By Pastor Jim F
This week at Damascus Road Church we tackled two chapters, Joshua 16 and 17. These two chapters lay out the portion of land given to the people of Joseph, the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh. They are not content with their portion. As a matter of fact, their discontentment leads them to voicing a complaint with Joshua, and ultimately with God. The root of their complaint is being more comfortable with their own limited perspective than that of God.
Joshua is not swayed by their justification of their unhappiness, and tasks them with using their many blessings to act toward the possession of the land. Joshua calls them to do what God has commanded them to do (and promised that He will show them success in): purify and subdue their inheritance. He is calling them to be stewards, but specifically to steward as God has commanded. Instead, they make excuses and, in the end, just ignore him.
We fail in the same ways that the people of Joseph did. We rely on that which we ‘know’ rather than what God has told us He will do, or what He tells us to do. In the end, it is a lack of trust on our part. The reality is we don’t really trust God, or His promises if we don’t actually ACT on His commands. Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2.17). So what are we supposed to do? Ephesians 1 gives us a great description of our inheritance, and the promises, and the commands that proceed from it.
Trust the Promiser
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1.11-12
We have a God who works all things according to the counsel of his will. In other words, nothing happens outside of His divine control. We have a God who is in control of all things and promises that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8.28). We can have confidence then, if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8.31). We are on God’s team and He has promised, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28.20b).
Trust the Promise
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1.13-14
The Holy Spirit has been given to us as the fulfillment of a promise (Luke 24.49), but also as a promise. The Holy Spirit has been given by us to encourage us as we wait for the fulfillment of our inheritance (glorification at death/second coming). The Holy Spirit gives us the power to fulfill the cultural mandate (Genesis 1.28) as we are sent to fill the earth and subdue it, to the praise of his glory.
Act out of the Promise
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1.15-23
Jesus is the means by which we receive the inheritance, but He is also in Himself the inheritance. In Jesus we receive eternal life, which is glorious because it is WITH HIM. This inheritance is sealed with the Holy Spirit, who opens our hearts and minds to the wonders of the gospel and the hope to which we are called. Our inheritance becomes complete when we enter into His eternal presence, but Jesus has power over everything RIGHT NOW. So what are we supposed to do between now and glorification? We are to be His bride, the church. We are the hands and feet to what Christ is the Head. We are to work IN HIS STRENGTH to spread the good news of what it means to be saints. We are to reflect HIS LOVE in how we relate to one another. We are to fight the good fight of the faith against sin, so that we can reveal HIS POWER over sin in our lives (similar to the signs and wonders in Acts to give credibility to the ministry). The church is God’s chosen means to display Himself to the world.
Are your actions revealing the fruit of the inheritance? Are they building up the church? If not, what is your excuse?