November 7, 2021
Joshua 1:1-6 (NIV)
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)
There is a word of encouragement I have for us today. The word is “agency.” The word agency describes the primary way God works in this world. God, for reasons known only to himself, has chosen to work through the agency of human beings. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 and down through all the centuries of world history, God has chosen to work through people like you and me. It seems obvious enough to say and yet many of us do not adequately grasp this truth and reality. We somehow tend to think God is primarily working outside of human agency, that God is just sort of noumenously and mystically working outside of human agency; somehow in the air or atmosphere around and between us.
Think about it. In powerful gatherings of the church, people tend to say, “God really ‘showed up’ today, or his presence was ‘thick’—as though God’s presence were a substance among us. And we do see precedent for such descriptions, as on Mt. Sinai and the dedication of the Temple and other occasions. The clear and overwhelming story of the Bible, however, is one of human agency—of human agents endowed with the power and gifts of God to act with his authorization for his glory and the good of others.
Today’s text demonstrates this with such clarity in this word from God to Joshua.
- No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.
- As I was with Moses, so I will be with you
- I will never leave you nor forsake you.
- you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
- [THEREFORE YOU] Be strong and courageous,
Encouragement, in the biblical sense of the term, is never “You can do it!” It is always, “God will do it.” But here’s the kicker. God will do it through you—not around you, nor because of you, nor in spite of you, nor apart from you, nor just somewhere out there in the air or over the rainbow. No. God will do it through you.
So there is one more bit. God first must do it in you, because God doesn’t tend to do through us what he hasn’t first done in us. It’s why discipleship precedes mission, and follows it, and precedes it again, and so on and so forth.
Awakening Friends, it is all about agency. We are becoming Agents of Jesus—becoming like him so we can act in his name. As in: His name is my name too.
Jesus, or Yeshua, is also the name, “Joshua.” Go figure.
Father, I so readily remember the Bible verse about how you re able to do abundantly above and beyond anything we can ask or even imagine and I so readily forget how it then says, “according to his power that is at work in us.” I confess, I easily remove myself from agency and thereby responsibility. I somehow expect you to just do it yourself, outside of me and other people. Awaken me this Holy Spirit, Christ in me, agency you have created. I get it and yet I don’t. We need awakening, Lord Jesus, to your name and in your name. Amen.
So from yesterday. . . . where is your New Jersey? And for today, do you see yourself as a bonafide agent of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah? Or is that still kind of fuzzy for you?
P.S. — ENCOURAGEMENT #7
ENCOURAGEMENT #7 TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SEEDBED ADVENT EXPERIENCE: We are going to dive into the prepositional movements of awakening to Jesus: WITH—FOR—IN—THROUGH. Advent opens the door to WITH. Come on! I want to see you there. Deeper Advent = Better Christmas. You can see all the details here. If you already have the book, The Christian New Year, be sure to choose that option on the dropdown to avoid buying another book—OR EVEN BETTER—get another book and invite a friend to join us. COME ON!
For the Awakening,