Jos | Dead Reckoning

Text: Joshua

Many Christians are like a man who comes home and finds his house flooded because he forgot to turn off the bathtub faucet. Frantically he grabs a mop and begins sweeping out the water–but the bathtub faucet is still running wide open. After a few frenzied swipes, he sees he’s making no headway against the water, so he gets a bigger mop. Still no success. Determined to live in a victoriously dry house, he enrolls in a seminar on Effective Mopping Techniques, receives a diploma with a gold seal, and once again wades into the battle. But still the water pours out faster than he can mop it up. He invites a professional mopper to come for a week of intensive mopping. At the end of the week, success is measured by the number of gallons swept out–but more have rushed in to take their place. As the situation worsens, he rededicates himself to better mopping, vows he’ll never again leave the faucet on, and once more takes up; the mop. The bathtub faucet is still running.

Weary and waterlogged, he finally concludes that God never intended him to live in a dry house, so he buys a pair of galoshes and a waterbed and settles down to live the rest of his life in a flooded house.

Now I’m not against mopping–but if the faucet is still running, it is a waste of time. The solution is ridiculously simple, isn’t it? Stop the flow at its source: turn off the faucet.

Application: The water on the floor is our daily sins. The open faucet is the sin nature–self–the source of the sins. And the sin nature can produce sins faster than we can mop them up. The secret of victory over sins is victory over self. We’ve been mopping sins when we should have been mortifying self.

A great many believers have thrown in the towel, or rather, the mop, and have settled down to live the best they can in a flooded house., but God has made provision for a life of daily victory. It is the birthright of every Christian. Don’t settle for anything less.

What is God’s way to victory? It is not the way we imagine. Man’s way is by mopping–training, dedicating, rededicating. But that is not God’s way. God has only one way of dealing with sin and that is the way of death.

Israel is poised at the Jordan River, the last barrier standing between them and the Promised Land. Forty years earlier the older generation had escaped Egypt by crossing the Red Sea. Now the new generation must enter Canaan by crossing the Jordan River. The parting of the Sea was the way out of the slavery of Egypt; the parting of the Jordan is the way in to the promised inheritance. The first crossing was an exit from bondage; this second crossing is an entrance to blessing. In the first experience the people were saved from something; in the second they are to be saved to something. The years of wandering defeat in the desert are at a end. They are about to enter into the fullness of blessings God had in mind for them when He brought them out of Egypt.

What spiritual significance does the crossing of the Jordan have for us today? It marks the end of the self-life and the beginning of the Christ-life. As the Red Sea was a judgment on sin, so the Jordan River is a judgment on self. In the language of the New Testament, crossing the Jordan is entering into the truth that “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). According to Hebrews 4, we must cease from our own works–the struggles of the flesh–and enter into his rest.

I struggled and wrestled to win it,

The blessing that setteth me free;

But when I had ceased from my struggles,

His peace Jesus gave unto me.

A significant difference in the crossing of the Red Sea and the crossing of the Jordan River is brought out in Psalm 114:3, 5: “The sea saw it, and fled; the Jordan was driven hack What ailed thee, 0 thou sea, that thou fleedest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven hack? (KJ, emphasis added). The Red Seal fled before Israel, but the Jordan had to be driven–or turned–back. Evidently there was strong opposition to the to the crossing of Jordan not present at the red Sea. It was far easier for God to get His people out of Egypt than to get them into Canaan.

It is always easier to get a sinner out of Egypt than to get a Christian into Canaan. In a sense evangelism is easier than edification, salvation simpler than sanctification. It is one thing to bring a child into the world, but quite another to bring that child up in the world. rearing children is a longer and more difficult process than bearing children. Paul hints at this when he says to the Galatians, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19).

I remember vividly the birth of our first child. My wife had had a difficult pregnancy, but it was nothing compared to the day-long labor and complicated delivery. I have never felt more helpless, more frustrated, more anxious. Travail is the right word to describe what a mother goes through to give birth. But the travail doesn’t stop there. While the travail of motherhood lasts only a day, the travail of parenthood lasts a lifetime.

Not long ago a sixty-year-old father came to me with his heart breaking over the rebellion of his son. His son was thirty-nine, with his own wife and children, and yet he was still a source of travail to his father. I remember thinking, “Lord, is there never a time when we are free of the responsibilities of parenthood?” You would think that when your children get to be adults, are married, and out on their own you would have nothing more to worry about. But as long as they are your children (and they always are), there is travail.

And in the same way, getting into Canaan is far more difficult than getting out of Jordan. Not that it has to be that way, but we die hard. We want a Canaan with no Jordan. But every Canaan has its Jordan and there is no following of Jesus into his fullness without taking up our cross and saying “no’ to self. Only as we die to self can we live to Christ.

Soul of mine, must 1 surrender

See myself the crucified,

Turn from all earth‘s ambition

That thou may‘st be satisfied?

Yes, that is exactly what we must do, for death has always been God’s method. In the first chapter of human history God dealt with sin by death when He clothed Adam and Eve in the skins of an animal. When Israel murmured against Moses, the Lord sent fiery serpents and dealt with the problem by death. Paul uses the tenth chapter of 1 Corinthians to point out that death was God’s exclusive way of treating the sin of His people. He summarizes by saying, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (I Corinthians 10:11).

Even after Israel entered Canaan, God’s method remained the same. When they were shamefully defeated at Ai because of the sin of Achan, he and his entire family were put to death.

Let’s go back for a moment to the fiery serpent episode. Remember God’s strange prescription for snakebite? He commanded Moses to fashion a serpent of brass, fasten it to a pole, and lift it up in the midst of he people. those who looked in faith were saved. Notice the Lord gave no instruction to treat the snakebites. He dealt directly with the snake, not the snakebites.

Hang on to that thought and listen to the words of Jesus in John 3:14, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” Jesus described His crucifixion as a serpent being lifted up! That tells us two things: (1) the brazen serpent in the wilderness was a preview of the cross; and, (2) Jesus’ death was a serpent’s death.

The serpent was made of brass, a symbol of judgment. What were the people dying from? The serpents. And the only way they could be saved was by believing that the very thing that was killing them had been judged and condemned by God. The serpents were not excused or forgiven or defanged. They were crushed under the heel of God’s judgment.

Now what is causing the snakebites of anger and lust and greed in your life? The serpent of self. That’s why Jesus spoke of His cross as a serpent being lined up, because when Jesus died, something else died also. The serpent of self, the sinner himself~ was crucified with Christ.

This is the only way God can fellowship with man. Even though all his sins may be taken away, man remains a sinful being, and God can have no fellowship with him The problem with man is not what he has done, but what he is, his fallen nature. And the nature is irredeemable; it resists every effort to improve it and is immune to all treatment destined to cure it.

It is crucial that we understand this: in salvation God does not change, convert, or cure the old nature–it is a terminal case. The sinful nature of man never changes. There is only one way God can deal with it–put it to death. Only then can he fellowship with man.

Of course, the old nature resists any effort to put it to death. In his little classic The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis speaks of this issue in a confrontation between an angel and a die-hard sinner. Describing the sinner, a ghost, Lewis says:

What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear…. He turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience, “Shut up, I tell you!” It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him

“Off so soon?” said a voice.

“Yes, I’m off,” said the Ghost. “Thanks for all your hospitality. But it’s no good, you see. I told this little chap,” (here he indicated the lizard) “that he’d have to be quiet if he came–which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won’t do here; I realize that. But he won’t stop. I shall just have to go home.”

“Would you like me to make him quiet?” said the flaming Spirit–an angel, as I now understood.

“Of course I would,” said the Ghost.

“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.

“Oh–ah–look out! You’re burning me. Keep away,” said the Ghost, retreating.

“Don’t you want him killed?”

“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.”

“It’s the only way,” said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the lizard. “Shall I kill it?”

“Well, that’s a further question. I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it? I mean for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it because up here–well, its so embarrassing.”

“May I kill it?”

“Well, there’s time to discuss that later.”

“There is no time. May I kill it?”

“Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please–really–don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”

“May I kill it?”

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I’ll be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.”

“The gradual process is of no use at all.”

“Don’t you think so? Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact, I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well today. It would be silly to do it now. I’d need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps.”

“There is no other day. All days are present now.”

“Get back! You’re burning me. How can I tell you to kill it. You’d kill me if you did.”

“It is not so.”

“I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.,”

“Oh, I know. You think I’m a coward. But it isn’t that. Really it isn’t. I say! Let me run back by tonight’s bus and get an opinion from my own doctor. I’ll come again the first moment I can.”

“Why are you torturing me? You are jeering at me. How can I let you tear me to pieces? If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the thing without asking me–before I knew? It would be all over by now if you had.”

“I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?”

The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite….

“Have I your permission?” said the Angel to the Ghost.

“I know it will kill me.”

“It won’t. But supposing it did?”

“You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.”

The cross saves the sinner because the cross stays the sinner. With the cross God doesn’t merely take away the sins of the sinner. He takes away the sinner, to remove the sin only would leave the source undealt with, unchanged, and would reduce the cross to nothing more than a “mopping up” operation. Much more than that occurred at Calvary. So I repeat, not only did Jesus die on the cross, bearing away all my sin–but I died there also. Calvary gets rid of both the sin and the sinner.

“I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20).

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24).

“If you have died with Christ….”(Colossians 220).

“For you have died “(Colossians 3:3)

“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him…” (Romans 6:6).

“Now if we have died with Christ…” (Romans 6:8).

This principle of life out of death is taught by Jesus in John 12:24: “Truly, truly, I say’ to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Death is a requisite of discipleship. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

We usually interpret this verse to mean that if we are willing to serve Jesus, we pick up our cross and follow Him. The mind conjures up images of a man teaching a Sunday school class with a cumbersome cross slung over his back; or of a teenager handing out gospel tracts on a street corner while balancing a cross on his shoulders. But a cross isn‘t. for carrying; a cross’ is for crucifying.

Jesus wasn’t bearing a cross when He preached the Sermon on the Mount. There was no cross on His shoulders when He raised Lazarus or cleansed the ten lepers. When did Jesus take up His cross? Only when He was ready to die.

And Jesus says to us, “If you want to follow Me, pick up your cross and let’s go.

Obediently, we lay the cross across our shoulders. “Where are we going, Master? To the seaside to teach? To the sick room to heal? To the cemetery to raise the dead?”

“No,” He answers. “None of those places. We’re going to a hill outside the city–to–die–on that cross you are carrying.”

“Master, we’d rather carry it to the seaside to teach or to the cemetery to raise a dead man–or just anywhere, Lord. But we’d rather not die on it.”

“A cross is good for one thing only,” the Master answers.

“To be crucified upon. If you follow Me, you must follow Me to Calvary, for that is where I am going.”

As we will see later, following Jesus is a matter of daily taking our place of death with Him. this is called reckoning.

One more verse: “{And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself’ (John 12:32). Here Jesus isn’t referring to preaching or evangelistic invitations. He simple says that He will draw all men into His death. He calls men, not to kneel at the cross, but to get on the cross and die with Him.

Now let’s put all this together under two headings.

Our death with Christ was established at the cross and saves us from the penalty of sin.

First, let’s establish the time of death. After a service one evening in Denver a man rushed up to me and said, “You’ve got to help me. I’ve been trying to die to self but just can’t. I’ve asked the Lord to crucify me but nothing happens. How do you die?”

“You don’t”, I answered.

“I don’t understand.”

“Your problem,” I said, “is that you are trying to do something that’s already been done. You’re already dead. You did 2,000 years ago with Christ on the cross. You can’t kill a dead man. You must simply accept the fact of your death.”

Paul established the time of our death in Romans 6:6: “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him.” The word crucified here is a Greek aorist tense signifying a once-for-all happening, something already accomplished. Our crucifixion is an accomplished fact–we died with him. The little preposition with is the key here. If we died with Christ then we had to die at the same time He died. When did He die? Nearly 2,000 years ago. Weymouth translates Romans 6:5 like this: “We share his tomb.”

God views every person as either in Adam or in Christ. If He sees us in Adam, Lie sees us dead to sin. If He sees us in Christ, He sees us dead to sin. At this very moment, if we are believers, God sees us dead, buried, and risen with Christ.


It is this fact that saves us from the penalty of our sin. Since we are dead we can never be brought to trial to answer for our sins. Suppose that you suddenly hear police sirens screaming down the street and you rush outside to see what has happened. A grocery store has been robbed. Pushing your way through the gathering crowd, you find the officer in charge and ask, “Do you know who did it?”

“Yes”, the police officer answers. “We have evidence that proves George Washington was the robber.”

“George Washington?”

“That’s right.”

“The George Washington? The one who chopped down the cherry tree and threw a silver dollar across the Delaware?”

“That’s the one. We can prove he did it.”:

“Well, excuse me, sir, but you’re wrong. It couldn’t have been him.”

The officer gives me a puzzled look. “Oh, and why is that?”

“Because George Washington died in 1799, 199 years before this crime was committed.”

Do you realize that in Christ you actually died before you committed any of your sins? When the devil, the accuser, approaches God and charges me with sin, God merely looks up my record and says, “No, it couldn’t have been him. He died 2,000 years ago.


Our death with Christ also makes possible Paul’s statement in Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.” Death terminates relationships. It removes a person from the realm of his former activity. Here is a slave, under the absolute dominion of his master. His master tells him when to go to bed, when to get up, when to eat and what to eat; he tells him when to marry and whom to marry. The power of life and death lie in the hand of the master. He must obey; he has no choice. But one day the slave dies. Now let his master should commands–the slave will not respond. Death has freed him from the slavery of his former master.

The Christian is free, not free to sin, but free not to sin. The one point of contact sin had with the Christian, the flesh, has been nailed to a cross; the one door of entry has been barred; the one accessible harbor has been blockaded.

“But,” you say,” if all this is true, why am I still living as though I had never died? The unhappy fact is, sin still has dominion over me.

This brings us to the next and most important point. You see, we start in heaven and end up on earth This truth is first positional, then practical. First we state the truth, then we relate the truth. Every doctrine of Scripture must be squeezed into shoe leather and brought onto the state of daily living.

This is illustrated in Colossians 3, where in verse 3, Paul tells us we are dead; then in verse 5 he tells us to consider ourselves dead. Does that sound like doubletalk? The explanation is simple if we understand the principle of appropriation. In verse 3 Paul states a theological fact, the viewpoint of heaven–we are dead. Then in verse 5, Paul tells us to live like it. Our death is absolute, but it must be appropriated. Our death with Christ must not only be recognized as a fact, it must he reckoned by faith, which brings us to our second heading.

Our death with Christ is experienced by reckoning, and this saves us from the power of sin.

In the first ten verses of Romans 6, Paul has established the fact of our death with Christ. Then in the eleventh verse he makes the practical application, telling us how to make this theological fact a real experience, getting it out of heaven and into earth.

“Likewise, reckon ye also ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord”.

The key word is reckoning, a bookkeeping term for keeping accounts, and means literally “to consider, to account.” Bookkeeping is based on facts, not fables or feelings. The fact is, you are dead. Now consider it so. Let me emphasize again our death is a fact. Many believers have difficulty at this point because they think they are supposed to “believe themselves into death.” and that their dying depends upon their believing. Christian, you are dead, whether you believe it or not, whether you reckon it so or not. The bible isn’t asking you to close your eyes to facts and act like something is so when it isn’t so. You are dead. That is a fact.

“But I don’t know how to reckon,” someone says. Yes, you do–you just don’t know you do. In the first place you had to reckon in order to become a Christian. One day you read in the bible that Jesus died for your sins and you believed it. Were you there when Jesus died? Were you an eyewitness to the crucifixion? Of course not; you simply believed it. You considered it so, counted on it, believed the fact, and were saved. That’s reckoning.

And the same Bible that tells you Jesus died, even though you weren’t there to witness it, tells you you died with Him. Consider it so, count on it and believe the fact. That’s reckoning.

You had to reckon on Christ’s death to be saved from your sins; and you must reckon on your death to be saved from self You’ve been dead for 2,000 years and it’s high time you had your funeral.


Romans 6:11 reveals a twofold reckoning, a negative and a positive. “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin That’s negative reckoning. “ but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” That’s positive reckoning.

We’ll take negative reckoning his cross daily, and first. Luke 9:23 tells us how to do it. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up follow Me.”

First, we must choose against ourselves. The Williams translation is helpful here: “He must say, ‘No’ to self” Our self is always talking to us, insisting we look out for ourselves, demand our rights, that we live our lives the way we please. Self wants only one things out of life–its own way. And the first step to appropriating the victory of Calvary is to say “no” to self Meet every suggestion from self with, “Not I, but Christ.”

The Greek present tense of the verb reckon indicates that this is to be a continuing process, a habit of life. A thousand times a day we may have to say “no” to self Choosing against ourselves is having a “Not I, but Christ” attitude about every circumstance of life.

Second, we must consent to our death. “And take up his cross daily”. By an act of our will we must accept our death and willingly take our place on the cross. We are dead, but we don’t want to be buried. We keep postponing our funeral. Having an unburied body lying around can create a pretty unpleasant situation. And most of the unpleasant situations in homes and churches are caused by dead people who haven’t been buried.

It is a daily reckoning, a daily taking of death to ourselves, our plans, our wishes, our will. A friend did it this way. He took a piece of chalk and drew the outline of a casket on the bedroom floor. “Then,” he said, “I took my church, my ministry, my plans and ambitions, my family–everything–and placed them in the casket. Then I actually lay down in the casket and told the Lord I accepted my death with Him. I reckoned myself dead to me and alive to Him. “Of course, it isn’t necessary to do it that way but it helped this brother to put it all together.

But we don’t stop with negative reckoning. We must go on to positive reckoning. Not only are we to reckon ourselves dead to sin, but we are to reckon ourselves alive to God.

This means that the body is to be used for one thing only–to glorify God. It becomes the channel through which the will of God flows. Paul goes on to say in Romans 6:13: “And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present your selves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

In 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 it is put this way: “…You are not your own or you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

In positive reckoning we choose in advance God’s will for the rest of life. Our body becomes a display case through which He can manifest Himself

It also means that we count upon the life of Christ within us. In Colossians 3:3, 4, Paul says we are dead and that Christ in our life. Here is a paradox: We’re dead, yet alive. But the life within us is not our own (that’s dead and buried); it is the life of Christ dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit.

As we’ve already noted in Galatians 2:20, Paul says he has been crucified with Christ, nevertheless he lives– “yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” If you knocked at the door of Paul’s heart and asked, “Who lives here?” the answer would come back, “Jesus Christ.” And the same is true of every Christian. When Satan knocks at your door–rather than allowing the old nature to answer–reckon it to be dead, and allow Jesus to go to the door., That ought to scare the old serpent away.

I heard Stephen Olford share a motto that he said helps him face each day with confidence: “There is no demand made upon my life that is not a demand made upon the life of Christ within me.”

And it’s true Every demand made upon our life today, whether trial or temptation is really a demand made, not upon us, but upon the Christ who dwells in our hearts.

Let me illustrate it like this. There are 14.7 pounds of pressure per square inch being exerted on each one of us right now from the earth’s atmosphere The amount of pressure is determined of course, by how many square inches we are. At any rate, tons of pressure are pushing against us at this very moment. What keeps us from being crushed to death? There is a corresponding pressure being exerted from within you that neutralizes the outside pressure.

In the same way, no matter how much pressure the world, the flesh, and the devil throw against us we have overcome them because the Overcomer Himself lives within. And His life within is more than sufficient to neutralize the pressure from without., “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world”. (I John 4:4).

©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2002

Jos 03 | Hark, the Ark!

Text: Joshua 3

It’s sobering to realize that one day can alter your entire life. In just twenty-four hours your world, with its hopes and plans, can be reduced to ashes–or it can be wondrously transformed beyond your wildest expectations. The direction of world history has often been determined by the events of a single day.

It was that way with Israel. In one day they moved out of forty years of failure and reproach into the greatest era of their history. A nation flat on its back sprang to its feet and marched victoriously into a new land.

What was special about that day?: What was the key to their triumph? This isn’t an idle question simply to satisfy historical curiosity. Remember that the events of that day were recorded as examples to us. God’s methods, like Himself, do not change, and to discover the key to Israel’s victory is to discover the key to our own.

The third chapter of Joshua relates the happenings of that day. A close study shows that the main figure in the drama was the ark of the covenant. It is mentioned ten times.

And they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it… “And it shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off… .And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan (Joshua 3:3, 13, 17).

Without question, the ark was the key to their victory. But what was different about it on that day? They had possessed the ark, made according to God’s instructions, since Moses met God on Mount Sinai. During the long, bitter years of wandering, the ark had been in their midst, but there had been no victory.

But now, on this day, something had changed. Do you know what it was? The position of the ark. Before, the ark had been in the midst of the Israelites; now it was at their head. The ark had always gone with the people, but now the people were to go with the ark. God commanded them not to move until they saw the ark. As it came into view they were to follow it; it was to be kept in sight all the time. When the priests, carrying the ark, stepped into the swollen river, the waters halted and rose in a heap. And while the priests, still carrying the ark, stood in the middle, the entire nation walked across on dry ground. It was the ark!

The Old Testament ark was a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Ark of the New Covenant. We have possessed Him since the day of our salvation, but possession alone doesn’t guarantee victory. It isn’t the possession of Christ but the position of Christ that counts. The difference between the victorious Christian and the defeated Christian is not in what they possess. God doesn’t play favorites, giving one believer a larger portion of His Spirit than He gives another. We are all complete in Christ (Colossians 2:9). The difference lies in the position the possession occupies in each life. Only when Christ is enthroned as Lord and Leader can we experience His fullness. It’s one thing to accept the Lordship of Christ as an article of faith and quite another to accept it as a practical, governing force in our lives. Is He Lord? Does He control your actions, attitudes and affections? Is He Lord at home, at school, at work?  J. Hudson Taylor was correct when he said that Christ is either Lord of all or not Lord at all. He is Lord of everything or not Lord of anything.

Simply stated, the key to the victorious Christian life is the enthroning of Jesus Christ as Lord.


The land of Canaan had belonged to Israel for years, but they had never set foot in it until they had followed the ark across the Jordan River. The ark was the door to their unclaimed possessions and the unexperienced blessings.

What I’m going to say now is the most important statement I’ll make. The victorious life is not an experience or a formula or a certain way of behaving–IT IS A PERSON. That person is Jesus Christ; He is the victorious life. Triumphant living isn’t getting things from Christ; it is realizing we already have all things in Christ. Jesus said “I am the door…” to abundant life (John 10:9, 10). The abundant life is the life of Jesus residing, reigning, and released in the believer.

My favorite passage is Colossians s 2:9,10: “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete…” What can you add to completeness? When God gave us Christ, He gave us everything, for all the fullness of the Godhead abides in Him. After we’ve been in heaven a million years, we’ll possess no more of God than we do right now. Only the circumstances of that possession will be different.

Think of it like this: Jesus doesn’t give peace; He is our Peace (Ephesians 2:14). He doesn’t give knowledge; He is our Knowledge (Colossians 2:3); He doesn’t give wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption; He is all these things Himself (I Corinthians 1:30). If we’re hungry, He is the Bread of Life; if we’re thirsty, He is the Fountain of Living Water; if we’re lost, He is the Way; if we’re blind, He is the Light of the World; if we’re lonely, He is the Friend that sticks closer than a brother; if we’re dying He is the Resurrection and the Life. He’s the Way and what we find at the end of the Way. He is the Door and what we find on the other side of the Door. He is the Fountain and the Water that flows from the Fountain. He is the cause of His own effect and the effect of His own cause; He is the means and the end. He is God’s everything to the believer!

My wife has given birth to three children. I suppose the first thing mothers all over the world do the fist time they hold their baby is check to see if they are all there! You know–all the standard equipment: ten toes, two ears, one mouth. At birth God gave our three children everything they would ever need to live physically. Lying helpless in the crib they didn’t know what to do with their feet–they didn’t even know they had feet. When it came time for them to walk we didn’t have to take them to the hospital and tell the doctor to put on their legs. Legs are standard equipment on babies, God’s birthday gift to them, even though at the time they can’t use them to walk. But the day came when our children discovered that those two things they had been dragging behind them would support them, and, if placed one in front of the other, would take them where mother said not to go. A whole new world opened up and life was never the same again–for them or for us! Physical growth is discovering what you received at birth and learning to use it.

Likewise, at my spiritual birth God gave me everything I would ever need to live spiritually–Jesus Christ. And spiritual growth is discovering what God gave me at salvation ad learning to appropriate it. Like the baby who learns to walk, when we discover we are complete in Christ and learn to appropriate all He is for all we need, life is never again the same.


When you see the ark.. .then you shall set out from your place and go after it. However, there shall be between you and I a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before (Joshua 3:3,4)

It has always been God’s pattern to lead His people where they have never been. He called Abraham into a far country–He didn’t even tell him what country. Joseph went from a rural society into slavery and finally to the ruling seat of a sophisticated culture. Paul, an elite Jew, became a missionary to the despised Gentiles.

Joshua was confronted with a Herculean task–an untried leader guiding an unsettled people into an unknown country. And if that wasn’t enough, the fist thing they had to do was ford an unfordable river. How? God’s directions were simple: “Just keep your eye on the ark.”

“You have not passed this way before.” I don’t know a phrase that better depicts the adventure of daily living. No one knows what a day may bring. Each day is unexplored territory. No one has ever lived it before. Every person is an amateur. Sometimes it’s like walking barefoot through snake-infested grass at night without a flashlight. This is one of the things that makes life such a terrifying undertaking for so many people.

But we really don’t need to know where we’re headed or how we’ll get there–we need only to watch for the Ark and go after it. Years ago I heard an old preacher say, “Don’t start down the road till you see Jesus.” That’s what God was saying to Joshua.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus means we depend upon Him. We count on His ability, of our inability. The overwhelming lesson of the Jordan crossing is that the power of God negates the problems of man.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus also means we focus our attention on Him and not on the hindrances. And that’s the main reason God leads us through unknown territory–He is really leading us to Himself. If He had revealed to Abraham the location of the far country, Abraham would have fixed his eyes on the destination and would have determined for himself when he had traveled far enough Since God alone knew the destination, Abraham had to keep his eyes on God–which is where God wanted them. Of course, we prefer to know all the details of the trip, every hill and curve and turn, but God prefers we know how to follow Him. Perhaps this will unravel the mystery of why God is keeping you in the dark about a certain situation. He may be using it to draw you into a deeper and more intimate fellowship with Himself.

This makes it necessary that nothing block our view of Him. God told Israel to keep the ark in front of them at a distance of about four and a half football field “that you may know the way by which you shall go.” In other words, the ark was to be clearly visible at all times; nothing was to come between it and the people. Imagine what would have happened if the people had jammed around the ark. It would have disappeared in the crowd and every Israelite, without knowing it, would have ended up following the person in front of him. Talk about the blind leading the blind! I can picture a gang of them winding up in some dead-end wasteland, scratching their heads in bewilderment, and hurling accusations at one another.

“I was following you! I thought you were following the ark.”

“Not me. I was following him. I thought he was following it.”

“Not me. I haven’t see the thing for days. I was following him. He acted like he knew where he was going.”

That very thing is happening today among believers. No wonder so few ever make it to the Promised Land.


While at a youth conference, I heard someone sing, “Christ is a Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” That’s a beautiful sentiment, but untrue. Many seem to think that the victorious life is a vaccine against problems. Neither the life of Jesus nor the lives of the disciples bear this out. Christ doesn’t elevate us above problems. He isn’t a bridge over troubled waters, but He is a path through them.

All of us must pass through troubled waters. Not a single Israelite was exempt from the crossing; each one had to pass through the flood. I have no doubt that many trembled as they hurried by the towering mountain of water poised over them. In the middle of your Jordan it doesn’t matter that others have been there and safely reached the opposite side; you feel as though you’re the only one who has stood in that place. I know; I’ve been there.

But that’s where the Ark is! Thank God, right in the middle of your Jordan with that menacing wall of water frowning upon you, you find the Ark. What a relief! Surely the water won’t rash down upon the Ark. While it’s there, you’re safe. I don’t think you ever know how real Jesus can be until you meet Him in the middle of an unconquerable problem. And that is preparation for greater battles. For when you encounter Him in your raging torrent, you know for sure He can manage a land full of giants.

I heard of a Sunday school teacher who asked her class of small girls if one of them could quote the 23rd Psalm. A girl timidly raised her hand and said she could. ‘She stood in front of the class and said, “The Lord is my shepherd. That’s all I want.”

I think she quoted it correctly. For when the Shepherd is your Lord, He becomes everything you want–that is the victorious life.

©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2002

Jos 01, 03, 07 | Getting Ready to Go

Text:  Joshua 1, 3, 7

As a kid I loved it when the family talked about taking a trip. I remember Dad bringing home road maps of the states we wanted to visit, and in the evening we would spread them on the floor and choose the easiest route and the best places to stop. Of course, like most families, we talked more than we traveled. But occasionally the hoped-for opportunity would come and we’d be off! Do you know how I knew we were actually going? When Mom made preparations to leave. Getting ready to go was the sign–and the best part of the trip! It was also the hardest and most important, often taking longer than the trip itself.

It’s the same in the spiritual realm. Preparation is an act of faith. If we really believe God is going to do something, we get ready for it. When we pray for rain we ought to carry an umbrella. In my own spiritual pilgrimage I am discovering that God gives me only what I am prepared to receive.

After God spoke to Joshua, the new leader came away convinced God would go with them and give them the land. He was so certain of this that he ordered the people to get ready for immediate action. God had spoken and preparation was the evidence of their faith in that spoken word.

The Bible says:

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, to possess it… Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you”’ (Joshua 1:10, 11; 3:5)

It is the prepared people who possess the land; therefore, we need to examine the preparations required for the trip into Canaan.


“Prepare provisions”, God said. That’s interesting. Here is an entire nation, possibly three million people, about to cross a flooding river, and what is the first thing they are to prepare? A bridge? That would seem reasonable. Boats, at least. But without a bridge or a boat in sight God told them to prepare–bread.

During the wilderness years God provided manna to eat. Now, if you’re stranded in a desert with no other food, manna is all right, but it has been highly overrated in sermons and songs. Manna was a coarse dry, hard bread–not steak and potatoes. It could sustain but not satisfy. Get this: the diet that was adequate to maintain life in the desert would not nourish combat troops conquering and settling a new land.

Most of the Christians I know exist on a desert diet–just enough to keep them alive. But if you want to move into the land of promise and experience daily victory you must upgrade your diet and increase your intake.

I’m talking about your personal worship time with the Lord in prayer and the Word. Much has been said about this already because I am convinced that this is the single most important factor in consistent Christian living. How much time have you spent along with God today on your knees before an open Bible? If you’re serious about a victorious life, then determine right now that whatever the cost or sacrifice, you will establish a daily time with God in prayer and Bible study. The strength and stamina you have in the conflicts of life will be determined by the quality of nourishment you receive from the Lord.


This part of their preparation is even more surprising than the first. There would be a three-day delay. But Lord, why this delay? We’ve been delayed forty years already and now we’re ready to go. But God said, “Wait.” One of the things I’ve learned about God is that He never hurries. The toughest thing I have to do is wait, and I hate it. We Americans are accustomed to instant gratification: instant credit, instant comfort, and instant coffee. Our cry is, “Lord, give me patience right now!” But God never wastes time, and every delay plays an important role in His plan.

God used the delay to accomplish three things. First, it was a time of observation. The people had to camp on the banks of the Jordan for three days–and what did they do during that time? They watched the swollen river surging over its banks. “We’re going to cross that?” they may have whispered to one another. “But there’s no bridge, no boats! It can’t be done!” That’s the point exactly. God was letting the impossibility of the task sink into their minds.

Has God ever dealt with you that way? He has with me. Many times He has plopped me down beside the Jordan of my life and forced me to look at it. The longer I looked, the more impossible the situation became. I would cry out for deliverance, wondering how God could love me and yet refuse to remove the problem. I could see no boats, no bridges, no way of getting through the situation. After awhile I would know that apart from God there was no solution. When w are convinced that only God can get it all together, then we’re ready to move.

The delay was also a time of confrontation. Forty years earlier, twelve spies were sent out from Kadesh-barnea. It was their faithless report, blurted out in front of all the people, that caused them to turn back and forfeit the land. This time Joshua sent out two spies, who spent these three days scouting the land. Their report, brought privately to Joshua, declared that God was surely with them–all the inhabitants of the country were terrified of them. God used the waiting period to confirm His promise.

During those frustrating delays, if we keep our eyes and ears attuned to God, He will give us one evidence after another that He is capable of handling our situation.

The delay was also a time of separation. While Moses was still alive, the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh became enchanted with the wilderness close to the Jordan River. It was fertile land and they wanted to settle down there. They preferred the wilderness. Angrily, Moses said, “Oh, so you want to let your brothers go on and fight alone for the land God has given to all of us. Well, you can stay here if you want, but first you must go over and fight with the rest of us.” And they agreed. In verses 12 through 18 of chapter 1, Joshua honored the decision made by Moses and those tribes.

That incident is packed with spiritual instruction. God lets us choose the level of our Christian experience. He forces no one to enter into victory. If the wilderness is what you want, the wilderness is what you will get.

The descendants of those tribes are found in every church. They do their share of the fighting but always return to their spiritual wilderness, refusing to live in the victory Christ has won for them. They help with the budget, the building program, the Bible school; they support the pastor and faithfully attend the worship services, but when twelve noon strikes, they tuck their Bibles under their arms and plod wearily back to a barren and defeated life.

The tragic conclusion to the story is that these two and a half tribes were the first to be conquered and carried into captivity when the Assyrians attacked in later years. When the real testing comes, the first to falter and fail are those who choose to live on the wrong side of  Jordon.


After the period of waiting, Joshua told the people to consecrate themselves. The last time they had heard this command was when Moses went up to the mountain to receive the law from God ( Exodus 19:l0). He told the people to consecrate themselves so they would be ready to hear God’s words upon his return. This was an old dedication; a lot had happened since then, and they had long since been unfaithful. Now God was about to do something new, and they needed a new dedication.

“Consecrate” means “to purify, to sanctify, to make something holy by setting it apart for special use.” There is a sense in which God sanctifies us and another sense in which we sanctify ourselves. By virtue of our salvation, we are all sanctified, set apart for God’s special use; every Christian is a saint. But the Bible also commands us to purify ourselves (1 John 3:3), to set ourselves apart from the filthiness of the world; and this is a “must” for the life of victory.

We must be willing to deal with our sins, to confess and forsake them, and allow God to cleanse us from every unrighteousness (I John 1:9). Just a casual reading of Joshua 7 reveals the devastating effects of hidden sin in the life of one believer. God demands holiness.

We must be holy in our public lives. Our activities are to be pure. Exodus 19 shows that this process of purification required that the people wash their garments:  “The Lord also said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments”’ (Exodus 19:10). The garments, seen by all, were to be spotless. We are to present to the world a clean life; our activities must be above reproach.

We must be holy in our private lives. Our affections are to be pure. This was symbolized in the purification rite by marital abstinence for a period of time. “And he said to the people, ‘Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman”’ (Exodus 19:15). This indicated a complete dedication to the Lord in the most intimate affairs. When we get down to business with God, our private lives will be characterized by holiness. Let me suggest you pray through Psalm 139, especially the last two verses: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way: (Psalm 139:23, 24).

It might be good to stop at this point and catch up with yourself. Are you weary of the wilderness? Does your heart cry out for the much more of Christ? Above everything else in the world do you want to know Christ in all His fullness? Are you ready to let Jesus, our Joshua, lead you into the Promised Land? If so, then consecrate yourself and get ready, for the Lord is ready to do wonders in your life.

©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2002

Jos 01:05-09 | Bridging the Experience Gap

Text: Joshua 1:5-9

Not long ago I flew to a northern city for a speaking engagement.  A man I had never seen was to meet me at the airport. But when I
entered the terminal, no one approached me.  Many people were waiting to meet arriving passengers, but none headed in my direction.  After a while I was paged over the loudspeaker and asked to meet my party at the airline desk.  When I got there I immediately recognized the man waiting for me as one of those in the waiting room.  I had walked right by him and he had failed to recognize me.  He apologized profusely and said, “I had your picture, but you don’t look anything like it.”  That has happened so many times, I just answer, “Well, that picture was made when I was much older.”

Have you ever noticed the disturbing difference between what the Bible says we are and what we really are?  It would be difficult to recognize most Christians from the description of them given in the Bible.  I wonder if people would be surprised to discover that we’re Christians.  Might they say, “I had your picture in my Bible but you don’t look anything like it”?

Let’s take a quick look at our photograph.  In I John 5:4 we read, “. . .And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” I used to read that and say, “Aha, that’s why I’m not overcoming the world. I don’t have enough faith.  If God would give me more faith, I could be victorious.”  Then one day I read the next verse and it blasted that excuse into limbo.  “And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (v. 5).  It’s not special or super faith that overcomes the world.  It’s not how much faith you have, but what you have faith in.  The statement is unmistakably clear.  If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you are overcoming the world. I believed, but I wasn’t overcoming the world!

Take another look at yourself.  “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). The words translated “overwhelmingly conquer” are difficult to translate adequately.  The Greek word conveys the idea of super- and supra-conquerors.  The Christian doesn’t merely conquer–he overwhelmingly conquers.  Most Christians believe we’ll win in the end.  The Lord is going to be victorious finally.  But it’s going to be close!  It’s like a football game and in the last three seconds the Christians will kick a field goal and beat the devil 17 to 14!  No, that’s not what Paul says–it’s not the Christians 17 and the devil 14; it’s the Christians 100 and the devil 0.  By the way, that is not a promise; it is a statement of fact.

One more glance ought to be enough.  “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:14).  Jesus used a double negative for emphasis; “shall not never thirst.”  That’s poor English but great theology.  Just one drink of the water of eternal life will put a reservoir of contentment and satisfaction within the believer.

I see your name under the picture, but is that really you?  That’s sufficient to show the terrible discrepancy between portrait and practice.

So the real question is this: how do we cross the gulf between what we ought to be and what we are?  How do we bridge the experience gap?

The key is the word response.  We experience what God says of us when we respond to what God says to us.  As a matter of fact, all Christian living is simply a matter of response.  We were saved by responding to God’s offer of grace.  We sought Him because He sought us.  We love Him because He first loved us (I John 4:19).  “You shall be holy, for I am holy,” He says (I Peter 1:16).  And John tells us we are to walk in the light because He is in the light. (I John 1:7).

We live the Christian life the same way we received it.  “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6)  The Israelites got into Canaan the same way they got out of Egypt–by crossing a river.  Interesting, isn’t it? God’s method was the same in both instances.  That reveals a significant spiritual principle–God’s methods never really change.  We were saved by grace through faith, and we live by the same grace through the same faith.  We entered the Christian life by responding in faith to Jesus Christ, and we go on in the Christian life by continuing to respond in faith to Jesus.  Our response becomes the ink with which we write the history of our lives.

The Gospels provide a good example of response that led to success.  One morning after Simon Peter and the other disciples had fished unsuccessfully all night, Jesus appeared and asked, “Have you caught anything?”   “No,” they replied.   “We have labored all night and have taken nothing.”  Then Jesus told them, “Case your nets down on the other side of the boat.”  Simon could have said, “Now, Master, you stick to preaching and leave the fishing to us.  After all, we’re professionals.”  Or they could have said, “We’ve already tried that spot,” or, “Our fathers fished this spot for years and taught us every trick.  The fish just aren’t here.”  Instead, Simon responded, “We have toiled all the night…. nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5, KJV).  And their obedient response produced a bulging net.

In the first chapter of Joshua we find a threefold response to the Word of God that guaranteed victory, If Joshua would make these three responses, the land that God had already given to them in promise would become theirs in experience.


Someone may say, “Well, I’ve done that already.  I accept every word in the Bible as the true, inspired Word of God.”  I’m sure you do, but that’s not what I mean.  I mean you should accept God’s promises for yourself, as your very own promises, as though you were the first and only person to whom God ever spoke them.

God’s promises are not limited to past saints.  In God’s commission to Joshua He tells him that the promises He made to Moses were now promises to him.

“Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you.. .you shall give this people possession of the land which I
swore to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:5,6).

The promises didn’t die with Moses.  God renews them with every generation.  You must look at them and exclaim, “These are my promises.  God promised them to me–not just to Joshua or Paul or Peter or the early church.”  In Jesus Christ all the promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen”. 2 Corinthians 1:20).

God’s promises are not altered by time. Joshua was standing at the end of forty years of failure.  Think of it, an entire generation had died since God had made His promise.  But the years had failed to erode the promises of a God who speaks with eternity in His words.

“Forever, 0 Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness continues throughout
all generations” (Psalm 119:89, 90).

Don’t let a mere 2,000 years separate you from God’s promises!

God’s promises are not affected by circumstances.  Like a clap of thunder, God announced, “Moses, my servant is dead.”  Exit Moses; faithful and familiar leader, a man with a face-to-face relationship with God, a trusted friend who stuck with them through every bad time.

Enter Joshua, a rookie!  If the mighty Moses was unable to bring them into Canaan, who could?  Surely Joshua couldn’t expect to succeed where Moses failed.  It was not a very encouraging situation.  But God made it clear that circumstances hadn’t changed His plans.  How could they?  He had created the circumstances!  God planned Moses’ death, brought it about, and was in charge of the funeral Himself.  Rest assured that God will never create a circumstance that conflicts with His plans, regardless of how it appears. Every circumstance, under the control of our sovereign Lord, only serves to further His redemptive purposes.

The quickest route to defeat is to concentrate on your circumstances.  Thank God, victory never depends upon circumstances. Even if everyone about us fails, God is still faithful.  Every adverse situation is a fresh call to believe God.  Each difficulty is a new opportunity for God to demonstrate His faithfulness.


The heart of God’s commission to Joshua dealt with the leader’s relationship to the law of God.  You can’t read the first chapter of Joshua without seeing how important this was. God made it clear that the only way Joshua would succeed in his task was by knowing God’s words thoroughly and keeping them faithfully.

“Be careful to do according to all the law.. .do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success
wherever you go. 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 success” (Joshua 1:7,8)

The word “prosperous” carries the idea of making right and wise decisions. The word of God would give Joshua the ability to make the right and wise decision in every situation and thus insure success in his appointed task. We must learn this truth. Regardless of natural talent or ability, only disciplined devotion to God’s Word can equip us to do God’s will.

The Word of God must be placed first. In the daily life of the believer the Bible is to occupy the place of supremacy; it is to be the law of his life. Notice that the law was set above Joshua; although he was the successor of Moses, the God-chosen leader of the people, he was to give undeviating obedience to God’s command. There could not be the slightest neglect or compromise: “Do not turn from it to the right or to the left.”

Our relationship to God’s Word is stated by Jesus in John 14:21:

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and
I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.”

The key word “keep” means “to be vigilant, to keep a watchful eye upon” something. It was used of ancient mariners who kept their ships on course by vigilantly watching the stars and navigating by them. We navigate our cars the same way, keeping our eyes on the highway markers and speed limit signs and driving accordingly. Especially do we keep a watchful eye on the rear-view mirror! Jesus is telling us to keep a watchful eye on His commandments and conform to them. They are to regulate our walk just as the highway signs regulate our driving.

The Word of God is to be practiced fully. First, it is to be the source of our speaking. God said to Joshua, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth” (Joshua1:8). The law was to direct his speech and predominate his conversation. Peter said, “Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God” (I Peter 4:11). Writing to the Ephesians, Paul said; “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

And to the Colossians he wrote: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6). John Bunyan was converted as a result of overhearing a conversation among several women. If someone eavesdropped on you, would your conversation point him to Christ?

Second, the Word of God is to be the subject of our thinking. “You shall meditate on it day and night,” God commanded Joshua (Joshua I :8a). And significantly, it was this meditating on the Word of God that would enable him to obey all that was written in it (see verse 8b). This is the same word that appears in Psalm 1:2. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Verse 3 reveals the result of such delightful meditations:

“And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither;
and in whatever he does, he prospers.”

That’s exactly what God said to Joshua. Almost gives you the idea God is trying to tell us something, doesn’t it? Well, He is. He is trying to tell us that meditating on the Word of God is the secret of spiritual prosperity!

The Hebrew word translated “meditate” has the overtones of “humming.” A famous popular signer was asked why he was always humming. He answered that humming kept his vocal cords warmed up and ready to perform at a moment’s notice. And our constant humming of the Word, meditating on it day and night, will keep us warmed up and ready to obey at a moment’s notice. The Word of God is to be like a tune you can’t get out of your head; it is to permeate your life and be absorbed into your system. Then and only then will you be able to act wisely. When you encounter a situation you don’t know how to handle, God will be able to give you unbelievable wisdom, because you have been abiding in His Word.


I met a man recently who said he had been having a regular time of Bible study and prayer, and had even been memorizing Scripture. “But,” he complained, “it hasn’t made any difference.” After talking with him awhile, I discovered he lacked one thing: he had not been acting on what he learned. It’s not enough to read your Bible regularly, memorize it, and meditate on it; you must obey it. The purpose of the meditation, as we have seen, is obedience: “. . . meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for them… .you will have success.” (Joshua 1:8)

Reading the Bible will give you knowledge about God; obeying the Bible will give you knowledge of God. Many Christians know a lot about God but do not know God Himself in a personal and intimate fellowship. It i when you begin doing what you have been reading that your life begins changing. God doesn’t give us scriptural knowledge for information’s sake; He isn’t interested in satisfying our curiosity or scratching our intellectual itch God is interested in our obedience. And that’s the purpose of all revelation. “Thy word have I hid in my mind that I may amaze my friends” is the attitude of many who aren’t the least bit interested in hiding it in their hearts that they might not sign against God.

Obedience is cooperation with God. God had already given the and, but Joshua had to walk across it before he received it. And he was given only as much as he walked across. The same is true for us. God gives you only as much as you are willing to walk across in obedience.

Obedience is confidence in God. It is confidence in His promise. “I have given it to you,” God said. I have made a marvelous discovery. God never asks you to do something without giving you the power to do it. Our obedience is simply saying “Amen” to God’s promise. Joshua could take the land because God had already given it to him. This means that disobedience is an assault on the character of God; it is saying, “God, You can’t be trusted.” On the other hand, obedience is saying, “God, I trust You, and to prove my trust, I’m going to do everything You tell me.”

But more than this, obedience is confidence in His presence. Listen to verse 9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” It is His presence that gives you the courage to obey, even when faced with unbelievable problems and insurmountable obstacles. And He will go with you even more closely than He went with Joshua, because He actually lives within you through His Holy Spirit.


©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2002

Jos 01, 02 | The Real Thing

Text:   Joshua 1, 2

A victorious life is not a superior brand of Christianity reserved for the elite of the elect. It is the normal life for every Christian. It isn’t bestowed upon some because they are spiritual, it is given to all because they are saved!  Too many Christians are struggling to win a victory that has already been won.  It was won 2,000 years ago. The Christian life is a victorious life and anything less is a cheap imitation of the real thing.  Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 )

It will help if we understand that the Christian life can be divided into two stages–the Red Sea stage and the Jordan River stage, with a wilderness in between. What the cross is to us, the Red Sea was to Israel . It was the symbol of their redemption, their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt by the mighty hand of God. They looked back to the Red Sea as we look back to the cross; they celebrated the Passover as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

But it wasn’t enough to get them out of Egypt . Moses reminded the people in Deuteronomy 6:23, “and He brought us out from there ( Egypt ) in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.” The purpose of their redemption wasn’t realized until they entered the land of Canaan . And to enter that land they had to cross the Jordan River . Then and only then would the redemptive purpose of God be fulfilled.

This may surprise you, but Canaan never symbolizes heaven in the Bible. Church hymns may say that, but the Bible doesn’t. There were giants in Canaan –there are no giants in heaven. There were battles to be fought in Canaan –there will be no battles in heaven. God’s people sinned in Canaan –in heaven all traces of sin will be erased.

Canaan represents the fullness of salvation, the fullness of blessing, the possessing of our possessions. Canaan was when God redeemed Israel for, just as victory is what God saved us for. He brought us out that He might bring us in. Many Christians are out but not in. They, like those spoken of in I Corinthians 10:5, die in the wilderness without ever experiencing the life of fullness in Christ.

The Old Testament described Canaan as a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of luscious clusters of grapes and pomegranates and figs. The New Testament describes our Canaan as:

Peace which passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7);

Joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8)

Blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3)

More than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37 ).

Are you in?

The first nine verses of Joshua tell us three important things about the life of victory:

Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you… Be strong and courageous for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law… 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 success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:3-9)


Recently I heard someone refer to the victorious life as “an emphasis.” It is not one emphasis in the Christian life; it is the Christian life. That’s why I use the terms, “Christian life,” and victorious life”, interchangeable.

Escape from servitude in Egypt was not God’s goal for His people. He took them out of Egypt in order to bring them in to their own land, the land He had promised them. Generations before, God had made this promise to Abraham as Abraham stood looking over the strip of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River ?

Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land
which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever (Genesis 13:14,15).

Freedom from Egypt was only the first step. Until they occupied Canaan they would not experience God’s complete rescue operation.

In the same way, God’s goal in saving us is not to get us out of hell and into heaven–that’s just a bonus The real goal is for us to experience all that He has promised us in Christ. This is not an incidental emphasis in Scripture, but its heart. Listen to Paul speaking to the Roman Christians: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” (Rom. 8:29 ) To the Ephesians Paul revealed the goal of salvation in these words:   … He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be hold and blameless before Him…” (Eph 1:4). Not a word about hell or heaven there.

Paul wrote to the Christians at Colossus: the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has
now been manifested to His saints.. .which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:26 , 27).

In all God’s dealings with you, He has been leading you up to His goal–the full release of Christ in you. That is your only hope for a glorious life.

Paul makes another point about victorious living in his second letter to the Corinthian church. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14 ). It is possible for a Christian always to be victorious. Since the Lord Jesus can give you victory for a minute, He can give you victory for an hour; if for an hour, then for a day. If He can give you victory for a day, He can day by day give you victory for a lifetime. Anything less than always triumphing in Christ is less than God’s desire for you.

But wait a minute. Does living in victory mean we no longer sin? Not at all; but it does mean that we learn to depend upon Christ for every aspect of our life. We live in His strength, not our own. We serve His desires, not our own. We live for His glory, not our own. And when we sin, instead of plunging into despair and guilt, we trust His cleansing blood to wash it away an restore us to that sweet fellowship. We become supersensitive to sin, and when the Holy Spirit convicts us we immediately deal with it.

The best way to define the victorious life is to describe it, so let’s examine some of its ingredients.

(1) We enter into God’s promises. The promises of the bible become experiential instead of merely theological, God’s promises to Joshua were definite. He told the Israelites the land was theirs; they needed only to act–act with strength, courage, and obedience. And the promises made generations earlier were fulfilled before their eyes I’m afraid many Christians look at the promises of God as I looked at the Sears catalog as a boy. When I was about ten I spotted a .22 rifle in the catalog and I had to have it! It cost twenty-five dollars, but it might as well have been a thousand. Knowing it was beyond my reach, I would get out the catalog, turn to the page that displayed the picture of “my rifle”, and dream. No wonder the catalog is called “the wish book”. To many Christians the Bible is just that–a wish book. They read the promises with enthusiasm and shout “Amen” when they are preached from the pulpit, but never really expect to see them fulfilled in their own lives, but the Bible is not a wish book; it is a faith book. And for those who by faith cross over into victory, all the promises of God become real.

(2) We experience Gods presence. One of the promises God made to Israel and repeated often in this chapter is “I will be with you.” They would experience His continuing presence. God would be real to them. When I was in seminary, I read a sermon by R. W Dale, the famous preacher of Birmingham , England, in which he said, “Christ is as real to me as the chair on this platform.” I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say that and mean it!” I knew Jesus wasn’t that real to me, but I longed for Him to be. But, praise the Lord, when He answered my desperate cry for help, one of the first things I experienced was the overwhelming awareness of His presence. Jesus became more real to me than any chair on any platform.

(3)  We exercise God’s power. God promised Joshua, “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life” (Joshua 1:5). He was telling Joshua that no man could prevent Israel from reaching their God-appointed goal. Joshua would have the power to do everything God asked him to do. When the original spies went into the land, they cowered like grasshoppers before the giants of Canaan . But Caleb, standing on God’s promises, declared the giants would be bread for them. “Pass the peanut butter! We’ll make sandwiches with them.” And a generation later, as Israel acted in God’s power, they found Him spreading a banquet table for them. God’s power gives us victory over the giants in and around us. We become not only giant-defeaters but also giant-eaters!

Resurrection Power: “I pray that.. .you may know. .what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.., in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead….” (Ephesians 1:18-20). Think of it! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is made available to every believer. You’re facing a problem. Which is easier–solving that problem or raising a dead man from the grave? The answer is obvious If God can raise one from the grave, He can do anything. You have resurrection power residing in you.

Reigning Power: “. . . Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:17 ). God has made kings of of slaves and princes out of paupers. And notice, the verse says “in life,” not in heaven. He’s not talking about the “Sweet Bye and Bye” but the “Nasty Here and Nod’.

Released Power: “and for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Col. 1:29). The life of victory means that I no longer labor according to my strength but according to His. My ability is no longer measured by my power but by His. Throw the word “impossible” out of your vocabulary. You can do anything and everything God wants you to do. There is nothing that can prevent you from being exactly what God wants you to be. No wonder it’s called the gospel–good news!


Victory is not only God’s goal for the Christian; it is also His gift to the Christian. “Every pace on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses” (v.3). Notice the tense: “I have given,” not “I will give.” It was already theirs. God had given the land with all its riches to His people before they even saw what it was like.

Understanding that the victorious life is a gift already given us by God is essential. this means victory is assured. There is no reason why every Christian cannot live a life of victory, because it is not attained by struggling and striving. It is part of your birthright, as a child of God. You don’t have to make peace with failure or come to terms with defeat. The victory of Christ is yours for the taking.

God’s people are often slow to believe this–slower even than non-Christians. In chapter two of Joshua, Rahab, an insignificant citizen of the soon-to-be conquered city of Jericho , said to the spies:

I know that the Lord has given you the land… For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the red Sea.. .And when we
heart it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in
heaven above and on earth beneath (Joshua 2:9-1 1).

The enemy knew they had lost before the Israelites knew they had won! They had more faith in the power of God than God’s people.

Since victory is a gift from God, it is already accomplished. Before Joshua led the people into Canaan , God said to him, “I have given it to you.” Though the land was occupied by the enemy, it was God’s and He had given it to His people. every step Joshua took was on conquered ground. And that’s what the life of victory is–walking on conquered ground. Christian, every step you take today will be on ground conquered and controlled by our Lord Jesus Christ.


After going to great lengths to say the victorious life is a gift, you may think I am contradicting myself when I say it must be gained, but the Scripture holds to both concepts. God told Joshua He had already given them the land–but that they would have to possess it, and that would require strength and courage. although the gift was absolute, it had to be appropriated. There was something for them

This same idea is made clear by Jesus in Matthew 11:28,29. First He said, “come to Me and I will give you rest”; and then He said, “You shall find rest.” Well, which is it–does He give it or do we find it? Both. By simply coming to Christ we receive rest, but there is a second rest (comparable to the life of victory) that we find only by taking His yoke and learning of Him. Rest is given, but rest must be gained. There is God’s side of giving an man’s side of gaining.

How do we gain it? What is our part? Three things are mentioned in chapter one of Joshua.

(1)  The victory is gained by faith. Joshua was to take God at His word and start walking. And that’s what faith is–acting on the word of God. “This is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith” (1 John 5:4). We exercise faith when we acknowledge that the victory has already been won for us by Christ and thank Him for it. We don’t go out to victory– we go out from victory. Face each new day with this attitude: “Lord, thank You that every problem I meet today has already been overcome by You. Every temptation I confront today has already been put down by You.” But if you meet the day hoping you can remain strong and true, determined to do your best for Jesus, you will fail miserably. Victory isn’t doing your best for Jesus; it is Jesus doing His best for you! You have no victories to win; Jesus won them all. Rely upon Him.

(2) The victory is gained by following. God told Joshua: Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law. .do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go .(Joshua 1:7).

Here is God’s formula for success. God was actually telling Joshua that success in the forthcoming venture depended upon him. You say, “I thought it depended upon the Lord.” It does, but the Lord can give us that success only as we follow His instructions.

The word translated “law” means “directions”, and that’s what god’s law is –divine directions on how to put together a successful   life.

(3) The victory is gained by fighting. When the people left Egypt , God could have taken them by a direct way straight into Canaan , but He led them by a circuitous route instead. God deliberately made the journey longer. Why? The explanation is recorded in Exodus 13:17:

Now it came about when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt.”

They weren’t ready to fight, and entering Canaan would take courageous fighting men, so God postponed military confrontation until they were ready.

The land of fullness is occupied by the enemy. We will not go in unopposed. Spiritual warfare is the order of the day. When we move into our victory Have you noticed that while in the wilderness, Israel didn’t fight a single battle (except among themselves)? Only when they entered Canaan did they encounter warfare. That is significant.

Again, this doesn’t contradict the fact that victory isn’t won by our struggling and striving. Although we much fight, we fight in the power of the Lord; we are to be strong in the Lord; we are to put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to withstand all the attacks of the enemy (Eph. 6:10 -17)

But understand this: there will be conflict and confrontation. The ship of Zion is a man-of-war; not a luxury liner, at times it is easy to pray and praise the Lord; at others it is an intense struggle. We want always to read the bible with ease and enjoyment but sometimes only rigid discipline makes it possible. When our flagging faith falters, our enthusiasm wanes, and our bodies tire, we will need the whole armor of God to throw off the attacks of our adversary.

When a person first becomes a Christian, it often seems everything is easy for him. He witnesses, prays, read the Bible with radiant and tireless enthusiasm. Temptations seem not to exist. God, as He did for the Israelites, is leading him in the easy way. He is not yet ready to fight. When he is suddenly besieged by difficulties, he becomes frustrated and confused and wonders what went wrong. At this moment Satan may take advantage of his predicament and accuse him of total and terminal failure, trying to convince him that God has surely abandoned him. But God has not deserted him~ He has merely enrolled the new Christian in basic training in order to get him ready to fight.

The first victory for Joshua was an easy one. No intense struggle took place at Jericho . The people simply marched thirteen times around the city played their instruments, and shouted; and the massive walls disintegrated. The ease with which Jericho was conquered was remarkable. but the other victories weren’t that way. They had to fight and fight desperately. Don’t assume because of Jericho that you will need only to shout a little and stage a pre-battle victory parade for the walls of spiritual opposition to flatten before you. As you mature in your victory walk, the hand-to-hand and face-to-face combat suggested by Ephesians 6 will more often be the case.

This life of victory is God’s goal and gift for every believer, already accomplished by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. But that doesn’t mean that every Christian automatically experiences this victory there is something for us to do. We must appropriate what god has made available.

Jesus invited all who were thirsty to come to Him and drink. He doesn’t force our mouths open and pour it down us. We must do our own drinking. The fountain is waiting; come and drink.

©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2002