For every day living, a key to enjoying divine grace is not learning how to convince God to give it; it is learning to receive it.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
God wants you to prosper!
I’m serious. It is not a joke nor a heresy. It is Bible truth.
Many times we allow unwise believers, or even unsaved people, to take truthful concepts from Scripture, distort them, and somehow kidnap their vocabulary to the degree that we avoid them entirely.
That’s a win for the Devil, and an unhealthy reaction on our part.
In this passage we find Joshua, a military commander if there ever was one, receiving instruction from the divine Captain. One of the orders given the new leader of Israel was this famous command in verse eight. He was never to forget or ignore the word of God. He was to keep it close, always right in front of Him.
If he obeyed, he was promised success. And not just a tiny bit of success. He would prosper in everything he did and in every place he went!
Now, considering the fact that he was about to invade a heavily defended group of kingdoms, this command seems quite odd. How in the world could the collection of Moses’ books — made up mainly of historical narratives, social laws, and spiritual instruction — offer any military help?!
Well, strictly speaking, it couldn’t.
But that is the point. The Pentateuch was not about weapons or war strategies! It was about knowing God, loving Him, and coming to trust Him so fully, that obeying whatever He commanded, was always understood to be the right thing.
In other words, doing His will day by day was the key to prospering. Success was defined as simply doing what God said to do.
It made absolutely no difference what armament the enemy had, how they defended their cities, or what counterattacks they might use. To prosper in conquering the promised land -- God's will for Joshua -- all he needed to do was obey the word of the Lord, at every turn.
Now just in case we might try to relegate this principle exclusively to the earliest stages of Biblical teaching, and somehow less relevant, the Lord repeats it nearly 500 years later. In the very first Psalm, David picked it up and applied it across the board, to every believer. We can’t just explain it away. It is too clear: “Blessed is the man . . . his delight is in the Law of the Lord . . . whatsoever he doeth shall prosper”!
Assuming you desire God’s will supremely, reading and embracing His Word will guarantee success. It will also help make sense of many puzzling details of life.
Now, one question all of this should force us to ask is, What does prosperity look like?
Well, was Abel’s short life in Genesis 4 a success? Was Zechariah’s death in 2 Chronicles 24, between the altar and the Holy Place, a victory? Did Stephen, in Acts 7, die a martyr’s death prosperously?
Yes! Yes! Yes!
How is that? Because they accomplished exactly what God wanted them to do. This being the case, prosperity is necessarily unique to every believer. It does not look the same across the board.
Are you a student? Are you going into business? Is God leading you into the ministry? Do you have some daunting challenge in front of you? Are you fearful of being unprepared for the future?
God wants you to prosper!
And true prosperity is the same today as it always has been. In ancient days it had nothing to do with their career, nor their plans for the future, nor the expectations of the world around them. It had only to do with being and doing what they were supposed to be and do, according to God.
Do you think this is extreme? Does it sound ridiculous? Well consider this: God’s will undoubtedly did not make any more sense to the Canaanites surrounding Joshua than it does to the world around you.
Just think Jericho.
In the end, you have a choice . . . who will you listen to?
Dear Father, it really does not matter how others define success for me. The only critical issue is that I do your will. If I stay in your Word, you will guide me down the path of your choice and prosper me all the way to my destination. Believing that is peace and satisfaction and joy.
One thing I have learned in my years of ministry and walk with Christ is the importance of gratitud. More and more I see it as a core sign of true humility. A person who honestly and consistently thanks others for even the tiniest good they have done for him is displaying genuine selflessness. This kind of person is always a delight to be with.
The other side of the coin is also easy to identify — through those who blame everyone else for their current situation. Pride often expresses itself in shifting the blame, expecting everyone to understand us and pave our way, and generally focusing on what we need or think we need. We are all tempted in this, because pride lives in each of us — not in a tent on the surface, but in a powerfully defended castle on the rock bed of our heart.
1 Thess 5:18
This I have learned in the many years I have walked with the Lord -- He is ALWAYS doing more than we think He is.
It is interesting that this "hardening of the heart" came to the disciples (Mark 6:52). Usually I would first associate the phrase or condition with the Pharaoh of Egypt, or some other really bad person! But this verse indicates that a believer can also suffer this judgment -- and that's exactly what it seems to be portrayed as.
It should be thought-provoking at least, as it is the kind of thing that renders the "infected" person oblivious to the fact that he does, in fact, have it. A believer with a hardened heart probably does not realise it. In fact, he may think he is totally right in whatever matter is on the table. Only by God's grace can this be reversed, as the Holy Spirit points out truth and sin, and we have the spiritual sensitivity to respond correctly. The opposite would be to continue blinded by our pride, assuming everyone else is wrong.
Lord, give me a sensitive heart that is always on the alert. My deadliest enemy is probably the one inside.
("For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.")
The Lord would often say, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear", clearly referring to the important link between our desire to believe and the ability to. I thought of this as I read Jeremiah 16:14-15, Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.
Does that not describe the situation today, in the 21st century?!
The modern nation of Israel does not talk so much about their exodus from Egypt as they do of their return from nations all over the world!
That is clear prophecy fulfilled -- obvious to anyone who wants to see it . . . or hear it.
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; (1 Kings 19:4)
There are at least two reasons to pay close attention to Elijah’s prayer life. One is because God highlights it and the other is that it is actually quite remarkable!
Now many of us have memorized James’ phrase, “the effectual, fervent prayer...”, we have read books on it, and we have heard messages from it. But have we personally paid attention to it?
Let’s do that now, taking a few minutes to look back at Elijah’s prayer life.
Here are a few general observations that should catch our attention.
First, there is an array of kinds of prayer. Not a full array, but still a fairly broad one. There are private ones and public ones. There are peaceful ones and violent ones. There are ones for provision and others for destruction. Prayer then, is good for all areas of life.
In the second place, not all of his prayers were answered as he wanted. One, at least, appears to have been ignored. Or, if that’s too painful an answer, it was met with a “No”. He asked God to let him die, but no bolt of lightning came from heaven. Here there is a lesson too. God’s perspective was higher, much higher, than Elijah’s, and the overall picture reveals that His way was perfect for the situation.
And then, the one I find particularly interesting — the timing of the divine answers.
Why on earth does God sometimes answer immediately and at other times only after repeated prayers? Most of Elijah’s recorded prayers seem to have been answered right away, like for drought or fire; others distinctly were not. In fact, there is a specific emphasis made on how many times he had to pray and how odd the positions were. Three prayers were cried out as he stretched on top of the widow’s son; seven times he bowed his head between is knees before the rainstorm would come!
Again, why did the prophet have to go through all of this? What was going on?
Quite obviously, God was thinking way beyond what anyone else had in mind. He was setting up a timeless course on prayer, one that through the ages would never expire. And just in case, 900 years later, He would post a New Testament reminder (James 5:16-17) to make sure it didn’t get totally eclipsed by the various writings of prophets and disciples. These were prayer tips He wanted every successive generation of His children to learn. And what were some of them?
That God’s plan was the ultimate one, not Elijah’s.
That God’s goals were the priority, not Elijah’s.
That God’s timing was what mattered, not Elijah’s.
This last point is perhaps the one I most often need to remember. Are there not prayer requests that I have repeated to God many times? Maybe not three or seven times, but 300 or 7000 times. Do I not have burdens on my heart for which I have wondered, “Why, oh Lord? Why so long? Why do I have to keep asking for the same thing over and over again?”
And what about you? Are you satisfied with your prayer life — you never wonder, you never get impatient with God, you never quit?
Elijah’s experience is meant to make us think. The number of times we have to pray is, in a sense, irrelevant and so is the amount of time that goes by. For God, three minutes or seven weeks are simply components of a master plan, one that only He can see. The only thing that really matters is that God’s will is done and He is glorified.
Dear Father, you have called me to a life of faith. This not only involves prayer, but it many times means praying without knowing how things will unfold. Help me not only accept this, but embrace it with the peace that comes from knowing you have everything under control. Amen.
I do not read the Bible because others do, or don't.
I do not pray because others do, or don't.
I do not go to church because others do, or don't.
I do not witness for Jesus because others do, or don't.
I read, and pray, and go to church, and witness, because...
The Lord is MY shepherd!
He knew everything about you; and still does, and always will.
He knows everything you are doing, have done, and will do.
He will always know everything you've done, are currently doing, or will do.
Sometimes the goodness and grace of God is so . . .
That we have no adequate words to describe it.
Fortunately He knows our hearts and what we would say if we knew how.
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