To enter or not to enter? That is the question…

Look at the inheritance God has put in front of you. Go forward, take it. Live in the promises. Don’t let fear hold you back, because the bridges of hope to take you forward are strong and reliable. Haven’t they always held you? Don’t give in to discouragement…

That’s a paraphrase of Deuteronomy 1:21, as the children of Israel stood at the borders of the Promised Land, the place of great blessing God had promised. These were Moses’ words to them as they contemplated moving forward.

Yet the Israelites thought they should be smart and practical about it—check things out, assess the situation, conduct a survey, take a vote. Let’s see what’s ahead of us, they thought, figure out the best way to attack what lies ahead. Let’s plan ahead.

You know what happened. This only discouraged them. Twelve spies were sent ahead to check things out. Ten out of twelve—a clear majority—advised against moving. It’s foolishness. Can’t be done. Those ten seemed to be the ones with heads on their shoulders.

But in the end, the minority two were the only ones that God said, “obeyed me wholeheartedly.” And they were the only two who ever were given their own acreage in the land of promise.

All the others? They had a glimpse of the land. But they wandered in the desert for the remainder of their lives. Attacked, often hungry and thirsty, their relationship with God waxing and waning, disciplined by God with terrible things like plagues and fire, with only brief moments of worship and repentance … they never lived in the inheritance God had promised.

How different it might have been if they had only heeded Moses’ encouragement: Go, and live in your inheritance. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged.

Yup, there would be things to call forth fear and discouragement. But don’t give in to those things, says Moses. Because God has promised and He is there with you.

“For the LORD your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the LORD your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.” (Deuteronomy 2:7)

You know where I’m going with this. You know what I’m going to say next.

This is our story. And we have the choice to make.

We can go ahead and move toward the inheritance God has planned for us for a long time now. The bridge of hope is right there at our feet. Our faith only needs to take one step at a time to move across it.

Yes, there will be scary times. But our Father tells us not to be afraid. There will be hard times. But we know He is with us every step of the way, providing what we need.

I hope our story is more like Abraham’s, who was called to pull up his tents and move on because God had a better place for him. Like him, we’re called to pull up our tents and move on because God has an inheritance He wants to give us—even though, like Abraham, we don’t know where we’re going!

How scary is that? Well, I guess it all depends on who you can trust.

Even when Abraham reached the land God had for him, “he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner…confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” (Hebrews 11:9)

May that be our story, children of God: Willing to pull up our tents and move because we have a promise. Living in our inheritance now as we move our tents about, yet still looking forward to even greater things prepared for us.  

 

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Psalm Prayer:

You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.
(Psalm 61:5) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

All the good things that HAVE come

Don’t let the word inheritance fool you. I know it carries the idea of “maybe something, sometime.” That’s the way worldly inheritance works. We wait for something that might be given to us in the future…and sometimes that long-awaited inheritance evaporates before it does actually become ours.

But in the kingdom of God, your inheritance is given to you now, as soon as you become His child. Just as your new, always-alive life has already begun, so have the benefits of your inheritance. Yes, the greatest, most fantastic part is still to come. There is the promise of the priceless inheritance reserved for us in heaven. But you also have access to your privilege of inheritance now.

Look at some of the Scriptures. And (here comes the grammar teacher again) note the tense of the verbs. These are things that have happened and are happening now. They are not referring only to the future:

the wonderful things God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12)

Christ brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand (Romans 5:2)

we have received an inheritance from God (Ephesians 1:11)

He seated us in the heavenly realms with Christ (Ephesians 2:6)

both Jews and Gentiles share equally in the riches (Ephesians 3:6)

the endless treasure available to [those] in Christ (Ephesians 3:8)

(Ok, I admit — not all those words I emphasized are verbs. If you caught that, you get an A in grammar today.)

And here’s one of my very favorites –

So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come (Hebrews 9:11).

We find that verse in the context of a comparison of the old covenant God had with His people to the new covenant ushered in by Jesus Christ. I think, though, that “all the good things” can refer to this completely new life we’ve been given. He is making all things new, remember? And Christ is leading us into all those new, good things right now. The promises and hope Christians have are not only for some distant future.

This is where we begin next week: The riches available to us right now.

Let’s take a good look at — and celebrate — our place of privilege and all the good things that have come.

 

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Psalm Prayer:

You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.
(Psalm 61:5) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Beyond imagining … we’ll just have to live it

So…how would you describe this place of privilege? Do you know what the riches of your inheritance are?

I had been a Christian for a long time, yet I wasn’t too certain I could explain my hope—I wasn’t even sure I knew exactly what hope I had as a Christian, beyond the hope of eternal life. That’s why I went searching, and that’s what gave birth to these devotionals.

I do intend to spend the whole year pondering the riches of our inheritance—the hope we have for our past, our present, and the future. Even then, we’ll barely begin to capture the vast wealth of privilege Christ has brought to us.

Both the Old and the New Testament declare the same message:

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Paul — who saw a fair amount of God’s power at work — declares that God’s mighty power working in our lives can accomplish “infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

I’m okay with that. I’m good with God bringing more to my life than I can even imagine! He’s already done that often enough that now I look forward to it — waiting in anticipation to see how our Father will go beyond my wildest expectations.

I think we children of God will live our entire lives here on earth and never exhaust the “deep pockets” of wealth God has for us. And I also suspect we’ll discover that our place of privilege has no earthly limits.

 

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Psalm Prayer:

You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.
(Psalm 61:5) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Place of Privilege

Most of us live in relative obscurity. A few of you out there might be famous, but most of us lead very ordinary lives. We’re loved and important to a small circle, but that’s the extent of our renown and distinction.

So when the Creator and Lord of the universe tells us we are now in a really good place (in today’s lingo), do we hear Him?

Because of our faith, Christ brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand… (from Romans 5:2)

My first reaction to this verse is that I tend to focus on that other word—undeserved. Yes, everything God has given me is undeserved. We of Mennonite and Amish background especially are taught the importance of humility, and I suppose that’s Biblical, but …

Ponder the fantastic word in that verse – privilege !

The context of this verse looks back to what Christ did for us—made peace with God—and forward to a glorious future He has promised. But now… right now we stand in a place of privilege.

Do we know what we have been given? I believe when Peter encourages us to always be ready to explain the hope we have, it is not only for the sake of those who don’t know Christ. I believe it’s also for our own sake and the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Know the hope, know the promises, know the riches and treasure. The more we understand the hope and privilege we’ve been given as children of God, the more we can actually live it.

Know the place of privilege where you now stand.

It transforms my perspective of the life I’m now living.

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.
(Psalm 61:5) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Listening to the audio of Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper” with my grandson,  I was struck by the spiritual parallels. Two boys switch places in life. The prince suffers the hardship of the pauper’s life, and the boy who grew up in poverty suddenly finds himself surrounded with luxury he had never imagined and wields great power with only a word or two.

We’re like that boy — given a life of new privilege.

In Numbers 10:29, the Israelites are on the move through the wilderness, leaving Mt. Sinai where God had given them His commandments and traveling toward the Promised Land. Moses had married a Midianite woman, and now he invites his brother-in-law to come with the children of Israel.

“We are on our way to the place the Lord promised us, for He said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised wonderful blessings for Israel!”

Someone outside the direct physical lineage of Abraham is given an invitation to share in the Israelites’ blessings. “Come with us; God has promised wonderful blessings for His people.”

This invitation is given to everyone, now, today.

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:26, 29

Keep this verse in mind when you read Scripture about “Israel” or “children of Abraham.” Your faith in Christ Jesus has made you heirs to all the promises God has made to his children.

Everything God has planned for His people — blessings now, amazing wonders in the future — is now ours. Paul writes to the Colossians, “May you always be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.”

Be filled with joy.
Always be thankful.

In God’s plan, He has wonderful blessings for His people. And He’s given us the privilege of being a part of that plan.

 

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Psalm Prayer:

You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.
(Psalm 61:5) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)