Friday, January 31: Judges 3- Grace and mercy.

What a sad cycle Israel falls into. First Israel sins. Then after things get really bad because God’s anger burns and God allows an enemy to rise up and oppress Israel, Israel cries out to the Lord and He saves them.

We see this cycle two times in full in this chapter and a third time referred to without details.

How crazy is this repeating a cycle of sin, oppression and cries for help? And yet this cycle dominated this chapter (and will dominate this book).

Initially, I thought about the graciousness of God to continue to rescue His people. Would I do that for a child who, over and over again, got into deep trouble and cried for help?

But then before long my thoughts shifted to my world. Don’t I, to a lesser extent, do this? I sin, then when consequences mount, I ask God for help. It is not exactly the same, but there are some similarities. And I always assume that God will be there for me with grace and mercy, in hand, welcoming me back. I love the parable of the Prodigal Son!

My heart sings for grace and mercy of which I have been and continue to be a recipient of, in great measure

Lord, if I have presumed upon Your grace and mercy, please forgive me.

If I am living to greater or lesser extents in this cycle of sin, punishment and only after the consequences get too much to bear do I call out for salvation, please show me the way out. I pray in Jesus, my Savior’s name. Amen.




Thursday, January 30: Judges 2-passing the faith along.

Yesterday ended with many tribes not clearing the land of the Canaanites, which God had commanded. Today the chapter opens with God angry with them because of the sin of disobedience.

My immediate thought was that God is angered by disobedience. Yes, disobedience has consequences.

Then I kept reading and verse 10 struck me as a partial ‘why’ the people were acting as they were. After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.

The disobedience of Israel was not simply that they didn’t dislodge the Canaanites, but that the next generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Those words are quite an indictment!

It is not even that the next generation rejected the Lord, but that they didn’t even know Him. The fathers and mothers were not teaching, and apparently not living, in a way that would teach the children who the Lord was. And there is a veiled comment that they weren’t observing the regulated feasts either. Since the feasts, in and of themselves, taught who the Lord was.

I immediately shifted to our world.

·         Am I teaching the next generation who the Lord is and what He has done with my words and with my actions?

·         Do I celebrate Christmas and Easter in ways that communicate the message of the Lord?

Lord, I want so much to honor You. Am I honoring You in effective ways? Do my words match my actions? Does my life match Your teachings? Do my celebrations of Your feasts celebrate You, who You are, and what You have done? Or do they celebrate the secular ways of my culture?

Help me, Lord, to discern answers to these and similar questions in order to change my life to be more faithful. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, January 29: Judges 1- Working together.

Judah and Simeon joining together caught my eye as I was reading this morning. It is mentioned in verse 3. Then the men of Judah said to the Simeonites their brothers, "Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours." So the Simeonites went with them. The story goes on to explain the victories of Judah.

The chapter closes with this tribe and that one, who did not drive all the enemies out of their territory. It hit me that the tribes that tried to do it alone failed in dislodging the enemies but Judah, and presumably Simeon, were successful.

Working together increases our strength.

Judah was wise to propose this alliance with his brothers.

I pondered how God made us into a body and we need the other parts of the body to be successful. And it is not simply that we need the other parts, we are better off working with the other parts.  Because when we work together we have a more complete set of gifts, abilities, and help.

I am often a ‘do it myself’ kind of person. God seems to be pricking my bubble and inviting me to work in partnership more. How about you???

God, thank You for brothers and sisters in the body. For those who can come along side and help. Lord, it is not simply their physical efforts but their emotional presence that is such a gift. Help me to reach out and take advantage of Your gift of the body more. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Tuesday, January 28: Joshua 24- the lure of other gods.

       And so the book that bears Joshua’s name, as well as Joshua’s life and ministry, ends with a call to Israel to be faithful to the Lord! Twice Joshua pounds home his call and twice the people respond.

"Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD" (14-15).

And then a few verses later as Joshua sounds his call again the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the LORD." Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the LORD." "Yes, we are witnesses," they replied. "Now then," said Joshua, "throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel." And the people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and obey him" (21-24).

I was surprised to see that in both instances Joshua demands that the people throw away the foreign gods that they had (I bolded the words above). For decades in the desert and now years in the land, many of the people, despite repeated vows to the Lord, have kept foreign gods. Really!?! Some gods were apparently brought from Egypt, others were picked up from their travels or from conquered peoples.

This caused me to think about how easy it is to pick up the foreign gods of the people around me. Faithful as we might be, it is easy to slip a little of this and a little of that from the surrounding cultures into our lives. Then before we know it, pockets of devotion to gods, other than the Lord, pop up in our lives.

Joshua has incredible godly wisdom to call the people to throw away the foreign gods they have invited into their lives. It is a practice that would be healthy for all of us to engage in from time to time.

I spent some time examining the cultural ‘foreign god’ that creeps into my life… I bid you to do the same.

Lord, where have I allowed beachhead of competing gods to be established in my life? Sports allegiances? Money and materialism? Personal comfort coupled with lack of care for the poor? Sin and bitterness harbored?

Lord, I open my pockets… examine me and see if there is any wickedness in me. Excise any wickedness that I might live for in order to honor You with my living. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, January 27: Joshua 23- A call to faithfulness.

As Joshua, now an old man, winds down his leadership of Israel, he issues a strong and clear call to continued faithfulness to the people of Israel.

Verses 6-8 capture the heart of Joshua’s call: Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have until now.

In my spirit I hear the Lord issuing a similar call to me, to us.

From time to time it is good to be called to continued faith and faithfulness. This morning is one of those mornings for me. It is as if Joshua’s words, modified for my 21st century situations, spoke directly to me:

Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not pick up the beliefs and lifestyles of non-Christ-followers in your community; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve the gods of this world. But you are to hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have until now.

Lord, I hear Your call. I open my heart to Your call. But I know that I cannot obey Your call on my own strength. Thanks be to You! You have given me, and all Christ-followers, the Holy Spirit. Grant me strength to listen to Your spirit and to obey His promptings and leadings.

I pray this in Jesus’ name, knowing this is the only way I can obey Your call. Amen.


Saturday, January 25: Joshua 22- A job well done.

As I was reading, I kept thinking how faithful the Reubenites, Gadites and half tribe of Manasseh had been. For years they have been warring with their brothers as their families lived in the land of their inheritance.

It is time to go home after a job well done!

I started thinking about finishing well.

Many people start well, but the mark of a person is to finish well. Finishing well requires dedication, ‘stick-to-it-ness’ resolve and many other traits.

God longs for all His people to finish well.

Finishing well requires us to live well each day. I can dream about finishing well, but what I have to do is live well today, and then every today until the Lord brings me home.

A friend of mine lives by the motto: Faith-Focus-Finish. His goal is to finish well. And so is mine. How about you?

Lord, help me to live well today and to resolve to live well each and every day! This way, Lord, I will finish well. To Your honor and glory, I pray. Amen.



Friday, January 24: Joshua 21- God makes good on His promises.

Verse 45: Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

I was growing bored reading about this land allotment and that one. Even reading about some of the military victories seemed boring. But when I read verse 45, it occurred to me why the writer gave the detail. He was giving examples that proved verse 45 true. Every one of the Lord’s promises was fulfilled. And that is a truth worth shouting about and writing about in DETAIL!

I need to know this.

I need to know this because it is the foundation for me to trust God and His promises.

I need to know this because otherwise my hope in God and His promises is simply wishful thinking at best or delusional at worst. But it is not. God has been fulfilling His promises from the beginning right through to today.

The greatest fulfillment was Jesus, who came to save all who believe from the wrath of sin and usher them (us) into a family relationship with the God, as Father! And this is only one of God’s many promises.

I started pondering some of the promises of God:

·         Salvation and eternal future with God in heaven

·         God’s presence 24/7/365 through the promised Holy Spirit

·         Spiritual gifts, not for my own sake but for the sake of the common good

·         Peace, particularly wonderful during times of trouble…

And so the promises rolled in my thoughts. And God has/will fulfill them all…every single one of them!

Now this is a thought that will carry my meditations throughout today!

Halleluiah! Amen! Thank You, Lord. Bless You, Lord.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above you heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.


Thursday, January 23: Joshua 20- Justice preserved.

In a world where there is no centralized justice system and the law of ‘an eye for an eye’ was given to curb and control payback vengeance, the concept of the city of refuge was a huge step toward fair and balanced justice.

Truly Israel was a light to the world.

The value of life is evident in the implementation of the cities of refuge. Wanton killing is curbed. In the case of an accident, the one who killed or maimed another had a place to go until the truth could be revealed and his/her innocence proven. This right is accorded to every person, no matter their age, sex or nationality.

God cares about life. Rich, poor, male, female, young, old, citizen or alien, all human life has dignity and value. Cities of refuge offered protection until guilt or innocence is proven.

God cares about truth. Often it takes time to uncover the truth.

Evil/violence/sin was to be punished. People guilty of a crime could not use the cities of refuge as a ruse. Oh, they may gain a little time until their trial would happen, but when found guilty they would be turned over to the avenger of blood for punishment.

Accidents happen and an accident was not treated the same as a malicious act of violence.

There are lessons here that still serve the world well…

Think about it. I am.

Lord, thank You that You stand for justice, fair, unbiased, truth-driven justice. May I be fair, unbiased and truth-driven in all my dealings with others in my world. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, January 22: Joshua 19- More than enough.

Verse 9: The inheritance of the Simeonites was taken from the share of Judah, because Judah's portion was more than they needed. So the Simeonites received their inheritance within the territory of Judah.

The words above in red caught my attention as I read today’s chapter.

When was the last time I released, let go of, or gave away something I had which was more than I needed? Answer: rarely.

How about you?

The text is silent concerning Judah’s role. Did they willingly give the land away or was it a directive from Joshua and the leaders? We don’t know.

Whatever the original situation, the whispers of the Spirit, in my spirit, go back to the question I asked myself above. When was the last time I released, let go of, or gave away something I had which was more than I needed?

My meditations moved to the practical:

·         I have more clothes and shoes than I need.

·         I have closets full of all kinds of stuff that is more than I need.

·         I have more books than I need.

·         I have more tools than I need.

I have a choice about what I will do with my excess. And so do you…

Lord, why is the thought of giving MY stuff away so hard? Lord, why am I so possessive of my stuff, or is it that my stuff possesses me? How is it, Lord, that this meditation is so troubling for me?

Lord, my heart is exposed… and what I am seeing in me is painful.

Help me, Lord. Help me. Amen.


Tuesday, January 21: Joshua 18- No playing favorites.

Everyone gets an inheritance. Joshua is making sure that everyone in Israel gets their inheritance. By using lots, Joshua seeks the Lord, makings sure that the Lord chooses the inheritances. No favoritism by Joshua.

That last sentence clicked in my mind. God’s Word is quite clear in James’ letter (see James 2:1ff) that we are never to play favorites, favoring the rich over the poor. Within the family of God there are no favorites. Different people with different gifts fulfill different roles, but one person is not “better” than another person.

I thought about how easy it is to play favorites. Oh, I might not use that language. For example, I find that I am drawn to people who are like me. Without meaning to, I can play favorites, by looking past people who are different than me.

This passage and the words of James have me examining my life and how I operate with others in the family of God and even outside God’s family…

Lord, am I hurting Your body by the way I treat and do not treat others within Your family? Am I allowing favoritism of any flavor sneak into my life? Forgive me, Lord, and show me how to defeat this ungodly character flaw in my life. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, January 20: Joshua 17- Working the system, or at least trying to.

I am confused by the tribes of Joseph –Manasseh & Ephraim. At one point they are not strong enough to oust the Canaanites who occupy some of the cities in their inheritance. Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely (12-13).

Yet later in the same chapter these tribes are complaining that they need more space because they are so big. Joshua notes that they are both numerous and powerful. But Joshua said to the house of Joseph--to Ephraim and Manasseh--"You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment  but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out" (17-18).

So which is it? Were they numerous and powerful?  And if so, why couldn’t they defeat the Canaanites?

I never figured out how to sort this out, but it did get me thinking. We are not always consistent as people. One day we can be acting big and strong, and the next asking for help. As I think about this I wonder, “Is our ‘act’ what will get us the most from whomever we are speaking to or working with?” We humans are good at ‘working the system’ to get our way.

Could Ephraim and Manasseh just be trying to get the most inheritance?

Whatever the actual situation with the sons of Joseph, this chapter reminds me that I can try to ‘work the system’ with people and even with God. I might not ‘lie’ but I don’t necessarily tell the whole truth. And what I leave out tends to make my case stronger.

I am seeing how duplicitous I can be…

Oh, God, You are exposing me for who I am; a man who desperately needs a Savior. A Savior who can save me from my selfish and sin-filled ways.

Lord, I fool myself sometimes into thinking I am pretty good, as if being pretty good earns me something. It is mornings like this that remind me how unrighteous I am behind the good acting veneer!

It is mornings like this that remind me how much I need You and how much You have done for me. I am left humbled and blessing You, my Lord God.

Praise be to You for Your grace and mercy and love. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, January 18: Joshua 16- .

I read the chapter this morning and sat with it for a while but nothing settled into my heart. As the day passed, I kept thinking about the last verse. It was gnawing on me.

They (Ephraim) did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor (10).

They did not dislodge. The words “did not” bothered me. I wondered if they tried and if so, how hard they tried. It is not that they ‘could’ not drive them out. It was that they ‘did’ not. Was it laziness, was it disobedience? What was it?

Ephraim would be one of the larger tribes of the northern kingdom when it revolted from God and the southern kingdom. I wondered if their not dislodging the Canaanites was the seed disobedience that eventually grew in their rebellion against the Lord.

This got me thinking about how small seeds of disobedience can lead to much larger disobedience if they are not repented of and confessed.

Lord, search me. Are there small seeds of disobedience in me that I do not see? If so, Lord, please show me, so that I might confess them. Amen.


PS: The next morning I was listening to Psalms as I was working out and I came across Psalm 78, which confirms my thoughts about Ephraim. Here are a few of the verses from Psalm 78 that caught my attention.

Psalm 78:9-11: The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God's covenant and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them.


Friday, January 17: Joshua 15- Inheritance.

Joshua describes in detail the inheritance given to Judah

It got me thinking about the inheritance we have through faith in Jesus.

Abundant life this side of eternity, not abundance in life, but abundant life. The kind of life that can make a difference. The kind of life that can know God even as we are known by God. The kind of life that experiences peace in any and all circumstances.

Mercy and grace. A life that rests in what God has done for us, rather than striving and working to make one’s life pleasing to God. The kind of life that rests in Jesus’ finished work on the cross rather than one’s personal piety or religious good works.

Relationship with God. The ability to connect with Father God at any moment and every moment. The kind of life that can know God’s voice, hear God’s whispers and enjoy talking with God, no matter life circumstances.

Then after this world is over, we get to enjoy being in the presence of the Almighty forever and ever in heaven with all the saints.

And these were only the first few elements of inheritance that I thought about as I spent some quiet time with the Lord today.

Thank You, Lord God, for the great inheritance that You have given. I don’t deserve any of these. Thank You. Bless You. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, January 16: Joshua 14- Keeping One's Word.

Caleb’s story is one of keeping one’s word. Caleb kept his word.  He was faithful to God when he spied out the land and then all the years in the wilderness and initial battles for the Land. And the Lord kept His word, granting Caleb the land promised.

Keeping our word… that’s what I am hearing from the Lord as I read this morning. God wants us to be people of our word. When we speak we mean what we say. When we say ‘yes’ to something we follow through.

As I sit here this morning, I am reviewing the many times I have given my word and the many people to whom I have given my word. Would these people say I am a ‘word keeper’? Would recent history show I am a ‘word keeper’? Hopefully so. But even if our lives have been less than stellar in the ‘word keeping’ department, I can begin today to carve a new legacy… a legacy of ‘word keeping’.

Think about it…

Lord, help me to be a Caleb, a faithful man who lives in a way that honors You and will do what I say I will do. And, Lord, should You grant me 85 or more years, may I get to the end of my earthly life with vigor in my step and faithfulness to You as my legacy. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, January 15: Joshua 13- Provision and presence.

I found myself considering the inheritance Israel was given by the Lord. First and foremost there was the Land. This promise goes way back to the covenant God established with the patriarchs. The land is really the gift of provision. Through the land God provides for Israel. God provides food and living. God provides a home, territory, a place to reside. God provides a platform from which to extend His name and His glory throughout the world.

God also provides presence, His presence among them. We see this in the inheritance of the Levites. But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the offerings made by fire to the LORD, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them (14). The offerings, the gift of standing in God’s presence to offer sacrifices, was the inheritance of the Levites. This is the gift of presence; they were invited to regularly stand in God’s presence representing the people! The gift of presence is also seen in the tabernacle and eventually the temple, the dwelling of God among His people.

Provision and presence.

God continues to offer these inheritances to His people. God provides grace, mercy, gift and every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:5) to His people. Along with this God provides His presence, not located in a single physical dwelling (tabernacle or temple) or in a representation of people (Levites). No, now God offers His presence to every one who through faith in Jesus Christ becomes a child of God. Jesus’ presence, the presence of Immanuel –God with us- is given to each believer through the presence and power of the Spirit. Everyone who is in Christ has the Spirit (Romans 8:9).

I found myself thinking about and thanking God for provision and presence. What wonderful inheritances these are!

Lord God Almighty, thank You for providing. I cannot possibly list all You have provided. I see Your gifts in my family, health, job, ability to live, love and know You. Thank You does not seem to say enough, yet I don’t know how to say it more clearly.

And I also bless and thank You for Your presence. To know You are with me every moment of every day, 24//7/365. I don’t know how to say thank You for this gift. I can speak with You at any time. I can sense Your presence whenever I pay attention. I can listen for Your voice anytime I open my ears.

Thank You and Bless You, Lord God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Tuesday, January 14: Joshua 12- Remembering.

It is good to remember the deeds and blessings of God. In today’s chapter, Joshua lists all of the kings defeated by Israel. Like the Bible as a whole, this chapter provides a record of the exploits of God and through whom the Lord worked.

I found myself thinking we don’t do very much of this today. We don’t record or list the works of God in a way that we can pass down His ongoing story to generations that will follow us.

I recall standing in an old, old church in the UK. There was this one wall, which had a list of all the pastors. I think there was also a date by the person’s name. I remember my ‘wow’. God had used all those names to do His biding and lead His church over the centuries. One interesting feature is that this particular protestant church had names of rectors that pre-dated the reformation. Though the reformation is often seen as a major divide in Christendom, I don’t recall any particular demarcation. This particular church stood on the foundation of the men who served her as leaders.

I remember being impressed. I saw, in that list, God at work throughout centuries. I saw God using His people to lead His church. I saw that it was not the work of one key person but rather the accumulation of efforts of many people who brought that church safely into the present. I remember thinking, there could be other lists: a list of elders, of deacons, of missionaries, of women’s aid societies workers, of sextons, of…. the Church is built on God working through so many, many people.

God is working His-story (History). Are we recording it in a way that allows us to tell the generations to come what God has done?

God, help me to tell Your story and to tell it well. I pray in Jesus’ name and for His kingdom’s sake. Amen.


Monday, January 13: Joshua 11- One final battle, for now.

Joshua chronicles the final battles as Israel secures the northern portion of the land. God is with them and the victories are decisive. Plunder fills their coffers as they wield the sword of God’s judgment against the people of the Land.

Years of battle are coming to a close, soon the inheritance will be deeded out and the people can settle into living in their land.

I thought about their years of battle. Leaving families, life in harms way, long marches, and lonely nights in the field or exhausted after battle.

I want God’s blessings but don’t often think about working for it. I want God just to give it to me. Yet, here and throughout Joshua, God expected His people to work for land He would give them. And God constantly tested their obedience battle after battle.

There is a lesson in this for me. God may (often does) require me to work for the blessings He will give.

I long for maturity… Daily spending in time in God’s Word; listening for His leading and following God’s voice are part of the works I need to do to grow in maturity.

I long for patience… God often puts me in situations that test my patience so that I can grow in patience.

And so my life with Jesus goes. He teaches and leads me in to situations where I need to flex my faith muscles and as I do, I grow in faith.

Thank You, Jesus, for being with me. I pray that my life makes a difference for Your kingdom. Teach me what I need to know so that I can be effective for your kingdom, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, January 11: Joshua 10- Miracles, might, obedience and persistence.

Thanks to the Lord, His leading and power, Israel continues to subdue the land and capture its inheritance.

There is, however, no set formula for success. Each victory, each advance is fueled by the Lord, but the particulars for each campaign change. Israel cannot be lulled into a pattern, thinking all we have to do is “x” and we win. They win when they keep communication open with the Lord and do as He directs for that particular campaign.

In this chapter alone Israel experiences a great miracle. Has there ever been a day before or since when the sun stood still in the sky almost a full 24 hours? (13-14). But even before this miracle, God directed the Israeli army to march all through the night and then to engage in a battle for the full 24-hr day the sun never set. This took extraordinary dedication and strength by the men of Israel’s army. This was also the day Joshua found the enemy kings hold up in a cave. Instead of halting the battle, Joshua captured the kings but pursued the remainder of their armies. Obedience and more dedication!

Persistence is evident in verse 29-43 as Joshua and Israel continue their campaign throughout southern cities.

In all of this, God was with His people and they were with Him! It is a two-way street of listening and obedience.

I realized as I pondered this chapter that following Jesus is much like the life Joshua and the army lived. I need to constantly be connected to the Lord, listening and obeying. As I do, each day will vary. Some days faith in Jesus calls for long hours and extraordinary dedication. Some days require valiant effort. Others need God to show up in miraculous and unexpected ways for the things God wants me to accomplish to be completed. And still, other days God might ask of me something very different and out of my comfort zone.

When I wake I do not know what the day will bring. Listening and obedience is essential every day and all the day long.

Joshua, thanks for the lessons this morning.

Lord, I am Yours today.  What would you have me do and when? Amen.


Friday, January 10: Joshua 9- When we don't inquire.

The point of the Gibeonite story is quite clear and is delivered in verse 14. The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.

Joshua and the people of Israel trusted their human wisdom but neglected to inquire of God. And they got burned, duped, fooled.

God invites us to come to Him with any questions, thoughts, problem, dilemma, and decision. Two verses come to mind quickly.

Matthew 7:7-8 (Also Luke 11:9): "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

James 1:5: If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Joshua and the gang didn’t do this.

This passage raises the question in my soul, “Do I regularly inquire of the Lord regarding various decisions? Or do I just jump in with my best wisdom?”

This is a great question to wrestle with today.

Lord, thank You for always being there. Thank You for leading and guiding and for sending promptings when I don’t consult with You. Help me, Jesus, to rely less on only me and to come to You for the wisdom I cannot find on my own.

Praise You, Lord. In Your name, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, January 9: Joshua 8- Sin atoned for is sin forgiven.

Israel begins this chapter with a clean slate. There is no carry over effect from the sin of Achan. God’s blessings flow. God is with Israel’s army. Not only does Israel win the battle decisively, their wealth increases since they are allowed to keep the plunder of the city.

I realized as I read this account that sin atoned for is sin forgiven, is sin removed, is sin wiped clean.

Other scriptures flowed into my thoughts, which taught the same.

1John 1:9 is a favorite: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Then there is Psalm 103:11-12: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

I began to think about Jesus’ atonement that paid for my sins and for the sins of all who believe in Him as Lord and Savior of their lives. Our sin, all of our sin, is atoned for! We are forgiven. God sees us forgiven, clean, restored.

What a gift!  What a great and wonderful gift!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above you heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen!




Wednesday, January 8: Joshua 7- A leaders role.

As the account of Achan’s sin unfolded I found myself wondering, should Joshua have known? The last sentence of verse 1 kept replaying in my thoughts. So the LORD's anger burned against Israel (1b).

I am not wondering if Joshua, as leader, should have known one of his privates stole something. Rather I’m wondering if Joshua, as leader, should have known that God’s anger burned against Israel. Did Joshua get cocky after the Jericho win and fail to seek the Lord before taking on Ai?

The text is silent on this. Joshua did handle the situation appropriately once it came to his attention. But I am still wondering if Joshua missed a step or missed an indicator from the Lord before he sent men to attack Ai.

I am not trying to blame Joshua for the loss of 36 men in the battle of Ai. I guess I am wondering if leaders have a greater responsibility to seek and in turn be with the Lord more than the average person.

And so I wonder.

James 3:1 comes to mind. Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. Does the ‘judge more strictly’ indicate that leaders have a higher level of accountability? And so I wonder…

No answers from the Lord today, just a lot of wondering.

Father, Spirit, Son, as I wonder today about leaders and responsibility and other things, please speak. Answer the wonderings of mine that will move my faith deeper. Keep me pondering other wonderings where the added thought will drive my faith deeper.

Lord, lead me to places of deep trust, deeper obedience, deeper connection and deeper love for You. This I prayer in Your mighty name. Amen.


Tuesday, January 7: Joshua 6- A test of obedience.

The capture of Jericho is certainly strange militarily. What general would design this battle strategy? A person reading this account can see the hand of God. There is little doubt God was making Himself known in the battle of Jericho.

And yet, as I read the account this morning, I also saw the obedience required by Joshua and the people of Jericho. The crossing of the Jordan certainly solidified Joshua as Israel’s leader, demonstrating his connection to the Lord. But Jericho was his first military campaign, and the strategy he explained to the people was crazy from a human perspective.

Had God given it? Joshua and the people would only find out through obedience… seven days of obedience!

God, it seems, was testing Israel’s obedience and God was testing Joshua’s obedience.

I thought through a number of Israel’s leaders…Moses, Joshua, Saul, David, Solomon, Reheboam, etc. Each man faced a situation early on where their heart was exposed and their obedience tested. Those who ‘passed’ rose in prominence. Those who failed (i.e. Saul and Reheboam) failed.


Obedience is key…

Am I, are you, passing God’s obedience test?

Lord, David refused to kill Saul, God’s anointed… he passed. Saul didn’t wait to sacrifice the offering as Samuel instructed… he failed. Solomon asked for wisdom rather than riches… he passed. Reheboam refused the advice of the wise confidantes of his father choosing the reckless advice of his peers… he failed.

Lord, give me grace to choose obedience today and every day. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Another thought hit me, obedience is not the same as perfection. Each of the leaders above sinned, but David would come to his senses and repent after his sin. Solomon, who strayed from God much of his life, repented toward the end and came home to his Lord.

Obedience is key, but repentance is always needed because none of us are perfect. None of us.

Lord, thank You for the gift of repentance and forgiveness… Hallelujah. Amen.



Monday, January 6: Joshua 5- Pledges made; Promises kept.

What an interesting chapter. If I think about it from Joshua and the people’s perspective, I see promises made. Then again if I look from God’s perspective, I notice promises kept.

Here is what I saw in the texts.

Circumcision and the celebration of the Passover involve pledges and promises made by the people to God. In circumcision, the people pledge fidelity to the Lord. Faithfulness brings blessing, unfaithfulness curses. In circumcision the people are shouting, “We are Yours, O Lord!” Celebrating the Passover, the people are recalling God’s faithfulness and saying only by the Blood of the Lamb are we saved. The eating of unleaven bread is a sign of fidelity to the Lord, “We will do as You say, our Lord.”

Flip to God’s perspective. The chapter opens with the peoples of the Land shrinking in terror before the Lord because of the miraculous crossing of the Jordan. God promised to go before them and He has! Then we have manna stopping only after the people have eaten the fruit of the Land. Again, this is a promise kept by God. He sustained them by manna and now that they are in the Land.  They eat of its bounty and no longer need manna. A promise kept.

This chapter speaks to me of my life, too. Pledges and promises made to God and promises kept by God.

God is always faithful to His promises. I am less so. And yet God’s love is great, far greater than I deserve.

Praise be to the Lord! God, my God is faithful. As He was to Joshua and the people of the OT, so He is to me and the people of the NT. Praise be to the Lord…


A second reminder. I must be vigilant to the pledges I have made to the Lord…

Lord, I run hot and cold. I am faithful and faithless. Forgive me, Lord, when I turn from You. Restore me, Lord, that my mouth might praise You and my life be a worship offering to You.

Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, January 4: Joshua 4- Reminders of God's wonders.

I find something special about the account of taking the stones from the middle of the Jordan and making an altar or maker of the event. It is good to remember what God has done. But the stone memorial was more than a memory device for those who crossed the Jordan. It was also a curiosity piece so that future generations would ask what it was and then people would have the perfect opportunity to tell the story to younger generations.

In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever" (6-7).

What a great idea…

I started thinking about markers we have to tell God’s story…

My wife collects crèches. We have them from many parts of the world. We have fancy ones and ones for play. Some day, when we have grandchildren, we hope these crèches will be a way to tell our grandchildren the story of Jesus’ birth.

My church has 2 distinctive crosses… one outside the main door and one right in front of the pulpit on the platform. Sometimes these crosses give an opportunity to tell people the story of Jesus’ atonement. (Admittedly though, because the cross is so common a symbol, it doesn’t often attract the curiosity I imagine it once had.)

I am wondering what I might do to create some unique visuals that might allow me to share the story of God with others…

If you have an original idea, please email it to me…

Lord, telling Your story in creative and visual ways, creating markers that incite curiosity by new comers or future generations is such a great idea. But honestly, I don’t have much creativity in this department. Help me to come up with some so that I can enhance my telling of Your story.

I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, January 3: Joshua 3- Amazing.

What a way to begin!

There are certain dramatic moments and miracles in the Bible that amaze and this is one of them. These Israelites have never seen anything like it. Born during the wilderness, wandering for years, they heard stories of the Red Sea crossing. But they were not there. They did witness military victories, but nothing like this. They did receive manna every day, but that is all they knew. They never knew planting and harvesting, so quite possibly, it was none-to-special for them to harvest manna every day. But a river stopping and doing so when the priests touched the water, that’s a miracle to remember!

I love the line, they crossed over on dry land. I wonder what that line specifically means. I like to walk the beach at the waters’ edge. When a wave goes out, the sand is wet and cushy. Was the river bottom like that or was it firm and dry, like dry land? I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter… but I do wonder.

More importantly, this miracle was a loud and clear communication to the people of the Land that Israel, protected by her God, was coming. One map I consulted showed the town of Adam about 20 miles upstream. All the people for those 20 miles saw the river dry up instantly and the people of Adam watched as the waters piled up (16). What did those people think? What did Jericho think realizing that Israel was crossing right by them?!

This was a miracle for Israel but it was also a broadcast to the peoples of the Land.

It was also a communication for Joshua. Like his predecessor Moses, Joshua’s leadership was established by a great water crossing. What this did for Joshua’s faith must have been amazing.

Thinking about this event has increased my profound awe of God. In one action, He communicates so effectively to many different people. The more I pondered, the more I found praise of God for who He is and what He does rising within me…

Lord, I found myself remembering many things I have seen You do, things in my life and things around me for others. Thank You for being real and for really being interested in Your  people. Thank You that Your miraculous power is available and on display as You advance Your kingdom around the world.

I pray for missionaries and brothers and sisters who are on the vanguard of Your kingdom.  I pray for, people who are on the front lines, so to speak. I pray that You provide breakthroughs and miracles that advance Your name into presently unreached areas and people groups. Praise be to You, Lord God Almighty. Amen!


Thursday, January 2: Joshua 2- God at work between the lines.

Some days as I read God’s Word, my heart and thoughts latch on to specifics, a particular incident here, a comment or phrase there. Today was different. I found myself considering God’s work in the larger picture; the things God was doing behind the scenes to bring about the outcome He desired.

For example, the two spies happening to connect with Rahab, who apparently was sympathetic to them.  He was wise enough to come up with a plan on the fly to keep the spies from harm.

Another ‘God-working’ was that the people of Jericho were talking about the Hebrews and all their God had done for them. Some of the things Rahab mentioned that were being talked about on the streets, happened over 40 years ago!

Then Rahab’s plan worked and the spies, after almost a week of hiding, made it back to Israel safe and sound.

Too often in life I am so focused on the here and now, I miss the BIGGER picture, the many ways God has been at work for years… decades… longer, orchestrating events for His glory and the advance of His kingdom.

First thing, I sat in awe of God today and the way He works often quietly in the background.

Another thing I pondered is that I am never sure how a word spoken or our life lived might be impacting someone and we don’t even know it.

In the midst of these thoughts a whisper came… “Live so that your life points to Me. When you do, I can use your life to make a positive difference in other lives…”

Lord, I pray that my life in Your hands does make a difference. So that in small or big ways, You are able to use me as You used unnamed spies or the prostitute Rahab. All to Your glory Lord.

Lord, as this new year gets started, I offer my life to You as a Romans 12:1-2 offering. May how I live be a fragrant offering to You, my Lord and King, Savior and God. Amen.


Wednesday, January 1: Joshua 1- Faithfulness to God first.

Most people I know want to be successful. Most people I know want to prosper. Many people I know want to make a difference for good and some want to make a difference for God in this world.

The Lord gives Joshua the first steps toward success, prosperity and becoming a difference maker in one’s life… Check out verses 7-8: Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Growing in understanding of and obedience to the words and instruction of the Lord… these are the critical first steps. God actually makes this point 3 times in cascading succession:

·         Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you;

·         Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

·         Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful

Once wisdom from God is gained then it will take strength and courage to toe the line, to live as God directs and to do the things God asks you to do. But one’s core (fidelity and faithfulness to the Lord) better be solid before we attempt courage and strength.

Given that today is the first of the year, the whisper of God into my heart was clear. What is my plan to consistently be in and grow from study, meditation and reading of God’s Word?

Seriously, do you have a plan to grow in God’s Word? This is step one in living a meaningful life…

Lord, give me strength and courage to create and follow through on a study plan of Your Word. And as I do this and grow in knowing You and Your ways and Wword, I pray for assignments that will make a difference in our world. A difference for You and for good in our world.

Lord, I am signing up to be part of Your kingdom advance in 2014. Teach me and I will do what You would have me do, no matter what!

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.