I read a devotional not long ago that talked about God teaching us then giving us a lesson to put into practice what he taught us. When I was growing up, I took dance lessons. Ballet, tap, jazz—I loved it all! The teacher would choreograph a dance and then teach us the steps. She would tell us what to do, we would practice, and then she would put on the music. We would practice until we got it right. She would teach, we would practice. The more I practiced, the stronger I became and more assured that I could do it right. The process was teaching/lesson. As I read through the verses for today, they reminded me of that time.
In Joshua, the Israelites begin a new chapter of their journey. New chapters can be scary to some of us! (I tend to like my old and familiar). They have been wandering for 40 years. God has provided everything for them. He has shown them continuously they can trust him and depend on him. That was the teaching. Have they learned the lesson? God is going to give them an opportunity to find out.
9 Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.” (Josh 1:9) NCV
Be brave, courageous (trust) that I am with you everywhere you go. That is what God taught them.
The first assignment is sending spies to scope out the land. They tried that once before and it didn’t work out very well. Only two returned (Joshua and Caleb) and reported they could overtake the land while they others caused a nation to shrink in fear. This time, however, the spies come back and assure Joshua the victory will be theirs. Lesson learned?
23 Then the two men started back. They left the hills and crossed the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said, “The Lord surely has given us all of the land. All the people in that land are terribly afraid of us.”
I love that God had another purpose for this mission as well: the spies encounter Rahab. Rahab was brave and courageous and risked her own life to save the spies. She is rewarded for her actions and is listed in the lineage of Jesus. (Math 1:5) She had faith and believed God. (Heb 11:31)
34 Wait for the Lord’s help
and follow him.
He will honor you and give you the land,
and you will see the wicked sent away. (Psalm 37:34)
Jesus teaches us as well. In Mark 4, Jesus tells the disciples:
31 The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 But when planted, this seed grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants. It produces large branches, and the wild birds can make nests in its shade.”
It reminded me of Luke 17:6 (If your faith were the size of a mustard seed . . .) What a word picture that is of what a growing faith in God would look like. That very evening Jesus and the disciples headed across the lake. A storm came up and the boat began to fill with water. An opportunity for a lesson?
38 Jesus was at the back of the boat, sleeping with his head on a cushion. His followers woke him and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are drowning!”
39 Jesus stood up and commanded the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind stopped, and it became completely calm.
40 Jesus said to his followers, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Be brave, courageous (trust) that I am with you everywhere you go (the teaching). Yes, again those words come to mind. I ask myself questions for something going on in my own life (the lesson). How much do I believe you, God? Do I believe you are working in my life or do I believe only what I see? As you have taught me, I cannot see what is going on when a mustard seed is planted in the ground. Before it can be seen, much has happened in the darkness of the ground. So many times I choose to believe the storm that is raging around me over what I know is Truth. That storm is much louder than your voice. “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” I hear those words spoken in a loving tone–not a reprimand. You look at me with eyes of love. You have taught me I can say “Quiet! Be still!” as I wait for your help. I have nothing to fear!
As my thoughts ponder the teaching I’ve been given and the ample lessons to put the teaching to practice, I realize how often I’ve not passed the test! Quickly, before I can feel shame, God takes my eyes to the title over Mark 4:21-41 “USE WHAT YOU HAVE”. What do I have, Lord? What have you given me? Lovingly he speaks to my heart, “My WORD!”
Lord, you teach me in so many ways that I am to depend on you, to trust you. You will supply every need. There is nothing physical, emotional, or spiritual I could ever require that you will not provide. When I live believing that, no matter the circumstance, my life has peace. When I forget and trust myself instead, THAT is when I get into trouble. Thank you for being with me everywhere I go. Too often I forget that and feel I’m battling life alone. Whenever I head down that road, You are always quick to remind me how much you love me. I am eternally grateful. In Jesus precious name, Amen