Thumbs, Big toes, & Fire—oh my!

Sunday – Judges 1-2

Judges Devotions

Joshua is dead. Ten thousand Canaanite men—also dead. The Israelites take revenge on a Canaanite king who was notorious for cutting off other kings’ thumbs and big toes by, of course, cutting off his very own thumbs and big toes. Jerusalem is set on fire. And that’s just the first 8 verses!

Judges if off to a whirl-wind of a start, but if you think the craziest part of Judges is over, you’re in for a ferocious ride, my friend. After a wild first chapter, the author of Judges (who is unknown, but some speculate it’s Samuel) steps back to give us an overview of this unprecedented time in history, this 340 year stretch of judges.

The book of Joshua ended with a rousing speech in which Joshua declared, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). The Israelite people gave a unified response, “We will serve the LORD our God and obey him” (Joshua 24:24). The generation who made that vow saw God work in incredible ways—making way for the Israelites to cross the Jordan River, crushing the walls of Jericho, and keeping the sun from setting during battle. This generation even calls themselves witnesses (Joshua 24:22), and they take time to remember all God has done for them—carrying the ark of the covenant with them, setting up twelve stones by the Jordan.

However, we’ve already established that Joshua dies, and with him the generation that calls themselves witnesses. Despite everything their parents did to help them remember, this new generation forgets, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).

As the Israelites occupied the Promised Land, God told them to remove all the idol-worshipping, morally-corrupt people from the land, but they forget.

I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’ (Judges 2:1-3)

They forgot who God is. They forgot what God had done. They forgot what God had told them to do.

While the events in Judges occurred over 3,000 years ago, their times seem eerily similar to our own. I’m at the age where I see a lot of my peers forgetting—forgetting who God is, what God has done, and what God has told them to do. We’ve all seen not only the statistics, but also the faces of people leaving the church. So what can we do to stop it?

Remember and remind.

Keep a list going: Who is God to you? What has God done for you? What has God told you to do? I encourage you to take some time during this quarantine to physically write a list so you can remember how present God is in your life. Also, support your brothers and sisters in the faith by reminding them of how real and near God is. Share your list with others, you never know how close someone in your life is to forgetting, just like the Israelites in Judges.

I can’t resist my strong urge to end this devotion with a joke: Who is the only person ever to not have any biological parents?

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Answer: Joshua son of Nun

 

Mackenzie McClain

 

Today’s Bible reading passage, Judges 1 & 2 can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges+1-2&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Judges 3-5 as we continue the wild ride through God’s Word 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

 

 

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

 

 

When I Don’t Feel Courageous

Joshua 6 – Courage Recap

Be Strong & Courageous

Saturday, October 14

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

It is interesting that no “strong and courageous” pep talk is included in Joshua 6 as the Israelites were receiving and acting upon instructions for overtaking the walled fortress of Jericho.  Rather, the Lord said, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands…March!” (Joshua 6:2).  And the people did it – God’s way – and the walls came a tumbling down.

Were the people scared as day after day they approached the city to march around it’s walls?   Perhaps some were.  Perhaps some were remembering their fathers who had crumbled in fear and discouragement when faced with the prospect of fighting against the fortified cities of Canaan.  Yet, they had determined that something else was more important than fear – and they were following God.  Likewise, you have the opportunity to be a new generation.  You don’t have to follow a history of fear, failure, or inaction.

Perhaps they were making a conscience effort to instead focus on how they saw God and his faithfulness at work as well as how they had personally been prepared for this moment.  Remembering the crossing of the Jordan River.  Remembering Joshua’s meeting with the commander of the army of the Lord.  Remembering how they consecrated themselves in preparation to see amazing things the Lord would do.  Remembering the importance of relying on God’s Word rather than your feelings of fear (Joshua 1:6-9).  Remembering the Lord’s words that Joshua had passed on to them:  “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9).

My daughter and I just read The Hiding Place by Corrie TenBoom.   We both highly recommend it!  In German occupied Holland Corrie and her family hide and care for many Jews during World War II – a job that certainly required a great deal of strength and courage.  Corrie’s life is a beautiful example of God providing for and preparing those who are seeking to follow God and His Word, regardless of the fears or consequences.  No doubt our memory verse this week was a great comfort as well as battle cry for Corrie: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9).

What courageous works is God preparing you to do?  You may have no idea today.  But use the day to follow Him, remembering His faithfulness.  Actively seek and pray for direction on what courageous act God would have you do for Him today, next month and 5 years from now.   And then – DO it!

Be Strong and Courageous!

Marcia Railton

Courageously, Humbly Compliant

Joshua 5

Joshua 5 14 (1)

Friday, October 13

There are a lot of great tidbits in today’s reading of Joshua 5.  Go ahead and read it and see what you find.

I love the part about the foreign kings’ hearts melting as they lost courage to fight against the Israelites and their powerful God.   (vs 1).

I love the part about the men following through to show they were committed to a new start in following God with their whole mind, body and strength – being set apart as God’s unique and chosen people (vs 2-9).

I love the part about the Israelites eating food grown in Canaan for the first time – and the manna from the sky – which God had provided for 40 years – stopping on the very next day  (vs 10-12).

But my favorite part is when Joshua is approaching Jericho and meets an armed man – but he can’t tell if he is friend or foe.  So he courageously approaches him and asks.  The man, with drawn sword replies, “Neither, but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” (vs 14).   I am impressed with Joshua – not only brave and courageous, but humble as well.  Joshua, and all of the Israelites likely, considered Joshua to be the commander of the army of the Lord – until meeting this man/being with drawn sword.  But rather than arrogantly questioning this – he falls at his feet and instead asks what message the Lord has for Joshua.  I pray that I would be as courageous as Joshua – along with as humbly compliant.  Not standing up to God, or his commander, not proudly speaking of my battle plan or claiming titles – but at his feet – asking for directions – and then courageously stepping out to do them.

-Marcia Railton

What Do These Stones Mean?

Joshua 4

Joshua 4-24

Thursday, October 12

As of yesterday’s devotion we left the Israelites consecrating themselves in preparation to see amazing things the Lord would do for them the following day.  And, when the people were prepared – God was certainly ready to do His part.  The last part of chapter 3 reads:

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge,  the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.   Joshua 3:15-17

What emoji would you choose if an Israelite just texted you that update on how their day was going?  Surprise!  Shock!  Awe!  It is an incredible account, isn’t it?  When I read it I was sorry to hear that the Israelites crossing didn’t get to gaze upon the water that was “piled up in a heap” as that was about 20 miles upstream (NIV text note on 3:15).  Wouldn’t that have been awe-inspiring!  Why not, I thought.  Perhaps God had planned to share this awesome display with those outside of the Israelite community – “so that all the people of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful.” (Joshua 4:24)

In chapter 4 we also have the rest of the story on the waters of the Jordan that had instantly dried up when the priests’ feet touched the waters’ edge.  Could have been coincidence, someone might try to argue.  Lots of busy beavers just upstream?   But then Joshua 4:18 helps clear up any doubt: “And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD.  No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.”  This wasn’t the work of beavers or tides or circumstance.  At just the precise time needed the flood waters unexplainably stopped – and then re-started, also, at precisely the correct time.  This was the work of the Maker of Heaven and Earth and He was having fun doing amazing things for His consecrated people who had decided to be bold and courageous rather than cowering in fear and discouragement as their parents had.

Joshua followed the LORD’s direction to have each tribe take part in creating a rock tower to commemorate what the LORD did at the Jordan.  This was done to keep the memory alive and spark conversation, down through the generations, of how Almighty God had provided just what they needed at just the right time.  Joshua said their children would ask, “What do these stones mean?” (Joshua 4:6,21).  It would be a great opportunity to tell of God’s power and provision for His people.

In what miraculous ways have you seen God at work?  Perhaps on your own behalf, or someone you know, or even someone you read about – Biblical miracles still count today! What reminders do you have displayed for you and your family?  What opportunities do you have to overflow with stories of God’s power and faithfulness?  We must not forget God’s power.  We must remember – and tell others.   When we fear Him, we can be strong and courageous.

-Be Strong and Courageous – Marcia Railton

 

Dedicated to a Sacred Purpose

Joshua 3

Joshua 3-5

Wednesday, October 11

601,730 – that was the number of fighting men counted in the second census conducted in the wilderness, just before Moses passed along leadership to Joshua (see Numbers 26).  Add to this number: women, children and older men.  Now, picture yourself in this massive crowd.  Three days ago you all travelled the very last leg of a trip that has lasted more than 40 years!  At last, here you are at the shores of the Jordan River – the boundary of the Promised Land you have heard so much about.  This is the same Promised Land that your parents aren’t here to see because their fear, discouragement, and lack of trust in God led to their death in the wilderness.  What are your thoughts and feelings as you stand on the shore?  How big is your faith in God?  What are your greatest fears?  How do you combat them?   Are you ready to see amazing things?

How do you combat your fears?  The people were told to watch the ark of the covenant and follow it.  This was their physical connection and tie to the Almighty.  Inside the ark was the precious Word of God as well as evidence and reminders of just some of the miracles God had already performed on their behalf.  How well are you following the Word of God and remembering His miracles.   God’s Word has the power to take you where you have never been before – into a deeper and deeper relationship following the Almighty.  And remembering His miracles deepens your faith and combats your fears.

How do you prepare yourself to see amazing things?  “Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you’ ” (Joshua 3:5).  Consecrated – to be dedicated to a sacred purpose.  What purposes are you dedicated to?  Work, family, friends, vacation, finances, fun, fame?  What consumes your time and your thoughts throughout the day?  Those are the purposes that you are dedicated to.  In Joshua’s day they proved they were consecrated by following ceremonial laws for washings and other outward evidences that they were set apart for God’s purposes first and foremost.  Do you have evidence that you are consecrated to Him?  Is your bank account, your calendar, your thought life dedicated to Him?  Is your Bible well worn?  Does your family, neighbors, co-workers, and peers know that you are consecrated to Him?

God has some amazing things waiting for those who are dedicated to His purposes.  Prepare yourself to see them – CONSECRATE yourself to Him.

Go With God – all day long – Marcia Railton