wait on Him.

Remember: A testimony requires a test. Without a test all you have is the moany’s.

Louie

Advertisements

THE PROMISED LAND OF THE SPIRIT

I believe the Promised Land spoken of in the scriptures really is an actual tangible place on the map but I also think it paints us a spiritual picture. While many church hymns would have you believe the Promised land is a picture of Heaven, I think it represents something else.

God’s plan is for His people to live in Him. In other words, the Promised land is actually a picture of life in the Spirit. The Children of Israel were delivered from slavery in Egypt and led through the wilderness by Moses yet they never entered the rest of the Promised Land. I think God’s intention was for them to grow up in their faith on their trek through the desert, yet many did not, therefore most of them died without ever entering. You see this is an example to us. We too have been delivered from slavery to sin, and hopefully we have not only gone through our wilderness experience, but have come through and are now living in the Spirit represented by the Promised land.

You see God promised a land flowing with milk and honey but He also knew only mature people would be able to maintain the land. Once they took up residence, within the Land, the supernatural manna, the water from the rock, the shade by day and fire by night would come to an end. God needed them/us to have His viewpoint on things. In order to live in the Promised Land, we must be more like Moses who knew God’s ways as opposed to Israel who only knew His acts. As you read the story of Israel, while in the desert, their immaturity is made clear by their constant complaining. They fussed because it was too hot, they were hungry and tired and even longed to go back to being slaves in Egypt. This is the mindset of someone who isn’t ready for the responsibilities that come with living in the Spirit. In fact, it is a pretty good description of living in the flesh.

The apostle Paul told us the deeds of the flesh were evident: strife, envy, hatred, factions etc. but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. When it comes right down to it, walking in the Spirit means we have to give up on our own ingenuity and let God be God so He can produce these things through us. Living in the Spirit (Promised land) means we are responsible and co-operate with God; whereas living in the flesh (desert) means we complain and fuss about how God provides and how others aren’t doing their part and so on.

Ultimately, Israel living in the Promised Land was meant to be a witness to the rest of the world not only of God’s faithfulness but also of His ability to make free sons out of slaves. Just as the world looks at addicts and ex-cons (former slaves) and thinks they’ll never amount to anything, God specializes in choosing the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. So walking in the Spirit isn’t just for us to enjoy, it is for others to start to understand who God is and how He provides.

Louie

ENTERING INTO REST

  Most people don’t enjoy salvation in its fullness. I mean, if you have been born again and filled with the Holy Spirit you have been delivered from bondage. That is great, but are you also enjoying life in the Promised Land? The Children of Israel were delivered out of bondage in Egypt, but not all of them entered into the rest of the Promised Land. I’m afraid that is where most Christians are also. They have been forgiven of sins, delivered from bondage and yet they aren’t enjoying the rest God has for them. The following is an excerpt taken from Norman Grubb’s book “God Unlimited” in which he talks about this very thing. He said it so well I thought I would just let him do it, so here it is, enjoy!

Google images

“Israel had a savior, indeed two saviors: one brought them out of the land of their bondage, and the other into their land of promise: Moses and Joshua. A greater than these is our Savior; but we had better be sure that we have experienced the benefits of His salvation, as they did of theirs.” At least, they all did of Moses, but much fewer of Joshua. They all came out triumphantly enough from under Pharaoh’s yoke: “they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea”. That is what we would call a regenerating experience, separated from the world, justified by the blood, dead and risen with Christ. But then trouble began. Through ignorance and willfulness they allowed civil war to rage in their hearts. On the one hand they had the bread from heaven and the water from the rock, which Paul said was Christ to them. On the other, they were constantly racked by fear, unbelief, resentment, murmuring, and even hankerings after the old life in Egypt. They did not know the secret of victory, as Moses did. They had an undiscovered self-life, which God had exposed and dealt with in Moses long before, in the backside of the desert. They foolishly thought that they could be true to God in their own strength; they even replied to God, when He told them how gracious He would be to them if they obeyed Him, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do”. What abysmal self-deception! And all their miserable failures did not open their eyes. So they never entered that land of promise, land of corn and wine, with rest from their enemies. They never made real in their experience the fullness of the blessing which was theirs from the time they joined themselves to Moses, if they had only gone through with him in faith. They died, in the wilderness, not damned souls, but defeated Christians, as we would say.

What about us? The writer asks. We have gone through in faith with our Moses to separation, justification, regeneration, which in fact means death and resurrection with Christ. But then we have landed where the Israelites did in “the waste and howling wilderness” of trial, assaults from the enemy, dryness of soul, good resolutions which we fail to keep. We too have had to learn the hard way that self-effort, though it is the new self, can’t keep the commands of God or live the victorious life. Have we learned this? Or do we continue rebellious, resentful, unbroken, like the children of Israel? Do we die in the wilderness, as they, instead of reaching the Promised Land?

Extended quote taken from “God Unlimited” by Norman Grubb