I think it’s safe to say, as I write this from the year 2020, that life has its moments and seasons of trial and challenge. Jesus says as much in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
As someone who has known a few curve balls in recent days, I wanted to share something that God showed me recently, that has shifted my perspective and approach in times of trouble. My prayer is that it would encourage those of you who may find yourself in difficult days too.
THE NATURE OF THE BATTLE
More often than not, at the centre of the battles that we face is an enemy (the devil) who is trying to rob us of the promises that God has made to us as His children.
Think about a battle you are either in now or have been in. What was the enemy trying to steal from you? Your health? Your peace? The truth? Your wisdom? Your clarity? Your salvation? Your identity as a Child of God?
All of these are things that God has promised to us, and the Bible has a lot to say about the assuredness and finality of the promises of God:
- Joshua 21:45 – “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed, every one was fulfilled.”
- 2 Corinthians 1:20 – “For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ they are [all answered] “yes”. So through Him we say our “Amen” to the glory of God.”
- Romans 4:20-21 – “But he [Abraham] did not doubt or waver in unbelief concerning the promises of God, but he grew strong and empowered by faith, giving glory to God, being fully convinced that God had the power to do what He had promised.”
- Hebrews 10:36 – “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
- 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Have you got the drift?
God’s promises are a sure thing because He who promised them is faithful! That means we can be confident [in our faith] that the promises God has made to us are rightfully ours.
So when the enemy tries to sneak up on you and rob you of your peace, your health, your wisdom, your identity or the truth (to name just a few!), we must not allow him to!
I’m of the belief that we cannot be passive about the promises of God. If we are, we give the devil the little crack he is looking for to jump in and try to steal them.
So what it the opposite of passive? Active!
We need to be active in declaring and receiving the promises of God in our lives. In doing this, we are resisting the devil and the Bible says that when we actively resist the devil he will flee from us (James 4:7).
So what does it look like to actively claim possession of the promises of God, particularly in battle seasons?
I found an answer to this in the book of Joshua. Let’s camp there for a moment…
JOSHUA ASSUMES COMMAND
In Joshua chapter 1 we find Joshua standing on the edge of the promised land. God is instructing him to go forward, with the tribes of Israel, and take possession of it.
The promised land at the time was already occupied by all the ‘ites’ – Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Amorites and Jebusites. God was telling Joshua that He would “thoroughly drive out” these inhabitants (Joshua 3:10).
But before Joshua even steps foot into the promised land to start the battle for the possession of the promise, God tells him to take command of the Israelites and prepare them to cross the Jordan River and go into the promise land.
“Take command” feels like wartime language, but as I read this in Joshua I realised that it’s the same thing that you and I need to do when it comes to the trials and tribulations that try to rob us of what God has promised – we need to take command of the situation, just as God instructed Joshua.
In the Name of Jesus and by His Word, we need to take command over the situation, its outcome, our feelings and the voices that we choose to listen to.
Now God doesn’t tell Joshua to “take command” and then leave him alone to figure the rest out for himself. God very clearly shows Joshua (and us!) what is involved in taking command of the battle. I’m excited to share these with you as I’m confident that they are as true for us today as they were for Joshua as he prepared to take possession of a God-promise.
1. BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS
When God says something once, we should listen.
When He says something three times, we should drop everything and pay attention!!
In Joshua chapter 1, between verses 6 and 9, God tells Joshua THREE TIMES to “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1: 6, 7 and 9).
If you’re going to assume command over your situation and take a firm hold of the promises of God, you are going to need to be strong and courageous.
Why? Especially when Jesus has already won the ultimate victory through His finished work on the cross?
We find our answer in Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.”
This scripture reminds us of the reality of our battles – we are facing a spiritual enemy, and to stare your enemy in the face (whatever form it may take) will require you to be strong and courageous!
2. KNOW WHAT THE WORD SAYS ABOUT YOUR SITUATION
In Joshua 1:7-9 God tells Joshua to…
“Be strong and very courageous, in order to act carefully in accordance with all the law that My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn aside from it to the right or the left, so that you may succeed wherever you go. This Book of the Law must not depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may act carefully according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way successful, and you will be wise.”
God is telling Joshua that the Book of the Law (our present-day Bible) is the greatest weapon he has in the coming battle; it is the key to success.
This is pretty clear instruction from God – know what the Bible says about your situation and know it intimately. Then mediate on it regularly (day and night) and speak it out (declare it) over your situation.
That’s your battle plan!
I think this is also another reason why God tells us to be strong and courageous. Sometimes doing what the Bible says in a situation requires strength and courage because it can feel scary or even counterintuitive.
For example, if the doctor has given you or someone you love a bad report, being strong and courageous in the face of that battle requires you to put the facts of the doctor’s report aside, and instead choose to declare the truth of God’s word over the situation, such as Isaiah 53:5, “And by His [Jesus’] stripes (wounds) we are healed.”
This takes (1) a knowledge of the Word and what it says about your situation and (2) faith to put it into action.
Remember the earlier scriptures about the promises of God? We can have this unwavering faith because:
- He [God] who made these promises is faithful;
- He always keeps his promises (and health is one of them) and no word of God ever fails (Luke 1:37)
- Isiah 55:11 – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; it will not return to Me void (useless, without result), without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
3. REMEMBER WHOSE COMMAND YOU SIT UNDER
When God is instructing Joshua to take command and claim the promise land, God is telling him to do so under God’s command.
God is our commander in chief. The authority we walk in which enables us to take command over our situation is His!
The scriptures remind us of this in the New Testament – that we are God’s heirs and therefore we carry His authority!
- Romans 8:17 – “And since we are His true children, we qualify to share all his treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God himself. And since we are joined to Christ, we also inherit all that He is and all that He has.”
- Galatians 4:7 – “Now we’re no longer living like slaves under the law, but we enjoy being God’s very own sons and daughters! And because we’re His, we can access everything the Father has – for we are heirs of God through Jesus, the Messiah!”
Finally, another strong benefit of being an heir of God and living under His command is this: he will never leave us in a battle! This is how we are able to be strong and courageous in the face of a battle – because God’s is always with us!
Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
YOU ARE BATTLE-READY!
So my friend, whatever battle you are in the midst of or standing on the edge of, assume command over it and refuse to allow the devil to rob you of God’s promises!
This is what God instructs us to do in battle-time. He has given us His power and authority on earth to assume command over the evil forces of darkness and death. He has given us the blueprint for the battle (the Word!); you will find every piece of truth, wisdom and encouragement that you need in there! And ultimately, He has given us the victory through Jesus and His resurrection.
Colossians 2:15 – “Having disarmed the powers and authorities [Jesus] made a public spectacle of the [forces of evil], triumphing over them by the cross.”
My prayer is that you bravely and courageously stare this battle down through the lense of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, being confident that He has already fulfilled all His promises to us and that they are rightfully yours to hold on to forever.