The Promise

Let me paint you a picture of what was going on with the Israelites prior to entering into the land God had promised to give them…

Moses is gone – Joshua’s in charge now. A new generation of Israelites has come of age (all the ones who were filled with doubt & unbelief have died out in the wilderness because God said they would not enter into His rest).

This was the promise from God…

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.” – Joshua 1:3

So the commission is the same as it was with Moses, God still intended them to have a promised land flowing with milk and honey. He has already guaranteed them VICTORY!

Still, the greater promise I find is this: God told Joshua to be strong because He would always be with him – God promised His constant presence. This was the promise that would see Joshua and the Israelites through, even though God had to reassure Joshua several times!!! (sound familiar? It sure does to me!)

Joshua 1:5 – “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Joshua 1:6 – “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them” (God keeps His promises)

Joshua 1:7 – “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you…”

Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

God had previously commanded Moses, not once, but twice, to also encourage Joshua (see Deut. 1:38; 3:28)

These passages are so encouraging to me because I see that God knows that sometimes we need reassurance to take that step of faith into the unknown toward our destiny. That’s when He gives us encouragement in a variety of different ways, to once again remind us of His presence and guaranteed victory. The key is trust Him and not give room to a spirit of fear to bring doubt and unbelief. Remember, that was the downfall of their ancestors in the wilderness.

We have two promises to hold onto today – the first one is the same as it was with Moses and Joshua – each of us have our own personal “promised land” that God has given us. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us as we enter into our land. The second promise was accomplished on the cross. Jesus won our victory and promises that since He set us free…we are free indeed!

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Preparation for Crossing the Jordan

Preparation -Joshua 1:10-18

Joshua orders his officers to pass through the camp and give the people this message: “PREPARE provisions for yourselves” for in three days you’ll cross the Jordan to possess the land the Lord has promised to give you.

They had three days of preparation – three days of the old, before a new beginning in their promised land. The same amount of time Jesus was crucified, dead, buried, and then rose again to new life – thus creating a new covenant forever with all those who would accept the gift of salvation. The day we as Christians accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, was really the first step toward our personal “promised land”. From there, it’s a journey of following His lead and submitting our lives to His will for us.

It’s interesting that they were told to prepare for themselves

“Up until this point, God’s people had been provided for and had survived totally by His hand. Now God was developing in His people a mentality of personal responsibility, for the manna would soon stop.” (Joshua 1:11 – NKJ Spirit Filled Life Study Bible notes)

God’s provision and care for the Israelites in the wilderness was similar to how He carefully watches over and provides for a new born again Christian. Just as a child goes through stages of development where their needs are met according to their age, God deals with His children according to the stages of our spiritual walk with Him. As time goes on, He allows certain things to test your faith, to produce a level of maturity. It doesn’t mean we cease our dependence on God, but rather we learn to partner with Him through a deeper, more intimate relationship.

What is our response today as we hear “prepare yourselves” to cross over into your personal promised land? We know the usual disciplines that prepare us:

  • prayer
  • reading the Bible
  • spending time in God’s presence
  • worshipping both privately and corporately
  • regularly assembling together with God’s people.

I encourage you to also pray and ask God if there is something specific He would have you either leave behind, or bring into this new land. Sometimes we need to forgive someone, let go of something we’ve placed too high a value, rid ourselves of interferences, right all our relationships to the best of our ability, etc. Each person’s preparation is different and unique to their “promise” from God.

Joshua gives instruction to the people in Joshua 1:14-15 (but he’s actually quoting Moses’ command in Deut. 3:18-20.) He tells them to take turns fighting the enemies and help one another out so that they may all enjoy the land God has given them.

This is a beautiful picture of unity in the Body of Christ – too often we are so focused on our own journey, we neglect to help others in their pursuit of God’s will. Christianity doesn’t represent a “to each their own” mentality. God designed us to be linked with one another as we are connected to Him – that’s why He called us “a body, with Himself as the head.

“The land would be conquered only by a united Israel…” – NKJ Spirit Filled Life Study Bible Notes

If you are headed to your promised land (ie., a new level of wisdom, understanding, anointing, ministry, or breakthrough) whatever your promise from the Lord, take some time to prepare yourself for the journey by whatever means the Holy Spirit directs you to do. Also, remember the Lord will often use the Body of Christ to help you, and vice versa, to conquer the “enemies in the land” – so you must work in unity.

Carrying Egypt into the Wilderness

Exodus 13:17-18 says that God didn’t allow the children of Israel to take the shortest route to the promised land…

“…God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt’. So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea…”

God knew that they were still very fragile getting used to this new found freedom. Remember, they still carried a “bondage mentality” from all the generations of captivity. He thought if they had to deal with a battle right away, they’d change their minds. Interestingly enough, they DID have a battle to contend with, as Pharaoh changed his mind and came after them. Just as God knew they would, when some of the people saw Pharaoh’s army coming after them, they wanted to run back to Egypt:

“Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt? ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.'”

I’ve seen many people today who are bound by all kinds of junk that effects their lives. They hate it, they complain about it, but they aren’t willing to do what it takes to be set free. In their own minds, they believe it’s better to stay in Egypt where it’s familiar, than to believe God for deliverance.

The Bible says that for 400 years He heard the cries of His people asking that they be delivered out of bondage. Although in the natural it’s justified, I’m sure along with prayer, there was also a great deal of murmuring and complaining about the injustice. So He sent Moses to lead them and he performed many miracles before their eyes.

  • The plagues (Ex. 9:14)
  • Cloud by day & fire by night (Ex. 13:22)
  • The parting of the Red Sea and victory over their enemies (Ex. 14:21)
  • Manna from Heaven (Ex. 16:35) Water out of a rock (Ex. 17:6)
  • Their clothes and shoes never wore out (Deut. 8:4)

After all that God did to show the people they could trust Him, how did they react?

  • They talked about turning back to Egypt
  • They murmured and complained.
  • They wanted to stone Moses and Aaron
  • They decided to make the wilderness like “Egypt” by using the spoils they’d received from the Egyptians, melted down the gold and made a golden calf for idol worship

Here’s what we can learn from this:

1) Go forward, even if you’re apprehensive of the unknown – God has promised to be with you every step of the way.

2) Stop murmuring and complaining! Did the children of Israel have legitimate gripes when they were in bondage? Of course. Do we have things that happen to us in life that are hurtful, unfair, and unjust? Absolutely. But when God sets us FREE, it’s time to move on, and not allow our past experiences to dictate our present or future. They went from a “bondage mentality” to a “victim mentality”. Bondage mentality is when you carry the memories of the bondage with you and haven’t fully recognized you’re free. Victim mentality is where you refuse to move past the bondage and live out the rest of your life murmuring, complaining and blaming everything on what happened to you.

3) Don’t try to “stone” the ones that God has sent to help move you into your destiny. God places people in your life that sometimes push you out of your comfort zone. Don’t turn on them just because you don’t like what they’re telling you.

4) You can’t decide to add a mixture of other religions or the ways of the world to God’s plan. Do it HIS way. Otherwise you create an idol by trying to make God into an image that suits your lifestyle.

I’ve heard it said that the journey to the promised land would’ve taken them about two weeks. Instead, they wandered for forty years. According to Hebrews 3:16-18, the Israelites didn’t enter into the promised land because of unbelief. God was angry with them because after all those years of His faithful care, they NEVER learned to trust Him.

“For who having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

What is the lesson for you and I? It’s found in Hebrews 3:7-11:

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.'”

*** Know God’s ways, know His character – trust Him. Don’t be filled with doubt & unbelief. Don’t let your past bondage make your heart hard. God set the children of Israel free from bondage and desired to lead them to a promised land. Jesus saved us and gave us the Holy Spirit, and weapons to overcome every stronghold of the enemy. Too many Christians are saved and going to Heaven, but still walk around bound and oppressed by demonic strongholds. No matter what has happened to you in the past, don’t be a victim! Jesus came to set you FREE and you are free indeed.***

Don’t try to carry Egypt (bondage) into your Promised Land – or you’ll wind up wandering around in the wilderness.

Understanding Spiritual Bondage

Before we can discuss spiritual freedom, we need to address these questions:
  • What is spiritual bondage?
  • Can Christians be spiritually bound?
  • How do we get in bondage?

I believe that just as a person cannot fully appreciate salvation without first acknowledging their needfor a Savior, so it is with freedom…you cannot walk in total freedom without recognizing those things that are keeping you bound.

What is Spiritual Bondage?

The Webster definition of bondage is:

  •  The state of being under control of a force or influence
  •  The state of one who is bound as in captivity or slavery

We can see in the Bible that Spiritual bondage doesn’tmean you are being held physically captive.  Remember how Joseph in the OT, or Paul in the NT were both thrown into prison?  They were in captivity, but were not in spiritual bondage. They did not turn away from God and lose their hope. Paul and Silas exemplified this by praising the Lord. Because they weren’t “spiritually bound”, their praise actually caused them to be set free physically as well.

(Acts 16:25-26) “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose”

Spiritual bondage has more to do with Webster’s first definition – In this case, the controlling force or influence starts out as the lusts of your own flesh, but is being manipulated by the demonic.

Can Christians be in Spiritual Bondage?

Yes! Not all bondage is about possession, but sometimes it is a matter of oppression. Which means you can be saved and have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, and still open up areas of your life to demonic influence. The only one who has never had any form of spiritual bondage, is also the only one who has never sinned – Jesus Christ.  The Bible says that Jesus spoke this about Himself in John 14:30:

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming (Satan) and he has nothing in Me.”

There was no sin in Jesus, therefore nothing for Satan to tempt Him with, no foothold or opening for him to rule over Jesus.

How Do You Become Bound?

Spiritual bondage is any area of our lives where we come into agreement with a lie from the enemy that is in direct opposition to God’s Word. In those areas, it gives the demonic legal access, and it’s like an open invitation for them to come and torment us.
The easiest way to explain how a person can become bound up is to give an example:

If someone hurts us and we become offended…we know the Word of God says to forgive them. If we decide NOT to obey the Word and forgive them, we open up a door for the enemy to come in and set up what is called a “foothold”.
Ephesians 4:27 says “do not give the devil a foothold” (NIV)
The New American Standard (Eph. 4:27) puts it like this: “do not give the devil an opportunity
My NKJ Study Bible says (Eph. 4:27) – “nor give place to the devil” – It explains that the Greek word for place (topos) emphasizes that believers can actually give ground in their lives to satanic control. If we give the enemy a foothold, and the Holy Spirit convicts us, but we choose to ignore it, eventually this foothold will grow into a stronghold. You see, demons don’t like to work alone – they come in packs.
Using our example from above, let’s examine what happens after a foothold has been established. It started out as unforgiveness, but that wasn’t enough of a hold for the demons…then it turned into resentment (a little bit stronger hold). If you don’t deal with the resentment, it goes on to retaliation (an even bigger hold)…then full blown anger (a HUGE hold). Before you know it, you have a stronghold of bitterness that is no longer contained to this one particular incident, but has taken over every area of your life. You now see everything through the eyes of bitterness. You wonder why you’re so angry all the time?…why bad things keep happening to you because your prayers aren’t answered?…where did this sickness come from?  (Many forms of sickness and disease are directly linked to opening ourselves up to some form of spiritual bondage).
This was just one example of how a stronghold can be established.

We can be bound because of:
Habitual sin, giving into the lusts of our flesh

Rom. 8:5 – “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the thins of the Spirit.
Rom. 8:13 – “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
Acts. 8:23 – “for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”

Disobedience

Eph. 2:2-3 – “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
1 Chron. 9:1 – “…The people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness.”

Ignorance of God’s Word

Eph. 4:17-18 – “…you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”
Hosea 4:6 – “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge”
Isaiah 5:13 – “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst”
Generational curses (We’ll discuss this at a later date)
Exodus 34:7 – “I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected–even children in the third and fourth generations.”

This was an explanation of bondage to lay the ground work for our Bible study on Freedom.


Join me again for our next study where we’ll look at Israel (which represents the Church) and discuss a “Bondage mentality”.

Bondage Mentality (satan’s trap)

We know that God sent Moses to set His people free from over 400 years of captivity in Egypt. For generations of God’s people, bondage was all they knew. They had never experienced freedom, never been their own Nation or people…only slaves to Egypt. During that time, they’d watched how the Egyptians worshipped idols, and conducted their lives in a worldly fashion. The Israelites called themselves the “people of God” and understood that they were different, but for most, it was only a tradition – a part of their heritage as Jews. Moses was the only one who had a personal encounter with the Living God.

So when the time came to deliver the people, God showed His strength through many signs and wonders. The plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the cloud by day and fire by night – one might imagine the Israelites would have seen God’s protection, and from that moment on, lived happily ever after.

You know the story…there was no happy ending for this group. Instead, at the first sign of trouble, they cried and complained “Did you bring us out here to die? It would be better for us to go back to Egypt!” Unfortunately this would become their constant motto.

What was so great about Egypt? With the exception of being slaves, did they not have it so bad? NO! They were in terrible bondage. They constantly cried out and asked God to deliver them. So why would they ever think it would be better to go back? …because they had a bondage mentality.

As uncomfortable as it was, it was comfortable because they knew what to expect. Humans are great at learning to cope with bad situations, rather than pressing through the challenges necessary to change. Many times we are unhappy with our circumstances and we earnestly pray to be delivered OUT of it…but when we don’t understand the methods God uses, or the direction He’s taking us, we run back to our “Egypt” – the fear of the unknown is sometimes greater than remaining in our bondage. What’s the key to being set free? You have to trust God’s plan even when you don’t understand it and you have to desire freedom more than what’s comfortable.

So, they were free from Egypt and headed toward their “promise land” – but the problem remained…the only thing that had changed was their location. The people were physically free, but still bound by wrong mindsets. They were full of doubt and unbelief that good things were really happening for them. Years of memories from being controlled by fear and intimidation, had left it’s mark. This is true for us today as well – Jesus came to set us free, but we MUST renew our minds.

Rom. 12:2 – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” New Living Translation

Perhaps the murmuring and complaining were a result of resentment that God didn’t come through the way they’d expected. Have you ever felt disappointed when you’ve prayed and asked God to move on your behalf, and you had it all worked out in your head what it would look like? If so, you know that God rarely ever does things they way we think. In their mind, they might of thought the Lord would give them Egypt. Instead, He wanted to take them on a journey to a new land.

The Need is Great

Freedom NOW Ministries  is based on

2 Corinthians 6:2

“For He says,’In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, NOW is the time of God’s favor, NOW is the day of salvation.”

While so many have the mentality of just surviving this life until they make it to Heaven, we believe in helping people live out their God-given destiny here on earth. Our heart is to see people set free from all bondage NOW, so they can enjoy the abundant life God has planned for them.

We believe that God has called and equipped us with gifts from the Holy Spirit to fulfill what was spoken in Isaiah 61:1-3:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”

Too many people (including Christians) are suffering from fear, depression, rejection, physical ailments, and all kinds of bondage. We have been given authority over these things, and it’s our desire to minister freedom and deliverance in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord! The disciples and the early Church were sent out to do the works of the Lord. We know that the Bible says “He’s the same yesterday, today and forever”, as well as “He’s not a respecter of persons”. So if He did it for them, and through them, He’ll do it again through us. Not only do we want to set the captives free, we long to teach, and encourage others to walk in this same anointing and fulfill the call.

Ephesians 3:9-11 says “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jesus wants us to carry on the ministry that He started. This is what Freedom NOW Ministry is all about – that when Jesus came, He brought the Kingdom of God with Him – preaching “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand (near)” It’s not just about hanging on until we escape this world – it’s about experiencing a bit of Heaven here on earth as we pray “His Kingdom come, His will be done, here on earth, just like it is in Heaven”.