Friday, December 12, 2014

Take off your sandals

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do? The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told. (Joshua 5:13-15)  
 We don't know exactly what Joshua was feeling as he approached the city of Jericho, but I would imagine that maybe he wasn't feeling so strong and courageous that day.  This was, after all, his first battle as the newly appointed leader of the Israelites.  And he'd been wandering in the wilderness for the last forty years eating manna, so his warrior skills were probably out of practice and maybe not so sharp.  But God shows up that day to give Joshua a little confidence as He leads the Israelites in to fight for their Promised Land.  God basically says to him, "I'm here.  My warrior angels are here too and we're ready to fight.  So take off your sandals, cause I'm the Commander and I'm in charge, not you.  This is my battle, not yours. And this ground is holy because I have already gone before you and claimed this territory for you."
Back then, taking off your sandals was a symbolic way of yielding to a higher authority, so Joshua did as he was told.
As we move in towards our own Jerichos and Promised Lands, it can be hard not to buckle to doubt, fear, and discouragement.  The enemy throws his fiery darts of fear or worry and immediately there is an increased temptation to move out of simple peace and trust.  Emotions start reeling and thoughts start spinning.  Panic and doubt rise.  We don't feel strong and we don't feel courageous. And all of a sudden, defeating Jericho and entering in to our Promised Land feels impossible.  
But in those moments, God says the same thing to us that He said to Joshua,  "Take off your sandals. I am here and I am in charge of this battleThis is my fight, not yours. I am the Commander of an army of angels and we are here to wage war on Jericho and take you in to your Promised Land."  
Let those words sink in to your heart and feel the relief and assurance it brings.  Your powerful, Almighty God is here!  This is His fight, not yours!  He is in charge, so you don't have to be. Take off your sandals and trust Him to lead you in to victory.
In Exodus 14:14, it says,"The Lord will fight for you: you need only to be still." The NLT version says, "Just stay calm."   
I believe understanding this principle that God fights for you and resting in it's truth is a huge key in seeing victories in your life.
Isaiah 30:15 says, "Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved.  In quietness and confidence is your strength."  If you are under the enemy's attack or moving out to take possession of the new thing God is leading you into, it is so important to remember that God is fighting for you.  Be still.  Stay calm.  Wait on the Lord. Your strength for the battle comes when your heart is quietly, confidently trusting in God. 
The next verse says, "But you would have none of it.  You said, 'No, we will get our help from Egypt.  They will give us swift horses for riding into battle. 'But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you!'"
The enemy will do everything in his power to get you out of peace and into anxiously fighting in your own strength and willpower.  And when we desperately turn to other things, other people, or even to our own strength to save us, we will probably end up spending a lot of time running from our enemies.  Your ability to stand firm in the battle is found in knowing that God is fighting for you. 
There is a deep rest, an inner stillness, a confidence and peace, that comes when you know and believe that God in on the scene and He is fighting for you.  You don't have to figure it all out, make things happen, or strategize your path to victory. You don't have to be strong or have the best weapons.  You just need to know that God fights for you and that the battle belongs to Him!  
Take off your sandals, release control of the situation, and stand firm in that truth!
"And everyone will know that the Lord does not need weapons to rescue His people.  It is His battle, not ours.  The Lord will give you to us!" (David to Goliath in 1 Samuel 17)
This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don't be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God's... Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord's victory." (2 Chronicles 20)
The Lord fought for Israel that day. (Joshua 10:14)
For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children... All the world will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel. (Isaiah 49: 25-26)
But I said to you, 'Don't be afraid! The Lord your God is going before you.  He will fight for you,just as you saw Him do in Egypt.' (Deut. 1:29-30)
The Bible is clear.  God fights for His children.  And He is waging war in your defense and on your behalf.  He will not fail you, nor let you be defeated.  Remember His promises to you.  Remember the times He's fought for you in the past.  Look into His eyes and see that He is good.  Look into His heart and remember how much He loves you.  His plans and purposes for you are good. He is your ever present help in times of trouble.  And He stands beside you as a great and mighty warrior, fighting for you.  
Take off your sandals, you're on holy ground!

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