Edwin Allen - A Developing Nation - Pukekohe I Convention - 1982

Joshua 17-19, the journeying was over and the Children of Israel had come in to possess the land. God had given them something to develop. Because of their willingness to work and serve, they could increase what they had been given and find more joy and rest.

Chapter 17:14-15, “And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, 'Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the Lord hath blessed me hitherto.' And Joshua answered them, 'If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if Mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee...'” Joshua encouraged them to go and develop the portion that had been given to them. They said we are a great people and this is not enough, but Joshua said there is plenty there for you to do if you just go out and develop it, and then they would find there was more than enough. God in His kindness gives us the things that are necessary for us, He gives us a place to fill, and if we are willing to go out and serve and do what we can in that portion that has been given to us, we will find that it brings a satisfaction and peace in our hearts. We will find there is more than enough there to keep us busy right through our lifetime here in the world.

They were a great people, but greatness isn't shown by big thinking. We show we are a great people by our willingness to use that which God has given us and by seeking to develop it so that we become more and more like the Son of God who has made it possible for us to get to know the first fruits of the gospel. Greatness in the world is defined by big thinking, and actions that are renowned, but in this service of God there is no great acclaim attached to what we are doing or how we are using these talents God has given us. But there is the well done of God. The Pharisees were seeking the approval of men but Jesus Himself was looking for the approval of God upon His life. God's blessing is what we want and it is God's blessing that is going to change our lives and our outlook. God gives us things to do and we can use those things in order to bring about a blessing upon our lives that will endure for all eternity.

When Jesus spoke about people standing before God, He said they would hear these words, "Come ye blessed of My Father." They were able to stand before God and rejoice. But there were other people who will have to hear the words, "Depart fromMme, I never knew you.”  Those two classes of people will one day be standing before God, and as we have been listening to the words that God has spoken to us here, we have a feeling in our hearts that we belong to God and to His family and we know a little of His blessing upon our lives. We want to develop into a people that represent Christ in the world and show forth His praises in the world.

Joshua told these people that it was their privilege to go out and develop that which had been given to them. Sometimes when we feel we haven't got too much to do, we begin to look around and things outside seem to be very pleasant and they attract us and we begin to develop something that is not inside the family of God. That won't bring a blessing into our lives, nor enable us to stand before God and hear those words, "Come ye blessed of My Father." God shows us the things He wants us to develop, they are things that He has given us and showed us in the beginning. There is no other foundation any man can lay except that which is laid. While we are busy in that kind of work during our lifetime here, it is going to bring satisfaction and peace in our hearts. Joshua told these people that there was a mountain there covered with timber, go and cut it down and develop that land. There is a wilderness there that needs to be cut down in order that something better can be produced. That is a work that God would like us to do, to get rid of the confusion of the world that stops us from developing, He wants love to develop in us so that we would be moved to do the things Jesus did in the world. The Truth of God is something that we can build upon. Anything that is a denial of God's salvation needs to be cut down and destroyed so that something of value can be built there. Get rid of the things that are useless in order to develop the things that are good. Self righteousness is a great tree that grows very profusely in the lives of people, but this tree has to be destroyed in order to promote the righteousness of Christ in us. When Jesus looked upon the Pharisee people, He saw that that was something that was being developed instead of destroyed in their lives and they were losing the benefit of all God's provision for them. They were developing the wrong thing. As we are trying to develop that which is good God knows us, and we won't need to hear those words, "Depart from Me, I never knew you."

How will this work affect our manner of life and our influence one with another here in the world? The influence of a great wilderness is a smothering influence that hinders the growth of that which is good and profitable. But when that smothering influence is cut down it is possible for something to be planted and to grow and bring forth fruit. God can give us the seed of eternal life in our hearts and we can become a tree that will bear fruit and our influence will be sweet in the earth, something that people will be drawn to. Jesus spoke about a man who had two sons and he divided to them his inheritance and the younger son thought it was a good time for him to leave his father's house and go out and use this portion that had been given him for his own ends. So he went out and he wasted his father's substance. It also speaks about the older son, he didn't waste his father's substance but he didn't use it either. There is not much difference between wasting it and not using it. The older son didn't develop that which had been given to him, he was making friends that were not his father's friends. There was something outside of what his father had given to him that he was developing. When this younger son realized how stupid he was, he sought to go back to his father's house. The desire he had was to be a servant that he might be able to get some of those things that he had wasted. He wanted to know again the provision of his father's house. He was willing for anything if he could just get back there and be a servant in those things that he knew belonged to his father's house.

We might be able to claim that we haven't wasted our Father's goods, but maybe we haven't used them either and we have been seeking our own interests and not the interests of our Father. When the younger son came back, there seemed to be a great reluctance on the part of the older son to receive him, even though the father received him and told him that his brother had come back. But he wouldn't claim him as a brother, he said, "When this your son has wasted...". He had been developing self righteousness in his life, and the result was that when his brother came back, he didn't receive him and that grieved his father. He was concerned about the loss of property but he wasn't concerned about the loss of a brother. It is good if we can put the family of God first in our lives, and if there is a concern in our hearts about the loss of a brother. God wants to develop in our lives the same love that Jesus had for the world. As He looked out upon men and women everywhere He saw that they were like sheep having no shepherd and He had compassion on them.

Jesus could see the possibility of people being His brethren in the world and He was willing to love them in order to draw them unto Himself. We are glad today that that is so. It came about in our own experience too. He showed us that He loved us and He saw the possibility of being able to call us His brethren. Be concerned about what our Father wants us to be and do, not concerned about developing our own interests. Jesus was concerned about His disciples because He loved them and He wanted to help them. Jesus said to the disciples, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples if ye have love one to another." It was something that was being developed in their lives and it showed that they were followers of Jesus and that they belonged to God's family. Our Father who has given us our portion wants us to use these things.

We read of the man who went into a far country and he gave talents to his servants. Two of them went out and used their talents and achieved something as a result of it, they had more when the master came back again. But the third man who had received the one talent, all he had was his brand new talent and that is all he could give back. He didn't please the master. It won't please our Father if all that we have is what we have been given and we haven't been willing to use it. God wants us to increase in everything that belongs to Him. It is like an investment that increases as time goes by, whereby we can lay up treasure in heaven and rejoice for all eternity. Sometimes people have a brand new conscience because it has never been used. God wants our conscience to become more and more sensitive by reason of use so that He can guide us better and cause us to serve Him better along the journey of life. Be more sensitive to the things that please God and less sensitive to the things around us.

Many of these things are developed through affliction and suffering. Up in the Torres Strait where I have been, there is a Japanese company which is farming oysters in order to grow pearls. They have a lot of platforms built in the sea and under those platforms, they hang ropes with boxes tied to the end of them and they put the oysters there. But, first of all, they do something to the oyster. They take half-grown oysters and insert into the flesh of the oyster a small sliver of pearl shell and it goes right in. Then the oyster is put into these containers and they are hung below the platforms for about five years, and after that there is a pearl developed. That pearl is developed in suffering. It is because of suffering that it comes about. Very often in our own lives, the things that can be developed in us that are like pearls, something of value are developed through suffering. It is not always in good times that these things are done. God knows how we can develop that which is good within our lives. Sometimes we don't like it. I guess the oyster doesn't like that sliver of shell in his flesh and because of that he begins to work to make it more comfortable and the result is that a pearl is developed. Those pearls are precious. People will give a lot for pearls, they don't need polishing or anything worked upon them. The things that can be developed in our lives are like that too, it doesn't need any further work if it is the work of God.  If we are developing the things that God has given it is going to be a beautiful work at the end and something that will bring us pleasure and joy. Jesus spoke about the man who was looking for the one pearl of great price and, when he found it, he sold all that he had in order to obtain it. That man wasn't prepared to accept anything that was of lesser value than what he wanted. The pearl of great price is developed in us as we are willing for everything God brings across our pathway.

Joshua told the children of Joseph that there was a hill covered in timber, that they could go and develop and that would be their portion. What they developed from that hill would be something of greater value than what was theirs. What can be developed as a result of God giving us something to work upon will be of greater value than what we have left behind. Let go everything that would be of lesser value in order that we can obtain that which is of great eternal value.

Joshua 17:16, “And the children of Joseph said, 'The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron…!'" There were plenty of hindrances to this work and there are plenty of things that will hinder us from developing that which God has given to us. But Joshua said, "You will be able to do it because you are strong." We are not strong in ourselves but we will be able to do this work because of the strength God gives to us. These people had iron chariots and were great men, notable men in the land, but Joshua said, "Thou are a great people and hast great power." Our human nature is a strong man too, but by the help of God we can be strong and overcome and build upon the things God has given to us so that His name is honoured and glorified. It was the unity of the kingdom that Joshua was concerned about, each tribe and family doing their part and building on that which God had given to them to make the kingdom strong and enable them to overcome their enemies. They had to put away the things that were just natural growth. Learn to overcome the natural growth so that we can develop the things that come from God.