Summary: Promise! Even the word is full of hope. Don’t you love a promise, especially when you know that the promise maker is also a promise keeper?

"Taking Your Promised Land" - Joshua series, message # 1

Promise! Even the word is full of hope. Don’t you love a promise, especially when you know that the promise maker is also a promise keeper?

Years ago a good man named Phil Herrick told our family, "I’m going to send you all to Disney World in Florida!" At the time I didn’t know Phil very well so when he made such a big promise I cringed a bit.

Several months later, he surprised me in a Sunday morning service by taking the pulpit supposedly to make an announcement about a church function and instead launched a pastor appreciation effort that culminated in our family enjoying a Florida vacation when the kids were little.

Promise made, promise kept!

God has promised us a life that is filled with His Presence and peace, a life that overcomes the shadows of sin and death with the brilliant Light of Jesus. God holds out the promise of a life that is said to be ’abundant’ and marked by freedom from slavery to sin. It is not just a better life for the present, but is fully realized in the gift of eternal life when this earthly sojourn is over.

The question is- how do we ’possess’ that promised life?

Some quickly say, "just receive it by faith."

True enough, but is there no responsibility for you and me? Well, the answer is both yes and no! If by ’responsibility’ we imply that we somehow save ourselves from sin with religious efforts and being very, very good, we are wrong. This promised new life is THE work of Christ, provided fully at His expense, the result of the gracious love of our Father.

That said, we cannot ignore the Bible’s command to us that we ’take possession’ of this new life.

We need to choose, on a daily basis, to live in a way that opens up our lives to the flow of the Spirit. Paul says, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." Phil. 2:12-13 NIV The NLT urges us to be "careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear."

How do we possess God’s promises?

The book of Joshua is a series of lessons for us. It is the story of Joshua’s leadership in moving the Israeli people from wandering in the wilderness into the Promised Land. From the choices and decisions they made to possess God’s Promises, we can take many valuable lessons. These are not just general words of encouragement for the Christian life. I read in this ancient story of conquest very specific challenges for us as we work out the implications of God’s salvation in our own lives!

Text - Joshua 1:1-9 PRAY


Look to the future! {Read v. 1-2}

"Moses is dead!" Joshua had served Israel and Moses as a Vice President for 40 years! He was accustomed to taking orders, to implementing the vision of another. There is absolutely no reason to think that Joshua had anything but real affection for Moses. But, 40 years of history was OVER! The partnership that had worked so well for so long was OVER!

Joshua might easily have let himself be paralyzed by grief, by sentimentally longing for a return to the time when someone else was carrying the burden. So God shocks him into action with a stark declaration - "Moses is dead! Now get ready."

Which direction are you facing in life - yesterday or tomorrow? It’s a key question for those who want to possess the promise! Yesterday holds onto to a lot of us, sometimes with wonderful memories of great victories or pleasurable moments that we want to re-live again and again; and sometimes with powerful regrets or terrible pain that we try to ’fix’ over and over again! Both the victories and the defeats of yesterday are history- we learn from it, but we are foolish to try to relive it.

I love being a Dad! Nothing I have done in my life compares to the joy of raising my kids. I didn’t realize it 15 years ago, but I was deeply attached to Jay, Sean, Chrissie, and Maribel. I found joy I cannot adequately describe in sharing their lives. Sometimes I grow nostalgic for those wonderful days. What I’d give to have a few moments with them around the table at ages 4, 8, and 10 again! I can bearly stand to watch the old videos because the powerful emotions they evoke hurt so badly! But, what a fool I’d be to try to re-create that time in my life. It’s over! I could pack up and move to live closer to my adult children, but I would be pursuing a mirage. They will never be 4 or 14 again! I love them now as a friend and a sometime mentor, as adults who have their own families! There is a future for me as a Dad. It’s different, but different; as I must constantly remind myself, is not bad! In order to discover the joys of this stage of my life, I must be willing to let go of the past.

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