Claim the Joy

Dear Lord,

   It's such a beautiful day. From my window, I can see spring's early invitation, and I would love to spend the day outside. My typewriter knows no seasons. It always looks the same! Discipline can be so unattractive!

   I thank You for assignment. I thank You for the sense of energetic purpose. I thank You because I have something to do. I trust You to give me another spring day, whose invitation I can accept.

   I pray in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Amen.                            

   Joshua was Moses' successor in leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan. In the first chapter of Joshua, we are told how God promised Joshua that He would be with him, as He had been with Moses. God's sovereign continuity in action!

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Joshua 1:5                        

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   Armed with God's promise, Joshua led the people forward. The Levites carried the Ark of the Covenant — the most sacred object Israel had. This ark was so very holy unto God it could not be touched by human hands. It was on poles threaded through hoops on the corners of the ark, and carried only by priests of a certain order.

   The priests carrying the ark led all the people to the Jordan River, and from that spot they could see the object of their travels — the land of Canaan. A land flowing with milk and honey, a place promised to them by God. But they were separated from their land by the river that incidentally was overflowing its banks.

   Canaan is not representative of our heavenly home; rather it represents the opportunity of claiming the promises of God, His abundant life right now. At this point. Claiming the joy! Reveling in the fact of all God has accomplished in us, and all He would have us enjoy in Him. It means placing our feet confidently on the sure ground of His promises, It means joy, regardless of circumstances and free of guilt. But there is that little matter of the river Jordan.

   All of the Old Testament people we have discussed so far in this book dealt with their problems and their failures by releasing themselves, problems and all, into the hands of God Almighty. Now we stand as Joshua and his followers did, with the Promised Land in view. All he had to do was cross the river and claim it.

   In obeying God, Joshua had not only known the joy of obedience to God, but he had also learned of the

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trustworthiness of God. He probably came to the edge of the river with confidence that God Himself would provide a way to get all those people across to the other side. What did Joshua expect? A bridge? A boat?

   Instead, God gave Joshua a direction. "Tell the priests to pick up the ark and walk on over." Walk on over the river Jordan? That swirling, overflowing, very wet river? I'm sure there was a pause while Joshua thought that one over!

   A lot of us turn back at the river Jordan because we would rather be pampered than promoted. But some of us are deathly afraid of delight. We fear that joy may do the one thing suffering did not do — separate us from God.

   That sounds preposterous, and yet I have known times when I stiff-armed the very blessed opportunities God made available to me, afraid to appropriate the Promised Land by risking the damp deepness of the river Jordan. Pick up the ark and walk on over! The Lord who could be trusted in a time of poverty can be trusted in a time of plenty!

   God gives us richly all things to enjoy! The verse from First Timothy always reminds me of Dr. Dwight Pentecost — famed teacher, writer, and preacher. I had asked him to speak to a couple of our study groups, and invited him and his wife, Marion, to our small apartment for lunch before the first meeting. Greeting each visitor to our little home was a small handsome antique Pembroke table a lovely piece of eighteenth-century English mahogany.

   That day as I happily went to welcome the Pentecosts,

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I suddenly saw that Pembroke table in a different light. Every cent of its price tag was in the handmade fashioning! "Oh, horrors!" I thought. "What will Doctor Pentecost think! I have wasted money on me when I could have been supporting missionaries or feeding the hungry or sending young preacher boys to seminary!"

   Since I couldn't burn my little table enroute, I hurried to answer the door and rush my visitors quickly through the hallway. But I wasn't quick enough. Doctor Pentecost glanced at the table as he passed. "What a fine Pembroke table!" he declared.

   He recognized it! I began to stammer at him that I had just bought it — that I could take it right back and do something more altruistic with the money... He dealt with my problem graciously and accurately. "Jeannette," he said, as he ran his fingers over that table top. "You should read 1 Timothy 6:17. 'The Lord gives us richly all things to enjoy.' The best thing to do is to thank Him and enjoy what He has allowed you to have."

   God gives us richly all things to enjoy. In His season for delight, claim the delight. He can lead and protect you just as well in success as in failure. But sometimes we find security in familiar suffering, and dare not risk the unknown elements of ease. Sometimes we discuss, because we feel that trouble has led us to God, and triumph would lead us away from Him. What kind of God do we think He is? Have we learned so little of Him that we turn to superstition instead of faith?

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   Joshua offered the priests the message from God, and they lined up as directed. I've always felt special sympathy for that first priest!

And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water.... That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap.... and the people passed over....

Joshua 3:15, 16                                   

   The priests bearing the ark walked to the middle of the river and stood there, on dry ground, until the whole nation had crossed the river Jordan. Can't you imagine those priests elbowing one another in amazement at what God had done?

   Then Joshua gave his followers one more command:

.... Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.

Joshua 4:3                    

   What do those stones signify to us? The stones on the shore mark deliverance by the power of God. The stones on the riverbed mark the appropriation of it.

   Notice that the soles of the feet of the priest rested in the water. The water was up to their ankles before the flesh of their feet sent a message to the mind and

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heart saying God had done what He had said He would do. To know the power of God, you have got to get your feet wet! Step out in faith that's the Joshua principle. Apply it to your Jordan and claim the joy of your Canaan. Then run to tell others the good news.

   On the last day of my trip to Israel, our guide led us to the Jordan River. It was as idyllic a spot as I could imagine. I saw many who chose to be baptized in these waters, hallowed by a holy history.

   It was beautiful, but it did not look like the river that had perplexed Joshua. It was no special feat to cross here. "Is this where Joshua crossed?" I asked.

    "No," our guide answered, "that's over there. Joshua crossed about where John baptized Jesus — over there, where Elisha crossed back from leaving Elijah."

   What was that? John had baptized Jesus where Elisha crossed! One place of beginnings? The public ministry of Jesus began where Joshua led Israel to the land of Canaan!

   Of course! Where else but at the Jordan do we learn the actuality of obedience? Where else do we put into practice the lessons heard in classrooms? where else do we dare to try out our own God-granted authenticity? Where else, but at that one place of beginnings?

   He who loved me so much He redeemed me would have me try the Jordans and claim His joy. Claim them in my own personhood, in the authenticity of myself.

   I may cross my Jordan again and again. You may have crossings in store for you beyond your wildest imaginings. Don't miss a one! Get your feet wet! Give

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God a chance to prove His power in your obedience. Cross the Jordan with Joshua, Elisha, Hannah, David, or Elijah but cross it.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace was not given to me in vain. By it I labored more abundantly than they all — yet not I, but the grace of God, which is in me.

See 1 Corinthians 15:10                    

Dear Lord,

   Thank You. Now do with this book whatever You purposed in the first place. Thank You for the joy of my part in it.

   I release it unto You. Your will be done. To You be the glory!

   I pray in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Amen.                              

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