This week in The Story in our Bible study, we are studying the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho. We’ve been talking a lot about trusting God, honoring and praising Him and spending time in His Word and in prayer to Him. It seems consistent that the following devotion would be in my email this morning, so I want to share it with you and add a few things from my own study. My comments and additions will be in red – what is in black are the words of Dr. Charles Stanley.
One of my favorite songs is “Trust and Obey” because it sums up God’s purpose for our lives. When we practice these two commands, a beautiful cycle begins. Trusting the Lord makes obedience easier, and obedience produces ever-increasing trust. Can you recall facing a challenge that was difficult or perplexing? If so, you know how important these two commands are.
When the Lord calls you to a task that seems unreasonable, you have two options. You can obey Him even though you don’t understand what will happen, or you can become fearful and attempt to find a way out. Joshua chose the first option. Because he trusted the Lord, he disregarded all his military experience and adopted God’s bizarre battle plan. Over the years, he had learned that the Lord is trustworthy. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
The way we respond to God’s challenging assignments reveals our level of commitment. We may feel as if we’re right in step with Him–until He proposes a change of direction. That’s when our resistance kicks in, and with it, the realization we aren’t as close to Him as we thought. At that point, our decision determines whether the Lord will be able to use us as He desires. I touched on my own struggles with this the other day in my post An Unexpected Gift and Softening of My Heart – my potential Nineveh moment.
Because Joshua never lost his commitment, he continued to serve the Lord for the remainder of his life. “So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” (Joshua 21:43-45)
At times obedience is a struggle, as your mind runs through all the reasons God’s path is illogical. Fear dominates and your will battles to comply when everything within is screaming to run the other way. But obedience is always the best choice, because the Lord is trustworthy and wise. The more we trust Him to direct our lives, the more involved He will be in our lives. To make our paths straight, God will remove the obstacles in our paths so we can follow where He wants us to go.
God desires for us to be a whole—growing in the likeness of Jesus Christ, fruitful, and fulfilling His purpose for our lives. He assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him. “For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.” (Jeremiah 7:22-24)