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Joshua 23
Part 6 of 6

When someone has marked our lives, their last words to us are forever fixed in our minds. We remember vividly what a special person has said to us in their retirement, their death or their departure. It means a lot to us when those final words are a charge to us and our choices and behavior.

Joshua was an amazing leader for Israel. This historic moment of this faithful general to his leaders has a piercing impact on his hearers. Everyone receives, understands and initially embraces this direction from their leader.

Loyalty to their leader, however, is not the primary basis of their life of obedience. Instead, Joshua points out what they themselves had experienced. They were eyewitnesses of God’s great favor and blessing in their lives. Each of the leaders saw God’s provision and miraculous intervention for the nation with their own eyes.

Do you remember God intervening in your life? How did that make you feel at the time? Has that attitude faltered over time? Is your life a life marked by obedience or by compromise?

Immerse yourself into God’s Word. Then, as you see Him active in your life, resolve to live a life of immediate and complete obedience to Him. Do not just remember His Words, live His words.

Thanks for joining me on this journey of living the Scripture

Joshua 23
Part 5 of 6

Joshua makes a bold but perfectly acceptable promise. With the LORD on Israel’s side, no one will be able to stand against her. This is kind of faith and trust that should lead the nation to step out boldly in precise obedience to God’s Word.

It is, however, not just God’s promise of His powerful presence that should move Israel to immediate obedience. Their love for the LORD their God must be their driving motivation. It is not a matter of a military pact. Rather it is a relationship of love that is at the core of this arrangement.

Any compromise on Israel’s part will exclusively be her responsibility. God will not shrink back on His love for the nation or His devotion for her. The only way that God will not provide for Israel is her own choice to turn away from God.

It is true for modern days as well. If we walk with God He will be faithful and provide for us. When we love Him and obey Him, He keeps on guiding our steps and leading us in the way in which we should go.

Joshua gives Israel a baseline for her confidence. God has fulfilled every promise that He has made to Israel in bringing them to the Land. This is without exception and should give the people confidence to respond in love and obedience as well.

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Joshua 23
Part 4 of 6

Since the leaders of Israel had been eyewitnesses of God fighting very clearly for them, they are now obligated to hear and obey Joshua’s charge to them. He commands them to “be very strong”. They must make this choice of their own volition. Each one of them must be determined with this step.

Too often we are fearful of the circumstances that we face or the doubt in our spirit to achieve or overcome. When God leads us in a certain direction, we can resolve to courageously be obedient

Furthermore, Joshua charges them to “obey all . . . the Book”. This makes it clear they must know the Word of God. The more time we spend in His Word the better we will know what He wants us to do.

Then, once knowing the Book is accomplished, it must also be obeyed. The charge to “obey” assumes that knowledge exists of what we are to do. This pattern is a constant in God’s Word. First, know what God has said, then obey what His Word has said.

Precision in obedience is essential to obedience. The response to God’s Word must not only be immediate but it must also be accurate as well as thorough. Humanly we wallow too often in partial, compromised or half-hearted efforts as our excuse for following the Lord.

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Joshua 23
Part 3 of 6

It was as rescue workers combed the devastated town of Castilian Springs, Tennessee, that firefighter David Harmon came across what looked “like a baby doll”.
“He was laying face down with his arms above his head… He was just laying there motionless, wasn’t moving,” Mr. Harmon said.
The baby was lying 100m or more from the ruins of his house. His mother, 23-year-old Kerri Stowell, was found dead in the same field.
He was taken to the children’s hospital at Vanderbilt University, but had only light cuts and bruises.
Dr. Tom Morgan said: “Maybe he landed on something that lessened his blow, maybe he, you know, came down against a bush or something. I think it was probably…God’s grace.”

When we are eyewitnesses of God’s grace, our lives are changed forever. It is not a story we read or something we heard someone else say. Rather, when we are a part of a story then our very lives are changed.

Joshua had led Israel from the crossing of the Jordan River to the completion of three major military campaigns. Now, God assesses Joshua’s age: he is old, very old. Perhaps Joshua had been in the land up to 20 years. His time is over so he summons the leaders to give them a charge from God. He emphasizes their experience as eyewitnesses of God’s amazing acts.

They know without anyone else prodding them, they were eyewitnesses of God fighting for them. The phrase “you yourselves have seen” highlights this first person reality that is undeniable.

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Joshua 23
Part 2 of 6

The nation of Israel is coming into her inheritance of the Land. It has not been easy. Many rigorous military campaigns have been waged to get to this point.

However, war wears on a people. There is a longing for peace and an end to conflict. Unfortunately, people in this mood can become careless.

Joshua is concerned for the complacency that he senses is creeping into the mindset and attitude of the people. They are looking for a shortcut, an easy conclusion to war. A compromise and a feeling of finding a settlement are pressing on their minds.

Israel too easily accepts the idea of joint occupancy. God has clearly directed through Joshua for the nation to clean out the Land of those who are not followers of YHWH. Yet, Israel falters, fails and justifies a compromise.

Israel fails to discern that living with people who do not share the same faith will lead them to accept a diluted faith. Partial obedience never provides satisfaction. Instead, a bondage and corruption of their own faith will be inevitable.

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Joshua 18-20

Part 4 of 6

 

Accidents happen.  Among a working class and in an agrarian society, mishaps take place.  Unfortunately, some of those unplanned and unexpected tragedies turn deadly.  Those survivors of the loved one want revenge.

 

God knows that misunderstandings occur among people.  He makes provisions for those who have been caught up in such an event.  If an accidental death occurs, the person who is fleeing must make his way to one of the six designated cities.

 

There he would state his case outside of the city gates to the town elders.  He was to be allowed entrance into the city.  From there he had protective asylum until a trial or the death of the High Priest occurred.

 

This speaks so well to God’s gracious protection of those who belong to Him.  Accidents happen.  It is a miserably experience.  You had no malice toward the victim.

 

God knows that among humans there is a clear difference between intention to harm and accidents.  Here He is making provision in advance for those inevitable moments of difficulty.  When life deals you a tough hand, remember that God knew in advance and has made a way for you to have your heart and hurts mended.

 

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Special Allotments

Joshua 18-20

Part 3 of 6

 

Joshua was a beneficiary of the Land as well. Once all of the tribes were served first, then was also enjoying an allotment. The Israelites acted together in giving him the land.

 

Their purpose was not out of their gratitude or respect. Instead, they were acting in obedience. God had instructed them to give Joshua a portion in the Land. Their obedience became Joshua’s blessing.

 

God’s will is for those who represent Him and lead His people to be cared for by the people who benefit from that ministry. This model is one that is not limited to the Old Testament. By application God will still be honored today when the Saints care for their leaders.

 

Whenever I left a ministry, those whom I served honored me with a celebration. The warmth and expressions of love and appreciation are treasured moments. Words, embraces, handshakes, whispers of appreciation, gifts, mementos and reflections were priceless gifts.

 

Grateful people are a portrait of the Savior’s love. From a heart of devotion there is care and real life. While parting is such sweet sorrow, the blessings of ministry are a glimpse of heaven’s rewards.

 

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Joshua 18-20

Part 2 of 6

 

The nation of Israel was now in the Promised Land.  Joshua had led the Israelites through major military battles and watched God fight in front of them for victory after victory.  Then, God gave the nation rest.

 

Joshua spoke on the behalf of the LORD.  He told them that now they could take their allotment of land and finish up driving out the remaining people who were the enemies of God and by doing so expand their own borders.  Caleb had done just that.

 

However, the rest of the tribes balked at taking such initiative on their own.  Joshua was annoyed with their reluctance.  He gathered them together and scolded them.

 

He reminded them that the LORD had given them the Land.  They were not expected to gain victory on their own.  Instead, they were challenged to claim what was already given to them.

 

The Levites, however, were not rewarded as the rest of the tribes.  They did not receive a land inheritance.  For them the privilege of serving the nation as priests is their reward.

 

Very few of us in ministry have any grand ideas of getting rich in what we have been called to do.  We simply look to God for our needs and love our life of service.  In the end we trust His saints to take care of those who serve them spiritually.

 

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Joshua 18-20

Part 1 of 6

 

It has been a long time since I preached my first sermon. That agonizing experience was in the Portland, Oregon Rescue Mission. On the western end of the Burnside Bridge on the northern side of the street locked between other brick buildings this iconic structure has stood for decades.

 

Preaching is one of those few professions where this endeavor is done with no guarantee of monetary reward. Once in a while something very special happens but often the earthly reward is modest. Others are comical.

 

After preaching a special service for a church the chairman of the Board walked me to my car with words of gratitude and handed me a bag of tomatoes. I do not even like tomatoes. When it came time to fill my gas tank for the long drive home, I used my own money to make the journey.

 

Another time I flew to another state where I had been invited to speak at a conference. When the chairman of the board dropped me off at the airport after speaking several times over two days, he commented, “Well, I hope that you enjoyed your visit with us and had a great vacation here.”

 

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Joshua 15-17
Part 6 of 6

This passage of Scripture is about obedience.  When we do what God wants, that is always good.  But, when we fail to complete God’s will that is not good.  Partial obedience is NOT obedience.

When Israel could not remove the Canaanites completely, they subjugated them to serve the Israelites.  That is not what God directed His people to do.  Now, the enemy was living among them with an influence that God never intended His people to have.

God wants His people to assess their abilities and trust Him in total dependence to give us success in our obedience.  He will make possible what we cannot do on our own.  Total obedience is the only obedience that God accepts.

Is there something that you have started for the Lord but have not finished it?  Did you give up too early when a task became too difficult?  Have you been living with the justification that what you have done is “good enough”?

Recall God’s instructions to you.  Pick up the tools and finish what He wanted you to do.  Never quit early.  He will be all you need to accomplish His tasks.

Thanks for joining me on this journey through the Scriptures.

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