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Friday, December 17, 2010

Invitation to occupy

When GOD, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you’re going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn’t build, well-furnished houses you didn’t buy, come upon wells you didn’t dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn’t plant.  When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don’t forget how you got there – GOD brought you out of slavery in Egypt.  Deeply respect GOD, your God.  Serve and worship him exclusively.  Carefully keep the commands of GOD, your God, all the requirements and regulation she gave you.  Do what is right, do what is good in GOD’S sight so you’ll live a good life and be able to march in and take this pleasant land that GOD so solemnly promised through your ancestors, throwing out your enemies left and right – exactly as GOD said.  
(Deut. 6: 10-12, 14-19)

As Israel was called to enter into the Promised Land, they were told to not do so in their own effort, or in a timid way.  They were told to do so in the power and authority of the God they served – standing upon the firm foundation of his character.  They were to enter and to occupy. 

Entering suggests a changing of position and the potential of going into something they were not familiar with.  Entry suggests making a new beginning – with the intention of taking possession.  It also carries the idea of being an active participant in that which God is doing.  

Occupying carries a slightly different meaning – it implies that we take ownership of that which we enter into.  Occupation requires an engagement of our attention to that which we seek the ownership of – owners are more than onlookers – they actually enter into the experience of that which they own.

It is necessary to see the method of ownership that we enjoy as a follower of Christ – it is that of being “ushered into” possession of that which was once occupied.  God goes before – he is the forerunner who graciously escorts us into realms unknown – in spirit, emotion, and in physical experience.  It is an occupied territory that we enter into – a change of ownership must occur.  It is a dispossessing work – dispossessing Satan and his hosts; dispossessing ego and its demands.  It is more than just “experiencing” for a period of time – it is a complete change of possession that is promised.  Look at all we enjoy – that which we did not prepare; that which we did not build; that which we did not harvest. 

As we rightly order our lives and begin to respond to him in obedient reverence, we are commanded to love the Lord with all we’ve got.  This is not a partial commitment to give some of ourselves to him, but a commitment of our entire being to live in such a way that all we do, say and think is a manifestation of having him central in our lives.  Love with every emotion we have, surrendered in abandoned adoration to him.  

Abandon really signifies a change of heart that is evident in our no longer trying to perform a certain way – it implies that we will be given to him in such a way that we give ourselves over to his governance unrestrained.  Love him with all our soul – with every part of our being that makes us who or what we are.  Love him with all our strength – all that we have capacity for, with every effort we can make, with unreserved service and adoration.  Love him with whole-hearted commitment that dedicates the will to the fulfilling of the will of another.

We are then to live as examples to all who surround us – first to our families, then to those we contact in our communities each day.  The dedication of our lives is to impact others.  They are not to just “hear about” Christ, but they are to see him modeled in our daily walk.  The promise is a blessing of God on our lives that we cannot fully contain all he provides.  The riches of a child of God are never earned or self-constructed – they are a provision from a loving God in response to our dedication to his gracious love.  

Life in Christ is not a system of works – things done to gain approval or right-standing.  Rather, it is a heartfelt response to an intensely gracious love that draws us in, wraps us in its presence, and relishes its effects in the inner core of our being.  There is a vulnerability, or openness to possibilities beyond our imagining, that occurs when we are willing to lay it all down before him.  Let us not be bound to our own efforts to live righteously– the possibilities contained within abandonment far outweigh the limitations of our abilities to live right.  Living right is a natural outcome to abandoning our hearts to the one who creates that righteousness in us as his love is allowed to deeply affect the center of all we are.  Let us learn to love with all we’ve got.