Joshua 7 Joshua fell flat on his face seeking answers as to the reason they had victory in Jericho but defeat in Ai. Surely this small city could be taken with a small force. Joshua failed to consult God first, and behind the scenes, we find that our archenemy had been busy. The result was that 36 men died in that battle, and the residents of Ai had a victory party.
Joshua and the leaders fell on their faces before God and asked: “why?” The Lord responded to his prayer: “Get up! Why are you lying there face down?” Like us, Joshua failed to consider that behind every failed circumstance, Satan is busy blinding us. We begin by asking “why” instead of seeking the wise counsel of the Holy Spirit. Why did Joshua not consider sin? We do the same. We want to blame God when God is not responsible. It takes a listening heart to hear God when we are wailing and asking why.
Even though the Israelites had heard of God’s directive of the ban on all things in Jericho, Achan had casually dismissed it. Like us, we know what God desires but fail to consider the consequences of disobedience. Do you dismiss sin? Do you think, “God will understand?” Unlike us, God does not dismiss sin but demands purity and righteousness. We foolishly believe our sin only affects us. Be forewarned; “be sure your sin will find you out.” [Num 32:23]
Keep short accounts with God. Go to Him as Joshua did; locate the sin, and seek cleansing.
Joshua, ch 4 Every scripture is inspired by God. He wrote it for four reasons: to be used in teaching, to reprove us when we are “out of line,” to correct us, so we walk aright, and to train us in righteousness. The Israelites did not have a Bible, but they had the word of God through Moses to the priests. Instead of a written word, they had stones as a reminder of what things were important.
The Ten Commandments and the pot of manna were placed in the Ark as spiritual markers. As the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan, Joshua had the priests go ahead with the Ark, and then they were to pick up twelve stones to be used as a spiritual maker of what God had done on this day. They were to walk behind the Ark in reverence. The Ark was their physical marker to follow; we have the scriptures. They stepped into the flowing river, and just like us; they had to get their feet wet to see the power of the Lord unleashed; this is how we trust God, stepping out in faith. There are situations ahead that God is asking us to trust Him and to fix our eyes upon Him, as the author of Hebrews said, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of our faith. Heb 12:2
Where are your eyes fixed? What is your spiritual marker to follow?
Joshua 1-3 “Be Strong and Courageous”
As Moses concluded his address to the nation and in particular to Joshua, he noted the same words that God would speak to Joshua in the first chapter: “Be strong and courageous.” Joshua had seen the Red Sea opening and now would see the Jordan open as well. God wanted Joshua to know that He can be trusted but also that Joshua needed, in turn, to trust Him.
God knows us inside and out, and He knew that Joshua faced an intimidating job. Up until this time, he had been a servant’s servant to Moses. But, like any man or woman facing what seems an impossible task, there lurks the fear of the unknown. Joshua recalled the land he had seen 40+ years before, but would it look the same now? Would there be those same giants he had seen before? Would the people follow his leadership?
God encouraged Joshua to know that no matter where his foot would fall, God would be with him and never forsake him. God told him to remain steadfast immovable, just as Paul wrote. To a day, Joshua remained faithful. He reminded the Israelites; “be strong!” He never took credit for all of the blessings but reminded the people that it was the Lord who drove out the great and mighty nations.
Joshua is God’s hero. I hope he is yours too. Remember Isaiah’s words “when you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you. For I am the Lord your God; your deliverer…” [Is 43]
Deut 32 Knowing God means Choosing Him and Choosing Life!
As Moses begins his last address to his people, he starts where we all should begin; with God. He praises God as the Rock. When we think of a rock, we think of something that is impenetrable, unyielding to pressure, and trustworthy. God’s work is perfect, for all his ways are just. He is a reliable God who is never unjust; he is fair or righteous and upright. Do you know Him? The NET study note explains:
“The Hebrew term depicts God as a rocky summit where one may find safety and protection. Within a covenantal context, it serves as a reminder to the people that their God has committed himself to their protection in return for their allegiance.”
In sharp contrast, Moses notes this about God’s people: They have been unfaithful to him; they have not acted like his children—this is their sin. They are a perverse and deceitful generation. Moses reminded them of all that God has done for them from the time He chose them. As he closes his address to them, he said: choose life which is really choosing God, and He will bless you as He blessed Israel.
Moses proclaimed to them: Choose life so that you and your descendants may live! (Deu 30:19)Follow God, choose Him, and honor Him so that this description is not about you. Peter reminded his readers to be holy as God is holy. Do you know Him? Have you chosen life?
Deut 23 “Be Creative as you Love Your Neighbor.”
Both Moses and Jesus taught us that we are to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. Paul taught the Thessalonians that same principle; meet the needs of those who are your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. God’s provision for ancient Israel was that if one became hungry while walking to the next destination, you were allowed to enter a neighbor’s grain field and pluck some kernels to eat, but not to collect the grain for another time. Jesus and the disciples followed that principle, but the Pharisees had added to that principle by saying even if hungry, you cannot do that for it is work on the Sabbath.
Today in our fast food society we drive from place to place. We wait in drive-up lanes, not walk through a grain field. So how can we apply the principle today? We continue to have open hearts and eyes to the needs around us remembering the words of Jesus: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” [Mat 10:42 ] After we have filled our plates, why not purchase an extra dinner for someone behind you in the drive-up lane? Or a cup of coffee?
Be creative today as you go about your busyness. Stop and look where God might be working, and you can be His servant.
Deut 20 There is a catchy commercial that asks that question thinking that money is always the answer but not always. How do you fight battles of both kinds: physical and spiritual? For both, we need special armor.
Moses addresses the first as he prepares the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. They would face enemies with horses, chariots, and numerous men. The fear was real, but Moses took the fighting men aside and told them a powerful truth: Some trust in chariots, some in horses and some in the numerous men. In that time, “do not be fainthearted. Do not fear and tremble or be terrified of them” because the Lord your God goes with you to fight on your behalf to give you victory.
Our battle is spiritual, but the principles are the same: do not be fainthearted. We struggle not against flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of the evil one. We may experience fear of the enemies around us and wish we could have wings of a dove to fly away to safety, yet God has provided us with the spiritual armor; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of the gospel which is the good news. Our shield is that of faith by which we can extinguish the flaming arrows of our adversary. Our helmet is that of salvation, and we have the Word of God! Don’t forget the most important piece of armor: the powerful forces of prayer and petition.
Whether a physical or spiritual battle, know and cling to this truth: Our God goes before us, and He will not allow his righteous ones to fall. Take up your armor and stand firm.
So what’s in your wallet…’er’ your armor?
Deut 18: “You must be blameless before the Lord your God.” Blameless means we are innocent or free of blame or one whose life exhibits integrity. Some Synonyms are irreproachable, unimpeachable, irreprehensible, inculpable, faultless, guiltless, unblemished, unspotted, unsullied, undefiled, spotless, stainless, and innocent. So when God says we are to be blameless before the Lord, we could insert any of these synonyms and examine our character.
To help us further, we can turn to the letter to the Romans to learn how to bring about this character quality in our life: “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”[Rom 12:2]
But along the way, we may encounter our past sins, which Satan chooses to rehash. But, that is the marvel of 1John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.” It is then that God looks at us as blameless because the blood of Jesus has covered over those sins, and we can walk in newness of life—blameless or innocent before the Father. “In both Old and New Testament times, God justifies the ungodly, sanctifies the faithful, and rewards their new Spirit-wrought righteousness.” [John Piper]
So where are you in your walk? Are you listening to Satan or the Lord?
Deut 15 – 16 Focus on the Positive in your thinking:
I am sure you have had a similar experience while reading. Your mind is taking in all of the words, and then without warning, a verse jumps off the page, and you stop. For example, in chapters 15 and 16, the word “remember” calls to mind what we are to be doing. Moses told the Israelites to remember for the rest of your lives their delivery from bondage. Remember, you were a slave but now are free. We need to do this same exercise. Remember when you were enslaved to sin, but now because of Jesus Christ, we are free. We can achieve this by reviewing all that God has thought about us and what HE has done for us.
Thinking causes us to remember:
PS 40:5 many are the wonders which thou hast done & thy thoughts ♥ toward me, there is none to compare with God, if I were to declare & speak of them they would be too numerous to count
- 139:17 how precious also are thy thoughts to me O God, how fast is the sum of them
Is. 55:9 thank you God your thoughts are higher than my thoughts and
Jer. 29:11 you know the plans you determined in eternity past for me!♥
Focus on the positive today, resist the devil’s plan to insert his deadly d’s into your life (discouragement, dismay, and others) Don’t give him a foothold.
Deut 10 to 12 Five Things God Requires
I am reading the book, Hearts Afire about women who sacrificed all to serve God. They willingly chose to surrender their lives to God — no matter the cost!
That challenges me to ask: am I?
Being set apart for God and His work took on a whole new meaning when they realized the cost. Jesus reminded the disciples to count the cost before you embark on a project, such as building a tower. He used that metaphor to help them realize that before you say you are willing to serve God full time, you must do as the builder does before he orders materials and hires workers. Moses told the Israelites that before they could follow God, they must count the cost, and it included five things.
10:12 Moses said God requires that you reverently fear Him. Secondly, you must choose to walk in all His ways. Thirdly, you must love Him totally and completely reminding us that He is a jealous God and will not share His glory with another. Fourthly, you must endeavor to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. And lastly, you must keep His commandments which the Apostle John said are not burdensome.
10:20 reiterates those same details with one added point; you must swear by His Name. Why would God add that? In vs. 21, the answer is that He is our praise, and He is our God. He alone has done these great and awesome things for you!
Are you willing to be set apart for His service?
Deut 7-8 Isaiah wrote that God is a promise keeper. He opens the eyes of the blind and frees prisoners. That could mean literally or spiritually and perhaps both. Our arch adversary seeks to keep God’s children both blind and imprisoned. But, when God delivers us, we should remember Jesus’ words: do not return to the adversary lest something worse happen. We must destroy the works of the enemy because if we do not, he and his demons will turn away our children from the faith to serve other gods. That was the warning Moses gave the children of Israel.
Secondly, God wants us to remember that he did not set his love upon us or choose us because of anything within us, but only because He loves us. It is because of his love that he promised to keep his oath and redeemed us from the prison of sin. We also need this reminder that within us lies no good thing yet because of His faithfulness He chose us from eternity past for His purpose. “The promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend” [Is 55]
So why do we not experience full pardon and freedom to see all that God has for us? It is because we simply do not want to destroy that which binds us utterly. We are comfortable in our sins. Until we come to the place that we desire God more than our sin that we will be free.
So where are you?
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash