July 1, 2013

Step Out Onto New Territory

The Book of Joshua opens with the Children of Israel encamped along the banks of the Jordan River at the border of Canaan. After forty years of sojourning in the wilderness, the Israelites were about to head into new territory: they were going to cross over into the land that God had promised them so many years earlier.

Joshua had just succeeded that great man Moses. We might wonder what qualified Joshua to step into the shoes of such a powerful man of God. Several qualifications come to mind. For example, of the twelve men who had been sent to spy out Canaan forty years earlier, only Joshua and Caleb had shown complete confidence in God, assuring the people that they were well able to take the land. During the forty years the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, Joshua had stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Moses, the man of God. Joshua was one of only two witnesses still living who had personally experienced God’s mighty deliverance of His people from Egypt. Most importantly, God had appointed Joshua to take the people into Canaan.

At this juncture, the omnipotent and mighty God gave Joshua instructions. He told him, “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses” (Joshua 1:2-3). Yes, Moses was dead, but the God of Israel was still alive! The promise that had been made to Moses forty years earlier was still true, and the faithful God of Israel still had a purpose to bring His people into the Promise Land.

Just as God had brought Joshua to that moment, He has brought you and me thus far on our journey through life. And by God’s help and grace, we can have a purpose and a desire to go deeper with Him. I believe that God always has wonderful things in store for His children. God has new experiences in front of us just as He had new experiences in front of Joshua. We can move forward! We can stand upon new spiritual ground.

Your reaction may be to draw back, saying, “I am quite comfortable right where I am.” However, God wants to take us to higher heights and deeper depths—places where we have never gone before with God. Do you believe that? You might say, “I am saved, sanctified, and I have the power of God upon my life. What more do I need? Why should I move forward?” We thank God for the power of the Holy Spirit, but God still wants to take us deeper with Him. Even if we have been serving Him for many years, He will help us to move forward onto new ground if we follow in His ways. New opportunities arise every day to go further with God, and He will lead us one step at a time, one day at a time.

I have been around the Gospel all of my life. My wife and I were saved about three weeks after we were married, and we have been serving the Lord together for over thirty-five years now. We used to sing a song back then, “Lord lift me up and let me stand, by faith on Heaven’s tableland. A higher plane than I have found, Lord plant my feet on higher ground.” That is still a good message. God can plant our feet upon higher ground this very day.

One way we gain spiritual ground is by reading our Bibles every day—spending time learning His Word and listening to what He has to say to us. God can help us to go forward through prayer. We thank God for our private devotions—that secret place of prayer where we are shut in alone with Him. However, God also gives us the opportunity to kneel around the altars of prayer with His children, side by side with brothers and sisters who want to help us pray through and receive deeper experiences and walk more closely with God.

Consecration is very important in the Christian life. We want to consecrate our lives—to place ourselves upon the altar and present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). If we learn to do that, we will find that we are stepping upon new territory, new ground in our Christian walks. God is taking us to new places.

The Word of God says that we must deny ourselves. Self-denial means that we take up our cross and follow Christ (see Luke 9:23). Daily commitment will bring us harmony and a sweet fellowship, not only with our brothers and our sisters in Christ, but with our Lord Jesus Christ himself.

The Church of Jesus Christ is a progressive church! It is a body of believers who are moving forward—marching to Zion, the City of God! God wants to bring each one of us to that wonderful place, but to get there, we need to walk in places where we have never ventured before. If we determine in our hearts to do that, God will honor our faith. He will give us the grace and the courage to step forward, and some day we will be able to look back on a lifetime of serving the Lord and see all the blessings He has bestowed upon our lives because we made a decision to go deeper with Him.

When Joshua and the Children of Israel stood at the border of Canaan, the Jordan River lay between the wilderness and the land God had promised to them. The river seemed to be a barrier, a line of separation. The generation of Israelites that God had brought out of Egypt had feared to move forward and take the land, and had perished in the wilderness as a result. What a warning! Now, a new generation had risen up and Joshua was about to lead them across the Jordan into the Promised Land.

There may be a Jordan in your life that you need to cross. There may be something that hinders your spiritual progress, some reason why you are discouraged. Do not wander about in a spiritual wilderness for years, waiting to cross over! Do not stop short of what God has promised you!

It is human nature to be afraid at times, especially of the unknown, but read the words of encouragement that God spoke to Joshua. He said, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 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. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:7-9). Those words should put a thrill down in our hearts. They are not only words of encouragement, but they are also conditions for receiving the blessing of God.

Spiritual progress comes from seeking God and trusting Him for the victory.

Are you ready to go forward and claim new ground? Spiritual progress comes from seeking God and trusting Him for the victory. With every step of obedience, God will increase your faith. With every step of faith, the waters will roll back and God will make a way. Remember, Canaan is ahead of you; just on the other side of Jordan is your blessing! Do not be content to stay in one place spiritually. Do not just stand still. Remind yourself of those words, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you” (Joshua 1:3). God has not changed. What He was to Joshua, He will be to you, so you can claim that promise in Jesus’ Name! You can put down a stake with your name upon it and claim new ground.

Are you saved? Are you sanctified holy? Have you been filled with the baptism of the Holy Ghost and power? If not, those experiences can be yours today! Open your heart today and ask for a renewed determination to go forward in your walk of faith. God offers new spiritual territory if you will step out in faith and obedience!

apostolic faith magazine