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Closer than you think..

f you’ve been wandering in the wilderness, your promised land may well seem worlds away. But head for it anyway and you’ll quickly discover that it’s closer than you think.

If all you want from your salvation is the privilege of going to heaven when you die, you don’t need to read this article. Because this article is for people who want more than that. It’s for people who aren’t content to get born again and yet still live their earthly lives in sickness and defeat. It’s for believers who aren’t content to let Satan run their lives and tear up their families and steal their money. It’s for those who don’t want to postpone their victory until the sweet by-and-by, who want to live as more than conquer- ors in the here and now. If you’re one of those people, God is looking for you. That’s right. If you’ll read the Bible, you’ll see that ever since the world began He’s been looking for people who by faith and obedience would allow Him to bless them right here on the earth. He’s been looking for people who would allow Him to demonstrate His power on their behalf. People whose supernaturally abundant lives would make them a walking advertisement of the mercy and power of God.

For example, look in the Old Testament at the children of Israel. That’s the kind of people He wanted them to be. He prepared a marvelous land for them to live in. A land, the Scripture says, that was flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8). It was a land of rest. A place of abundance where no enemy could stand before them and no sickness or disease could stay on their bodies (Exodus 23:25). In fact, after God brought them out of slavery in Egypt, He wanted them to go immediately into that land. It was only a short journey, and God was ready to take them. But they wouldn’t go! Instead they spent 40 years wandering around in the wilderness getting nowhere. Now I know all that happened thousands of years ago, but do you know what? God hasn’t changed one bit since then (see James 1:17). He still wants to lead His people into a place of blessing and prosperity. The problem is that in many ways His people haven’t changed that much either. And the same thing that kept Israel from going into the Promised Land back then is keeping most of His people out of our promised land today. Do you know what it is? It’s unbelief. I bet you’re thinking, Well, that doesn’t apply to me. I believe in God. But that doesn’t necessarily get you off the hook. Israel believed in God too.

They’d seen Him do signs and wonders with their own eyes. Yet even though they believed in God, there were many times when they didn’t believe what He said. When He told them about the Promised Land, for instance, He assured them they wouldn’t have to take it in their own strength. He said: “I will send My terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people to whom you shall come, and I will make all your foes turn from you [in flight]…. I will deliver the inhabit- ants of the land into your hand and you shall drive them out before you” (Exodus 23:27, 31, The Amplified Bible). But when most of the scouts they sent into the land came back and reported there were giants there, they got scared. “Why, we can’t try to fight those people,” they said. “We look like grasshoppers.” If they had believed God, it wouldn’t have mattered how big those giants were, they could have marched right in there expecting God to make those giants scatter in every direc- tion. But they didn’t believe God. So, instead of following His instructions and going forward to victory, they simply refused to go into the land. Now I want you to notice something. Their unbelief led them into disobedience, didn’t it? Unbelief always does that.


You don’t have to Be Smart

So often we try to be smart and figure things out instead of just trusting God and doing what He says. And as a result, we end up in disobedience. Listen, God doesn’t ask us to be smart. All He asks us to do is to listen to His Word and obey His voice. Why? Because He knows that if we don’t, we’ll end up living out our lives on this earth in a wilderness of defeat like that generation of Israelites did. Read the warning the Apostle Paul gives us in Hebrews 3. There he says:

Then while it is [still] called Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion [in the desert, when the people provoked and irritated and embittered God against them]. [For] we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest], because of their unwillingness to adhere to and trust and rely on God [unbelief had shut them out] (verses 15, 19, AMP).

In the next verse, Paul says something else that’s very important so read it carefully. He says, “Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it]…” (AMP). “Let us be afraid to distrust God’s promise.” Did you know we’re not supposed to fear the devil? We’re supposed to fear God. We’re to have so much reverence and respect for Him that we would immediately make any adjustment in our lives just to please Him. When He tells us to do something that looks risky from a natural point of view, we ought to be more afraid of what we’ll miss if we don’t obey Him than of what will happen if we do. In other words, when He tells you that you are more than a conqueror (see Romans 8:37) and instructs you to march in and take back some part of your life the devil has stolen from you, you shouldn’t sit around debating about whether or not you can do it. You should just start marching! “Well, I just couldn’t do that. After all, I’ve been defeated in that area of my life for so long that I’ve got a poor self-image.” If that’s what you’re thinking, let me tell you something. If you’ll believe God, even a poor self-image won’t keep you from success.

There’s one Israelite who proved that. It was Moses. Moses didn’t have a very good self-image. He’d made a terrible mistake early in his career. It was a mistake that drove him into the wilderness and kept him there for 40 years herding someone else’s sheep. No doubt he assumed his ministry as a deliverer of God’s people was over. But as far as God was concerned, he hadn’t even started. In fact, when God came to Moses in that wilderness and gave him his seemingly impossible assignment, He didn’t ask for Moses’ credentials. He didn’t mention his shady history. He just told him to go see Pharaoh and tell him to let God’s people go. Moses, however, was still wrestling with his poor self-image. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” he stammered.


Just Believe God

You know what God said in response? He just said, “Certainly, I will be with thee” (see Exodus 3:12). He didn’t say one word about who Moses was. He just said, I will be with you. You see, it didn’t matter who Moses was. What mattered was that the living God was with him. The same thing is true for you today. When God calls you to do something—whether it’s to lay your hands on a sick person or go to another country and preach the gospel—it doesn’t matter who you are. What matters is who is with you. We’ve got to get away from being so self-conscious, so aware of what we think we can or can’t do. That’s what keeps us from entering into our promised land. Instead of simply obeying God, we start to wonder, Now what will people think of me if I do that? What if I command that person to get out of the wheelchair and he doesn’t get up? What if I start believing for prosperity and go broke? What about that, God? I won’t look too good, will I? It doesn’t matter how you look! What counts is that you obey God. Your own reputation doesn’t count and the sooner you forget it, the better off you’ll be.

But you know what’s ironic? Once you do that, your reputation gets better. Funny thing. When you lose that desire to protect your image, your image gets better. Why? Because then the image of the Lord Jesus can come forth instead of that puny little image you had of yourself. “Certainly, I will be with you,” God said. And He’s said it to us just as surely as He said it to Moses (see Hebrews 13:5). That’s what we need to grab hold of. That’s what will cause us to live in the supernatural and do impossible things. We’ve got to quit hanging on to our own idea of ourselves.

We’ve got to do what Moses finally did—abandon our ways of thinking and start agreeing with God. We’ve got to stop looking at things with a natural perspective. Because a natural, worldly perspective will keep us from living the life God intends for us to live. It will keep us from being supernaturally healthy and prosperous and peaceful. Remember what I said a moment ago about fearing God instead of the devil? Believers who have a natural rather than a supernatural perspective get that switched around. Instead of walking in the fear of God, they walk in the fear of the devil and his work. In the fear of death. In the fear of sickness. In the fear of poverty. And those fears keep them from listening to and obeying the Word of God. Look again at what the Israelites did when they came out of Egypt. They had just seen a marvelous display of God’s miraculous power. Yet as they faced the Red Sea with the Egyptian army at their backs, they turned on Moses and said, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that thou hast taken us away to die in the wilderness?” What could possibly have caused them to doubt God and make such a traitorous statement after all He had already done for them? Fear. They began to fear what the enemy could do to them, and they were overwhelmed by the drive toward self-preservation. Let me tell you something. That apparently innocent desire you have to protect yourself will cost you dearly when it comes to walking with God. It infected the Israelites to such a degree that they forgot the signs and wonders. Suddenly they saw themselves as just people again—not people with whom God dwells, but just people.

If you don’t watch out, Satan will try to give you that perspective too. When you start believing the promises of God and marching toward victory over sickness or sin or poverty, Satan will try to tell you you’re just a natural person. He’ll tell you that you can’t trust the supernatural power of God to pull you through.


Rest in Him

That’s why you need to learn to think with the mind of Christ. You need to learn to live with your thoughts on the things of God instead of the things of the world, to come to a place where you’re resting in the power of God. God wants us to rest in His power. He wants us to know Him so well and trust Him so much that when Satan tries to threaten us, when he tells us we’re going to go broke or we’re going to die or whatever manipulation he uses, we just laugh at him.

You and I need to come to a place in this world where we trust God with every detail of our lives. When we do that, when we’re not trying to preserve or protect ourselves but trusting in the living God to do that for us, we’ll be in that place of rest we read about in Hebrews. Make no mistake though, that place of rest is not a place of inactivity. In fact, to get there and stay there, you’ll have to take more aggressive action than you’ve ever taken before. The difference will be that your action will be based on God’s plans and power instead of your own. When Moses and the Israelites were caught between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army, Moses appealed to God and God said a remarkable thing. He said, “Moses, why are you crying to Me? Speak to the children of Israel. Tell them to go forward. You lift up your rod and stretch your hand over the sea and divide it.” That’s what we need to do, too. We need to hush up our complaining and rise up in faith. When we do, the same thing will happen to us that happened to them. God will give us His plan of action, and He’ll deliver the power to carry it out. If you’ll determine to go forward with God, He’ll tell you what steps to take. Moses didn’t know what to do in that impossible situation. But he did know how to rise up. He knew how to tell the children of Israel, “On your feet. We’re going on.” You see, the hard part of walking with God is not the miraculous. Moses didn’t have to know how to part the Red Sea.

All he had to do was lift up his rod and speak the command. God did all the rest. I’ll tell you what the hard part of walking with God is. It’s learning to give Him your time and attention so you can come to know His voice. That’s where the labor comes in. If you’re going to march forward in victory toward your promised land, doing what God says for you to do, you’re going to have to know what it is He’s saying. You’re going to have to learn to hear His voice.

The hard part for Moses was not that moment at the Red Sea when he lifted up his staff and commanded the waters. The hard part was the time of preparation, that time when nothing significant seemed to be happening. That time of learning about God, of learning to trust Him, to obey His voice and know His ways. What if, during those preparation days, Moses had said to himself, I don’t know about all this. I’ve failed so much already. I don’t think I can ever learn to know the voice of God. What if he had let his past, his opinions or his self-image stop him? Thank God, he didn’t! And you don’t have to either. It doesn’t matter if you think you’ve failed or succeeded, or what you think you’ve done with God in the past. Remember, it doesn’t matter who you are…it matters who is with you.

So don’t look back. Today is a new day. Determine that you are going to rise up in faith. To throw aside that fear. To throw aside the unbelief that has kept you from taking God at His Word. Determine to rise up and go forward. Don’t put it off any longer. Your promised land is closer than you think.

Article by Gloria Copeland from the BVOV Magazine 2012.

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