God also wants to use us to bless and encourage other people in ways we have never dreamed. And He will do these things as we live in this blessed atmosphere of faith!
Among the many definitions of faith, perhaps none is more important than Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Faith is the ability of the human spirit to receive impressions from God that are born of His Word and made alive by the Holy Spirit. We simply know that something is going to happen, for God's Word has been received and has activated this spiritual sense called faith.
The natural senses have to do with present and visible things. But faith has to do primarily with these future and invisible things that God has promised us in His Word.
Back in the most difficult days of pastoring the Brooklyn Tabernacle, my wife, Carol, and I were struggling to stay afloat with maybe 40 people attending on Sunday mornings. When our daughter, Chrissy, was about 2 years old, we noticed a lump under her eyelid.
I'd spent time praying about the problem. But I knew there was no faith in my heart, only apprehension.
We scraped up the money, and I took her to a doctor who recommended surgery. I knew what God had said in the Bible about healing; but I was filled with doubt and fear. I needed true, living faith, not theoretical faith.
The following Sunday, we were worshiping together at the end of the service. Suddenly my heart was flooded with a kind of divine light, and I was overcome with God's awesome greatness, which makes everything on earth seem minuscule.
I envisioned my daughter being prayed for, and I saw her being healed! It was a real picture before the eyes of my heart. God had birthed something within me.
A teen-age girl brought my daughter forward. We gathered around her, anointed her with oil and prayed together for God to heal her. Within 48 hours, the lump was entirely gone, with no medical intervention of any kind.
Now what would happen in our churches if people came to each meeting with great faith and belief that God was about to do something wonderful? Unfortunately, many Christians who strongly defend the verbal inspiration of Scripture are the most unbelieving and cynical about God ever doing a new thing in His church.
My question is: If Jesus is the same today as He was in the Bible we defend, why shouldn't we believe Him to do great things among us and through us, so we can touch people's lives in powerful ways as did the first-century apostles?
Peter was no perfect saint, but God chose him and used him mightily on the day of Pentecost. God can do the same with us if we look to Him with childlike faith in our hearts.
Look Inward—But Carefully
In addition to looking back and looking ahead, Joshua called the people to take stock of their obedience. They were to obey the law of Moses and to separate themselves from the idolatrous nations that were among them (Josh. 23:6-8).
This separation from ungodly things was for the purpose of maintaining the strength of the Hebrews for battle. Alliance with sinful things saps our strength and leaves us weak before the enemy.
Joshua knew this all too well from what had happened back at Ai (Josh. 7:1-26). After the stirring victory at Jericho, the army suffered an unexpected and humiliating defeat because the sinful disobedience of one soldier, Achan, had separated the people from God's holy companionship.
Introspection is a two-edged sword. There are special times for looking inward—for example, when receiving communion (1 Cor. 11:28-32) and at other moments of divine searching.
However, if this process consumes us, Satan can gain the upper hand, keeping us preoccupied with our failures rather than with Christ's pardon and power. The apostles called people to cleanse their hearts before God and then move on to faith and the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Look Away to Jesus
Joshua's final instruction is stated very simply: "Be very careful to love the Lord your God" (Josh. 23:11). Our gaze must always be upon Him, for He is the one who will perform everything.
Satan wants us to focus on the problem, not the Provider. If we stop spending time with the Lord in prayer, the concerns of the physical world snatch our attention while the spiritual senses deaden and the promises fade.
The number one reason Christians today don't pray more is that we do not grasp the connection between prayer and the promises of God. We are trying in vain to pray "because we're supposed to" without a living faith in the promises of God concerning prayer.