Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gradually Growing

Think about some of the great gospel songs through the years. Many of the songs written were heaven-themed songs. One such song, I borrowed the tune from for the Chinese food song I posted Friday, called, “I’m Getting Ready to Leave This World”. Songs that look forward to the glory of heaven are good, because one day life on earth will end for each and every one of us, and heaven is the place to be. Through the years, many of have often thought of the wonder and glory of that blessed place as a reminder that the temporary pain of trial and trouble will give way to the to a joy that we simply could never understand on this earth. Even the scriptures bear witness to this. It was the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us”, in Romans 8:18. Heaven is indeed going to be a wonderful place.

One of the pictures people use to give us a type of heaven is that of the Promised Land, the land of Canaan, into which God led his people Israel, under the leadership of Joshua. In fact, one of my favorite gospel songs is called, “What a Day That will Be”, in which the lyrics say, “…when he takes me by the hand, and leads to the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be”. The problem is, though, that the typology isn’t theologically accurate. The land of Canaan wasn’t a type of heaven. Heaven is a place of rest, a place of peace and joy. The land of Canaan, now Israel, was eventually the place where the Israelites would settle down, but not before facing battles. They were to go in and battle for the land that God was giving them. Gradually, over a period of time, God gave them the land, clearing out the land of the inhabitants, like the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Hittites. There were people in that area, giants of Goliath-like stature, which needed to be removed. When I get to heaven, friends, the only giant I’ll be looking at is the Giant of my salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ!

In Exodus 23, God began to tell them how he was going to give the land to them. Let us read in verses 28-30:

“I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you. I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.”

The way God was going to clean up the land was to do little by little. If he had cleared them out all at once, the animals of the land would then multiply and move into the areas people inhabited, and pose a danger to the people of Israel. God does the same thing with us, doesn’t he?

When we were born again, we began this relationship with the Lord, and in that relationship, God began to lead us into his plan and purpose for us. He began the work of sanctification, or setting us apart for his holy purposes. The Holy Spirit began to convict us of sin in our lives; he began to lead us to study the Bible, to pray, and to worship. And gradually, as we look back over our lives, we can see where God has been working.

But he leads us one battle at a time. I know from my own experience, that it is easy to get prideful when I seem to have “mastered” a certain area of my life, be it a persistent sin or priding myself in doing what I ought, like making sure I am studying the Bible consistently. The Bible does warn us, in relation to the examples of the Israelite people, to beware, “if any man thinks he stand, lest he fall”, 1 Cor. 10:12. That fall may be pride, or some other sin coming in like wild animals would have come into Israel had the land been cleared to quickly. God knows how to lead us.

So, let’s sum up the message today. Don’t get rushed. Don’t let yourself get ahead of God. Allow him to do the work he needs to do inside you. I know how frustrating it can be when it seems that the process isn’t moving along quickly enough, but God knows what it is we need. To cap off this devotion to, I can think of no better Bible verse than Philippians 1:6, which tells us that “He who began a good work in you will perfect (complete) it until the day of Christ Jesus”. God bless!


Henry Haney said...

Good post today! I think we all share in your testimony- there are times when we think we've got it made and that's the most dangerous place we can be in. I often think about King David who tarried at Jerusalem when he should have been out to battle with Joab. This was the setup for his great moral failure with Bathsheba. I think we sometimes get lax and think we're in a safe place after a season of victory....but "let him who thinks he stands...take heed lest he fall"

Thanks for the Word today!

Neil said...

Recently the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, "Let things happen, don't make them happen!" It's all about Proverbs 3:5,6, trusting in the Lord, not trying to figure everything out, and allowing God to direct us...He really does know what He's doing!

michigan preacher said...

Amen to you both! We have to stay on guard. And, Neil, good word. God does know what he's doing.

I'm praying for you all!