First of all, quick hello to the lovely ladies from SheReadsTruth! For those of you not familiar with this group, check them out! You won't be disappointed.
This week's study has us meditating and confessing. We are reflecting on Joshua 1:8-9.
To begin, I have a confession. I did not plan for this but in keeping with my honesty with you all, I am afraid I might not be in the best frame of mind to completely receive God's word. Which is kind of ironic considering the verse we are studying. You'll see what I mean. And if you read to the end you can see just how He always shows up when you seek Him. Even while writing a blog post after you just confessed you just might not have what it takes to fully understand today.
This is a verse that I've heard a ton of times before today. I have a scripture wall in my bedroom that I started, it helps me memorize the verses and to see them right before I run out my bedroom door. Whether I'm off to start my day or to venture out one more time, they are always encouraging and helpful.
The funny thing about this verse is I never saw it like I did tonight. I never really tried to find more to what "meets the eye." Yet, there's definitely further meaning here.
Joshua is instructed to be strong and of good courage. What does that mean? Well, I think the strong here is not necessarily referring to lifting weights at the gym. In our daily life we take on feats that we could only do had we been "working out." Verse eight tells us how to be strong;
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Less talking, more doing. Meditating on the word of God is how we strengthen our spiritual being. And this is where that God humor comes in. I have been extremely busy the past few weeks and have spent significantly less time reading the bible then I would like to admit. The strange thing is, I feel it in my soul. I have been worn down, weak, hurt, stressed, exhausted... so not the vision of strength God commands from me. But when I read the word, when I spend time soaking it all in, it transforms me. My day gets brighter, my patience lasts longer, I am blessed with an abundance of grace, and I can take on the worries of the world a little easier. Keep reading and you'll see His grace before your very eyes!
Meditating on the word turns my ways into His ways. When I study the word I am more apt to carefully make decisions rather than let my flesh (emotions, good mood vs bad mood, wants and desires) take charge. I'm an emotional person. I wear my heart on my sleeve. It's a big part of what I've tried to overcome. I see where this has caused friction in the past and I think it's just so ugly to live that way. When I'm allowing my emotions (hurt, anger, sadness) to rule, I don't even want to be near me.
Using discernment means my decisions are faith based and even if I still make the wrong choice, at least I would have done so based on prayer. There's less room for regret in these cases, even when we're wrong. Hard to regret that which you mulled over in prayer, as opposed to the rash decision that changes things forever. Meditation leads to better choices and better choices leads to us being prosperous and successful.
What I love the most is what comes next though; It's the encouragement God gives because he knows there will be moments where we go from victorious warrior to doubtful onlooker.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
When we believe we heard and understood God, and when we choose to obey based on our belief, it can begin to look or feel like we made the wrong decision. With waiting comes doubt; did I understand God speaking to me? Was it all in my head? Maybe it was my desire and not God's. If it's taking this long I surely misunderstood. If I figured it out I wouldn't still have this daily struggle. Just because we hear God doesn't mean everything immediately comes to pass.
Our faith can waver like a flag in the wind on a dark night. Because of the darkness the flag can be hard to see and sometimes the wind blows it so hard it seems like it may fray to pieces. Other times our faith is more like the wind where we can't see it at all but only feel it. We can't touch it but it touches us. Even in the darkness we can feel it, we can hear it and it has the power to move us. God restores that faith that can move us with this statement to Joshua. He gives us something to wait for with expectant hope.
I would like to imagine the angel of God's army fighting satan to get to me. The way that he did for Daniel. That God has already answered my prayer, He's just fighting tooth and nail for every ounce of blessing that He wants me to receive. The message God gave to Daniel is very similar to our passage now;
"Pay attention to my words. Stand up, because I’ve been sent to you. Don’t be afraid, Daniel. God has heard everything that you said ever since the first day you decided to humble yourself in front of your God so that you could learn to understand things. I have come in response to your prayer."
When Daniel fell to his knees, unable to speak, through the angel he once again heard affirmation;
He said, “Don’t be afraid. You are highly respected. Everything is alright! Be strong! Be strong!”
Before you continue, reread those scriptures and input your name in place of Daniel. Anyone else wowed? As if there are a crowd of angels in heaven looking on and cheering for you!
I find remarkable similarities between these two scriptures. God doesn't repeat things just because He has nothing else to say. He repeats them so that we can meditate on them. Less talking about the word and more hearing it. We can't listen well when we're talking. Studying God's word is the same, there's time for prayer and there's time to be silent.
I love that in both scriptures God says to "Pay attention to my words" (meditate on it day and night) and "Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not by dismayed." (don't be afraid, everything is alright, be strong!)
Here's that abundance of grace I mentioned at the beginning; Until I was looking up the scripture on Daniel to reread it, I didn't remember the things the angel spoke to Daniel. I simply remembered the fact that the angel was fighting to get to him. The fact that we are studying almost the same conversation with a different person from the bible tells me that God really wanted my attention on this one. This is what spending time in the word does for you. After confessing my weakness, he gave me strength. Amazing grace.
Let's remain strong. Let's keep focused on his word. Let's not be dismayed when things don't go our way quickly. It doesn't mean we didn't hear God, it just means He's still working on it. All great works of art take time to create. You are not a dot on a canvas to hang in a museum. Your bigger picture is a work in progress that one day God will hang in his hall of fame and say, "I made her!" and she is perfect and complete!