Category Archives: Joshua

Joshua 24, Jeremiah 13, Matthew 27, Acts 4

In my Bible next to the passage in Joshua 24 is a handwritten note that says, “Christianity is just one generation away from extinction.” I have never understood that more than when I became a parent. The weight of carrying on a legacy of faith in our family is heavy on my heart. It requires thought, commitment, time, action. Joshua knew his life was coming to an end. He had lead God’s people for decades after Moses died. He followed the Lord’s commands and listened for His voice for direction. Now, he was questioning the people of God to see if they had caught on to his teaching and leading.

After reminding the Israelites of God’s mighty power and protection that they had received as a nation for hundreds of years, Joshua asks the people, not once, not twice, but THREE times whom they will serve.  Joshua said:

 

“Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.”  And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” Joshua 24:23-24.

Service requires commitment and action. We are called to put away (idols) and put on (Christ). We are to look different and act different than the world around us. Often, I find it difficult to hear the Lord because of all that goes on around me. Passing on the legacy of faith is not easy in any day and age but with the buzz of technology that distracts our hearts and minds, I find it increasingly difficult to teach my children to walk with the Lord. Idols are everywhere. They look shiny, they may even appear as service to the Lord.

As a parent, I look to God’s word to help guide me in teaching my children. Joshua was intentional. Not only in his personal walk with the Lord but in teaching it to the people he was leading. He did not take the job lightly. He lead by example and at the end of his life he challenged the people one last time and the people “caught” it:

Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.” Joshua 24:31

My greatest desire as a mom, is for my children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and to follow him all the days of their life. That to me is success! Reading further on in God’s word, the nation’s faith declines because they stopped following God’s commands and instead followed the idols of their time. It reminds us as parents and believers that we have must be intentional in passing on God’s word. Jeremiah reminds the people that we must walk closely with the Lord:

For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.” Jeremiah 13:11

Dear Lord, my greatest desire in life is that I do not keep my faith as my own but pass it on to others so that your name would be lifted high. Drown out the distractions of this world and help me to be intentional in my daily walk, clinging only to you. Amen.

Kate

 

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Joshua 11; Psalm 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

God instructs Joshua to decimate his enemies: hamstring the horses and strike down every breathing enemy–man, woman and child. It’s a blood bath…  the stuff of nightmares. These pages of the Bible leave me with far more questions about God than answers. Where is the God of grace and mercy that I cling to? But who is God if I disregard these pages? I am made in God’s image, not He in mine.

And what would Joshua think of the sanitized bubble that I live in? Perhaps he would be envious; war and violence are realities on television and far from me. Perhaps he would be appalled at my comfortable, complacent living.

David, also a man of war saw the horrors of war first hand and sings this: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the people under me… I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you, the one who gives victory to kings, who rescues his servant David.” Psalm 144:1,2…9,10.

It’s no wonder that the Jews didn’t understand Jesus. They were looking for a warrior king whose hands were dripping with blood and taking revenge. Instead, comes a king who says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 19:14  They wanted a kingdom that they could see, a kingdom where they would be in power.

Who is this God we serve? He can wipe nations from the face of the earth and yet calls the youngest and weakest to draw near to him. Are we are in a spiritual war that is just as deadly and God spares us the horrors of seeing all that is going on around us? Paul says as much and repeats the message God spoke to Joshua and the people of Israel: “Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12.

Dear Lord, keep me from being complacent and naive in thinking that what I see is all that is going on. May I be ready and not deceived by the evil one. Heal me from distraction and chasing from false idols so that I may be your woman and follow hard after you. 

Kathy

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Joshua 9; Psalm 140, 141; Jeremiah 3; Matthew 17

Josh 9:14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.

 

Matt 17:19-21  Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”

What is missing in both of these passages? I believe it is prayer.

In the first passage, the Israelites were deceived by the Gibeonites.   In fear of God and what he had done in Jericho and Ai, the Gibeonites did not want to be destroyed so they pretended to have come a long distance and that they were not a neighbor in the land of Canaan—the land God had promised to the Israelites.  I think because of their previous victories in these countries, there was a little pride in them.  They knew God was with them.  They looked at the evidence presented and believed what they saw and what the Gibeonites said.  So, they made a treaty with them not to harm them.  They swore by the name of God.  It tells us no one ever stopped to pray to God to see what He had to say about all of this.

In the second passage, the disciples had been healing people and driving out demons in Jesus name. Yet they faced one demon in particular that they were unable to rebuke.  The father was desperate and came to Jesus with his son when the disciples were unable to help him.  Jesus healed the boy immediately.  Later they asked Jesus why this one was difficult for them.  His reply was “Because you have so little faith.”

Paul tells us in 2 Cor 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (ESV)  I found this definition of what it means to walk by faith that really gave me a better understanding of this: To walk by faith is to walk in a spirit of prayerful dependence on the Lord and His guidance. (Commentary on Joshua 9, Bible.org)  It is how Jesus daily lived his life.  He was in constant contact with God and he tells us many times he does only what he’s instructed to do by the Father.  Prayerful dependence.

The Israelites believed what they saw and they were deceived. That can easily happen to us.  We have an enemy who wants nothing more than to deceive us and keep us from living the life God has planned for us.  We need the Holy Spirit to be active in our lives and that only comes from prayer.  Each day we need to be on alert.  We need to get our marching orders from God and never trust things to be as they appear.

The disciples started doubting their ability to do what Jesus had told them to do. What they had done for others was not working this time.  They were walking by sight (I can’t do this). Their faith was weak in the power Jesus had given them. Isn’t that just like something I would do?  I have been blessed by God to do something and soon I am trying to do it in my own power instead of including Him, by praying first?  And then I wonder why I am not succeeding?  I don’t believe Jesus was talking about a literal mountain in this verse (although he could have been) but I think he was referring to the trials we face–the ones that seem insurmountable, like mountains, looming before us.  When we are walking by faith, in prayerful dependence of God, we can handle anything that comes our way.  As Jesus said, “Nothing will be impossible for you.”  I fall short of believing in the power I have been given as well.  Without prayer, I have no faith.

Lord, sometimes I forget how very much I need you and try to live life on my own. It never works.  Instead of moving mountains, I keep walking around the same ones and get stuck.  Only through prayerful dependence on you can I accomplish anything.  Only by constant contact with you can I avoid deception.  Lord Jesus, be ever near.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

 

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Joshua 7; Psalm 137-138; Jeremiah 1; Matthew 15

How hard is it to understand the hand of God in my life?  How many times to I misunderstand the elements of my life and miss the message that He has for me?  Doubt is my enemy.  I do not take the time to examine my own life as the source of my struggles and instead, begin to wonder if the Lord has changed His mind or I have misread His directions.  I am no different than Joshua after his defeat at Ai.

Joshua said, “Ah, Lord God! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan! – Joshua 7:7 NRSV

I remember vividly the first time I heard Boney M sing By the Rivers of Babylon. I was sixteen, in Germany visiting my aunt and uncle, alone and missing my family.  My life up until that moment was used to singing songs to God in the middle of the night and crocodile tears were part of my nights ritual.  How many times I thought that God might have forgotten me.

By the rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.  Psalm 137:1 NRSV

This is why God’s Word is so powerful.  God’s call to Jeremiah became my call to intimacy with Him.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 NRSV

The Canaanite woman’s expression of faith became my model of perseverance and of hope.

“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” – Matthew 15:27 NRSV

Lord, I thank you for the power of Your Word in my life and for the hope that You give me in the midst of my own doubt as to Your presence in my life and to the purpose You have called me.  Without You my life would be lost.  Thank you for calling me every day to a new walk with You.  Thank you for Your grace that calls me and renews me each day to serve You.  May I offer to You today my life that You may use me to glorify Your name. Amen.

evanlaar

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Joshua 5-6:5; Psalms 132-134; Isaiah 65; Matthew 13

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; It grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31 NLT

I can still remember the tiny pin that my bible study leader was wearing. It had a mustard seed inside it. I didn’t realize how minuscule a mustard seed was until that day. She gifted it to me at a time when I was getting weary of my continual prayer request…week after week, for a house. It  spurred my faith on. So, I kept on asking. God answered. Not in the way I thought, but He provided a house for my family.

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Isaiah 65:24 : NLT

Even after I see God answer big prayers in my life, I can become forgetful. Sometimes my prayer life gets stagnate. I know in my head that God is faithful. Yet, I become like the Israelites and turn to other things. The summer bible study that I am doing says, “We often do everything but pray” (Beth Moore, Breaking Free).

The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars.” Isaiah 65:2&3 NLT

Because more than anything, I sacrifice peace when I fail to be in His presence. My belief in God’s promises can start to waiver. Instead of focusing on all of His miracles, I can become prideful and my heart can harden.

Where does he get wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers…Where did he learn all these things? And they were deeply offended and refused to believe him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:54-57 NLT

Thank you Father for pursuing me. Forgive me for when I look to other people and things to fulfill me. You are my only true source of peace. I want to be found in you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Joshua 22-24; Psalm 116; Luke 19

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Luke 19:5 NLT

I was thinking back on Kathy’s post from March 25, “I don’t need to scrape and fight to be noticed by God or man. I don’t have to prove my significance. God sees me in the crowd.” I’m sure that Zacchaeus felt overlooked, but Jesus saw him. He sought him out. Even though he felt unworthy… Jesus entered his house and his heart changed. Jesus showed him mercy.

Sometimes I think mercy is for others, but mercy is for me.

So many times, I think I have to have it all together before I can enter into His presence. Instead of admitting my need for him, I try to do things in my own strength. I don’t have to scramble to “clean up” before I invite Him in. He wants to come into my vulnerable places. He knows my weakness and loves me anyway. He longs to be with me. He bends down to hear my prayers.

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Please, Lord, save me!” How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!” Psalm 116:1-5 NLT

What if Jesus was a guest in my house? Is His presence felt now?

So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15 NLT

Dear Jesus, thank you for meeting me where I am at, but not wanting to leave me there. Thank you for pursuing me. For giving me hope. For always being with me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Joshua 5-8; Psalm 14; Luke 15

22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” 23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.

24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

I love the story of Rahab. It is a story of God’s redemptive power. Depending on the version you read she is described as a harlot or a prostitute, as well as an innkeeper.   We know from Chapter 2 that Rahab put her life on the line when she hid the two spies that Joshua had sent to scope out Jericho under the flax on her roof.  She knew that Jericho was going to be destroyed.  She had heard of God and all He had done for His people.  She believed He was God and she knew Who to trust!  Before the spies left, they promised her that everyone she brought into her house, her mother and father, brothers and sisters, and all who belonged to her, would be saved from destruction because of her actions.

Isn’t it interesting that everyone around her referred to her as a prostitute but that is not how God saw her. She was in THAT place at THAT time for a purpose.  We do not know the circumstances of how she got to be in her profession, but God did.  We do not know if she may have called out to “someone” in the dark of night to save her from the life she was living, but God did.  What we do know is that out of a town of people He planned to destroy, He saved her and those she loved!  The rest of the town was demolished, yet her house was spared.  The two men she had saved were the ones sent in to save her.  God had a plan for her life!

God saw something special in her—so much so that she is listed in the lineage of David. She was later married to Salmon, father of Boaz (Ruth’s husband the kinsman redeemer), Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David–a man after God’s own heart.  And we know Jesus comes from the lineage of David. What a family tree!!  If God can take a woman with the past Rahab had and restore her as He did, He can take our past and redeem us as well.  God has a plan for our lives; “a plan to prosper us, not to harm us.  A plan for hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11).  All we have to do is look at the life of Rahab as an example and trust Him to do the same for us.

Heavenly Father, there is nothing in our past that you cannot redeem. You take all our brokenness and turn it into something beautiful.  You see into our innermost being, the part we hide from the rest of the world.  Your compassion on us is overwhelming.  Thank you for your love, your grace, your mercy.  Thank you that you never give up on us.  You have given us examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary works in Your name.  We can look at these people and gather hope that their story can be ours—a story of your redemptive work in our lives.  In Jesus name I pray.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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