Take Possession of the Land Deuteronomy 1:5-18

Deuteronomy 1:6 The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7 Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighbouring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. 8 See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”

“You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”

The Israelites had been richly blessed in the region of Horeb. God had given his new nation of Israel the 10 Commandments and the whole of the Jewish Law at Mount Sinai. Horeb was a good place to be. But God had promised much more to His chosen people. He had promised them their own Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So it was time for Israelites to move on and possess the Land. But they had grown too comfortable where they were, living around Mount Sinai.

Sometimes that can happen to Christians and to churches. We can become settled camped around some mountain or another. Comfortable where we are, doing what we know and reluctant to move forward with God. But God is always wanting us to keep moving on in the journey of faith. There is a promised Land to possess. And there can be times when we need leave behind the blessings we know to discover the much greater blessings which are waiting for us in an unknown future.

I have no idea what mountains each of us as individuals have been camped around. I have no idea what mountains we are camped around as a church which may be holding us back. But let me give you some ideas of the Promised Land which lies before us all.

God commanded the Israelites to take possession of the land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the Land promised to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. A place of security, prosperity, filled with the presence of God. Through the centuries the “Promised Land” has been a symbol, a metaphor, for all the riches of God’s blessings in salvation. The promised land is the place we are all travelling towards in our journey of faith. What could the promised land mean for us?

In OT God’s blessings for the Israelites were physical and material. A place to live. Milk and honey. Food and shelter. That was in the Old Testament.
For Christians God’s blessings are NOT physical and material in this world, but spiritual and in Christ. So when we talk about possessing the promised land I am certainly not talking the heresies of the health wealth and prosperity gospel. God does not promise Christians wealth and success – he only promises us the persecution and suffering Christ Himself experienced.

But at the same time God promises us all the glories of Heaven. And He promises that we can experience some of those glories in some measure here and now. And that is what it will mean for us to possess the promised land. To experience more and more of the blessings God has for us in Christ.
EPH 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

So what are some of these blessing which God wants us to enjoy more of?
Joyful celebration –
The Bible sometimes describes heaven as a banquet – a party! We have only begun to glimpse the joy God has for us!

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Inner peace
Isaiah 26:3 3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.

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Faith
Trusting in God instead of our own skills or resources – in our own lives and in our church life together.
Zechariah 4:6 ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

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Intimacy with God in prayer
Lev 26:11 11 I will put my dwelling-place among you …. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.

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Freedom to do God’s will
Exodus 6:6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’ ”

So many Christians feel trapped. Trapped by circumstances or by people or by obligations.

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Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Christ has set us free to live a free life, to reign in life not be downtrodden.
Holiness
Lev 11:45 I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.

Victorious Christian living!

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Experiences of Holy Spirit – spiritual gifts, hearing God’s voice

Experiencing more of the power of the Holy Spirit who can accomplish so much more than we can ask or even imagine!

Even in the Old Testament there are promises of God’s Holy Spirit bringing new birth and new life to God’s chosen people.

Ezek 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

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How much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.
Reality in worship
For much of the time we only scratch the surface of what Christian worship should be – worship in spirit and in truth.

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Fellowship
heavenly city = community / fellowship
Promised land was for the whole nation of Israel – not just as collection of individuals receiving individual blessings, but the whole nation as a body, as a community.
As a church we have so much more to learn about what it means to be the body of Christ, a community, a fellowship. And I am convinced that we will only really be able to enter into the promised land if we do so together, united in Christ, one in the spirit, as a family, as a community.

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Bold and effective evangelism

Acts 9:31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

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So many different blessings God has in store for us – if only we will grasp them! Here are some aspects of what it could mean for us to possess the promised land:-
Joyful celebration –
Inner peace
Faith
intimacy with God in prayer
Freedom to do God’s will
Holiness
experiences of Holy Spirit – spiritual gifts, hearing God’s voice
reality in worship
heavenly city = community / fellowship
bold and effective evangelism

The Promised Land will mean different blessings for each one of us and blessings we will share as a church.

(Martin Luther King – the day before his assassination)
“I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anyone I would like to live a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy tonight, I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the coming of the glory of the Lord.”

What have you seen from the mountaintop? What is the promised land God has ready for YOU to enter and possess? And what do you believe is the promised land God wants US AS A CHURCH to go into and possess?
Moments for reflection:-

“You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7 Break camp and advance … Go in and take possession of the land

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