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Points to Ponder/Failing to Rise to Full Trust
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
God promised the Israelites that He would give them complete victory in their conquest of the Promised Land (See Joshua 1). Yet we read in Judges 1:19 that though the “Lord was with (the tribe of) Judah,” they failed to reach the objective.
“And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron.”
Notice that again. The Lord was with them, yet they “could not” overcome the enemy completely. Why? Because that particular group had superior weaponry, chariots of iron.
Think of it. The Lord of the universe, their God, could not defeat chariots of iron. What is up with that?
Can’t you see your ministry or yourself, reflected in that passage? I can.
As John MacArthur’s commentary says; this was “a recurring failure among the tribes to rise to full trust and obedience for victory by God’s power.” They compromised on the promise. They had stopped at “good enough,” rather than persevering until they obtained the best, which God had prepared for them.
Rising to full trust does not guarantee instant results. In fact, the full fruit of your obedience may not even come to maturity in your lifetime. Read Hebrews chapter eleven, commonly known as the “Hall of Faith.” It is a summary of the faithfulness of numerous Old Testament Saints across the centuries. Yet, after you recall all of the painful sacrifices and unwavering obedience of so many heroes, you come to the last two verses:
“And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” (Hebrews 11:39-40 NKJV)
They looked forward, trusted God, obeyed (albeit not always perfectly), and overcame the challenges of their day. Yet it would be later generations who would see the fruit of their ancestors’ faithfulness.
In this wealthy nation of ours, we tend to “put into” something according to the perceived reward it will provide us. Even Christian ministries are into this mindset - they support their budgets with this mindset - benefits motivate sacrifice.
How many times on a Christian radio or TV broadcast will you hear something like this:
“For your love gift this month, we want to send you...(book, tape, jewelry, etc.)” or “As our way of saying ‘thanks’ for your gift, we will send you this...”
Couples planning their wedding may want to try that; send the thank you cards BEFORE the guests buy their gifts. Put a little premium in it and maybe you will get an even nicer toaster... or whatever.
But I digress. The point is a lot of Christians are not willing to press on, make the painful sacrifices, and “rise to full trust” in the Lord. The reward for the saints of Hebrews eleven was their legacy of obedience. Because the tribes early on in Joshua and Judges stopped short of full trust and obedience, they left the seeds of future destruction take root in their midst.
What are the “chariots of iron” hindering total victory for you? Did God send you on this path? Did God say He would be with you in this battle and the others yet ahead?
Our victories are refreshing times of rest and renewal. But God allows some of His commands to be difficult to follow. He allows obstacles, pain and even defeats and major losses AS YOU FAITHFULLY OBEY. Why?
First of all, to glorify Himself and remind us who brings us the victory. That is why we need prayer warriors (see Judges 5:2).
Secondly, it is the necessary training regimen for you, at this time. There is something bigger up ahead that, without having faced those scary chariots of iron, you would not be strong enough to handle.
Many decades of future blessing were sacrificed because Judah and the other tribes did not rise up in full trust in the Lord. The day they pulled back and settled down was the day they had told themselves, “well what can we expect against these odds?” They limited what they could expect from God according to the limits they faced in themselves.
Wake up believer! That is precisely when your training is pressing you to the peak of strength. That is precisely when God will open the way, which, up to now, you could never see with your own eyes. He has to do that - because He is faithful and His word never fails.
“Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make good? (Numbers 23:19b)
“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5b)
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.
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