November 6, 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)
To live a courageous life, we must make it our daily work to give and receive encouragement. Because we mostly find ourselves in our relatively small context, with our super limited life—somewhere between a bunker and the front lines of all we are dealing with—one of the big strategies of encouragement is to keep in touch with the big picture view of things. In order to run and now grow weary and to walk and not faint we must be regularly lifted up out of the woods of our reality onto the eagles wings of the Holy Spirit.
Genesis 1 and 2 offer us a picture of the whole creation—the heavens and the earth— as the Temple of God with the image bearers of God created and called to walk with God, be fruitful and multiply and lead the whole creation toward flourishing abundance. Genesis 3-11 unfold the story of the tragic rebellion and demise of what became a self-serving, God denying people. Genesis 12 through the rest of the Old Testament is the story of an incredibly small, very focused, restart. It is easy to get the picture from reading the Bible, the story of God, and get the picture that we are talking about something massive and grand. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but the majority of the Bible is actually a pretty small story. The plot centers around the “Promised Land,” a land flowing with milk and honey, a veritable Garden of Eden place. We see its scope in today’s text:
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.
It always felt so large and grand to me. In truth, this “Promised Land,” the focus of most of the Bible and the centerpiece of much of the story, is in actuality roughly the size of the tiny state of New Jersey.
So what’s my point here? Am I somehow trying to diminish the story? No, I am attempting to magnify the God. Our God, the God of Heaven and Earth, the only true and living God, almost always begins very very very very small. Indeed, the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the hills, chooses to make a promise to one man and engage a relatively small group of people to journey into and inhabit a territory the size of New Jersey, and all told it takes around 2,000 years. And it ultimately, apparently, comes to a disappointing failure with the people expelled from the land and sent into exile because of their persistent hardness of heart and stiff-necked ways.
And it turns out all of this is merely the back story. For onto this platform of the ruins and rubble of an apparently failed experiment, this God will come himself into his Creation, into this little promised land, incarnated in the human flesh of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. This, my friends, is again a very very very very small, incredibly unconventional, unbelievably absurd approach to save the whole world. And look at it now, 2000 years hence, a massive scope and yet still small, seed by seed, one heart at a time.
Friends of the Awakening, this is very very very very small, and it is massive—sowing and growing over the entire Creation now, billions and billions serving and being served. Take courage, it can actually start with you, your heart, your home, your church, your town, with us.
As we say in the Sower’s Creed, Today, I will remember that the tiniest seeds become the tallest trees . . .
Father, how can it be. New Jersey! You are so big and yet you have worked so small. And you have worked so small and it has become so big. Small, Lord, teach me the small ways; the ways of Jesus. Show me the seed in my hands today and give me the audacity to sow small and in doing so to sow big. Come Holy Spirit and interpret this mystery and this miracle to my deepest heart and mind. Thank you for sowing this encouragement into me. In Jesus name, Amen.
Are you grasping the mysterious and miraculous nature of the small-big ways of God? How does it encourage you? How will it help you become a better encourager?
P.S. — ENCOURAGEMENT #6
ENCOURAGEMENT #6 TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SEEDBED ADVENT EXPERIENCE: Advent begins with the most massive picture of the future and yet is filled with the small and hidden ways of God. The path is best walked together, in fellowship with others. 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,