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

 

 

The Dark Side

Proverbs 17

Proverbs 17 4a

Everyone is handsomely dressed and well coiffed. They laugh in each other’s company as they head down the long corridor to the banquet hall where they’ve been invited to a grand dinner. The door slides open and Darth Vader greets his “guests.” Suddenly, Han, Leia, Chewy, and C-3PO realize this was a trap, and they were caught.
For anyone who has not seen Star Wars Episodes 4, 5, and 6 (about 216 times), Darth Vader is the villainous overlord of an oppressive and evil empire. Han, Leia, Chewy, and C-3PO, along with Luke and R2-D2, are the good guys trying to do what’s right and rebel against the regime.
When I read Proverbs 17: 1 (Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it, than a house full of feasting with strife), this scene from Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back immediately comes to my mind (Quite a few other verses bring this scene to mind too… Psalms 23:5 for example). I am certain the Rebel crew would have much preferred some blue milk and tauntaun jerky than a feast with their mortal enemy!
Star Wars is a science fiction epic that has endured for over 40 years in part because, even though it took place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” it is the classic story of good versus evil.   In Episodes 4, 5, and most of 6, Darth is the personification of evil. Proverbs 17: 5, 13, 15, 19, and 20 describe his actions well. He is angry, murderous, destructive…. like blowing up entire planets destructive!
But he didn’t start out that way. He started as a boy named Anakin. (As a nearly life long Star Wars fan, I know Episodes 1, 2, and 3 are almost worthless for so many reasons, but for the sake of argument, please just go with it.) We learn that he was whiny, self absorbed, impulsive, rebellious, but most importantly, fearful. Theses attributes made him ripe for Palipatine, an evil leader with nefarious intentions, to convince Anakin to listen to evil lips (verse 4) and exchange a promise of power for evil deeds (verse 23).
Even though this is just a movie series, it truly speaks to the fact that evil starts somewhere and it’s usually rooted in selfishness and fear. And in the real world, those emotions are rooted in the absence of faith in God through Christ.
Spoiler Alert: Fortunately for Darth, he does see the light side of the force and repents for all he’s done shortly before his death. Great deathbed conversion scene! But we don’t have to have our world, or Death Star, crumble around us before seeing the error of our ways. Seek knowledge now, practice wisdom now, love now (verse 17).
May the word of God be with you.
Maria Knowlton

No Longer a Slave to Fear

Hebrews 10

Hebrews 10 22a NIV

How often have you wanted to run away or turn away from God?  Perhaps it was shame, guilt, or maybe despair that was making you unable to even look at your own self in the mirror, let alone approach God.  Those feelings of regret, shame, fear, and a guilty conscience often make us want to crawl in a hole and hide. Fear is a powerful emotion and pushes us away from God.  But the words of Paul tell us that we no longer have to feel that way.  We no longer have any reason to run away or turn away from God.  We no longer have to hide in shame and disgust.  We no longer have to be fearful of who we are, or what we think we are.  Instead of running away from God, we can run to Him, and fall into His loving arms.  When we run to God into His loving arms we are entering the most holy place.  Paul calls it such in Hebrews 10:19.  That should take your breath away.  Just think about it.  No matter who you think you are, or what you are, you can enter the holy place, into the very presence of God Himself.  But Paul says one more thing that is almost too good to be true.  He does not say that we have to crawl into that holy place, hide behind someone else, or that we have to enter wearing sack cloth and ashes.  We don’t even have to sneak in the back door so no one sees us.  No, he says we can come into that holy place in God’s presence with CONFIDENCE.  Wow!  How often do we enter a classroom about to take a test, and go in feeling confident? But Paul says we can enter the presence of God feeling confident!

How is that possible?  Is this all just a dream or make believe?

No, it is real.  Very real.

Let Paul explain.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” (Hebrews 10:19-22a)

We no longer have any excuse for running away from God, turning away from God, or hiding in shame or despair.  Instead we can approach God and enter His presence without fear but rather with confidence.   Paul even tells us to come up close, draw near, maybe so close that we feel as if we are sitting in His lap just as we would sit comfortably in our dad’s lap as a child. Paul tells us in Romans 8:15  “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!”   We are no longer a slave to fear.  Instead, we have been adopted by God, and we are His children.  We call Him Father! We are surrounded by the arms of God our Father.    And all of this is possible because of the blood of Jesus.

Paul calls this a new and living way (Hebrews 10:20). Instead of fear and guilt we’ve been liberated from our bondage and shown a new way of living.  Our sin is washed away with pure water, and our guilty conscience is wiped clean (Hebrews 10:22).  That guilty conscience, which we often lug around in our heart, has been wiped clean.    The chains are broken, we’ve been redeemed.  I know, it is almost too hard to imagine or fathom.  We can hardly understand something so great and wonderful.  But it is real.   Now, without fear or guilt, we can fall into His loving arms because Jesus has opened the door for us.  His blood became the pathway into God’s presence!  No more sin and guilt!  We have been set free!

Luke Elwell

Stop Running from His Call

God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

We’ve all heard the story of Jonah and how he tried to run away from God. Of course, we know that didn’t work out too well for him. He had to sit in the belly of a giant fish until he decided that he would listen to God. We all have our Nineveh. It’s that one thing in the back of your mind that you know you need to do but it’s the last thing you want to do. Jonah ran away because he was scared and often we do the same thing. 

 

For a while, my Nineveh was mission work. I heard God speaking to me through the people at my church calling me to get involved but that scared me. I haven’t even graduated high school yet God was calling me to leave the country and do His work. That seemed much bigger than I thought I was able to do. So I just ignored the nagging in the back of my mind for as long as I could. Obviously, I didn’t end up sitting in the literal stomach of a huge fish. However, I always felt drained and never quite right. Eventually, I got the hint and I talked to someone from my church who had decided to sell all her stuff and move to Guatemala for mission work. By the end of the conversation, we were making plans for me to come down and do missions with her for a week. After that God had opened my heart and I felt joy for the first time in a while. This then led to the opportunity to join the LHI team in going to Peru. Both opportunities have been nothing short of a blessing. 

 

The amazing thing is that if God calls you to do something He’s not going to send you into the situation unprepared and empty-handed. I felt unqualified for what God was calling me to do, but all I had to do was open up my heart to what God was trying to show me. So today as you think about what God is calling you to do, whether it be a huge project or just a random act of kindness, let God guide you, without trying to run from Him. 

 

-Maggie Gallagher 

Fear Takes Over

Mark 14

Mark 14 50 NASB

Jesus told the disciples that they would all abandon him. It was bad enough that he knew the agony he would endure on the cross, but the emotional sorrow of the betrayal of his closest friends would be gut-wrenching. All of the disciples were saying they would never leave him, no matter what. Peter insisted, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” (14:31) Jesus told Peter that not only would Peter abandon him, but that very night he would also deny him three times.

Later, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks the disciples to keep watch and pray. They keep falling asleep. I imagine the impending situation has them exhausted from worry and dread. Jesus acknowledged that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (14:38)

When Judas comes to betray Jesus the tension is at an all-time high. The disciples want to fight, but Jesus stops them. Apparently, they  immediately realized they were overwhelmed and that’s when fear kicked in. They all ran. One was slow enough that he was seized, but that fear was coursing through his veins so strongly that he left his clothing and ran away naked. That was better than sharing the fate of Jesus. We might see this as utterly shameful. How could they? And how could Peter deny Christ three times especially after Jesus said he would? Did he not remember Jesus’ words after the second denial?

Fear is such a powerful thing. It can be crippling. Fear can shut our mouths, stop us from going and loving others, and keep us from fulfilling God’s will for our lives. More often I see that fear holds God’s people back, but it can also provoke us to act as we shouldn’t just as the disciples did. The naked man and Peter are a clear warning to us. Let’s not let fear have the power to encourage us to expose ourselves shamefully or deny Christ even. In I John 4:18 we are told “perfect love casts out fear.” Let’s pray for perfect love. When we feel fear creeping in, let’s pray for our love to be stronger than the fear.

-Melissa New

The Long Journey to Rome

JPEG image-56512E7E40C1-1

Acts 27

Today it only takes a few hours to travel from the Holy Land to Rome. A non-stop plane ticket costs just a few hundred bucks. For a couple of hundred more, you can get upgraded to first class. That sounds rather nice–flying over the beautiful Mediterranean sea, being waited on hand and foot, heading to the former center of the Roman empire to take in the sights and sounds of this majestic ancient city.
For Paul, though, the journey was not so short…or luxurious. And it certainly wasn’t non-stop. The trek to Rome included a slew of problems for this man from Tarsus and his companions, such as a snakebite, a shipwreck, and a plan to slaughter prisoners. What happened during this voyage would have tested the most experienced seafarer. But throughout the storms and chaos, Paul remained calm and determined. When others had lost hope and were filled with fear, the Apostle took charge and restored order.
Paul was able to remain composed and didn’t cave to fear because of where he placed his trust. He had been informed by the Lord that he would make it to Rome to testify there and he believed this wholeheartedly. God had been faithful thus far and Paul knew this would continue. After all, he did write the words of Romans 8:28.
“We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (CEV)
God has a plan. From the Bible, we can gain a general understanding of it. We can see how He has worked in history and what He intends to do in the future. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult for us to see where we fit in the grand scheme of things or how God can work in us. God used Paul as an instrument for His glorious plan. It wasn’t because he was special that God chose to employ Paul as His messenger to the Gentiles; he was special only because he was chosen. We don’t have to be special for God to use us either (which is a good thing…because we’re not).
Paul found himself on that arduous adventure because he was doing work for God. If we are going to be active followers of Christ and productive promoters of his Good News, sometimes we’re going to find ourselves in difficult situations as well. But we, like Paul, can have courage knowing the plan God has for the future and confidence because we are doing His will.
-Joel Fletcher

Teddy Bears and Corn Snakes

Joshua 1_9

Do you consider yourself to be courageous?

Do you see courage as being something only heros have? Do you have to be like David taking down Goliath or Daniel surviving a lions den or the Avengers fighting against Thanos? Or can you be courageous in your everyday life?

According to Dr. Yadin Dubai, from the Weizmann Institute of Science Rehovot, Israel courage is something that can be practiced. He came to this finding by splitting a group of volunteers into those that were afraid of snakes and those that weren’t. The volunteers were instructed to choose whether to move a teddy bear or corn snake closer or further away. While the participants were making their choice there was a functional magnetic imaging scan done of there head. This scan picked up on activity in the part of the brain called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC). When the participants who feared snakes chose to overcome fear and move the snake closer the sgACC increased, versus those that gave into fear and moved the snake further.

This research found that our brain can learn courage. We can activate and increase the sgACC or part of brain that houses courage by taking conscious, deliberate steps to overcome fear.

Many of us won’t find ourselves facing a literal giant, surviving a lions den or even battling an intergalactic space villain (although that would be sick!). We do however find ourselves facing fears each day. Sometimes those fears are simply getting up out of bed and starting a new day, maybe it’s forgiving someone that you thought you never could, or maybe it’s flying across the county to do mission work or start a new ministry. Whatever your fear in life may be, know that you can overcome it with a little practice and a little patience.

Joshua 1: 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

-Elleigh Dylewski