In the Book of Joshua, chapter one verse eight, we see the Lord God commissioning Joshua after Moses’ death.
Here God reminds Joshua of both the promised land as well as God’s promised presence.
God finishes with the command for Joshua to be strong and courageous. But He tells Joshua to be careful too and to never deviate from God’s ways. And how was Joshua going to ensure that he kept on the right path? By meditating on God’s truth and speaking it. Like the majestic tree in Psalm 1, truth and strength are inseparable.
Because spiritual strength and bravery always come from believing truth, thinking truth and speaking truth.
The problem is that this kind of command doesn’t fit well into modern life. Life is busy and noisy and fast. And so the temptation is to ‘dip in’ to truth, fit church in every other week, listen to worship music on the way to the gym or watch clips of a popular speaker now and again.
And that works for a while.
But what happens when I face an unexpected battle? What happens when a storm hits or floods rise in my life? What happens when I need immediate spiritual strength? In those times, last Thursday’s entertaining podcast may not be enough.
Because hearing about good and true things is only the start; established truth is where the power is.
I have heard hundreds of great sermons. I have enjoyed dozens of uplifting concerts and inspirational conferences. And yet they are no good to me unless I take time to think about them, believe them and act upon them.
Spiritual success and prosperity are the fruit of a disciplined approach to truth.
There are no short-cuts, no microwavable spiritual entrees. Strength is built. Faith is grown. Victories are hard-won. Truth-thinking has to be fought for daily.
Of course, I want to be like Joshua, taking back every inch of my promised land from my enemy’s grip. But the problem is, I don’t always want to pay the price. Filling my life with truth takes time and effort. I might have to sacrifice other activities. I might have to get up earlier or put down my magazine or turn off the tv. I will definitely have to listen more and allow the Holy Spirit the freedom to apply truth to my heart, even when that is uncomfortable. I will have to be willing to be wrong and willing to change my opinions or attitudes. I will probably have to say sorry more often, to God and to people.
And I will have to open my mouth.
Isn’t it interesting that God tells Joshua that the truth must never leave his mouth? Truth should be on the tip of my tongue. It should be my first reaction to difficulty, my first thought when trouble comes.
Because I have come to see in my own life that if I am never speaking something out, I probably don’t really believe it much.
One of my favourite verses is Psalm 119.171. In the message translation it says, ‘Let praise cascade off my lips; after all, you’ve taught me the truth about life!’
When I allow Jesus to teach me His truth, when I let that truth dwell in me, take root and grow, the result is always a cascade of praise.
My reaction to difficulty will be praise if I believe the truth about God’s goodness and faithfulness. If I believe that I am a beloved child of a Good Father and that I can trust His character, thanksgiving will be my default setting.
When we face difficulty, loss or disappointment we often find our hearts and minds full of fear, worry, dread, anger, resentment or envy. And these reactions are signs that there is a truth I am not believing yet.
Becoming a truth-lover and truth-liver takes intentionality.
So today I am not just listening to worship music, I am singing it out loud so my soul can hear and believe. And I have opened up the Bible, even though I didn’t feel like it. I have written down verses that speak faith and boldness to my heart and I have put them next to where I sleep so that truth is the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning. I have told my soul that God is good. I have declared what I know to be true even though my emotions didn’t necessarily agree today.
Because truth brings the freedom that Jesus died for me to have.
And today that’s all my soul needs to hear.