Thursday, October 19, 2017

Every Place You Set Your Foot, Prayer Walking Series: Day 19—Overconfidence

When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” So about three thousand went up; 
but they were routed by the men of Ai…
At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.
Joshua 7:3-5

There are two factors at work in this story. First, the warriors got cocky; secondly, nobody was aware of the secret sin in their camp. These are two things we need to watch for in our homes and churches. For today, let’s look at a common problem for winners—overconfidence.

When the Israelites first reached the Promised Land they were afraid to enter it, even though God had promised it to them and brought them all the way from Egypt to claim it. He had performed signs and wonders all the way. Yet they still lacked faith to believe they, with His power, could conquer the “giants” living in Canaan. Their lack of faith got them a forty year time out in the desert until that whole faithless generation died.

Now there’s a new generation of Israelites.

They started well; Jericho was a huge success. But, one win into the season and they got overconfident.

“Yeah, Josh, you should see how little this city is. We don’t need all our men for this one.”

“We can win with one hand tied behind our backs.”

“In fact, let’s just send our mamas to do the job; we can stay home and take a break.”

“It’s in the bag, man.”

Their confidence wasn’t in God’s power to deliver them, but in their own abilities.

Have you ever enjoyed a little success—at work, in ministry, at home—and started strutting around challenging the enemy to ‘hit you with his best shot’? Your marriage is strong, your kids are obedient, the mortgage is paid, your job secure. Then suddenly, what you thought would be an easy win turns into a catastrophe. The enemy annihilates you and you are completely demoralized.

It’s easy to start believing our successes are our own. We need to make sure we’re careful to give God the credit for any and every victory. We desperately need His help in order to claim this land for Him. And we need every soldier involved.

Prayer walking is not something every believer practices, so it’s easy to start feeling like a super saint when God answers our prayers. We get proud of our own holiness, and believe we have won the battle, when in fact we just opened the door for the real army to come on the field.

Last Sunday our pastor gave a sermon on Pride and the Word went deep. “Ouch!” Thank you, God; thank you Pastor Jeff (just don’t get a big head, okay?). We don’t need to fear Satan and his demon army, but we can’t boast and swagger or we’re in for a fall. 

When Jesus’ disciples came back from their first mission excited about their power over evil spirits, He was quick to remind them, “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

That’s where our focus needs to be—not it talking smack, but in gratitude for what our Savior has done for us, is doing now, and will do in the future. Only then can we get the victory.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21

#pride #itshardtobehumble #Igotthis #prayerwalking #spiritualwarfare #claimingterritory #Joshua7 #Rom12:21 #halloween #AllSaintsDay

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Every Place You Set Your Foot, Prayer Walking Series: Day 18—Waiting

March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
Joshua 6:3-5

This took incredible patience and self-control on the Israelites' part. Neither virtue is easy to come by. Imagine how revved up the fighting men were, only to be told to march around the city once a day and go back to camp. No posturing, no threats shouted at the people watching from the walls, no taking potshots at easy targets.

I’d also be willing to bet the people of Jericho, who were terrified at first, started to get bold after a few days of this bizarre behavior. Did they taunt the warriors? Throw rotten fruit at them? Try to bait them into a fight?

And as they marched, the Israelites studied the walls—four stories high, built on mounded earth, and thick enough to have houses built into them. Rahab’s house was located in the wall of the city. The Israelites knew they couldn’t break through those walls by their own strength. Did they begin to wonder about God’s battle plan?

But they kept marching—the priests with the ark of God carrying trumpets and horns, and the warriors—eerily silent. But on the seventh day they made seven laps around the city. This was a game changer. The people of Jericho and the Israelites knew something was going to happen. That’s when everything broke loose.

The trumpets blasted, the warriors shouted, and the walls crumbled. God’s battle plan showed His own people and the people of Jericho that He was in charge.  The only One with enough power to defeat any foe and break down any wall.

How long are you willing to wait for the walls to crumble around the one you’re praying for? Is it hard to stay quiet? All this marching (praying) day after day is enough to drive you crazy! And the more you look at the height and thickness of the walls they’ve built against God, the more you’re tempted to despair. But keep marching. Keep praying. Keep following God’s lead and wait for His command. And when He says, “Go!” go with confidence He will clear the way.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21

#breakthrough #wallscametumblingdown #Jericho #dontgiveup #prayerwalking #spiritualwarfare #claimingterritory #halloween #AllSaintsDay #Joshua6  #Rom12:21

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Every Place You Set Your Foot, Prayer Walking Series: Day 17 - Fear

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites.
No one went out and no one came in.
Joshua 6:1

Sometimes when I mention Jesus’ name, I can see the person in front of me shutting down. They tense, the walls go up, and they bar their gates against this “enemy” invasion.

Most of the time it appears as anger—anger at how they believe God has let them down, because of hurtful experiences in the church, or dealings with people who claim to be Christians. But I think even more than anger, it is raw fear that builds the wall.

They’re afraid to let down their guard and allow God entrance. They don’t want to hear about Him, talk about Him, or hear what He’s done in my life. They’re afraid He will invade their world and they’ll lose control. They’ll have to admit they don’t have all the answers and bow to His Lordship and authority. They believe they’ll lose their freedom.

What they don’t realize is that there’s no greater freedom than in serving God. You’re not a captive any more to fear, worry, loneliness, and meaningless existence. Jesus holds us captive by His love and forgiveness; His rule over us is good, and for our good.

Who do you know who’s afraid to let down their guard? They’re holding God at arms’ length. Pray God will go before you and chip away at their resistance and help them see how much He loves and cares for them; what He’s already done for them.

Remember, the Israelite army didn’t tear down the walls of Jericho, God did. It’s not our job to force our way in with arrogance and disrespect, but to pray God’s Spirit will prepare the way so people we meet will be open to hearing about the God who loves them more than they can ever imagine.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21

*My book Taking Back October is a terrific resource for those looking for fun and godly fall celebrations. Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle:

#earstohear #tearingdownwalls #andthewallscametumblingdown #prayerwalking #spiritualwarfare #claimingterritory #halloweenandChristianity #AllSaintsDay #Joshua6 #Rom12:21

Monday, October 16, 2017

Every Place You Set Your Foot, Prayer Walking Series: Day 16 - Commander

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Joshua 5:13-15

What a great reminder that God is not an ‘us’ against ‘them’ God. He does not come to support our agenda, but to work His own plan. And He comes, not as a warrior or secret weapon for us, but as the Commander of God’s army.

His greatest concern is not that we win against human foes, but against the unseen forces of evil who seek to destroy all of mankind—white/black, Christian/Muslim, Catholic/Protestant—He is the Creator of us all and wants all people from all nations, economic backgrounds, education levels, and religions to be saved by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

It was not because He hated the people of Jericho and the surrounding areas that God led the Israelites to war against them. They all descended from Noah (just as we have). But they turned their backs on their Creator and God, and pursued idols and the worship of demons. 

When God inflicted Egypt with plagues to show He is the one true God, many Egyptians believed and left with the Israelites when they escaped slavery. Now, forty years later, He showed the Philistines, Amorites, Hittites, and all the other ‘-ites’ that their gods were no match for Him either.

That is His war plan. To reveal His identity to mankind as our Father, Creator, and Lord—by miracles, devastation, prophecy, and His awesome power over all. That the world might know that He is God and come to Him.

When Joshua realized this he fell facedown in reverence and asked what God would have him do. That’s a perfect example for us. In my interview with Sheila (Sept. 27), she told how prayer walking leads us into the presence of people not like us. It's easy to be offended by others when we don’t know them, but when we hear their fears and heartaches, we begin to care about them and catch God’s vision for their salvation. 

What evidence do you see in your community that people have abandoned the one, true God? What gods are they worshiping in their quest for happiness, meaning and purpose, relief from suffering and pain? The Commander of God’s army has come to lead you to war against their enemies? How can you pray for them today?

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21

#CommanderoftheLordsarmy #Goddoesnttakesides #prayerwalking #spiritualwarfare #claimingterritory #halloween #AllSaintsDay #Joshua5  #Rom12:21