So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:1-5
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Yesterday we said that in the Old Testament, Israel is referred to as, "A people for God's own possession." While they were in the wilderness, God showed Moses in great detail what it will take for Israel to become "A people for God's own possession." It is in the promised land after Joshua leads them into it that God intends to do this great work in its fullness. God's ultimate goal in doing this is to demonstrate to all the other nations the difference it makes for a nation to be under his authority and care and the necessity for all nations to be subject to God and his purposes. When God's people seek to live for God and participate in God's mission of reaching the world, they face trials, testing, and struggles. For this very reason, God made some pretty special promises to Joshua as he was about to take on the challenge of leading Israel into the promised land (Joshua 1:5).
It is interesting that in the New Testament, the Church as well is called, "A people for God's own possession." With Israel it is one nation under God to be used to reach all the other nations. However, with the church God takes individual people from all nations and unites them together in Christ in order to reach the world one person at a time. And like Joshua and Israel, Christians face trials, testing, and struggles as they live for God and the mission he has called them to. Notice the parallels between the Joshua 1:1-9 passage we are looking at this week and the Matthew 28 passage above. Both have God's people, God's mission, and God's presence going with them and before them. As we allow the Lord to fulfill his mission through us may his words keep ringing in our ears, "And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The words of Jesus plus the words of the 1 Peter and Romans 5 passages above will do a lot to help us have and maintain the perspective we need for truly becoming "A people for God's own possession."
Lord, We know you love to give peace and confidence to your people because you love and care about us. But help us to grasp more clearly and fully how much these kinds of provisions are connected with our participation in your mission of reaching a lost world and the testing, trials, and struggle that come about as a result. So, Lord, we give ourselves fully to you for your sake and the sake of the world and we count on your powerful presence being with us and going before us. Amen!
Posted on Thu, June 11, 2015
by Alan Porter