Now the descendants of Abraham were going to be able to enjoy living in the land promised to him so long ago. There were no more enemies to defeat. They were home.
Before they all went their separate ways Joshua spoke to them. Listen to what he said:
Be very careful to keep the commandments and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him, and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.
Jesus reminded us of Joshua’s words and added… love your neighbor as yourself
What is the purpose of our lives? What is the greatest commandment and the secret for happiness? We just read it today.
And by the way, it’s Easter Sunday morning. I attended the sunrise service at the pier on the ocean. Hundreds of us worshiped the risen Savior as the sun came up over the lighthouse. Was it a morning like this when Jesus walked out of that tomb? When the angel spoke those amazing words to the women… He is not here. He has risen as he said.
Dear friend, do we realize the truth in what we celebrate today? Jesus is alive. Really, physically, absolutely alive! What a privilege we have to love him with all our hearts and souls, to walk with him, to obey him, to hold fast to him and serve him.
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Joshua 19-21, I Chronicles 6:54-81
I don’t totally understand the cities of refuge and avenger of blood. It sounds as if, when a person accidently killed another there was someone who was assigned the task of getting even. But if the guilty person reached a city of refuge first he was safe. Kind of like a game of tag. As long as you are touching home base you can’t be tagged. But step away and you are fair game.
Spiritually speaking, we all have someone after us trying to tag us, to destroy us. Satan is in hot pursuit. He is waiting right outside our door.
God wants to be our city of refuge, our safe place, home base. When we are in His presence Satan cannot destroy us. Jesus said in John 10 that as the Good Shepherd, his sheep are safe. No one can snatch them from Him.
That tells me that as long as I stay close to Him, Satan can throw his best shot… but God will hold me strong. And Satan knows that as long as I stay in my city of refuge he can’t have me.
God, I thank you for being my city of refuge. May I stay in that safe place as I read your Word, as I go about my day in an attitude of prayer, as I obey you. Thank you for the assurance that Satan cannot snatch me from you as long as I am tucked away in your care.
Joshua 16:1-19:31, I Chronicles 4:24-33
Joseph’s family weren’t all that thrilled about their inheritance. They looked around and realized some of the other families seemed to have received more land than they. So they complained to Joshua. Give us more, they cried. Joshua says, If you don’t like it, if you think you need more, then put down the remote and get busy clearing the land you have. They replied, it’s too hard! To which Joshua said, get over yourself. Clear it. You can do it.
Ok. Maybe that’s not an exact quote from Scripture but you get the idea. Joseph’s family wanted to live comfortably in Canaan but they were unwilling to do what needed to be done to make that happen.
This Christian life is hard work. While we walk this earth there are things to do, battles to win. And each of us has a job to do no one else can do. If we want to live in Canaan we’ve got to cut down some trees. If we want that deeper relationship with the Lord we’ve got to cut out sin.
It’s a personal road we are on. And if we don’t do what God is asking we will never realize what it is like to fellowship with him on that deeper level.
Today is Good Friday, the day we celebrate the death of our Savior. Talk about a tough job. Jesus had to go to the cross. He was the only one who could do it. But he was obedient all the way. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame. The thing is Jesus WANTED to go to the cross. He set his face like flint, meaning he knew what he wanted and nothing was going to stop him. The joy that was set before him was me. It was you. It was all of us who choose Jesus.
Dear Jesus, thank you for going to the cross for me. You went willingly because you knew I would accept you as my Savior two thousand years later. I pray that I won’t be satisfied just to accept your gift of salvation without doing everything it takes to walk as close to you as I can get this side of heaven. Reveal the sin in me that needs to be cut down. And may I be quick to obey, for the joy set before me… the joy of having that deeper relationship with you.
Two people in these chapters made specific requests when the land was being divided among the Israelites. One was an old man. One was a woman.
Caleb, at 85, felt as strong as he felt when, as a 40 year old spy, he was sent in to see what the Promised Land held for the Jewish nation. Remember when he made his report he was the one who told Moses that they should go in and take the land from the giants. God promised Caleb a specific plot of land as a reward for his faith. Now Caleb is going to Joshua to ask for that land.
The other person was Caleb’s daughter, Acsah. She asked her dad to give her land with fresh water.
Both people got what they had asked for.
I think God wants us to be specific with our requests. What is my heart’s desire? It’s ok to ask. The worst that can happen is He’ll say no. But if He does, He’ll give us the grace to accept His answer. And anyway… He just might say yes.
God, as I lay my desires at your feet today, I ask you do with my requests as you see fit. Help me to trust you with the answers. And may my heart’s desires be in line with your will for me.
The Israelites took the Promised Land. City after city fell as the Jewish army swept in. God was obviously on their side to the degree that God gave them a full day… 24 hours of daylight so they could finish one of their battles. There has never been a day like it before or since.
One thing I noticed, God had promised them the land but He didn’t just hand it over to them. There were battles to fight, enemies to defeat. God went with them. But they had to go to war in order to live in the land.
Once the nation of Israel captured the last city God had given them, they enjoyed a time of peace. No more war. For the first time in their life time they had houses to go home to. They were finally where God intended them to be.
God would have us see that He is still in the business of destroying enemies. He still fights on the side of His people. And He will do whatever it takes to win… even go to the cross Himself!
Let’s let God help us defeat Satan in our own lives. He made the earth stand still that day. He died and rose again. Nothing is too hard for God and no enemy we face too strong for Him.
May we, like Joshua and the Israelites allow God to have control, destroy Satan’s hold, and may we enjoy the peace that comes from victory over sin.
Achan found out that there is no such thing as a secret sin. We may succeed at hiding it from the people around us but make no mistake. God sees and he isn’t ignoring it.
I don’t know what Achan was thinking but I know the thoughts I’ve had when I try to hold on to what I think is a secret sin. Thoughts like… it’s not that big of a deal, it’s not hurting anyone, I’ll confess it later, I’m entitled to a little fun.
I need to be reminded that those arguments are never from God. They are Satan’s attempts at keeping me from a right relationship with God.
Achan’s story also reminds me that my life and my choices affect those around me. The nation of Israel could not win their battles as long as Achan held on to his sin. I wonder what blessings, what victories have been denied my loved ones, my church because of sins I think I’m hiding.
God, reveal to me anything in my life that displeases you. May I lay it all before you so that you can cleanse me. I don’t want anything standing between us today.
God had parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross on dry ground during their escape from slavery in Egypt. Now he parts the Jordan River so the Jews could enter the Promised Land forty years later. Most of the people who crossed the Jordan were either too young to remember or hadn’t been born when the Red Sea parted. They had heard the accounts from their parents and Moses. But now they were experiencing the miracle for themselves.
Not only did a new generation of Jews witness the amazing power of God… but so did a new generation of foreign nations. 5:1 says the hearts of the Amorite kings west of the Jordan melted and they no longer had courage to go against Israel because of the power of their God.
Once again God chose the people of Israel to reveal Himself to the world. And once again I am challenged to allow God to do the same in me. Whether it’s the example of my walk with the Lord on a day to day basis, or the privilege of being a witness of God’s power in times of trouble. My prayer is that others will be drawn to God because they can see evidence of Him in me.
Deuteronomy 33&34, Joshua 1&2
Moses is dead and Joshua becomes Israel’s leader. He must have been a little concerned about his new responsibilities because three times God tells him to “be strong and courageous.” Then in Joshua 1:18 the Israelites tell him the same thing.
Be strong. Be careful to obey the law. Don’t turn from the right or the left. Meditate on Scripture. God reminded Joshua that real strength comes from God.
Be courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged. God will be with you wherever you go. Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
I am enjoying watching a couple of my nephews be dads. Often I look at their sons and see their daddies at that age. We like to vacation together and we always like going somewhere where there is water. And if you have ever been around little ones in water you’ll probably have experienced what I’m going to describe.
I have seen my nephews in the shallow end of the pool with their arms stretched, coaxing their young sons to jump in. I’ve seen those babies stand on the edge and look down at their dads from their safe place on solid ground. I’ve seen those children’s faces as they seem to consider the danger as they hear their fathers tell them it’s going to be ok. I’ve seen the fear in their young eyes even as they decide to take the leap.
But my nephews are confident they can catch their sons. They know what their sons don’t know. They know that they are strong enough to catch their children. And once my great-nephews experience the thrill of jumping into Daddy’s arms they want to do it again and again.
God is asking me to be strong and courageous. He wants me to know that underneath are the everlasting arms. I need only trust Him. If God is asking me to take that leap, He is able to catch me, too.
Dear Father, thank you for your everlasting arms that are stretched toward me today. Help me to know what you want me to do, where you want me to go. And may I have the courage, and the trust, to take the leap.
Psalms 90, Deuteronomy 31:30-32:52
Moses calls God the Rock. The Rock whose works are perfect (32:4), the Rock his Savior (32:15), the Rock is the Lord according to verse 30 and is greater than any other rock on whom people build their lives “as even our enemies concede”. (32:31)
Jesus told the parable of the wise and foolish men. The foolish man built his house on the sand (which is millions of tiny rocks by the way). But when a storm came the house collapsed. The wise man’s house, built on the Rock, could endure the worst storms because it’s foundation was strong.
We are all building our lives one day, once choice at a time. Some people try to build their’s on the love of a husband, wife, or children. Some on a career. Some on intellect or education. Some on having fun or even having a healthy body. Some may even try to build their lives on several different things. But remember… sand is still sand whether it’s one grain or millions.
There is only one wise choice… and that is to build our lives on the Rock, to have that right relationship with God, to be in His Word, to pray, to live according to His rules.
Storms will come. Life can be pretty difficult. Bad things happen. Am I building my life on the Rock?
Anything or anyone else will eventually fail.
Dear God, Moses recognized that You are the Rock. May we do the same. And may we make the choices today needed to build our lives on the sure foundation. May we walk with You today.
So if God knew the Jews would take the Promised Land, enjoy God’s blessings, then get comfortable and turn to other gods… why bother? I could ask the same thing about us. Because, isn’t it true that the more we are blessed, the better our life is going, the easier it is to pull away from God without even realizing it? Oh, when hardships come we are quick to pray. But we, like the nation of Israel, can neglect our relationship with God when one sin enters our hearts, then another and another.
So why doesn’t God just call it quits? Israel’s choices… and mine… serve to show the world who God is. And God is busy working in the hearts of unbelievers to come to Him. God doesn’t call it quits because people are still being saved.
Deuteronomy 30:19&20 spoke to me this morning. God has set before us life and death, blessings and curses. He asks us to choose life. He wants us to love Him and obey Him so He can bless us.
When Joshua was appointed leader of Israel God said this to him, “Be strong and courageous for… I myself will be with you.”
God, thank you for your promise to go with us and bless us. Forgive us when we get too comfortable and take you for granted. May we choose to obey you today. May we choose life.