I begin writing this Journal 37,000 feet above the earth on my return flight from Johannesburg, South Africa. What a joy and privilege it was to have the opportunity to share Christ and His word on this continent! We experienced the manifest presence of the Lord. More later …
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“There is much land yet to be possessed” (Joshua 13:1). This is on my mind—that which God has given (bequeathed) to us that we have left unclaimed because of fear, doubt, sin, carelessness, or unbelief.
Heb. 11:1 says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is the “title deed” of things we look forward to in the future, like the title deed to a house before taking possession of it. Faith is the “conviction of the reality,” the assurance not of what we see, but what we know. All that we possess in the present began in faith. What do we hold “title” to? All that we will experience in the future, which we know by faith. It is our conviction … our assurance … our title deed to reality.
We honor God when we believe Him! We have experienced salvation by faith, we are kept by faith, and by faith we rejoice in the hope of eternal life and eternity with Christ. Hebrews 11:6 states that it is impossible to please God without faith. He so desires to see His own exercise vibrant faith. God delights in those who trust Him, the invisible over the visible, spirit over matter, and faith over feeling.
Faith responds with an inner conviction, not blindly, but in seeing and hearing Him Who is invisible. It is saying a divine “yes” accompanied by steps of action in response to the revelation given, in spite of the external circumstances, the mountains, or the obstacles. Matter never creates. The Spirit does!
The experiences of the Israelites are examples to us, giving us a picture of the exercise of faith in victory, followed by defeat because of hardness of heart.
These things (the past history of the Israelites) happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction. (1 Cor. 10:11)
The land of Canaan lay before them to be entered. They had experienced the miraculous deliverance from Egypt. The blood on the lintel and the doorposts kept them from the death angel. The Red Sea parted and they miraculously crossed on dry ground—hundreds of thousands of Israelites (some say 2 million). God now promises them the land of Canaan. It was a land grant from God to be received and entered into by faith and with thanksgiving (see Num. 13-14).
Moses sent out 12 spies to view the land. Forty days later they return with the report. All twelve agree that the land is “prosperous and flowing with milk and honey.” So prosperous, in fact, that it takes two men to carry one cluster of grapes! The inhabitants are strong, the cities are walled and great, and the children of Anak (giants) live there. Also inhabiting the land are the Amalekites, Hittites, Ishmaelites, Amorites, and Canaanites. All 12 spies view the same land during the 40 days and agree to the same challenges.
Ten gave a very negative report. “We cannot go in because the walls are too high, the people too strong … and then there are the children of Anak—the giants!”
Joshua and Caleb see the land differently. They see it with the eyes of faith. The 10 saw it in the natural. The 10 spies with “hardened hearts” and “evil hearts of unbelief” gave a negative report (Heb. 3:15-19). Unbelief always sees the difficulties as greater than the possibilities, always sees the obstacles as greater than the potential. “The cities are great, the walls are too high, and we are as grasshoppers.” Is not Jehovah greater than the cities? Is not Jehovah, the Almighty Who sits in the heavens, higher than the walls? Is not Jehovah, the Creator of the universe, bigger than so-called giants? Shocking!
Unbelief has staggering results. It sees the glass half-empty. Faith sees it half-full. Unbelief sees first the obstacles, the challenges, and the difficulties. Faith sees God and His promises first … and then the obstacles! Unbelief sees only what can be done in one’s own strength. Faith sees an opportunity for the Lord to exercise His power. Unbelief wants to be safe and secure. Faith is willing to risk for the impossible and the invisible with the confidence that what the Lord has promised will be fulfilled. Unbelief complains about obstacles and becomes rebellious of heart. Faith in God overcomes fear and pleases Him (Heb. 11:6). Faith “is the victory that overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). Faith sees the challenges as an opportunity for God to reveal His glory with the miraculous, as a testimony to us and the world.
Joshua and Caleb make a clear declaration of faith. They see and hear with eyes and ears of faith. “If the Lord delights in us, He will bring us in the land, and give it to us … we are well able to overcome, and possess it.” Nothing short of faith and obedience to receiving the land grant would be acceptable to them. “Don’t rebel,” they shout. “Their protection has departed from them … the LORD is with us; do not fear them … the people are bread for us”—and that includes the giants (Num. 14:7-9)! Forty years later (at 80 years of age), Caleb asks for the “hill country” (Josh. 14:6-12)!
What do we see when we see obstacles? When we see chariots and the horses of the Syrian army coming at us, do we panic as Elisha’s servant did? Elisha sees the impending judgment with different eyes. He sees God’s chariots of fire which were 20,000 accompanied with thousands of angels (Psa. 68:17)!
When Jesus sees the blind men, He asks them, “Do you believe I am able to do this?” They respond, “Yes, Lord.” Jesus’ response: “According to your faith” (Matt. 9:28-29). When the centurion came to Jesus for his sick servant, believing that the word of Christ was powerful enough to bring about the miracle, Jesus’ response was the same: “According to your faith … as you have believed, be it done unto you” (Matt. 8:13). Blind Bartimaeus, upon hearing of Jesus, by faith cries out to the Lord. Jesus’ response: “Go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
Hebrews 11 challenges us all to be “faith walkers.” In spite of the obstacles we face, the Lord has given us these “exceeding great and precious promises” so that we can overcome and take the “much land yet to be possessed.” It is Jesus who challenged us in this way: “If you have faith as the grain of a mustard seed, you shall say …” (Matthew 17:20)!
1) What “land” do you have which is yet to be possessed that does not depend on the size of the church building, the number of people in the congregation, or the finances? How is your faith being challenged to possess the “land” of your life or the life of your church? What are your obstacles? Your giants? Your walled cities?
2) What “land” is yet to be possessed personally of prayer, fasting, and ministry gifts that have laid dormant and need to be stirred up? What about the unity within the Body of caring for one another, loving one another, forgiving one another, encouraging one another, preferring one another, serving one another, caring for the elderly, visiting the sick, opening up homes for prayer and fellowship, outreach to the community, visiting Christ in prison and giving a cup of cold water and a slice of bread in His name, and having a greater vision of Christ and the lost that has yet to be possessed? What land is still unpossessed in the vision of faith within the Fellowship? God has already given you the vision.
Take the risk and go forward in faith and prayer. Possess the land one step at a time! Believe God and His Word. Be a conqueror. The Spirit will give you the will and the power to possess new land. You have stayed in a comfortable mode too long. Have faith that what He has given you to possess can be possessed by you. Fulfill your destiny.
All of these have nothing to do with matter, but with Spirit … they do not begin with the natural but with the spiritual … not in the works of the flesh, but in the response of faith to the eternal Lord and His eternal Word through the Spirit.
As an individual and as a Church, how will you respond to God’s call to higher ground, to land that is yet to be possessed? Will you submit yourself by faith and abandonment to Him and His Word and see Him work powerfully to dispel the giants, the walled cities, and the enemies that surround you?
Ministry Update—Botswana & Swaziland
This was my first visit to Africa. My fears and trepidation were dispelled by the generosity and openness of the people. The culture is different and their worship services are definitely different! They are very warm. Yet they have the same desire for God and the same spiritual issues we all face.
They also face monumental challenges. Seventy percent of the students in the University of Botswana have AIDS. Swaziland is 42% HIV-positive, one of the highest percentages of AIDS-infected people in Africa. A fifteen year-old has a 20% chance of making it to 28 years of age! There is a 57% HIV-positive infection rate among 20 to 29 year-olds. A recent British Broadcasting Company (BBC) report estimated that with the current AIDS epidemic Swaziland will cease to exist as a nation by the year 2050!
But against the darkness, the Lord is shining His light through many compassion ministries, training of pastors, leadership development, education, orphanages, the calling of men and women as His servants to preach the gospel, and in pioneering of rural churches. To God be the glory … great things He has done and is doing.
We preached daily for Spiritual Emphasis Week in the Bible colleges of Botswana (5 days) and Swaziland (3 days). We also taught in class and preached in the evening services, which were open to the public. We set aside one night specifically for a healing service, something I had not done before! We experienced the Lord’s manifest presence in salvation, healing, baptism in the Spirit, a renewed passion for Christ, the call into ministry, and following Him as Lord. We preached in a rural church and also met with a group of pastors. It was precious!
Before leaving Swaziland, I was taken to a game reserve. There were no predator animals, but it was very interesting to see some of God’s fascinating creatures in the wild.
The Lord has choice servants serving Him as missionaries in those countries, men and women who have a passion for Christ and for the people of Africa. We were honored to be with them!
We left Africa with grateful hearts to the Lord for His expressed kindness and for showering us with His grace while there. The Lord continues to give me daily strength for the Journey! We are overwhelmed with gratitude!
Thank You, Again!
Our hearts are full of thanks to the Lord for His graciousness and to you for your faithful kindness and generosity in your love, giving, and especially for your prayers! The Lord was faithful to His Word to make Himself known to and through us. We say it every time and we mean it every time: “Thank you.”
We do not presume upon the Lord or upon you for your expressions of love. Know that you are continually in our prayers for God to manifest Himself to you in new dimensions and that you, by faith and the Spirit of God, would go forward and possess the Land that is yet to be possessed. May God recompense you for your sensitivity and kindness. Maranatha!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira