Renewal

 Joshua 22-24

Joshua 24 15 b NASB

Chapter 22 sees the return of the Eastern tribes to their allotted land across the Jordan river, after helping the rest of the tribes of Israel conquer the remainder of the Promised Land.  Verses 1-4 says, “Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh and said to them, ‘You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. For a long time now -to this very day – you have not deserted your fellow Israelites but have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you. Now that the Lord your God has given them rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan.'”

 

I see a  parallel here between the Israelites serving God faithfully and being rewarded with their home in the Promised Land, and our own lives being measured, with the reward being a place in the Kingdom.

 

Verse 5 then says, “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Soon after, the Eastern tribes set up an altar to God along the Jordan River as a reminder to the Western tribes that they worship the same God.  But the Western tribes were alarmed that they may have actually set up an altar to other false Gods.

 

Thankfully, at this time, they had not set up altars to other gods.  But maybe we have.  We are going through tough times in our world right now.  For most of us, this is the first time we have gone through really tough times.  Even though our country is and has been at war many times in our lifetimes, and even though the United States has endured terror attacks and financial low points, for the most part, we have had it easy.  Probably no one reading this lived through the Great Depression.  This isn’t to say that we have not endured tough times individually for any number of reasons, but for the most part, we have all lived charmed lives.  And that my friends, is poisonous.  When times are good, we don’t feel the need to turn to God.  When we hear about the Kingdom of God in church, and how we should be looking forward to it, we think, “I’ve got it pretty good right now, why would I want that to change to something else?” And yes, we allow things like careers, hobbies, future vacation plans, possessions, even our spouses and children, to become idols in our lives, taking our focus and gratitude away from our Heavenly Father.

 

We often look at all of those wonderful things as blessings from God, and certainly they may be!  But He doesn’t bless us in order for us to turn our backs on Him and others.  Instead, He blesses us and then expects us to be grateful every minute of the day for those great blessings, and in turn take the opportunity to bless someone else, as He has blessed us.  Our blessings should make us outward focused, but instead it is far too easy to allow them to keep us inward focused, and then allow those blessings to distance us from God.  We think that we did something ourselves to earn the blessings, or convince ourselves that we deserve this or that.  Wrong attitude.  Any blessing, including each breath you are taking as you read this, is solely a result of the grace of God.  We deserve nothing, due to our sin nature.

 

As we endure this Pandemic crisis, which means different negative effects for so many people, some of which are terrible to think about, I hope that if you have not yearned for the Kingdom of God before now, that you are finally doing so now.  In the Kingdom, there will be no pandemics, no viruses.  There will be no fear and no anxiety.  There will be no sickness and no death!  Praise God.   That is something to be yearned for.  That is something to be excited for.

 

With so much extra free time right now for so many of us, this is a perfect opportunity to rededicate our lives to Christ and to reconnect to God.  Will you do that?  Are you trusting Him right now?  You should be.  He keeps His promises.  As Joshua is about to die, in chapter 23, verse 14 he says, “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” That holds true today folks.  But read the next two verses as well.  Those also hold true today.

 

So what will you do?  Here is what Joshua decided he would do:  24: 14-15  “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

 

If you are choosing to make a renewal or re-dedication of your life today, I celebrate with you, but I also encourage you to mark the occasion in some way.  This period of difficulty and uncertainty will pass.  (And yes, that is a very good thing, but only as long as we are changed.)  So we need a reminder of the commitment we are making, and a reminder that God was with us through this, because as things get easier, we tend to return to our old ways.  So, make a note to yourself on your mirror, or change your smart phone wallpaper, or even stack some rocks up in your front yard, just like the Israelites did to remember things.  Just do something so that the renewal isn’t short lived.

 

Encouraging verse of the day:

Psalm 118:14

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

 

Greg Landry

 

You can read or listen to today’s Bible passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+22-24&version=NIV

Tomorrow we begin a new week and a new book of the Bible as we jump into Judges 1-2 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Refuge

Joshua 19-21

Joshua 21 45 NIV

Chapter 20 instructed the Israelites to set aside six cities as Cities of Refuge that were to be used to protect an individual from retribution if they had accidentally killed someone.  The High Priest would hear their case, and allow them to be protected within one of the cities if it was clear that they fit the criteria.  This system will be reflected later when Jesus, our own High Priest, stands up to defend us and protect us from a punishment that we are due.  God is so good to have provided refuge for His people so long ago, and for all of us today.

 

Chapter 21 ends with, “So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands.  Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”

 

In addition to the refuge that God has provided, we see here that He is a promise-keeper as well.  So much of Joshua contains the details of the land areas that were given to each tribe, which seems kind of boring.  But this meant everything to the people of that time, and to modern Israelites today.  This not only shows that God keeps His promises, but also shows that this particular area is INDEED set aside for the nation of Israel forever.  The Promised Land doesn’t have an expiration date.  And neither does God’s love and care for all of His people, including you.

 

I hope you can take comfort in knowing that God keeps his promises, He cares for His people, and that includes you.  He provides a place of refuge for us today, in His arms, and has set aside a Promised Land of refuge for us in the future, the Kingdom.

 

 

Encouraging verse of the day:

 

1 John 4:16

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

 

 

Greg Landry

 

You can read or listen to today’s Bible passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+19-21&version=NIV

Tomorrow we will finish the book of Joshua with chapters 22-24 on our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

Father Knows Best

Joshua 16-18

why God gives

Both in Chapters 16 and 17, once again the Israelites did not expel all the peoples in the land that they took, which would again cause trouble down the road.  Oh how much better our lives would be if we always did what God wanted us to do.

 

Our good, good Father has very wise reasons for the things He asks us to do and asks us not to do. As a parent myself, I have had to put certain rules in place for our boys that they did not understand as being beneficial to them at the time.  But later they understood.  For example, in Leviticus, God outlined a number of regulations for His people.  I am confident many of those regulations did not make complete sense at the time, namely the regulations dealing with unclean foods, dealing with mildew, etc.  We know now that those regulations have enormous benefits for people.  The only explanation for those regulations being recorded at that time, long before scientists understood the “why” behind them, was an all knowing God who was loving enough to pass them on to His people.

 

Scripture is filled with great Fatherly expectations for how we can best lead our lives.  This is both for our own benefit, as well as for the benefit of others.  And of course it honors God as well.  Such expectations include honoring our parents, keeping our marriages pure, and helping others.

 

What an amazing God we serve.  A God that not only created us, but also provided us a guide that helps us to know the best way to live our lives, in ways that we maybe would have never even considered.  And certainly in ways that go against culture, and even our own nature at times.

 

 

Encouraging verse of the day:

Psalm 29:11

May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!

 

Greg Landry

 

You can read or listen to today’s Bible passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+16-18&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s passage will be Joshua 19-21 on our adventure through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Blessings

Joshua 12-15

Joshua 14 8 NIV

Chapter 12 records all of the Kings the Israelites defeated in taking back the Promised Land to this point.  They did it with God’s help of course. Chapter 13 then describes the land that was still left to be taken.  But they would not need to fight for some of that remaining land.  God would do it for them.

 

A commentary on easyenglish.bible.com says, “This is like the Christian life. Jesus has defeated the enemy for us. He did this when he took the punishment for our sins on the cross. God still has other good things for us. He wants to give them to us. God promises all these things to us, my dear friends. So we must keep ourselves morally good. We must keep away from things that make our bodies or our thoughts morally bad.”

 

Thank goodness that Jesus removed the enemy of sin, so that we may be forgiven.  And he will ultimately defeat the enemy of death once and for all as well.  That will permit his followers to live forever with him.  But we need to be free of a lifestyle of sin in order to inherent that gift.

 

Verse 13 of Chapter 13 says, “But the Israelites did not send away the people from Geshur and Maacah. And so these people still live there among the Israelites.”  We know that God’s people had trouble down the road because they allowed traditions and religious symbols of other peoples to mix with their own.  They did not completely eradicate the things God had wanted them to, and paid the price later.  Similarly, we as Christians must defeat all of our enemies, namely sin in its many forms, in order to enjoy the full blessings of God.  Strive every day to do just that.

 

Encouraging verse of the day:

Isaiah 12:2

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.

 

 

Greg Landry

 

 

You can read or listen to today’s Bible passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+12-15&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s passage will be Joshua 16-18 as we continue seeking God on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Revival

Joshua 9-11

inquire of the Lord

The Israelites have had success after success in conquering the Promised Land.  But they did have the setback due to Achan’s sin, and in chapter 9 they have another setback.  The Gibeonites trick Joshua into granting them a treaty, on the premise that they are not locals, and so will not be in the way of the Israelites’ expansion plans.  You have to hand it to the Gibeonites.  This was a very shrewd move for them, and did grant them their survival.

 

But this should never have happened, and doesn’t seem to be part of God’s plan, when in other inhabited areas, the entire existing populations were destroyed.  So why did it happen?

 

As part of the ruse, the Gibeonites provided evidence of their long journey to reach the area in the form of old wineskins, bread and sandals.  Then, in chapter 9, vs 14-15, “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.”

 

And there you have it.  They did not inquire of the Lord.  How foolish they must have been.  How could these people, that had been clearly led by the Lord, abandon His counsel at this critical time?  The answer is because they are like you and I.  Human.  Unfortunately, great success gives rise to self importance and self reliance, instead of giving God the credit He deserves and then continuing to rely on Him.  We have probably all done it.

 

When times are easy, it is easy to let our relationship and reliance on God slip away.  That is a bad thing.  We are going through difficult times right now.  That is also a bad thing.  But in times like these we need to draw closer to God, seek His counsel, and draw strength from that relationship.  And that is a good thing.

 

There was a small revival in this nation after 9/11, with a large increase in church attendance.  But, as things improved, it wore off.  Things will assuredly get better from our present reality, but if there is a revival in our own relationship with the Lord, that is a fantastic outcome.  But don’t let that revival slip away when things get better.  Be aware that it is human nature for that to happen, and take steps to avoid allowing your human nature to lead you away from God.

 

Here is another word of encouragement from scripture.

Psalm 91: 1-6

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you

from the fowler’s snare

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,

nor the plague that destroys at midday.

 

Greg Landry

 

 

You can read or listen to today’s Bible passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+9-11&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Joshua 12-15 as we continue seeking God through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Nothing is Hidden

Joshua 5-8

Joshua 7 12 b NIV

Joshua chapters 5 and 6 recount the sacking of Jericho.  This is one of the most memorable stories in scripture.  Jericho was the first city the Israelites encountered after crossing the Jordan River, and it was a doozy, perched on a hill with large fortified walls.  And yet it was no problem for God, as recounted in these chapters.

 

I am a big fan of Biblical apologetics, including Biblical Creation and Biblical archaeology.  The Jericho site is a fantastic example of archaeology confirming what the Bible says.  Several key findings back up the Biblical narrative:  Jericho was a walled city that was destroyed  The walls were discovered to have fallen outwards, which is the opposite of what you would expect during a siege.  Also, one section of the wall was still intact, with housing inside of it, which would match up with the account of Rahab the prostitute.  Finally, the city had been burned afterwards, and burned containers full of grain were found, demonstrating that the siege would not have been a long siege, and it would have occurred not long after the harvest, all of which again backs up the Biblical account.

 

You can read about these findings here: https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-asia/walls-jericho-0012893  Findings like this should be exciting for Christians to hear about, and can always be used as a resource in developing the faith of others.

 

Chapters 7 and 8 recounts the sin of Achan and how it hindered God’s people in their ultimate success against Ai.  During the destruction of Jericho, Achan took some forbidden items for himself and hid them in his tent.  After the Israelites failed in their first attempt to take Ai, Achan’s sin was laid bare.  Many of us have regular hidden sin in our lives, such as addictions to narcotics, alcohol or pornography.  Greed, pride, envy and unrighteous anger are other examples.

 

Chapter 7, verse 12b says, “I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.”  When you are living in sin, God cannot be with you.  When you choose a life of sin, you are in effect turning your back to God.  You are choosing destruction instead of life.  Secret sins are the most likely to deceive us because we are not getting wise counsel from others.  Also, we somehow justify continuing in these secret sins, having been deceived, and making them much harder to break away from.  On the outside we seem fine.  But on the inside, we rot away.  And God knows.

 

If you are suffering from secret sin, do the best thing you can do, which is to repent of the sin and share the struggle with someone else who can hold you accountable and support you.  This is proven to be the most effective way to break those hidden chains.  Choose everlasting life, not destruction.

 

 

Greg Landry

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+5-8&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Joshua 9-11 as we continue searching God’s Word on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Remember

Joshua 1-4

 

The message I took out of the first four chapters of Joshua is especially timely.  We are living in unprecedented times.  Not unprecedented in history, but certainly within our own lifetimes.  Obviously, I am speaking of the coronavirus epidemic.  No one knows how long the effects of this will last, or when things will get back to “normal” But do not fear.  God is still on His throne.

 

After forty years of wandering in the desert, God finally allows His people to enter into the promised land behind the leadership of Joshua. The pivotal moment is when the Lord held back the flood-swollen waters of the Jordan river, allowing the tribes of Israel to cross over on dry land.  Of course, this bookends the forty years in the wilderness after escaping Egypt by similarly crossing the parted waters of the Red Sea on dry land.

 

But after this crossing, God instructs Joshua to have each tribe take a rock from the middle of the river, and stack them up on the side of the river they were crossing onto.

 

Joshua chapter 4, verses 20-24 say, “And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their parents, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.’ ”

 

Our Heavenly Father knows that we are a forgetful people.  I am an expert at it.  But certain things are worth remembering.  Like when God has rescued His people, fulfilled promises, or performed miracles.  God instructed people to remember certain events throughout history.  Thankfully, we have the history of such events at our fingertips in His word.  We know that He has fulfilled every promise that has come to pass, and so we should have confidence that the Godly promises that have not come to pass will also be fulfilled.

 

But what about events that are not written down in the Bible?  What about events in our own lives?  Has God ever demonstrated His power and love to you personally?  Think about such events, and how they can serve as our own monuments for us to hold onto and recount that God is there with us. If God has delivered you through difficult times before, have confidence that He will do so again.

 

Finally, remember that no matter what the future holds, no one can take away the promise of the future Kingdom that we will have a part in.  Nothing that ever happens on earth will take that promise away, and today, and every day going forward, God is in control.

 

For you parents, remember that this is a great time to model real faith to our children.  It is easiest to show faith in God when everything is going great.  But how will you model your faith and trust in God during these difficult times?  That is what matters most.

 

I have added some verses of encouragement below (starting with one from today’s reading), and then after that, a link to a youtube playlist I created that has songs of encouragement.

 

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

 

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

 

Isaiah 40:31

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

2 Timothy 1:7

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

 

 

Greg Landry

 

Welcome to the Books of History in our

Today’s passage, Joshua 1-4 can be read or listened to at

 

 

May Our Choices be Righteous & Courageous! (Joshua 22-24)

Thursday, September 29

joshua-24

Nikki Green

As we wrap up the book of Joshua, we find our strong and courageous leader in the last days of his life.  Joshua calls the twelve tribes together to review all God had done for His people.  Joshua states that the LORD fought for Israel and drove out the other nations.  He urges the Israelites to remain faithful to God.  He warns them not to worship foreign gods or marry outside the Israelite nation.  He cautions them not to disobey – not to turn to the right or the left.  The theme of courage is echoed again.  He reminds them that what God gave, He can take away.  The land has always been His.  Joshua’s words of wisdom lead to a choice when he says, “Choose this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh 14:15).  The Israelite people responded with the commitment, “We will serve the LORD, for He is our God” (Josh 24:18).

After the remarkable history lesson and reflection on the mighty deeds of God, we read that Joshua died at age 110.  He was buried in the land of his inheritance – the Promised Land.  Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua, which speaks volumes about his leadership and authority.  The book of Joshua ends with the completion of a generation of heroes.  We are reminded of Moses and Aaron, the dynamic duo, who began this great land repossession quest.  Joshua and Eleazar, the priest, jump in and prove to be the next generation of heroes.  Joshua was mentored by Moses.  Eleazar was the son of Aaron, Moses’ brother, and received outstanding mentorship from these men as well.  The book ends with the death of these “super men” and symbolically completes the story of conquest and conquer as “The LORD Saves” (Big thanks to Moses for Joshua’s new name & the answer to what we all need)!

 

 

What is Your Refuge? (Joshua 19-21)

Wednesday, September 28

nikki-wed-1

Nikki Green

The Israelites were given the privilege to celebrate the LORD as their military general, intelligence leader, informant, strategist, defender, King, and Promise Keeper.   Joshua followed the orders of his commander in chief and finished up the land divisions.  Inheritance was finally bestowed on him, as well, and he received the town of Timnah Serah in the hill country of Ephraim.  Joshua rebuilt the town and settled down.  He was reminded many times through his career to be strong and courageous.  He listened and believed – and the LORD granted him success.

nikki-wed-2

The LORD requested Joshua to set aside cities of refuge for those guilty of accidentally causing someone’s death.  Moses heard this command also, in Numbers 35:9.  This was the beginning of the judicial system for God’s people.  If someone had been accused of murder and was a fugitive, they could find sanctuary as they awaited judgement.  They could flee to one of these designated cities of refuge, stand at the gate, and state their case.  The elders of the city would allow the fugitive to enter their city and provide a place of protection for them to live as they awaited trial.  These people, awaiting trial, were safe there, as long as the high priest was alive.  How grateful I am to have a high priest who never dies!  “The LORD will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

 

It’s Time to HERO UP! (Joshua 15-18)

Tuesday, September 27

nikki-tues

Nikki Green

We need heroes who will conquer the giants of life.  Giants will persist as long as we let them.  We see literal giants hang around for 45 years, occupying the land promised by God, as Caleb waits to take on his old nemesis.  We have learned that Hebron was given to the tribe of Judah.  Caleb quickly “heroes up” and drives the giants out of his God given land (Josh.15:14).   Caleb was not only a mighty man of bold action, but also a man who encouraged others to great and bold deeds.  He did this by offering his daughter in marriage to the man who was brave and courageous enough to conquer a city to have her.  Caleb’s nephew, Othniel, was up for the challenge.  He takes the city and then collect his compensation, a wife -the daughter of one of the greatest heroes on earth.  Achsah, the bride, is okay with marrying this guy, but is not okay with living in the desert.  She asks her dad for land with springs of water.  She imitates her dad’s boldness and asks for what she wants.  We see God, the Father of the Israelites, give choice land to his kids and now we see Caleb do the same for his child.  As insignificant as daughters may have been to some people in that day, I love that her dad got her a quality man, a hero in his own rite.  Then we see Caleb ask her “What can I do for you?”  She replied, “Do me a special favor.  Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.”  (Josh. 15:18-19).  A dad doing something special for his little girl – I love this!  And it seems he doubles what she requested – not one, but two areas of springs.  He gives her land with upper and lower springs (Josh. 15:19).

Joshua continues divvying up land for the Israelites.  Sadly not all were like Caleb and Othniel, willing to put in the effort, time, or energy to drive out the Canaanites.  As God’s people took over the land, they began making compromises that later get them into trouble.  Many of the people decided, instead of fighting and destroying the enemy – they will just do what’s convenient and create a forced labor from these people.  This may have seemed innocent but it opened their hearts, eventually, to idolatry and struggles they should have never had to deal with.  This becomes a giant that keeps popping up because it wasn’t handled properly.  The Israelites did not fully conquer their immoral enemies, they disobeyed God and fell short of what He had for them.  How sad they couldn’t see the challenge in front of them, and get rid of all evil in their sight.  We will soon watch their personal giant show up time and time again, as significant struggles in the days of the Judges.

We all have giants that need conquered.  Anyone, like Caleb, had to deal with such an adversary for 45 years?  Is your giant taking up residence where it doesn’t belong?  Let’s be bold, brave, and courageous in our thoughts, actions, and requests.  God gives the victory to His kids.  He wants to bless us with more than we even know to ask for.  Time to HERO UP Friends!