"Stress" artwork by Keith Negley

Today: Psalms 55:1-11; John 3:1-21; Joshua 21:20-45; Joshua 22

Psalms 55

“I am restless in my complaint and severely distracted, because of the voice of the enemy.” Psalms 55:2-3

What a perfect way to describe our current culture — “severely distracted.” We surround ourselves with nonstop noise and entertainments every waking moment of our days. We constantly have our noses in our phones, and our are eyes perpetually glued to computer screens and televisions. Most of us aren’t comfortable with silence or with our own thoughts. We do not know how to BE STILL.

This is why I advocate stillness and meditative prayer. This is why I encourage people to unplug from all the distractions, practice quieting our thoughts, and learn to connect with our own souls and tune into the Holy Spirit’s voice.

We are pressured to buy, consume, indulge our every desire, by a thousand voices. We are “severely distracted because of the voice of the enemy.”

No wonder our hearts are “in anguish.” No wonder we feel as it the “terrors of death have fallen upon [us]… fear and trembling come upon [us], and horror has overwhelmed [us].” (v.4-5) No wonder we see “violence and strife in the city… violence and strife in the city… evil and harm are in her midst. Destruction is in her midst; oppression and deceit do not depart from her streets.” (v.9-11) No wonder.

"Study for Nicodemus Visiting Jesus" painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner

John 3

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Sometimes we can hear something so much that we can’t hear it anymore. It becomes too familiar. This, sadly, has happened for a lot of us with this amazing verse in John 3. But there is a reason why this one particular verse, out of ALL the many verses in the Bible, is the most widely quotes. In all the Bible, this one verse most clearly clarifies the reason Jesus came here. John 3:16 holds the most succinct explanation of salvation in the entire New Testament.

Jesus’ entire exchange with Nicodemus is perhaps the most illuminating recorded words of Jesus in the gospels. Jesus had been really tough on the hypocritical Pharisees. But here was one who wanted to understand, who seemed more hungry for truth than his own power. And Jesus pounced on the opportunity to clearly explain the entire plan.

Jesus adjusted His message delivery depending upon who was listening. To the masses He spoke in parables; He described truths using simple stories from the people’s daily lives that they could easily understand.

But the Pharisees were highly educated, and practiced in contemplating complex ideas and theology. Jesus was able to go deep with Nicodemus. And we get the great luxury of being the fly on the wall listening in on this most profound discussion.

If I had to throw away the entire Bible and could only save one chapter, I would choose John 3.

"Entering the Promised Land" print by Darius Gilmont

Joshua 21 – The Promised Land

“So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and lived in it. And the LORD gave them rest on every side, in accordance with everything that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD handed all of their enemies over to them. Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; everything came to pass.” Joshua 21:43-45

Read that passage above carefully because it applies to US too! This is also our story, our future, and our inheritance. We also have been promised an inheritance with is God Himself. GOD is our Promised Land! And this promise WILL come to pass.

In the meantime, we have been given our constant companion and helper, the Holy Spirit, as a good faith deposit on our coming inheritance. Just at the Israelites were physically guided by a pillar of fire and clouds, the Holy Spirit is our spiritual guide. He can lead us as we navigate through this wilderness where we currently find ourselves.

For the Israelites, it was a physical conquest; they took possession of actual tangible cities and land. For us today, the conquest is a spiritual journey. Our destination is sanctification, to grow more and more like Jesus. The land to be acquired is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that God imparts to us as we draw closer to Him.

Some day, when we die or Jesus returns for us, we will finally completely take possession of our Promised Land, the LORD will hand all of our enemies over to us and we will have “rest on every side.” Hallelujah, thank You, Jesus!