Tuesday, January 31: Joshua 22- Lessons in the art of living.

As I was reading this account I observed some mini-lessons in the art of living… The Israelites were people just like we are people and the problems that plague us plagued them and vice versa.

The problem of assumptions… there is a lot of assuming going on in this story. The 2.5 tribes assume that the rest of Israel might forget them so they acted in a way that seemed reasonable to them. They built an altar of remembrance. However, the remaining tribes saw the altar and assumed it was for sacrifice not remembrance and almost went to war to destroy the assumed evil. Assumptions are like that, they create problems that are not present or they read situations through a len that isn’t accurate. Had the tribes spoken about the issues instead of assuming and reacting, this entire chapter could have played out very differently.

The power of face-to-face communication… fortunately the tribes on the west of the Jordan chose to send the priest and tribal leaders to confront and talk with their brothers rather than simply react. Talking saved the day. War would have been devastating to the people of God. But in talking –true listening and speaking –they heard the truth and were able to let go of their assumptions and allow cooler heads to prevail.

Face-to-face communication doesn’t always save the day. Sometimes deep differences exist and sometimes these differences cannot be easily settled. But when the differences are built on faulty assumptions repair is generally readily available.

As I step back from these thoughts I realized that the Lord was speaking to me about the importance of relationships. Whether in families or church or small groups there are people problems and God is reminding me that talking them out and working to repair is always the best solution. Acting on assumptions and rushing to judgment never helps diffuse situations.

God longs for us to live in relationship with one another and with Him. And relationship takes work!

Are there any relationships in your life that need to be repaired? God is asking me this question, too…

Lord, Thank you for the people You have placed in my life. Help me to do everything I can to keep those relationships healthy. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, January 30: Joshua 21- The promises of God are sure.

All Israel has received her inheritance. Every tribe has their land or their cities. And so the chronicler of Israel’s memorializes God’s great deeds with these words:

So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled (43-45).

My heart alights to this sentiment… Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled. I, too, feel so blessed. I have not yet received my ultimate inheritance –eternity with the Lord in the glory of heaven. But every promise short of that one has been received.

I know the joy of God being with me… His burden is light. Nothing in life has been able to separate me from the love of Christ Jesus, my Lord. The trials I have endured have worked for my good and my growth. I have seen doors open allowing me to spread His light that I never could have imagined. I have felt the blessing of God in countless ways.

Yes, I pronounce with the author of Joshua, all the LORD’s good promises [have been] fulfilled.

God has kept His Word…

Have I kept my promises to the Lord? This question erupts within me. It sparks moments of self-evaluation...

Lord, search me and know me. It is so easy for me to justify me. I need the pure light from Your heart to show me my true self, to see how much I truly need You, my Savior and my Lord. I fall so far short of Your desire. I don’t measure up; I sin and still You love me, care for me, fulfill Your promises to me and forgive me.

I will sing of Your blessings. I will sing of Your love and mercy and grace. I will sing of You who saved my life, who redeemed me from the pit and adopted me into Your family.

I will sing of my Lord God –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Halleluiah. Amen.!



Saturday, January 28: Joshua 20- .

Cities of refuge are a powerful concept. In life stuff happens and sometimes the stuff is an accident. Should a person die because of an accident? Most of us from a neutral non-involved position would say, NO.

I believe God thinks so too.So He set up Cities of Refuge. In a rough and tumble world where the next of kin could exact punishment for a bodily harm crime up to ‘an eye for an eye’ God establish safe towns. Cities of Refuge were towns where fugitives who believed themselves innocent could flee until a neutral assembly studied the case and gave a judgment. 

Another great stroke of justice God established in Israel…

My pondering turned on the above sentence and I began thinking about the Lord and His pension for justice and His character of love and mercy and grace.

The Lord is the great God… and I sat marveling at His greatness and His character.

Lord, I am so blessed to know You, to have had my eyes opened to the wonder of who You are. To have had my heart strangely warmed to You.

Thank You for opening my eyes and opening my heart to Your person, Your way, Your love. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.


Friday, January 27: Joshua 19- Every tribe an inheritance.

Every tribe received an inheritance. The Lord skipped no one.

I thought the same is true to this day. Every believer receives an inheritance. This side of eternity every one of us who follows Jesus receives the Holy Spirit and along with Him spiritual gifts through which we can serve our Lord by serving people in the world. And on the other side of eternity, we receive life with Him for eternity.

Question is, ‘will I develop the inheritance I have been given?’

Israel was given land but they had to develop it. There were some cities and town but Israel had to develop the rest, build roads, more cities, plant vineyards and tend all of it. Inheritance is given but we need to maintain it and make the most from it.

Am I maintaining and making the most of the inheritances I have been given?

Are you?

Think about it, I am…

Lord, I am Yours… my life, my breath, my gifts, my abilities, my body, my limitations, my frailties… I am Yours. I place myself at Your disposal. Use me Lord for Your honor and glory. Amen.


Thursday, January 26: Joshua 18- Gift and responsibility.

So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given you? Appoint three men from each tribe. I will send them out to make a survey of the land and to write a description of it, according to the inheritance of each. Then they will return to me (3-4).

The Lord gave Israel an incredible inheritance… the Promised Land. God hand brought them in. God’s hand gave them victory… the Land was gift.

But along with the gift comes responsibility. This responsibility plays itself out in many and different ways throughout our walk of faith. Israel it seems lost initiative. They were waiting for the silver platter rather than seizing the Land the Lord had given them. Through Joshua’s words God seems to be spurring Israel on to take initiative and step into the promise the Lord gave.

As I ponder this there is a fine line in the dance of cooperation with the Lord. As believers we need to press into every gift the Lord gives… work at it, grab hold of it, and use it to God’s glory of course. But then again, we don’t want to run ahead of God into places and uses for which God has not prepared or called us.

It is owning our salvation but understanding it is gift. (Work out your salvation with fear and trembling Philippians 2:12)

It is seeking to advance the gospel, but always listing for God’s open and closed doors (see Paul’s call to Macedonia, Acts 16)

It was taking the Land but remembering it was by God’s power not their own.

Every gift of God comes with responsibility to use it and to use it by faith following the constant lead of the Lord through open and closed doors.

Am I taking responsibility for my salvation? Am I working at and for my spiritual growth… all the while understanding that God shows the increase?

Hmmm things tot think about. How about you???

Lord, guide me in the dance of following You. To have the constant faith to listen and follow while having the hutzpah to go for it… I pray in Jesus name. Amen.


Wednesday, January 25: Joshua 17- A surprise allotment.

In the patriarchal world of its time, Joshua following the Lord’s lead made a surprising ruling. Now Zelophehad … had no sons but only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, “The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our relatives.” So Joshua gave them an inheritance along with the brothers of their father, according to the LORD’s command. (3-4; see Numbers 27 for more history and the Lord’s ruling on this).

The Lord reiterates what He spoke to Moses. These daughters were to have an inheritance.

I realize this unique exception does not mean all daughters were equal with sons in inheritance law, but still I cannot ignore how revolutionary and counter-cultural this ruling was.

In literature this could be considered a foreshadowing… in the New Testament Paul under the leading of the Lord writes So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:26-29).

God sees a human heart, not which color, gender or human status the body it is in holds.

Lord, give me Your eyes as I see people. I pray in Jesus name. Amen



Tuesday, January 24: Joshua 16- Am I lazy with my inheritance?.


They 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).

I wondered about this sentence. Did it represent laziness or outright disobedience? By leaving Canaanites in the Land, Israel ran the risk of becoming religiously polluted and drawn away from the Lord by the Canaanite practices. Whether these particular people actually helped lead Israel astray I do not know. But I do know that Israel was led astray by many foreign religious practices.

Making them forced labor sounds like a helpful compromise, but was it a compromise from what God instructed? I think so… And compromise from the instructions of the Lord is disobedience.

I wonder if I compromise on some of the gifts and inheritances God gives to me? I wonder if I am lazy about using the gifts and inheritances the Lord gives to me?

Hmmm… some worthy thoughts to ponder and consider as I go about my day today.

Pierce my heart with Your truth, O Lord. Truth about Your greatness, love and mission and truth about me as Your child. Show me where I need to grow and mature as Your son, Lord. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.


Monday, January 23: Joshua 15- Individually known.

Each tribe received their own inheritance. Chapter 15 is the inheritance of Judah. The thought of individual inheritances sparked my thinking.

Within the overall inheritance for the people of Israel, Judah received her own special allotment. With forethought the Lord gave Judah the land He had in mind for her. And isn’t that how God treats all of His children. God gives to each of us precisely the gifts He wants us to have. These gifts allow us to do the things God has for us to do and be the kind of people God wants us to be.

God knows us individually and His gifts are chosen just for us.

Do you know the gifts God has given to you? If so are you using them for His honor and glory???

Thank You, Lord for the gifts You have given me. I pray that I am using them to bring You honor and glory. Through Jesus Christ my Lord’s name I pray. Amen.



Saturday, January 21: Joshua 14- Faithfulness rewarded.

I need heroes, men and women who stand firm on their convictions, who follow through when the tide is against them and who trust in the Lord with all their strength and will. I am particularly inspired by those who do this over a long haul. Long haul heroes inspire me far more than one-hit wonders.

Caleb is a hero… a long haul hero, a recognized leader in Israel who gave a faith-filled report after being sent out on a stealth assignment to scope out the Land God was giving Israel. When his fellow spies caved, he remained strong and for the next 40 year he held to his faithfulness.

Now as Israel is receiving their inheritance of Land, Caleb alone –the lone survivor of his generation, I might add –gets his reward, his pick of the Land.

The Lord rewards faithfulness. This is the message that shouts loud and clear to me this morning…

Lord, I desire to be a long-haul hero, someone who is faithful his full life. 40+ years I have now walked with You and I don’t know how many more years this side of eternity I have. My prayer is for strength, wisdom, tenacity, and faithfulness for the rest of my days.

Lord, I pledge anew my life to You. Right now with all the strength I can muster I say to You, I am Yours… I will go and do what You would have me go and do. And, Lord, on those days when I feel weak of heart, remind me of this prayer, rise up within me, Oh Holy Spirit, and spur me on to faithfulness and good works for Your kingdom sake. I pray this through the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Friday, January 20: Joshua 13- Inheritance.

As a parent, one of my hopes is to be able to leave to my family/children some kind of inheritance. Emotionally I hope to leave them an example of faithfulness and fun in life that would inspire them to their own faithfulness to God and enjoyment of His world. I also hope to leave them a physical inheritance, some money, property and/or stuff that would give a boost and value to their lives.

With chapter 13 we begin to see God parceling out His inheritance of land to His family, Israel. This fulfills a promise God made to their forefather Abraham.

Two thoughts rush into my thoughts… God is a promise keeper and inheritance marks us as His.

God is a promise keeper. The Lord gave His Word to Abraham and then reiterated it to Isaac and Jacob. God watched over Israel during years in Egypt and even during the wilderness wanderings. Now God’s time has arrived to parcel out His promised inheritance.

God keeps His Word.

When I think of the many promises still to come, among them eternity with God for all His people, I smile. God will keep His Word. I can stake my life and hope on that!!!

Inheritance marks us as His child. Israel received the Land. That prompted me to consider what we receive as inheritance. First of all we receive God, the Holy Spirit, as a guarantee of our inheritance (read Ephesians 1). God places in every Christ-follower the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of God Himself with us. What a gift!

And looking forward, all His children will receive an eternity of bliss and perfection with Him at the center in heaven. I won’t collect on this portion of my inheritance until I pass from this world to the next, but it is as sure as Israel receiving the land because God keeps His Word!

So I sat and pondered these things as I watched and read about God dolling out the Land to His people.

Lord, pause this morning, thanking and blessing You… You keep Your Word. What You say You will do, You do! Thank You. You are the Rock on which I can and will build my life. You are tried and true and secure. Praise be to You, Lord God!!!

You have also blessed me with Your Holy Spirit, You are with me every step of life. The Spirit guarantees my inheritance to come in Your eternal kingdom. I am blessed and overjoyed. And I lift my ear to You. I am Yours… Through Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.



Thursday, January 19: Joshua 12-When God is on the move things happen.

Not a particularly exciting chapter, basically a list of defeated kings.

I thought, ‘when God is on the move things happen.’

Hmmm, when God is on the move, things happen… my thoughts exploded with examples.

·         Israel marches out of Egypt and the Red Sea parts.

·         Israel enters the Promised Land and the Jordan River pauses.

·         A shepherd boy walks out on to a plain with 5 smooth stones and defeats a gigantic warrior with a sling.

·         A crusading Jewish ‘want-a-be’ is knocked off his horse, comes to faith in Jesus and becomes the great apostle Paul

·         A wild living rhetoric professor comes to faith and grows to be one of the most influential Christian voices of all time, is set in his course –Augustine.

·         A monk, Martin Luther, nails his 95 Thesis to the Wittenberg Door.

·         A British statesman takes on the slave trade and within 70 years British slave trade is ended and the movement ripples across the Atlantic into abolition.

·         Jonathan Edwards preaches ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ and a great awakening breaks out in New England.

·         Mother Teresa, William Carey, Jim Elliot, names and deeds flood my thoughts…

When God is on the move things happen. And I haven’t even touched upon smaller regional moves of God. A former missionary, Dave Phillips, accepts a call as Pastor and a small congregation of loving people begin to burn with the light of Jesus Christ.

I began to wonder, where do I see God on the move today? And even more importantly, what might I do to join God and His movements?

When God is on the move things happen… join the movement!

Lord, where can I join Your movement today? What would You have me do to help push Your kingdom forward. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, January 18: Joshua 11- Ditto, Exclamation point!.

Sometimes God wants to put an exclamation mark on a lesson He is teaching. Today is an exclamation point day.

Yesterday’s message was repeated for me on a grander scale. The northern kings banded together believing this was their best defense against God and His army. They came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots—a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore (4). Describing the king’s army as ‘as numerous as the sand on the seashore’ seems to be a deliberate play on the promise given to Abraham back in Genesis.

The message seems clear, even an army equal to or larger than God’s people stands no chance. It is not God’s people, but God Himself, through His people, who fights the battle and wins. The battle is summarized in few words… underlining that a battle against God is never truly a battle. The outcome is never in doubt. The Lord wins… decisively!

The account pricks my heart in a couple of places.

First, God wins. A long time ago I heard an interview with Dr. Billy Graham. One of his lines has stuck with me since that day. Billy said something like this, “I have read the end of the Bible, God wins.” How true that is. No matter what happens to me personally, God wins and all those in God’s family will be with Him forever in His victorious kingdom.

Two, this leads to my second heart-prick: it is not about me; it is about the Lord. As much as I take solace in being on God’s side –the winning side –life is not about me, it is about God’s name and ultimate victory. I may die for the cause. I may be wounded. I may be part of the decisive winning battle. I do not know and it does not truly matter. What does matter is that I fulfill the role the Lord has for me and that I do my best in serving Him.

I live to serve the Lord and this is the end of the matter…

Lord, God, I stand before You today, reporting for duty. Send me, Lord, to do Your bidding… I am Yours, Lord. I am Yours. Through Jesus, my Commander and Lord, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, January 17: Joshua 10- God wins.

Today in my reading I was reminded that human alliances, no matter how strong they may be, will NEVER stand up against the Lord. When a battle happens, God wins. End of story.

I drifted from Joshua to Revelation where the armies opposed to the Lord. In this final battle God wins.

Next I drifted in my thoughts to Jesus word that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18).

God wins, God wins, God wins…

After writing these last words, I realized that God wins; not me, not any one person, but God wins. I am a foot soldier in the Lord’s army. I might be asked to give my life for His cause… but it is a cause that we can be certain God will win.

As I sat priorities shifted within me… God is central and my role is to serve and honor Him. Joshua marched, not because he was some great man, but because the Lord said, “March.” Joshua and Israel fought, not because they had some master plan to take over the Middle East, but because God said take the land.

The story, then and today, is not about any particular leader of God’s people, it is about the Lord Himself… about the fame of the Lord spreading and people coming to love and serve and follow Him.

Perspective must be maintained. I live to serve the Lord…

To You, Oh Lord, I pledge my life, my love, my all. In Jesus’ name and for Your sake, Oh God, I live and pray. Amen.


Monday, January 16: Joshua 9- Spreading God's Fame.

It seems to me that a prime teaching of this chapter happens in verse 14 when the author records that the Israelites did not inquire of the Lord, as a result, they made a poor treaty with the Gibeonites. I have mused and written on that in past years. So as I entered today’s reading I asked the Lord for another insight. I found my heart drawn to verse 24:

They answered Joshua, “Your servants were clearly told how the LORD your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this (24).

Long before there were news syndications and modern modes of mass communication, the Lord had no trouble spreading His fame far and wide. The Gibeonites knew what the Lord was up to and, therefore, they knew that they were in real trouble.

I started thinking… the Magi of Christmas fame knew God was up to something and traveled to see the baby in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1). Paul was introduced to Jesus through a vision (Acts 9:1). Cornelius was told directly by God to send for a man named Peter (Acts 10:1). Even Romans 1:20 explains that creation speaks God’s fame. Still to this day I hear of dreams and visions leading people to Jesus. A number of friends in Africa have told me stories of dreams and visions leading people to conversion.

There are times when God acts directly to spread His fame. He, after all, is God and can do whatever He pleases. But generally God works through His people. Even in those situations where He acts independently, His people come into play confirming and teaching the whole counsel of God’s Word.

My thoughts drifted to God’s Will of making disciples throughout the entire world. We, the people of God, remain God’s primary mode of communication. In those rare instances where God has spread His name, independent of our efforts, we are needed to confirm and teach more fully the counsel of God.

Slowly the question formed in my thoughts, “Am I playing my part in spreading the fame of God’s Name?” Are You? 

Use me, Lord. I am willing to be transmission wires, or simply a pole to hold up your transmission wires. Use me in the best way You choose to spread Your fame in all the world. Through Jesus, and for the sake of His advancing Kingdom, I pray. Amen.




Saturday, January 14: Joshua 8- God's orders, Joshua's tactics.


Over and over in the Bible God empowers people to do great things in His name. Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. Jonah preached in Nineveh.  Joshua captained Israel as they took the Land. Sometimes God gave explicit orders how to do something. Other times God gave the objective and left the tactics up to His people.

This is true to this day.

The Lord had given His Church the objective to disciple the whole world.  He has left us plans to accomplish this.

In today’s reading, God told Joshua to take the whole army and attack Ai; He, the Lord, would deliver Ai to defeat. Joshua came up with the tactics of ambush to execute God’s objective.

Being a person of the Spirit does not mean we are automatons who act only as robots for the Lord. God has given us gifts, abilities, talents and a brain, which are at our disposal as we follow the Lord. Yes, the Lord may provide the tactics as well, and when He does we are to follow and obey. However when He does not, we are to use our best judgments.

So what objectives has the Lord placed on your heart? How can you use your abilities to advance God’s kingdom around the entire world?

Are we listening for the Lord’s leadings and then, most importantly, are we willing to step out and work to meet His objectives?

Think about it…

Oh, Lord, what can I do today to advance the cause of disciplining all the peoples of the world? Give me strength and determination to apply myself to Your will. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, January 13: Joshua 7- God knows.

This is a frightening account on a number of levels. Here are three observations I made.

1.      God knows the secret things we do.

2.      God will punish the secret things we do.

3.      The secret things we do affect other people.

I consider them one at a time.

The secret things we do affect other people. 36 Israelites were killed in battle and Israel was defeated. In addition to Israel’s loss of life and defeat, Ai’s victory certainly would embolden other peoples of the land against Israel making future battles more difficult. And then there was the death and destruction of Achan’s entire family. Were they co-conspirators? We do not know, but I find it unlikely that all his family knew. Achan alone committed the crime. Maybe some family member knew after the fact, but it is hard to believe that they all knew, particularly the daughters who were pretty low on the social pecking order. Sadly, his family paid dearly for his crime. The secret things we do affect other people.

God knows the secret things we do. This is the frightening part of the chapter. God knows! God always knows. God knows everything I do, every thought I have had. I cannot hide what I have done from Him. I am only fooling myself if I think I can hide from God and He plainly sees my wrongs and I can expect that...

God will punish the secret things we do. If there is one take-a-way from today’s chapter, it is that God will punish our wrong doing someday. Achan got away with it for a day or two, but eventually God decided the day of reckoning had come.

If it weren’t for Jesus on the cross and my faith in Him than Achan’s fate would be mine. But thanks be to God, Jesus offers a way out from the weight of my sin... Himself and faith in Him.

Do you believe in Jesus?

Think about this...

Oh, Lord, thank you for Jesus and the cross and salvation and redemption and ...

Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, January 12: Joshua 6-Tis a strange battle.

As I began reading and listening to God’s strange orders, immediately this verse came to mind. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty (Zechariah 4:6).

God’s plans and ways are not our plans and ways. But God’s ways open up the storehouse of God’s power.

I imagine that the Israelite fighting men felt quite strange marching around Jericho silently for a week. I imagine that seasoned fighting men were chomping at the bit to attack. And when that time came there would be no storming the gate… they were told the wall would simply fall down. I’m sure there was more than one, “Yeah, right!”

Also, as spiritual as it was to march silently for 7 days, when the fighting broke out, each soldier had to be his fearsome self and kill all the people of Jericho. Following the Spirit of God and leaning on His power does not mean that people become redundant. Jonah had to preach after his ‘whale of a ship ride’. Daniel had to witness to and serve the king before and after spending his night in the lions’ den.  Paul continued to preach and teach in spite of the beatings and shipwreck (read 2Corinthians 13).

Living by the Spirit opens up God’s power but we still have to act, think and do what it is that God would have us do.

Obedience is the door to godly living and the power of the Spirit blazing through us…

Hmmm think about this. I will

Lord, OBEDIENCE… teach me OBEDIENCE. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, January 11: Joshua 5- Obedience and worship.

The events of this chapter surprised me. Joshua and Israel are on a military campaign to conquer the Promised Land. Militarily they have just participated in a miraculous invasion of the land. The people of the land are fearful, from a human vantage point now would have been the time to strike, while the people were fearful.

But, no, Joshua stops the advance to circumcise the people. Why they didn’t circumcise the boys as they were born along the way I do not know. Understanding the importance of circumcision, Joshua put his people in an utterly defenseless situation until the men of fighting age could heal! Had the people of the land attacked Israel in the days after the mass circumcision was performed, Israel may have been destroyed!

For Joshua, faithfulness was more important than tactical advantage.  Why? Because God was fighting for them. The victories, Joshua understood, was not about Israel’s strength or genius. Victories would come because the LORD fought for them and through them!  Faithfulness was a prerequisite!

Then after people are healed from their surgery, Joshua calls for the Passover! That must have been some Passover. Not only were they commemorating the Passover deliverance from Egypt but remembering all the exploits of the Lord to save them like:

·         Being spared the plagues and the death of the first born

·         Receiving the plunder of their neighbors

·         Passing through the Red Sea

·         40-years of survival in the desert

Additionally they have just passed through the Jordan River, just like their fathers passed through the Red Sea! Talk about a moment ripe for worship and remembrance!

Only after the obedience of circumcision and the worship of celebrating the Passover does God reveal his presence to Joshua.

Obedience and worship. Those words jump off the page at me.

Obedience and worship… they are at the very heart of our faith in God.

How am I doing with my obedience and worship? And so I sit, quietly with the Lord… listening for His voice, encouragement, correction… His love.

Lord, thank You that You are with me… guiding me, and showing me the way to maturity and service. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.



Tuesday, January 10: Joshua 4- Watch and remember what the Lord can do.

When a person steps out in faith at the direction of the Lord, God shows up. For Joshua and Israel, God showed up in a dramatic way, allowing all Israel to pass through the Jordan River on dry ground!

In my experience God isn’t always so dramatic, but He is always there leading, guiding, opening doors, so that the things He has told us to do gets done. Obedience and faithfulness allow us to see God’s hand at work.

One of the features in this account I appreciate is how Joshua builds the altar from stones carried from the middle of the Jordan. Even more than the act itself I love his reasoning.

He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God” (21-24).

That altar became a visual aid in Israel of the mighty works of the Lord. That altar was a bookmark in the corporate memory of Israel. It is very easy to forget events that happen in the past. Joshua understood the importance of Israel remembering.

On Christmas, Good Friday and Easter, Christ-followers remember and retell the amazing story of our faith. There might not be an altar of 12 stones, but through these celebrations we pass on to succeeding generations God’s story.

See what God has done; remember what God has done… two thoughts I glean from this chapter. I have seen God work throughout my walk with Jesus, I need to grow in remembering and retelling what He has done!

Lord, help me to do a better job remembering and retelling Your mighty acts. Help me to build into my life the custom of telling others what I have seen You do. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, January 9: Joshua 3- Joshua's journey of faith begins.

Joshua has been tapped by the Lord to lead Israel into the Promised Land. He apprenticed under Moses for 30 years. He’s had his own vision-calling. He directed spies into the Land to gain first-hand information. All this is wonderful training and preparation. Now the time has come to step out and go.

Every journey requires a first step. Faith requires action to be true faith.

With the order to move out, Joshua went from apprentice to leader, by God’s grace a faith-filled.

Joshua’s story reminded me of many times when faith in the Lord required me to step out and do something…leave engineering and go to seminary; accept a pastoral call in rural western PA, then suburban NJ, etc.; travel on mission trips to Nigeria; step into a classroom and teach seminary students; on and on the list goes. Add to these a myriad of small steps; calling a person based on what I believed was a prompting of the Spirit; giving sacrificial gifts at the nudge of the Lord…

Faith to be faith requires actions and every action requires a first step.

Looking back on my life, God doesn’t call us to act only once, every step of faith requires another and another. Joshua will take many faith steps in the coming chapters. I will have many more faith steps in my life.

At this point the urge to pray surfaced… my prompting is to pray for the strength and courage to take my next faith step…

Will you join me?

Oh, God, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, to be Your man, Your follower I pray for courage and strength to step out in faith every time You ask.  Show me Your way, Lord, and lead me on my journey of faith. May You receive all the honor and glory. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, January 7: Joshua 2- .

A small detail from the story sparked my thoughts this morning. It came from the first verse. Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

Joshua has succeeded Moses as leader of Israel. They are perched on the edge of the Promised Land the Lord had sworn to give them. And still Joshua decided to secretly send out spies. I wondered about this.

Couldn’t this be construed as a ‘lack of faith?’ Rather than simply ‘trusting’ God and marching on to attack, Joshua does what many military leaders would have done.

I don’t know. I am perplexed about this.

I can read ‘faith’ into both sides. Faith to simply march out and seize the land the Lord has sworn to you. Or faith, believing God has given you the land and you are now determining the best course of action… some might even call this seeking confirmation!

It seems to me that God rarely has us turn off our brains. God uses our intellect; intellect surrendered to faith in God Almighty.

I am quite certain that Joshua believed his actions to be faith filled. What information he was hoping to gain I do not know. But for Joshua this was step one in faithful leadership of Israel. For Joshua, seeking information isn’t faithless, it can be faithful.

Lord, I pray that you would give me the faith that I need, to trust and believe in You.  I thank you Lord for all that You have given to me and may I honor Your name.  Through Jesus, I pray. Amen




Friday, January 6: Joshua 1- A life God honors.

The words the Lord spoke to Joshua as he assumed leadership of Israel after Moses’ death called me to meditate.

“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. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; 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. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (7-9)

As I listen and internalize these words, the central tone struck by this word is obedience… complete and unwavering obedience. Obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left.

Meditation and contemplation throughout the day on the law is the primary chord of the tone struck in this word. Meditation as used in Christianity if filling ourselves with God’s Word with the goal of enhanced obedience not merely knowledge or understanding. Meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.

This word to Joshua works for anyone. A life that God honors is a life of obedience and love; a life that sits with God, loves the Lord and lives for the Lord.

How am I doing with this? How am I doing with my



Living for and obeying…

the Lord, my God?

Now my daily meditation truly begins as I put my life to the Joshua test.

Lord, to live a life that honors You, this is my desire. Help me, Lord, I am weak and selfish. Help me. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, January 5: 2Corinthians 13- Examine yourself.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (5).

This morning God’s Word is plain and clear. Examine yourselves

Paul instructs, Paul teaches, Paul corrects and he will confront them in person when he comes. Until then the best advice he can gives is for the Corinthians to examine themselves. The onus is on them…

And the Spirit nudges me that the onus is on me to examine myself. God’s Word is open before me. Anytime I want to know what God says or thinks on a matter, all I have to do is open and read. God instructs, teaches, corrects and encourages through His Word. God will confront and judge me when Jesus returns or I die, whichever comes first. Until then the advice God gives is the same advice Paul gave the Corinthians, that I

examine myself to see whether I am in the faith; test myself.

Do I not realize that Christ Jesus is in me—unless, of course, I fail the test?

And this is good advice for all us, that we examine ourselves against the truth of God’s Word…

Lord, help me to be honest before Your Word, to hold Your Word as a plumb line for how I should be living, acting, thinking and dreaming. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, January 4: 2Corinthians 12- Strength vs. Weakness.

Continuing God’s upside down theme, Paul offers a word from the Lord. In my Bible, which lists Jesus’ Words in red print, the words that caught my attention are red. These are one of the few Jesus words found outside the Gospels.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (9a).

Paul was struggling with a ‘thorn in the flesh’, which apparently is some physical ailment. He prayed three times for God’s healing and three times God said “No. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”

Talk about an upside down answer! God’s words run counter to the way of our human world. In our world the person with the power wins. Biggest army… wins. Biggest bank account …wins. Biggest wins and this is certainly how the game is played in most human societies.

But the Lord says to Paul, I have a different way. And by extension what God said to Paul He says to us.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” 

I let that rattle around in my thoughts for a bit. It is revolutionary and it is scary because it is so not how my world lives. As fast as this sentence tumbles around, equally fast concerns with it surface within me. I immediately wonder…

Will I get taken advantage of?

Will I have to forsake my comfortable life?

Will my peers, inside and outside of the church, ever take me seriously?

Will I live or will this cost me my life?

Variations on these themes continued to tumble. In essence I am saying to God, “Really?!?”

Admittedly when I feel weak these words bring comfort. After all God will provide His power to my weakness and “I win.” But when I think about the many ways I sit in the seat of comfort and power –I am white, highly educated, male, and financially comfortable –these words are a bit frightening, because the way to God’s power is through weakness. And I really don’t like weakness.

The Lord’s words and the promptings of the Spirit probe some of the deepest recesses of my life. And my best response today seems to be to allow them to probe deeper and deeper.

An illustration from my shop just hit me. I have been learning a new skill, hot pipe wood bending. Hot pipe wood bending has 3 major steps:

1) Soak wood for 3+ hours.

2) Press the wood, slowly at first, against a scalding pipe. As the wood heats, the fibers relax and can be bent into a shape you desire.

3) Clamp wood in the desired shape until it cools and dries out.

Soaking loosens and relaxes the fibers. The heat causes lignin bond around the wood fibers to loosen. The bending repositions the fibers and clamping holds them in the new position while the new bonds cool, dry and re-set.

God is taking me through a similar process…

He has been soaking me... time in His Word

Then He applies pressure... a new opportunity for service or some ‘trial’ testing my faith metal.

Finally, He generally leaves me in a situation for a while as new godly attitudes and character traits form and become part of me...

God, I pray that I will learn the lesson that Your grace truly is sufficient for me... Amen.


Tuesday, January 3: 2Corinthians 11- The upside down way of God.

I was struck hard by the contrast between the apostle Paul and his ‘boastings’ verses the super-Christians lauded by the church in Paul’s day and today. It is clear that Corinth honored and lauded ‘super’ leaders who had polished tongues and made names for themselves in the same ways people of Acacia and Rome made names for themselves.

And things are still the same…

I cannot read another person’s heart so the thoughts flooding my mind must be tempered with grace and humility. BUT… Paul fills his resume with sufferings, beatings, lack of material possessions and statements that both Jews and Gentiles have tried to suppress him and kill him. In simple terms Paul resume is filled with sufferings and loss from his Gospel service. He didn’t profit from the Gospel, but gave himself away for the advance of the Gospel. These, it seems, are true measures of an apostle and servant of Christ.

I cannot speak to the opponents in his day, but headlining Christian leaders today sell millions of books; plan Christian cruises where we can travel in comfort and listen to these teachers teach; and some enjoy ostentatious living of worldly success. We honor in our Christian leaders similar things the world honors in their leaders.

As I sit here this morning something seems wrong with this picture. And this something has been attached to the church since the beginning, which is why Paul penned these words in the first place.

I am not sure what to do with these thoughts. Here are some things that are bubbling up from within me…

1)              I sense that I should always be checking myself internally, by examining my heart. What are my internal measures of faithfulness… how much am I giving myself away in service to Jesus?

2)              I need to carefully avoid self-righteousness.  My task is to walk with Jesus and play the role He has for me and to use my wealth and influence as lavishly as I can for Gospel advancement.

3)              I should steep myself in the words of Jesus about servanthood and sacrifice, allowing these Jesus ways of the kingdom permeate my life rooting out worldly ways of honor, prestige, power and wealth as my motivating life dreams.

So much more thought is needed here.

Lord, help me to brood on this as I go about my day. Show me how to live Your character in my world, no matter how counter cultural it will be.  I pray this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.


Monday, January 2: 2Corinthians 10- A new way to live.

Paul sets up a comparison between two ways to live… we can live by the standards and ‘tools’ of human society or we can live by the standards and ‘tools’ of God. Paul’s word to the Corinthians spoke directly to me...

By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete (1-6 bold mine).

I found myself wondering what the standards of this world are. Wandering mentally through the two letters to Corinthians I saw some glimpses …

Lawsuits… using the power structures and human reasoning of the world to win one’s way.

Controlled by sex and appetites... rather than love and devotion to the Lord.

Divisiveness… my group is better than your group, my leader is better than your leader, etc.

Pride… my gifts are more important than your gifts.

Boasting and bragging... about one’s credentials.

Such was the way of the world then and surprisingly still is today. With all our boasting (there’s that attitude again) about how we are advancing and becoming more civilized, it seems we still are the same base self as humans.

Paul on the other hand argues for believers living on a different plane, where we access divine power to demolish strongholds. Where we allow the love of Jesus to permeate us so that we act differently toward others…

Surrendering our wants and rights for the sake of unity in the body.

Where we see the blessing and benefit of everyone regardless of what gifts the Lord has given them.

Where we live on a higher standard when it comes to our appetites (sex, food, drink) no longer controlled by them.

Where we see the whole and not just subgroups and where human elements of race, gender, economic status, and ethnicity are not divisions to be fostered.

Where we can take captive all worldly attitudes and live by godly attitudes.

Quite a difference in one’s manner of life…

Now questions emerge in my heart. How am I doing? Can I identify my weaknesses for worldly ways, so I can surrender them to the Lord? …

Reveal to me, Lord, where I need to grow; where I am depending one worldly ways rather than Your ways. Show me Lord. Grow me Lord. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen