September 2019

Don’t pray for more power... use what you already have

Joshua’s battles have much to teach us, says Phil Hills, the Chief Executive of Teen Challenge UK...

The conquest of Canaan is an illustration of abject failure in the most positive possible circumstances. The promises to Moses and to Joshua were exactly the same. God tells them ‘wherever your feet step I will give into your hand and no enemy will ever be able to stand up against you all the days of your life’. God promises Joshua, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” The presence of God would be continually with them and they would never face anything the power of God could not overcome.

Yet a whole generation walked around in the desert for 40 years as they slowly died out. Following their failure, the next generation was defeated in places they had been promised victory. After many years being in the land, the vast majority of tribes had failed to take possession of their territory.

What does that have to do with us? Paul writes to the church in Corinth and cites some of Israel’s failures, but goes on to say, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come.”

Apparently, the purpose of recording these failures is so that we understand we may also fail, even in positive circumstances. We belong to a better covenant and we have a promise of great purpose. All authority on heaven and earth has been given to us through Jesus and he has promised to be with us to the end of the age. Christ is in us, the hope of glory. God is with us and working in us. We have incredible power... we don’t need to ask for any more.

As Paul wrote to the Ephesian church he prayed their eyes would be opened to the power which is already at work within them. The same power which raised Christ from the dead is working in us – and it doesn’t get more powerful than that. But we do need a revelation of that power.

The nation of Israel was one movement with one mission. Elim is one movement with one mission. There are lessons deliberately intended for us so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. Only once in the first chapter of Joshua does God give him a promise of his presence, yet four times Joshua is urged to be strong and courageous. Is it possible that we lack the strength and courage we sometimes need to push forward and see the breakthroughs we desire and to posses the land which has been promised to us?

We must ensure we are stirring faith in the hearts of others so they may retain the courage to press on and posses all God has promised. We cannot afford to make any accommodation with the enemy on our mission – darkness and light have nothing in common.

Our mission requires us to be a people of courage. Our mission too is one of advancement. We are not called to be a people who get to a certain place and think, ‘That’s nice, let’s settle here.’ We are here to continually take new territory.

Throughout the conquest of Canaan, there are more than enough excuses made, but to take new territory we must take the focus away from the strength of the opposition and understand the power at work within us.

Joshua retained focus on the promise of the power of God at work within them, maybe we need to take the same mindset. If we choose to focus on the power of the enemy then we cannot focus on the power of God at work within us – and that undermines everything the narrative of Scripture tells us... that one man with God is more powerful than any enemy. 

This article has been adapted from Phil’s sermon at the Elim Leadership Summit 2019...

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