One of the enigmas of Christian life seems to be the dichotomy between what we are promised in the Bible and what we actually experience on a daily basis. If you have ever wondered why you haven't been healed (even though you believe the Word says healing is for today), or why you still struggle with problem areas of sin (despite Jesus' promise of abundant life), you're not alone. For many of us, the source of this conflict is a mystery, and we have resigned ourselves to daily living within the "status quo."
Living this way, however, presents a secondary problem: knowing that God has a promised land for us and yet failing to enter it, makes the Word seem - *GASP* - untrue! And we are sure that cannot be! So we work out what we can of our faith, doing good deeds, encouraging others, praying our most faith-filled prayers and hoping for the best. We rarely see the type of breakthroughs we long for, and when they do happen, we're not always sure why!
Faith Is Not Passive
Many people think of faith as a noun: something that we have. True faith, however, acts more like a verb than a noun. Biblical faith holds mountain-moving power on earth when applied. 2 Timothy 3:5 cautions us not to be like those who "hold to an outward form of godliness but deny its power." Real faith requires both confession and action, not just a passive acknowledgement of God's guidelines. Faith without works accomplishes nothing (See James 2:17).
Joshua, the Faith Warrior
One of the heroes of "active" faith is Joshua, son of Nun. Since he is the one who actually led Israel into the Promised Land, it makes sense to look at how he achieved his breakthroughs and see what we can learn from his life.
1. Before Joshua ever started warring for the Promised Land, he was assured of victory by the commander of the Lord's army. (Joshua 5:13-6:2). Guaranteed success. Sweet! Like Joshua, we, too, have been given a guarantee of success for our battles by Jesus Christ, who conquered every demonic force and gave us authority over them all (Matthew 28:18; Luke 10:19). We will succeed if we are led by God.
2. Joshua meditated on the Word constantly. While Moses led Israel through the wilderness, Joshua spent hundreds of hours abiding in or near the tabernacle as a servant and spiritual apprentice. (Exodus 33:11). Joshua also continued to seek the Lord once he became a leader. In fact, the one time he didn't seek counsel before a battle, he was deceived by the Gibeonites and suffered a setback. (See Joshua 9 for the story). Like this humble leader, we must saturate our minds, eyes, and ears with the Word of God to protect us from the deception and discouragement of the enemy.
3. Joshua fought for the promise. Battle after battle is recorded in chapters 6-12 of Joshua encamping and then fighting to gain ground in the promised land. This was how he put his faith into action. There are two keys here:
First, in ancient times, encamping around the enemy prior to battle was a necessary strategy. I believe there is a similar need for us to "encamp" around current problems that need defeating in prayer. We often look for a quick deliverance and fast answers to prayer when in reality, there are battles that take some time to be won. Jericho was won not in one day but seven. By the time Joshua's army had marched around that city seven times, they knew every inch of the wall and the land! Be prepared to spend some quality time in prayer until you see breakthrough.
Second, we must be willing to fight. Whether you believe in a pre-tribulation rapture or not, you can be assured that the world will continue to deteriorate prior to Christ's return. (Read Matthew 24 for more on this). It will be necessary for you to fight for what you believe, to take hold of the promises you've been given by faith - whether for your family's salvation, your healing, or your provision. We are given spiritual armor (Ephesians 6) for a reason!
4. He persevered. I love the sentence that reads: "Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings!" (Joshua 11:18, NASB). It's almost funny, after reading 6 chapters of warfare, to hear this statement made! It does show me, though, that despite guaranteed success from God, diligent worship on a believer's part, and a willing army of trained men, victory can still take time to manifest. The Aramaic Bible's translation of Luke 21:19 reinforces this concept: "But by your perseverance you shall possess your souls." Patience and perseverance is a fruit of the Spirit. Only as we walk in the Spirit will we have the ability to persevere in prayer until we reach the promises He has given us.
c.Deborah Perkins, 2014
Deborah Perkins is passionate about connecting people with God. She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at HisInscriptions.com.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.