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August 4 – Turning promise into possession

“Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, “Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.” – Joshua 1:11

Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18

Finally, God is delivering on His promise made years earlier to Abraham, to give the land of Palestine to Abraham’s descendants. Because “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1), Palestine can be given and taken as God sees fit. Canaan does not belong to the pagan tribes who now reside there any more than it does to the tribes of Israel who will soon reside there. For now, God has decided to give this land as His gift to Israel.

Yet the LORD does not just drop this gift into Israel’s lap! Rather, He commands His people to cross over and lay hold of His promise. They are to fight for this land! Work to claim God’s gift. The people are expected to turn promise into possession. Notice the commands given them in verse 11: “prepare provisions,” “cross over,” “go in to possess.” God’s promises often come with expectations. You may have observed this in church today. In the sacraments, God’s great covenantal promise is put before us in picture form. The water of baptism and the bread and wine of communion picture for us the promised salvation of Jesus Christ.

Yet, with that promise comes expectations. We must “cross over the Jordan”, as it were, and take possession of the promise. For water, bread and wine do not save. Only Jesus saves! God commands us to respond in repentance and faith to the promise pictured in the sacramental elements, for salvation is through Jesus Christ alone.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God for the salvation found in Jesus Christ. Repent of all your sins. Ask the Lord for a greater measure of His Holy Spirit so that you would look in faith to Jesus Christ alone.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois.


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