When we enter a period of change in life, there are some things that we need to be aware of and prepared to address. We see 6 keys for implementing change when we look at the Israelites story as they were told to leave Egypt and take possession of the Promised Land (Exodus 1 – 17, Numbers 11 – 14 and 20 – 22, Joshua 1 – 11).
- Listen without an agenda
- Exercise faith in the face of doubt
- Take action to implement
- Be obedient to the Lord’s instructions
- Persevere through the difficulties
- Take possession of the promises
Let’s take a deeper look into each of these keys for attaining positive change in life.
Listen without an Agenda
God gave Moses and Joshua instructions for each step of the process. Some of the instructions were very specific while others were more generalized. However, He didn’t give them every step up front.
Throughout they were required to be in constant communication with the Lord. So too for us.
We must be in constant prayer. Not just petitioning prayer, but rather, listening prayer. We need to be in the Word. We need to be in communion with other believers. The Holy Spirit speaks, but do we listen?
Now it is important to be sure we filter what others say through the Word and the Holy Spirit. Many well intentioned people giving rational thoughts have led people out of the Lord’s will. Throughout the process of going from Egypt to the Promised Land God told the Israelites to do some very non-rational things. Sometimes He will do the same with us today. If we only listen to the rational we are likely to miss the miracles.
Jesus tells us that His sheep know His voice (John 10:4). We must know the Lord’s voice so that we know what to listen to and follow.
As we receive each instruction we need to be willing to follow it. We must also continue to listen for further instructions. Sometimes we get the entire process up front but in my experience, God generally gives one or two steps at a time. Maybe it’s because I might run ahead of Him or get them out of order. Listening is an ongoing process.
Exercise Faith in the Face of Doubt
The Lord gave the promise of deliverance into the Promised Land, but the leaders had to lead in faith. And, they had to lead the people forward even when the circumstances didn’t look promising.
Are we willing to walk forward even when everything around us is difficult?
Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Often when the Lord speaks to us, we don’t see how it is possible for that word to come to fruition. We must not rely on our own reason, understanding, or what we see. We must rely on the Word of the Lord.
Some think that if we have faith that means that we never doubt. I hope that is not true because as I’ve walked in great processes of faith, I have still had doubts along the way. I believe that faith is the ability to continue to press on in the face of doubt. Doubt is rooted in the circumstances while faith is grounded in God’s character and promises.
Take Action to Implement
It is not enough to receive the instructions and have faith, we have to take action. Moses could have built an altar and worshiped the burning bush because that was where Yahweh revealed Himself. If that were the case, no change would have happened except for Moses being an idolater.
Too often we hear the Lord, believe Him, and then stop there. We like to talk about what the Lord said to us. This great revelation that He gave.
Instead of talk, we must walk. Moses had to go stand before Pharaoh, the people had to ask their neighbors for jewelry and clothing, the Levites had to walk into the swollen Jordan River, the people had to walk around the city of Jericho for seven days, and on and on were the actions required.
What are the actions that you need to take? Whether large or small it is important to take those steps that we have been instructed. Even (or especially) when they are difficult.
Be Obedient to the Lord’s Instructions
The Lord requires obedience. Not just to the initial instructions but specific obedience to everything that He tells us to do. Too often we receive instructions, follow them and they work out so we think that is how we need to do it the next time.
Consider Moses striking the rocks for water (Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:2-13). The first time the Lord had told him to strike the rock but the second time he was instructed to speak to the rock. We cannot rely upon yesterday’s instructions but must continually be in communication with the Lord for today’s task.
Did the water come out of the rock the second time when Moses struck it instead of speaking to it? Yes. However, the negative consequence for Moses of disobedience were significant. He wasn’t allowed to cross the Jordan and live in the Promised Land! Obedience is vital for us to walk in the complete provision and blessing of the Lord.
Back to the entire narrative, each of the battles to take possession of the land (Jericho, Ai, etc.) had different techniques required. Why? Because obedience is of utmost importance to God. As Samuel said to Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (See also Hosea 6:6, Hebrews 10:5-8). The Lord desires to walk in relationship with us, not us following a set of rules.
The act of unhindered obedience is more pleasing to God than any work we think we need to do to please Him.
Persevere through the Difficulties
We often expect that once we start down the path of obedience and faith the road will become smooth and easy. Scripture does NOT support that expectation. (Sorry to burst your bubble.) There will be obstacles, battles, times where it seems all is lost, times we think we missed the calling, doubt and in general hard stuff.
As soon as we make the decision to walk forward in the Lord’s instructions (regardless of how much we understand), the enemy will rise up against us. Spiritual warfare is real. We need to be aware of and prepared to battle in the spirit realm as well as persevering in the physical.
The enemy doesn’t fight fair, nor does he give up easily. Often we have to command him and his minions to back off, get out, or stop what they are doing more than once. For more information about spiritual warfare check out our book Behind Enemy Lines: A Discipleship Course in Spiritual Warfare.
Perseverance is not easy. Another name for it is long-suffering which sounds even worse. There may be days that it seems like all is lost. Other days may feel like you have failed miserably. Through it all we must keep our eyes, ears, and heart focused on the Lord. He is more than able and we are more than conquerors through Him (Romans 8:37).
Take Possession of the Promises
It is not enough just to win. When the battles are won, we must take possession of the territory that the Lord has brought us into.
If we don’t live in the land then the wild animals will take over control. The Lord didn’t go before the Israelites and clear the land. He gave it to them as they were able to possess and settle it (Exodus 23:29).
For the completion of the change process we must possess the new territory. When you make changes there will be a time of adjustment and learning to live in the new place. It is often easy to revert back to the old things whether that is a physical place or manners of operating (habits, thought patterns, etc.). We must not allow this to happen.
What happens when we aren’t obedient in the Lord’s instructions and don’t take action to possess the promise? Does He sit up in heaven and fret about it? No. We lose out but the Lord’s promises do get fulfilled, just by others. When the spies came back and the people listened to the ten over the two they made the decision to miss the promise. But the Lord still gave the Promised Land to the nation of Israel, just to the next generation.
We have the option to not step forward in faith. The Lord will allow us to wander in the wilderness until the next generation is ready to step up. That doesn’t mean he wants us to, but He chose to grant us free will. We must live with the consequences of our decisions if we choose to be disobedient. God doesn’t live within the boundaries of time like we do. He is infinitely patient and He has infinite resources to carry out His will.
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