I know God said He’s always with me, but I just feel so alone.
I know God said He would enable me, but I just don’t think I can do it.
I know God said He would take care of me, but I fear what might happen.
I know God wants me to witness, but I just don’t think anyone wants to hear the gospel.
It’s possible to have the promises of God but still not move forward in our Christian lives.
How can that be?
According to one commentator, the difference between Israel’s failure to enter the promised land in Numbers and their success in Joshua was a matter of reckoning.
In the American South, the word “reckon” is sometimes used to mean “suppose.”
“I reckon it’s about time to go to bed.”
“Do you reckon it will rain tomorrow?”
But one American dictionary definition for reckon is “to count, depend, or rely, as in expectation (often followed by on).”
And the Greek word rendered reckon in the KJV lists counting as one definition, but also includes words like “consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on, suppose, deem, judge, determine, purpose, decide.”
In both Numbers and Joshua. God had promised to give Israel the land. But in the first case, they didn’t believe God and failed to obey. They spent the next forty years in the wilderness while all the adults except Joshua and Caleb—the only ones who did believe God—died off.
Hebrews refers of this period: “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Hebrews 4:1-2, KJV)
Then in Joshua 6, “the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.'” God told Joshua this before the battle even began. Joshua counted on this promise as well as the one God had given him in chapter 1:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:8-9).
Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary Be Strong (Joshua): Putting God’s Power to Work, says this:
Victorious Christians are people who know the promises of God, because they spend time meditating on God’s Word (1: 8); they believe the promises of God because the Word of God generates faith in their hearts (Rom. 10: 17); and they reckon on these promises and obey what God tells them to do. To “reckon” means to count as true in your life what God says about you in His Word. . . .
Christ has conquered the world, the flesh, and the Devil; and if we reckon on this truth, we can conquer through Him. It’s possible to believe a promise and still not reckon on it and obey the Lord. Believing a promise is like accepting a check, but reckoning is like endorsing the check and cashing it (p. 88-89, Kindle version).
If we say, “I know God said, but….” we’re not relying, or reckoning, on His promise. We’re looking at circumstances or our abilities or feelings instead, none of which are reliable.
But reading and meditating on God’s Word leads to faith in God’s Word, which leads to relying on God’s Word, which leads to obedience.
Relying on God’s promises doesn’t give us grounds for presumption. Israel got into trouble in the next few chapters of Joshua because they went forward presumptuously (in the case of Ai) and didn’t ask counsel of the Lord (in the case of the Gibeonites).
Relying on God doesn’t mean we follow a formula. We’re prone to seek three easy steps to handle any problem. God’s instructions for battling Jericho and Ai and other cities were very different.
We need to humbly seek God’s will and stay in His Word so He can guide us, show us sin in our lives that we need to confess to Him, and show us His promises to help us overcome for Him. But as we rely on His truth,
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
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