The place of works in the life of a believer is a big topic of discussion these days. Works or rest? Rest or works? Which is it?
It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build – the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them. (Joshua 24:12-13 NLT)
Is it rest or is it works? Yes!
I’m not suggesting we have to work for our salvation – our deliverance from “Egypt.” There’s nothing we could do to earn that.
But the blessings were always tied to their obedience to what He said to do. They had a part to play in entering the Promised Land (partaking of the blessing), and so do we.
Don’t worry…I see the words I gave you, I gave you, I gave you. I see where He said that it wasn’t their bows and swords. I see it. But….let’s look a little closer.
These are Joshua’s last words to the people. Just a few short verses later, Joshua moved to heaven. He had finished his task of leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land.
Included in his final speech is the fact that it wasn’t their might or power or strength or weapons that gained them the victory. It was God.
But the thing is, they did actually use their swords and bows.
They didn’t just sit on the border between the wilderness and the Promised Land and rest. Wait for God to move. Do absolutely nothing. I mean God said it, right? He promised and that’s that. It’ll just happen, won’t it?
They didn’t get to just sit back and watch God swoop through the land and drive out the giants.
They didn’t just hang out on the border and watch legions of angels drive the enemy out so they could march in uncontested.
Now, when God delivered them from slavery in Egypt, that’s exactly what happened. They watched in awe as He poured out the plagues on the land. They didn’t do anything there to help Him.
They sat in amazement and watched as the angel swept through the land, executing the final plague on any house that didn’t carry the sign of the blood.
God and God alone did that.
They walked through the miraculously dry Red Sea, ate miracle manna and drank miracle water from the Rock without any effort on their part.
But when it came time to enter the Promised Land, they had a part to play. It required some effort on their part. They had to use their swords and bows and take possession of the land – under the direction and power of God, of course – but they gave their blood, sweat and tears.
They fought long and hard for several years with their weapons, taking town after town after town. Possessing the Promised Land. They even lost men in the process. It was a fight.
God gave them the land, but they had to possess it.
And we see here in Joshua 24 that God reminds them,
“Yes, you fought. Yes, you obeyed. Yes, you did use your weapons. You played a part. But if I hadn’t given you the land, you wouldn’t have won. If I hadn’t gone with you, if I hadn’t empowered you, you wouldn’t have had victory. Yes, you did something, but you can’t take the credit.”
What would’ve happened if they hadn’t used their swords and bows and fought? What would’ve happened if they had just sat on the border of the wilderness and the Promised Land and just sat, waiting for God to move?
I’ll tell you what would’ve happened. Nothing. Nothing would’ve happened. The land would never have been theirs. Even though God gave it…even though God said it….they would never have lived there.
Actions aren’t necessarily works….their fighting wasn’t just a work….it was trust displayed in obedience.
And we have actions.
Believe. Pray. Confess. Speak to the mountain. Give. Trust. Rest. Obey.
Works? No. Trust displayed in obedience? Absolutely.
As I write, I’m sitting on the end of a hospital bed, watching my husband sleep, thankful. We’ve seen so many miracles and “but God” moments in the last couple of days.
Wednesday night about 2 am, the Holy Spirit woke me up with an unction to pray for Mikel. And I did. I prayed for about 1-1/2 hours.
Praying….No weapon formed against him can prosper. It might be formed, but it can’t come to its expected end.
Singing….You’re a good, good Father. It’s who You are, who You are, who You are. And Mikel’s healed by You. It’s who he is. Who he is. Who he is.
I know what the word says about healing. I know Jesus purchased it on the cross. I know it’s ours. It belongs to us. He’s made us able to be partakers. He did all the work for that. All of it.
But there was a God-inspired action on my part that night to take possession of it. I spent an hour and a half praying and speaking healing and life over Mikel. I don’t want to know what would have happened if I hadn’t put action to my trust in God to heal.
My prayers were not just works, and I wasn’t trying to earn his healing. But I was contending for it. It was a faith-filled response to the Spirit and the Word.
Just like it wasn’t just their bows and swords that got them the land, it wasn’t my prayers that healed anyone. It was the One who heard and answered them that made all the difference.
But He can’t answer prayer if we don’t actually pray. He can’t respond to faith if we don’t release it. And that releasing looks different to every person and in every situation.
God has given us promises, but we still have to take possession of them. And that takes effort. Contending. Action. Believing. He did all the heavy lifting, but we still have a part to play.
I don’t have to work for or earn what He paid for. It’s all because of what He’s done. He paid the price. He sent His Word. He gave me the unction. All I did was respond in faith to the faithful One.
And I’m so thankful I did. And He did. He’s a good, good Father.