Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Promised Land for the New Year

After the Exodus, God sent his people Israel into Canaan, the Promised Land, and he promised that he would help them take the land.  He prepared them for battle, warning them what lay ahead, and sometimes giving them specific military strategy.  He also prepared the way for them naturally, by sending hornets ahead of the Israelites, causing the Canaanites to flee the land.  God promised to drive the Canaanites out gradually, so that Israel could take over the land gradually and not be overwhelmed.  (Deuteronomy 7:20-25)

Our souls are like the Promised Land.  We are all messed up in one way or another; our past is full of mistakes and rebellion; our thinking is distorted and not based on reality.  The enemy of our souls occupies territory in our souls, and refuses to yield ground.  He holds this territory with lies and deception.  When we agree with those lies, the territory remains under enemy control.  The Bible calls these areas "strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4).  The Canaanites controlled the land which God had given to Israel.  So Satan controls parts of our souls, all of which rightly belong to Christ.  Whenever we let fear or guilt or anger dominate our thoughts and distort our perception of reality, we can see the influence of the enemy.  To one degree or another, we all struggle with this influence.

The good news is that God is delivering us.  He gradually opens up territory of our souls so that we can be free.  God uses circumstances and the natural maturing of life as he used the hornets in Canaan:  he opens our minds gradually to see the world from a grown-up, spiritual point of view.  He doesn't show us everything at once, but over time he reveals the truth to us and exposes the lies of the enemy.

When the truth is revealed and the lies exposed, we often have to do battle to claim that new territory.  It doesn't come easily, even with God's help.  We have to work for it.  We have to stand on God's word as truth, in spite of what circumstances or the world may say.  We have to choose to live in faith.  We must intentionally reject our old ways of thinking, even though they are so familiar and comfortable.  We have to remind ourselves that we are tired of living under the devil's deception.

I marvel at how gently God reveals my wrong patterns of thinking.  I also marvel at my old mental ruts.  My old habits of thought continually lead me back into stinking thinking. 

Life in Christ, full of the Holy Spirit is the Promised Land.  It is where God wants me to dwell.  Every day Jesus is claiming new territory in my soul, and I have to fight to take it.

Really, Jesus won the battle on cross.  He took the territory.  He won the victory.  I just have to believe it and trust him.  That changes the way I live.  That's how God changes the world.

The New Year is a great time for a new beginning, choosing to live in the Promised Land!