Dr. Tom Berry

There is an old custom that after a wedding the groom carries his bride over the threshold into the home where they will launch their marriage together.  It is recognized that there will be many heartaches, sorrows, and joys, but both bride and groom usually look forward to whatever the future holds with eager hearts.

The Scriptures tell us how the nation of Israel stood at the threshold of the promised land.  That threshold was the rushing Jordan River.  After crossing that threshold there would be many battles.  Some lives would be lost and there would be moments of discouragement as well as victory.  Yet, they looked forward with great anticipation.  The great leader, Moses, stood up and pointed out to the people that it was now a time to possess, to ponder, and to plan.

"Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged."  (Deuteronomy 1:21).  These electrifying words had come from God near the end of 40 years wandering in the wilderness.  What thrilling words they must have been to a nation which had long endured the disfavor of God. 
     It had been a time to possess forty years previous but the nation had been guilty of unbelief.  Because of that unbelief they were sentenced to wander in the wilderness for forty years until those 603,000 fighting men had died who doubted God's power to give them the land.  When God gave orders the second time to enter Canaan the only two soldiers still alive who were present on the first occasion were Caleb and Joshua.  They were also the only two who had believed God the first time.
     For every act of unbelief in God there is a wilderness wandering, be it an individual, a church, a state, or a nation.  There has been a lot of wandering around in our past years.  May 2004 be a time when God's people will have faith to believe God.  If so it will be a spiritual time to possess. 
     Surely there is a possession for every child of God: 
            A personal and intimate relationship with their God. 
            A victorious life by the enabling of God. 
            A fruitful ministry in the will of God. 
            A powerful witness by the enablement of God. 
            Spiritual growth through the Word of God. 
     Let us possess what God has given to us.

They needed to consider that God had blessed them abundantly, even in their wilderness wandering.  "For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand.  He knows your trudging through this great wilderness.  These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing."  (Deuteronomy 2:7). 

"...The Lord your God has blessed you..."  Their possessions had been enlarged, their cattle had been increased and there had been many battles won.  They could clearly see that they had enjoyed God's blessings even while they were reaping the seeds of disobedience.
     As God's people we should spot and ponder.  God has blessed us in 2003.  Physical strength and health, a means of income, home and family, material needs, Christian friends, and countless other blessings testify to God's constant benevolence.  The very salvation we enjoy, and the spiritual victories won, should be sufficient to show us that the Lord has much He wants to do for us in 2004.

"...He knows your trudging..."  Many times they thought God had forgotten them.  Beside the Red Sea with Pharaoh's troops in hot pursuit; times of hunger and thirst; the long marches through the desert sands had all made them feel God was not aware of their problems, but God knew!
Have we not wondered if God really knows about all of the problems we have had?  As we have passed through financial reverses, loss of health, and numberless trials, has there not been times when it seemed God did not know.  Like Israel we have been "...sojourners and pilgrims..." (1st Peter 2:11) in the world.  Yet, God has known about it all and we are encouraged with these words, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."  (1st Peter 5:7). 
"...the Lord your God has been with you,"   The pillar of cloud by day and the fire by night was visible evidence that the Lord had been with them.  God was in that cloud.  The burning glory that shone through that cloud was God's glory.  "Now the Lord appeared at the tabernacle in a pillar of cloud..." (Deuteronomy 31:15).  From that cloud God had given guidance, revelation and judgment.
     We have no pillar of cloud today, but we do have the promise of the Savior, "Go therefore ...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  (Matthew 28:19, 20).  Those who take time to ponder previous days will remember times when God was clearly with them...protecting them in danger, providing for them in their need, comforting them in their sorrows, blessing them above all they could ask or think.

"...You have lacked nothing."   Many times they had murmured but Moses reminded them in chapter eight that their food supply of manna had never failed; they had drunk water from out of a rock; their raiment had not waxed old and their feet had not swelled.  They had lacked nothing.
     We often grumble because we did not get something we wanted, but we must confess that we have not lacked the necessities of life.  Jesus had His disciples ponder this fact in Luke 22:35, "And He said to them, 'When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?'  So they said, 'Nothing.'"  May we confess that in spite of all our worries we have lacked nothing.
As they considered God's faithfulness in spite of their unfaithfulness they could plan on greater things ahead.  They could make plans about possessing what God had promised to give.  As we launch into 2004 shall we not plan to do those things which will allow us to possess much new ground.

The plague at Baal-Peor (Numbers 25) resulted in the death of thousands.  It served as a constant reminder that God's blessing can  be turned into a curse when we try to live half for God and half for the world.  Lot, Samson, and David are lasting memorials to the shipwreck that accompanies going the way of the flesh.  May we plan to lay aside the filthiness of the flesh and march forth in purity within the ranks of God's army.

Has the last year been unfruitful in the things of the Lord?  That can be changed.  Christ only asks us to be faithful in a few things. (Matthew 25:21).  We should make plans now to have a Christian home life; a faithful church attendance; a personal devotional life; a daily witnessing life and a consecrated life of service with the particular talents the Lord has given us.

Someone else financed the gospel being brought to us and the Word of God being taught to us.  Now it is our turn to make it possible for others to enjoy the same privileges you have received.

If you are not saved you should make immediate plans to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior.  "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."  (John 1:12).  There are some 200,000 people who die every day.  Many Scriptures indicate the majority are not prepared to meet God.  If you should be one of those in that number on one of the days in 2004 it is eternally vital that you will be prepared by having placed saving faith in Jesus Christ.  Don't let 2004 put you in a sinner's grave and a Devil's hell like 2003 has done to millions of others.

Copyright 2002 Thomas E Berry
Scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted


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