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Monday, February 4, 2013

Joshua and the Sun

Joshua 10.

As the chapter opens, we read that five opposing Amorite armies were planning to attack. Having decided to strike first, Joshua led his entire army toward the Amorites on an all-night march.  Sometime during that march, God spoke to Joshua.  He told him 'Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand.  Not one of them will be able to withstand you.'

At dawn, the Israelites unleashed a surprise attack, and right from the beginning the battle went well.  When the enemy lines broke, and the Amorites started to flee into the valley, Joshua's men chased them down.  And God got personally involved.  'As they fled before Israel,' the account reads, 'the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky.' 

Then, as the sun sank toward the horizon, Joshua faced a decision.  The victory wasn't complete, and once it got dark, the rest of the Amorites would slip away.  But Joshua was determined to fight on.  Perhaps he realized that if he didn't destroy the enemy now, Israel's conquest of Canaan would grind to a halt.  Maybe he knew that anything less than total victory would conceal God's presence and glory.  Besides, he remembered God's promise in the night. 

Most of us would have called it a day.  I've done all I can do.  I've exhausted every option.  I've given it all I've got.  But Joshua wasn't most people.  He refused to go out like that. That wasn't the way it was supposed to end.  This was where his spectacular faith began.  Joshua sized up the situation, summoned all his available courage, and delivered one of the most gloriously unorthodox prayers in the entire Bible:

" O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon." (verse 12)

Joshua had the absolute amazing faith to ask God to make the sun stop in the sky.  To freeze time on behalf of His people.  According to scripture, God gave Joshua exactly what he ordered.  Just when the Amorites were hanging on for the cover of darkness, darkness never came.  Just when they thought the curtains were about to drop on their day from hell, God came out for an encore. 

"The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.  There has never been a day like before or since...surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!" (verses 13-14)

God chose to answer Joshua's outrageous prayer.

I believe that God intends for us to have this same kind of spectacular faith - the kind of faith that dares to believe God for the impossible - as a normal way of life!

This really gets to the heart of the matter for me.

Throughout scripture I don't see people of God praying wimpy "Dear God, if you could, please would you...".

I see them praying prayers where seas parted, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, teenagers took out giants with pebbles. What I see in scripture is that these spectacular faith kind of prayers were not the exception, they were the norm. Every time someone prayed something bold, crazy wonderful things happened!  God answered.

As I look at the way that I pray and live out my faith I must ask myself "What have I reduced God to and more importantly, why??" These things have been stirring in my heart for a few months now.

Let's face it. Times are tough for all of us. We are struggling financially, physically, mentally such as we never have before in our existence as a race of human beings. It seems like the whole world has turned upside down and it seems like it is getting worse by the minute. As we look at the broken world around us, the magnitude of the problems and issues can seem huge and impossible. 

But here's the deal. 

God didn't just put us here to survive from day to day until we die ... He put us here to transform the world around us. He put us here to enjoy His Favor so that we might share the good news of divine blessings for those that believe. He put us here to be blessed so that we might then be able to share those blessings with others. He put us here to be able to share fantastic, awesome testimonies of God raising us from a low place to a high place.

And! all of these transformations occurs as we come to trust and believe in the very nature of who God is, which then compels us to walk in deeper faith, praying spectacular faith prayers and EXPECTING God to show up and do what He says He will do, just as He did for Joshua.  By the way ... Joshua was not really anyone more special than you are to God. He just knew who God was and prayed accordingly.

Are we even praying boldy and with spectacular faith? 

Do we expect that if we pray and believe for the spectacular that God will answer?

What keeps us from praying the types of prayers that Joshua and many others like him prayed?

What can we do to change that?

The same God that answered the prayers of Joshua and stopped the sun on his behalf is the very same God that you serve today. Is anything to hard for Him?

I thought not.  

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