Thursday, October 28, 2010

living with mistakes

However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor.
Joshua 16:10

The tribe of Ephraim literally had to live with their negligent mistakes. They should not have been content with letting Gezer stay a Canaanite possession. I am sure that they felt that dominating the Canaanites there was as successful as driving them from the land. They were wrong. They would live with this mistake for generations. And it would become a problem for them and for the nation.

This was continued evidence of the nation's spiritual lethargy as they settle into the Promised Land. The book of Judges clearly shows the negative and painful consequences of these early decisions to not drive out the inhabitants of the land. The ESV Study Bible has this insightful note on Joshua 15:63:
Against the backdrop of so much success, the notice that the people of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem and that they dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day is disconcerting in at least two respects. First, it recalls Moses' repeated warnings against allowing Canaanites to survive and live among the Israelites (see notes on 6:17; 6:18). Second, it raises a theological question: how is it that the people of Judah “could not” drive out their foes? Surely the god of the Jebusites is not stronger than the God of Judah! This is not the first instance of failure to occupy (13:13), and it will not be the last. In 17:12 the Manassites are unable to occupy certain towns because “the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land.” In 17:16 the Ephraimites cite Canaanite possession of “chariots of iron” as preventing them from taking the plains. These statements seem to be in tension with the dominant theological conviction of the book of Joshua that “the hand of the Lord is mighty” (4:24) and with the divine promise to the leader Joshua that “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. … You shall cause this people to inherit the land” (1:5–6). Joshua himself seems to agree with this assessment, insisting in 17:18 that “you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.” Perhaps statements of what Israel “could not” do are to be read as early evidence of spiritual slippage—of failure to follow the Lord “wholly” (see 14:8)—which will become increasingly evident in the book of Judges.

The unfortunate disobedience by some groups of Israelites during the time of Joshua would later wreak havoc with the generations after them. There was little thought to this at the time. It makes me pause and consider that my choices today affect not only myself, but also my children. I would not want to make this kind of mistake, and then cause needless spiritual damage for someone else! That is why firm commitments to spiritual realities cannot waver.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

chasing away the giants

And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the descendants of Anak.
Joshua 15:14

The sons of Anak (anakim in Hebrew - "the long-necked ones") were valiant leaders and giants. Archeology has unearthed Hebrew skeletons from biblical times. Reconstruction of your average bronze age Jewish male puts him at about five foot five and a hundred and sixty pounds. The Anakim would only need to be a foot taller to be a difficult foe. But the text way back in the book of Numbers says they were giants. Caleb was one of the few people who thought Israel could take care of these big boys with God's leadership. He was right. He got to chase them off!

The way the text reads is interesting. Caleb drove them off. They ran away from an 85 year old Jew! Evidently they fled to Philistia (north of Israel) because later another scrawny Jew, a mere youth named David, fights Goliath who is said to be descended from the Anakim. The conquest of Canaan could not be complete without these giants being driven away. And it is fitting that Caleb did so.

Faith chases away the giants. That is the encouragement that I receive in this story. We all have our fears and various categories where we find it difficult to trust God... those are the giants. But faith in God's promise can provide the strength and commitment necessary to drive them away and find the peace that God can bring. It still requires action. Evidently Caleb led a campaign of his own with recruited troops and incentives to capture the territory he claimed (Joshua 15:15-19). But it was faith that gave him the courage to obey God's promise in the fight. That is how the Lord helps us fight giants.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

spiritual stamina

Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD, the God of Israel.
Joshua 14:14

Caleb makes me think of Popeye the Sailor. I can't say just why, but I think the old dude was pretty scrappy. Caleb was eighty five years old when he approached Joshua and asked to be given the region around Hebron as his family inheritance. Caleb was the only survivor besides Joshua of the generation that refused to accept the first invitation to take the Promised Land. Caleb had patiently waited for 45 years to see this day. And he asked for a tough assignment! Hebron was fortified and was known for its warrior class reputation. But Caleb at 85 was still strong for battle. And God enabled his clan to successfully gain the territory for themselves.

I would hope that should I be given the chance to live as long that I would be able to be the same way. But regardless of age, the lesson of spiritual stamina is the most important one. Caleb was able to live to see this day because he firmly believed God and exhibited strong faith in the midst of opposition. Frankly, anything he found in terms of Canaanite resistance was nothing compared to the spiritual resistance he had already witnessed and survived among his own people. His faith gave him the mountain country for his own.

And spiritual stamina does not sit back and wait. Caleb fought in the hill country against Canaan's fiercest fighters and the text describing it is short and matter of fact. He conquered the people and claimed what God had given to him. His faith was stable because God rewarded his unwavering commitment to His promises. And Caleb just kept believing God! That is the secret... just keep believing God.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Monday, October 25, 2010

a push & a promise

I myself will drive them out from before the people of Israel. Only allot the land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded you.
Joshua 13:6b

Chapter thirteen of Joshua begins with God reminding Joshua that there was still work to be done in the allotment and securing of the promised land. They had won all the major military victories against the strongest cities of the Canaanites. But they were still moving toward the final claiming of all God's promise. There was this last final push of the last half of the book of Joshua. Israel is encouraged by God to make the last efforts and promises them that the Canaanites left in the land will be driven out by a sovereign God.

The military subjugation of the land had been done for the most part. What was left was the settling of Israel into this land. That was going to take time... generations really. In fact, there was not really a full realization of all of this until David and Solomon reigned in Israel as kings. Until then, the nation claimed the promise of God and pushed forward.

From this point on in Joshua, Israel seems all too content to settle into farming and living. They have to be prodded to move forward, and even then, there are signs of incomplete obedience. They leave Canaanite clans in the land (Joshua 11:22; 13:13), which later prove to be a big problem for the nation spiritually and culturally (see the Book of Judges).

God never asks us to do a thing that He is not in for us. When He asks us to obey, He has provided the means to do so in Himself. When we must move forward, He will sovereignly drive away what is opposed to Him, even if we do not see it all at once ourselves. God does not rely on us to do anything, yet He does ask for our obedience. Obedience is about the relationship and not the power of God. We are the ones who grow in our faith and knowledge of God by obeying Him.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a summary of victory

And these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the people of Israel defeated on the west side of the Jordan...
Joshua 12:7a

This chapter is a summary of all the cities and kings that Israel defeated on both the east and west sides of the Jordan river. As such it represents a roll call of victory given to them by God. The conquest is not complete (there are still some cities remaining) but the territory conquered thus far does fit the boundaries of the Promise Land map that God had repeatedly revealed would be given over to Israel.

The power of every one of the cities was symbolized in the Canaanite kings. That is why the text lists the victories in the name of the defeated leader. This is a textual monument to victory given by God. It is a witness to the superiority of Israel's King, Yahweh, and His remarkable leadership in defeating these cities and obtaining the lands for His people.

A quick principle emerges from this chapter for me. It is the principle of review. It is good to have some way of regularly reviewing what God has done. In the case of Israel during the conquest, this list of kings became a way to regularly rattle off the extent of victory God had given the sons of daughters of nomadic former slaves. Just as Passover was a reminder of deliverance from Egyptian power, this list was a reminder of God's strength given to them to fight and claim what God had given. This summary and review is important. We must remember God's work for us because we tend to take credit for it ourselves! That is why the discipline of scriptural journaling is important for me. I am a proud man who wants to make my life my own achievement. But when I take the time to record what God has done and shown in me, I am giving the glory to God. And reviewing that regularly also keeps my proud spirit in check!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

rest, but not finished

So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.
Joshua 11:23

Israel is now in possession of the territory promised to them. From the physical description, north to south, of the Promised Land, they have covered the map and God has given them victory. Enough land has been taken by conquest to settle the tribes. This is the moment that this generation has been hoping for and trusting God to bring to them as they have fought to gain His promise. And now there is a chance to rest.

This moment comes not even at the halfway point of the book. So it is clear that there is still work to do. Joshua 13:1 makes it clear that there was still land to conquer and battles to be waged. But the difference was that now they could do so from settled positions in homes of their own. They could rest, but they were not finished.

God does provide that same sort of rest today. We are not finished until are work on earth is done. But we can rest in God's provision. I find that encouraging, because my experience is that ministry work never feels fully accomplished. There is always more to do. There are always hurting people. There are always complaints to hear and respond to in love. There are always difficulties and suffering to care for and places to discover God's purposes. There are always plans to be made, things to do, and people to see. So even though the work is not finished, God can bring rest. I may take that rest, but it does not mean the job is finished!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the battle on the longest day

The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel.
Joshua 10:13b-14

This was a unique and unparalleled event in world history. As Joshua rushes to the defense of the new Gibeonite allies in Canaan, God intervenes by answering the prayer of the general. The sun slows to a crawl at noon, and the daylight hours increase to twice their normal length. This is more than the summer solstice. This is divine intervention in the order of the universe. Somehow, God is able to slow the rotation and orbit of the earth enough to effect an outcome for His people Israel that He has decreed. The result is that the additional daylight hours give Israel enough time to route the armies of five cities.

Those opposed to any biblical faith attack this account as a heroic, fictional tale. They argue that there is no physical way that the events described could take place without the destruction of the earth. And from a purely naturalistic viewpoint that is true. But the viewpoint that the text takes is not naturalistic. It is supernatural. It says that the God Who rules and made the universe did this. From that point of view it is entirely possible. And the text goes out of its way to talk about the uniqueness of this event. No day has existed like that day since and no day was like it before. It was made by God for a specific purpose to answer the prayer of His servant. So naturalists may scoff. They always refuse to accept anything miraculous. But the point of a miracle is that it is an impossible violation of the laws of nature. That should be enough for those who know their God to accept.

God will stop the universe for His people, if that is what they need. He will bring glory to Himself in the vastness of this universe and in His exceptional control of it for His glory. The biblical text is full of these sorts of exceptional truths, and they always point to the God Who made us all. Miracles are meant to get us thinking about the greatness of God. They may come as answers to prayer. They are clearly seen in scripture, without any other explanation possible. And that is the glory of God at work.

There was another unusual day on planet earth. It was the day in which Jesus hung on a cross between heaven and earth. That day saw supernatural darkness descend upon the earth at the locus of a hill outside Jerusalem. There is a greater miracle than anything Joshua knew. It secured forgiveness. It brought the new life that comes to a person who has found forgiveness and becomes a new creation in Christ. It is secured by the resurrection from the dead of Jesus. And it rests on the most miraculous intervention that God ever made in human history: He became a man, yet without sin, to become our Savior, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. By all measures, the universe stands still at that event as well!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Monday, October 18, 2010

open for deception

So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.
Joshua 9:14-15

When reading chapter nine of Joshua, there is not something hugely tragic, just a sad realization that a lack of spiritual discernment left the nation of Israel vulnerable for deception. Things could have turned out worse. They still did not turn out well. The residents of a four city coalition, led by Gibeon, were aware of the reputation of Israel and how God had empowered the Jews in battles that had captured territory. They feared for their lives and decided to play a bluff against Israel. They outfitted a delegation to meet Israel, claiming to be residents of a far-off non-Canaanite clan. They begged for peace with Israel, well aware of their reputation. The leaders of Israel hastily fell for the trap, forgetting to ask counsel from God.

Three days later, when Israel discovered the ruse, it was too late. Outside these Canaanite cities they quickly discovered they had made peace with a people God had commanded them to conquer. The compromise they came up with was to force these deceivers into forced labor. The deceptive cities became the suppliers of water and fuel for Israel's armies. This kept the peace, honored the word of the leaders, and satisfied the Gibeonites. But it was ultimately less than what God had originally wanted for the nation.

The simple truth of this episode is that if we wander far from seeking God, we are open for deception. And I will keep the application simple for myself. I must not get out of the habit of regularly seeking God's truth in His Word. I must not get out of the relationship of daily prayer. It is how I hear from God and commit myself to doing what He shows me to do. If I let this slip, I open myself for little failures and big deceptions.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Thursday, October 14, 2010


And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.
John 8:34-35

This episode of worship comes after Israel has learned that disobedience to God brings personal catastrophe. After the defeat of Ai and the discipline of dealing with Achan and his sin, Israel returns with a new attack on Ai. Joshua uses the past defeat to his advantage, preparing a sneak attack behind the city, even as the frontal assault is small. Ai takes the bait, and the assault group pretends to flee, leading the men of the city to think they are again going to teach the Jews a lesson. Then, the large ambush contingent enters the city, and by the time the men of Ai realize this, the city has been burned and the ambush group surrounds them for their doom. Ai falls like Jericho did.

This is cause for celebration, but Joshua ensures that the celebration is focused in the right direction. He creates a renewal ceremony for Israel on Mt. Ebal. There a stone altar is erected, and inscribed on it are the law of God (probably the Ten Commandments). This simple stone monument is the permanent backdrop to remind Israel of their commitment. With the nation assembled around the base of the mountain, Joshua has the Law of Moses read aloud to the people... every blessing and every curse. This was the basis of the renewal.

There are times where such a renewal emphasis is vital in the life of a follower of Jesus. It is easy to let personal defeats resign us to spiritual depression. But God wants to empower broken people with His purposes and cleanse us from sin to be useful to Him. We just need to commit to His direction as revealed in His Word and submit to His Lordship over us. And the clearest place to find that direction and purpose is in the Bible. It is when I open the pages of scripture that I get insight into my need for regular renewal.

I tend to view the practice of regular written journaling as my stone altar. I believe that the discipline of daily reflecting and writing out my thoughts about what God is saying in His Word is a way of building a monument to the Lordship of God over me. Each page at a time, a stone by stone altar is built. Upon it I see my life given over to my Savior. It is regular renewal, and without it, my life would be really directionless and unsatisfying. And at times, gaps in my writings show my spiritual failure and lack of faithfulness to God. Yet every renewal is blessed by Him. When I go back and read through these journal entries, I am encouraged by the resolute faithfulness of God to me!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

sin in the camp

But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.
Joshua 7:1

This entire chapter is a vivid lesson in the unforeseen consequences of sinful actions. During the defeat of Jericho, God had commanded that valuables from the city be brought solely to the tabernacle to be devoted to Him. All of Israel strictly obeyed this order except for one man. Achan grabbed a fine robe, some silver, and a bar of gold and smuggled them out of the fight and into hiding in his own tent.

When Israel went next into battle with the small city of Ai, they were fiercely driven back at loss. They were at a loss to explain this other than they knew it was evident that God was not fighting with them as before in Jericho. God reveals to Joshua that someone had stolen what was due to Him. The nation is assembled to deal with this sin.

Achan's covetousness and lying led to big collateral damage. Thirty six of Israel's fighting men were killed at Ai (Joshua 7:5). The morale of the people was low. And their anger that one man's sin had so hurt the nation was palpable. I am sure none of those consequences entered his mind as he buried his war trophies in the sand of his tent floor. Sinning is never done with that much thought of consequence.

Achan's end is horrible. He does confess once confronted (Joshua 7:19-21), but by then his punishment is assured. His entire household is stoned and burned, along with his stolen stuff, in the valley of Achor (Joshua 7:22-26). To this day his story serves as a vivid reminder of the destructive influence of direct disobedience to God.

And that is the part of this story worth considering. All I have to do is look at my own heart. I am capable of similar spiritual treachery. I am a sinner who can be consumed with my own selfish desires. I am a broken person who could blame my sinful choices on a host of outside forces. Instead, I must always own my sin and throw myself on God's mercy. When I bury the actions and consequence of sin, hoping God does not see it, I am just setting myself up for more consequences and pain down the road. Confession gets the truth out. And God's forgiving grace exists for me in Christ. I may have consequences for my sin, but I don't have to worry about Achan's end being mine because I am forgiven in Christ. He took the punishment and chastisement of my sin in His death on the cross. And He rose again to assure eternal life and abundant living for me right now.

Sin is never a thing to take lightly in my heart. That is a sin in and of itself. A life of confession is a better experience all the way around. It saves me from living a lie that will always unravel under God's careful and pure scrutiny. I suppose it boils down to the fact that I would rather be a sinner living in regular confession, repentance, and faith than a sinner who hides it from others only to have it revealed later in dramatic ways by God, when the pain and consequences are greater.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

God will do the hard work.

So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.
Joshua 6:20

Jericho fell, not because the ancient Israelites created some kind of special sonic cannon with their trumpets. The wall fell because they obeyed God's directions and God honored their obedience by visiting the battle with His great power. The city was already in fear of Israel (Joshua 6:1), and as the walls collapsed, just like the morale of Jericho's citizens, Israel rushed in and finished the work God asked them to do. But they never had to take as much as an icepick to the walls of Jericho. God did the hard work.

When I read this story, it makes me wonder just how much I need to recognize all the hard work God has done ahead of me. It is not always readily recognizable. But He does. In my ministry of counseling, I have many opportunities to share with hurting people how much God is doing for them, and how much Jesus has given them through His death and resurrection on their behalf. They are looking for hope. It is found in Christ alone. And there are times when I get to see people trust Christ for eternal salvation. It is not because I am some kind of effective evangelist. It is all because God does the hard work. He allows certain circumstances to break down their walls so that I can faithfully follow with the gospel and see the rescue take place. This is to me just as powerful as any bronze age battle that God's people lopsidedly won!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Monday, October 11, 2010

God is glorified by the non-miraculous

And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
Joshua 5:12

The generation that entered Canaan under Joshua had grown up eating manna. For many of them, it was the only food they had known. They had lived their entire lives trusting in God's morning provision of miraculous food in the desert. But when they crossed over into Canaan, covenanted with God at Gilgal, and celebrated the Passover, all that changed. They began enjoying the fruit of the land. And the manna ceased.

This was God's will for them. They would no longer be the recipients of a daily bread that defied the laws of nature. Instead, the world in which they lived which had been designed to feed them through the routines of agriculture would do so. It was God's will that the non-miraculous define their lives. And this was equally a testament to God's provision as manna in the desert.

Personally, I believe that God's will is to lead His people in this way. He could certainly intervene and do all over the third world what He did for Israel in the desert. Think about it... wouldn't manna from heaven be a terrific solution to world hunger? And the evangelistic opportunities that would emerge from it... people would be drawn to something supernatural. But that is not God's design. He insists on humanity's resources (which are abundant) and the food of the good earth (also abundant) be distributed by hard work and care to those in need and hunger. God is glorified most by caring Christians making the difference using the resources we work together to grow and distribute to the needy. It is in the wisdom of His design that a water cycle exists, that soils can be maintained as fertile, that we have the knowledge to improve crops and farms, and that we have the means to store, preserve, and distribute food globally.

It is in the everyday stuff of this world that we need to see God. And it is in that daily, normal routine that we must come to Him and find His spiritual provision. It is in the stewardship of each of our individual lives that He is glorified and known. If we are waiting for a miracle, instead of serving in the moment, we might just be missing the kind of relationship that is as old as God's design for Israel eating from the fruit of Canaan in obedience to Him.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Remembering God's Greatness that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.
Joshua 4:24

At the beginning at the end of Joshua 4 there is an account of the building of a simple stone monument on the banks of the Jordan River. Composed of 12 simple stones, it was meant to provoke a question from future generations: "What do these stones mean?" And the answer provided an opportunity to instruct that generation on the greatness of God Who delivered Israel. It also served as a means to witness the the entire nation, and even the world of what God does.

I have that chance to invest my life in these kinds of memorials. Not stones, but lives. Every life that I see transformed by the grace of Christ is just such a standing witness to the greatness of God. I remember God's greatness with each growth and victory, each answered prayer, each way in which we were there with each other in struggles and difficulties. It is a beautiful monument and inspiration.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

God will do amazing things

Then Joshua said to the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you."
Joshua 3:5

This was how Joshua prepared the nation of Israel for the crossing of the Jordan. It was harvest time, and the river was overflowing its banks. Yet God decreed that now was the time for Israel to cross into Canaan. And as the priests marched toward the water, it heaped up on each side. As the nation marched across, the priests stood on dry ground.

I tend to only think of God in these abilities and in these terms when reading a miraculous account. But they are meant to draw me to worship of a God Who works mightily in His people. I don't want hype to surround these kinds of things like they do with the charismatic element of the church today. God seems more wondrous than Benny Hinn makes Him out to be.

But I don't want to ever fall into the trap to think that God cannot work mighty deeds. I have a lot to think about here. I have been in a dry desert too long, and it seems impossible to think of anything else. But God will part rivers and provide and make a way for me to follow Him beyond this point. I just have to consecrate myself to that and know it will happen. So I feel chastened, and humbled, and ready to consecrate my heart to a God who does wonderful things.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why Rahab was spared

And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.
Joshua 2:11

When the Israelites prepared to conquer Jericho as the first strategic city to be taken in the conquest of Canaan, two spies entered the city and their lives were spared by a professional prostitute. It does not seem to fit all the neat standards of righteousness to have a women with that reputation part of the story. But it is nonetheless the messy way in which God's sovereignty intersects with human history. And God gets the glory.

Why were Rahab and her household spared in the destruction of Jericho? Because they were influenced by the spiritual reputation that preceded Israel. Rahab believed that the God of Israel was the Maker of heaven and earth and believed in HIs work in Israel. She was a God-fearer. And God seems to have sovereignly brought the two spies to the one person best suited for saving their lives: a prostitute in the midst of a journey toward God.

This story kind of makes me stop and wonder. Instead of being so personally judgmental, perhaps I should stop and look for ways in which unbelievers are responding to God in some fashion. The men knew enough by her actions and by this expression of her faith to promise to spare her life in the upcoming campaign against the city. And that grace led to her becoming a proselyte to Judaism, as well as a future contributor to the bloodline of people who would lead to the earthly parentage of Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world (Matthew 1:5). The New Testament goes on to commend her as a woman of faith (Hebrews 11:31) and a woman who is an example of good works (James 2:25). Truly God's reputation can change the reputation of sinners!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

Friday, October 1, 2010

strength & courage wherever you go

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.
Joshua 1:9

The opening charge to Joshua is meant to be more than just God's private encouragement to an important leader. It served as a charge to all of Israel. It was a call to serve God in a unique and challenging way during a unique and challenging time. It was not a call for the apathetic to hear and ignore.

God wanted leaders, and a nation of followers, that were strong and courageous. They would need strength and courage to fight the battles and claim their inheritance in the Promised Land. They would be tempted toward fear and lack of faith, just like their parents had before them when they stood at the border and failed to trust God. They would need the reminder that God was always with them in the hardships of the battle and in the joys of victory.

The military nature of the conquest of Canaan makes Joshua a unique bit of Old Testament history. But it also has tons of spiritual treasure worth exploring. We cannot be literal in how we apply it... at least not in the sense of killing people over territory. We can be blessed by its call to courage and strength... characteristics still needed in the call to stand up in a culture that often defies God and definitely no longer holds to biblical values.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13