My daughter recently tried out for varsity cheerleader and she made it. I am so proud of her, but I couldn’t help but think that that was once my desire. I, too, wanted to be a cheerleader. In fact, one of my classmates was willing to help me and prepare me for tryouts, but I just talked about it. I never prepared for it.
Two things my daughter taught me:
1. What you refuse to do, someone else will do.
2. If you want it, you must go after it.
And Joshua said to the children of Israel, How long are you slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers has given you? (Joshua 18:3)
God had given land to twelve tribes, but only five tribes had possessed what was promised to them. Why didn’t the remaining seven tribes go after it? I don’t know if they had gotten weary along the way, but they just stopped and settled for where they were and for what they had. Joshua, however, described them as being slack. The word, slack, means to move slow, to not hold fast, and to waste time.
Some of us are slack. We talk about all the things we want to do and what we want to be, but we procrastinate. We put off for tomorrow what we should do today. We make excuses. We find time to do everything else except the thing that we should be doing. We start doing what God told us to do and then we stop.
The word ‘stay’ appears 62 times in the bible and the word ‘wait’ appears in the bible 106 times, but the word ‘go’ appears in the bible 1,542 times (King James Version).
Sometimes we think that God is moving too slow. The problem isn’t that God hasn’t sent His word. The problem is we won’t go. God has already given us what He promised. It is yours, but you must go and possess it.
God is not slack concerning His promises and neither should we.
possess: to win; to own; to contend; not giving way to adverse circumstances
More and more people are choosing to live a healthier lifestyle. They are going to the gym every day. They are drinking more water. Some have even decided to become vegans. I, on the other hand, am like Paul, who believed every creature of God is good and is to be received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 3-4). While I’m so glad that we’ve decided to take better care of our bodies, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we cared for our souls the way we care for our bodies?
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (Matthew 16:26)?
There are some things that are hard to get back. We see this when Esau sells his birthright to his brother. We also see this in the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). This wasn’t her only coin. She had nine other coins, but it wasn’t until she lost one that she understood the value of what she had. She knew something was missing in her life and she wanted it back.
I’m not sure how this woman lost her coin, but what I do know is that this woman lit a candle, swept the house and searched diligently through the dust and dirt until she found it. To find it, she had to separate herself. No distractions. In fact, her friends and neighbors aren’t mentioned until after she found the coin.
There are some people and situations that you will have to walk away from. And no, that’s not being mean. That’s being wise. It means you are learning to guard your heart with all diligence. It means that you now understand how precious you are and you are pulling away from anything or anyone that will pull you back into what God pulled you out of.
One of the tricks of the enemy is to get you to join yourself to the wrong people while separating you from the right people. Sometimes our relationships look like the picture below.
The ox knows how to plow and the donkey knows how to plow, but it’s just not wise for them to plow together. It would be better for the ox to plow with an animal that has its nature or character. It should be joined with an animal that would work with it and not against it. I know we didn’t choose the families we were born into, but we can choose our friends. Choose people who will help you, not hold you back.
Another way the enemy tries to get to your soul is through sexual immorality. There is no need to boast about what foods you don’t put in your body if you commit sins that affect both your body and soul. We’ve heard it and we have read it, but I don’t think we really understand that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit – that He is in us to help us. He helps us to win and to overcome temptations.
King Lemuel begins Proverbs 31 by sharing with us the words of his mother. I believe the best advice his mother gave him is found in Proverbs 31:3 – Give not your strength to women (Proverbs 31:3). Throughout the book of Proverbs, we read about the strange woman (2:16), the evil woman (6:24), the whorish woman (6:26), the foolish woman (9:13) and the adulterous woman (30:20). His mother wanted him to join himself to a wise woman who builds her house (which includes him), not a woman who is known to tear apart her house or break up other people’s houses.
Have you ever watched the movie, Fireproof? Do you remember the salt and pepper demonstration? Michael glued two salt and pepper shakers together to show Caleb what happens when two souls become one. At the end of the demonstration, Caleb started to pull the two shakers apart, but he was warned not to because he would either break one of them or even worse – the both of them.
The reason why satan tries to break up marriages or tempt people to lay with someone who is not their wife or husband (fornication as well adultery) is to destroy souls. He wants to ruin you emotionally and spiritually. He wants you to feel so used and damaged that you think it is impossible for God to ever use you. He wants to put an end to what God wants to do before it is even started.
Some of you are carrying unforgiveness, hurt, shame, fear, bitterness and anger because of who you joined yourselves to. They all weren’t bad people, but they were the wrong people simply because they weren’t right for you. But these things that you are carrying contaminate your souls. They wear you down and make you sick in your body. They hinder your prayers and they keep you from moving forward.
But most of all, these things weaken your faith in God. It will cause you to back away rather than to draw near to God. The enemy recognizes the power of one (unity). He knows the power of love and he doesn’t want you to love like you used to. He knows the power of your prayers (John 14:13-14). And he knows what your faith can do – overcome him! For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4).
In Luke 21, Jesus warned the disciples of the signs that will precede his return. The first thing he mentioned was deception (vs 8). Many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ…but don’t follow them. The purpose of deception is to get you to exchange what is of value for something of little or no value. (Esau exchanged his birthright for one morsel of meat; Hebrews 12:6). After he lists all the events that will take place, he says, In your patience possess your souls (vs 19).
The soul consists of the mind, will and emotions. The enemy attacks your soul because that is the area where you think, feel emotions and make decisions. When a person is deceived, he is made to believe something that is not true. He is misled by a false appearance. Deception has caused many ‘believers’ to leave the very place where God sent them or planted them to grow. It has even caused them to leave families (spouses and children) for what they thought was better.
Your soul is precious and valuable. You are precious and valuable to God. Don’t exchange what you have for something that you don’t need. It is important that you take good care of your body, but also guard your soul. Choose your thoughts and be careful with your words. Don’t be impatient like Esau who acted like he would have fainted had he not eaten right away. Wait on God. And don’t be deceived like Eve. One of the reasons why she ate of the tree was because it was pleasant to the eyes (Genesis 3:6). Let us make sure that whatever we do is pleasing to God, and not just to our eyes.
Possess your souls.