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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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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 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.

Joshua 15-17
Part 3 of 6

Israel had completed the major battles to take the Promised Land.  Now, the tribes were receiving their allotments of real estate.  Caleb sets the example.

He accepted his designated land with relish.  His first reaction was to finish driving out the enemy on his own.  He did not complain that it was dangerous, too hard or infested with the enemy.  Instead, he assessed the challenge and took it on with a full frontal effort.

Caleb did not end there.  It was not enough to secure what was given to him.  He expanded his territories with continued courageous effort.

When he needed help, he called on his family and friends.  They joined him to widen their borders.  Othniel his nephew joined in on those swashbuckling ventures.

When God makes His will clear to us, do we moan about how difficult it will be?  Do we look for the easy way out?  Or do we jump at the opportunity to choose trust in God to continue His faithful work in us while we take and multiply what lies in front of us?

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Joshua 12-14
Part 6 of 6

Flintlock weapons use a system to strike a piece of flint against steel.  The sparks that are created cause the gunpowder in a pan to ignite.  Then, the initial gunpowder that lights up sends its fire through a hole that leads into the primary firing chamber at the end of musket barrel.  In the compression chamber, the charge explodes and sends the lead ball firing out of the end of the barrel.

If the hole to the firing chamber is clogged or if the gunpowder is corrupted then there is no ignition.  The only thing that happens is the fire occurs harmlessly in the firing pan.  The phrase “flash in the pan” came from this phenomenon.

Today we say someone who has a noteworthy beginning but never “pans out” or is unsuccessful in meeting people’s expectations is nothing more than a “flash in the pan”.  No one wants to fail at meeting up to the expectations of others or even a person’s own self-claims of success.  We want to live up to all of our potential and especially our own promises.

The story of Caleb is a testimony of consist faithful obedience.  He is not one who just cries out his intentions in the beginning only to falter in the end.  Caleb is not a “flash in the pan” but one of those lives up to his claims.

Caleb’s life is a lesson about trusting God with courageous faith.  The combination of our Almighty God and His obedient servants is a spectacular conclusion.  God will accomplish a lot through His servants who trust Him.

Thanks for joining me on this journey through the Scriptures.

 

God is Always Just
Joshua 10.16-42
Part 6 of 6

Are you living a life that is steeped in sin? Have you chosen to leave God out of your life? Perhaps you have decided that your life should pursue riches, fame or power.

Some times people think that they will try something sinful and when nothing bad happens to them, they repeat their act and soon practice it regularly. They like the temporary thrill or satisfaction. They forget that God’s apparent lack of judgment is not His detachment but His patience to give them a chance to repent.

Or perhaps you are living a life that is on the verge of a major act of faith. But, it is terrifying. Facing difficult people or hostile circumstances is challenging. You do not want to be afraid but you are.

Obedience is at the outset frightening. Yet, the alternative is much worse. Trying to hide from God never ends up happily for anyone at any time in history.

If you are living in sin, then, stop. God is just. He will not suffer the sinful choices of people forever.

If God is leading you to acts of courageous faith, step out and trust Him. There is no safer place to be than right in the middle of whatever God has for you to do. Trust Him; He has never failed anyone who has put his or her faith in Him.

Thanks for joining me on this journey through the Scriptures.

God is Always Just
Joshua 10.16-42
Part 4 of 6

Joshua brings out the captured kings of the armies that he has just defeated. He calls over his officers and instructs them to put their feet on the necks of the vanquished. This is not brutality but a symbolic act of domination. Their faith has brought them to overcome a superior force that would have struck fear in the lives of other armies.

The spiritual lesson is that fear never had a proper place in facing off with these men. They were powerful but the God that they trusted not only overcame the enemy but also overwhelmed them.   When God tells us not to fear, then He will make us realize that we have every reason to trust in the final result as being good.

If we live lives of obedience, then we can have confidence that God will defeat all of our enemies. A current victory that comes from an act of obedience is a reminder of what the future will be. Fear and discouragement have no chance of existing when faith and obedience drive the life of a follower of God.

While some may find Joshua’s actions rugged, note that he was swift in his orders to execute the kings. There was no torture or brutality. The executions were swift.

Furthermore, note that the five executed kings were buried. Their bodies were placed in the cave where they hid. Then, the cave was sealed. It was respectful in the end.

More later…

God is Always Just
Joshua 10.16-42
Part 2 of 6

God always gets it right. He never blames anyone incorrectly. Any whom He judges, deserve it.

When we consider what justice is, we usually agree that it is giving a person what they deserve. In other words, they are given their due. The challenge is deciding what a person deserves and who makes that decision.

For example, an incident occurred on Friday morning April 4, 2014 at Santa Monica, CA High School. Wrestling Coach and Science teacher, Mark Black, confronted a student in his classroom who was selling drugs. Black threatened to call security.

The student pushed Coach Black. A physical wrestling altercation ensued as Black pinned the student drug dealer to ground. Another student began to video the event and posted it on the Internet.

Superintendent Sandra Lyon saw the video. She immediately suspended Black calling the episode “utterly alarming”. Furthermore, she expressed support for the student and his family.

Most of us are shocked. We quickly side with the teacher. Superintendent Lyon reversed her decision once she realized that she only saw part of the story.

When injustice occurs, we recoil. Something inside of each of us comes out blazing. We want to see justice meted out.

More later…

Israel 2014 IFL 213Joshua has a special place in the hearts of every man in pursuit of godliness.  This Old Testament hero had few recorded flaws and faced enormous challenges.  His life in the book that bears his name is a great example of obedience fueled by faith in the God that he chose to believe.

Launching his leadership career, Joshua faced the formidable fortifications of Jericho.  It was infamous in its day as the gateway to Palestine.  God would bring His people into the Land of promise by way of a miraculous victory over a seemingly impregnable city.

Rahab the harlot played a key role in making this victory possible.  Her life and the walls of the city clashed.  At God’s appointed time through the oddest of military strategies Israel conquered this bastion of Jericho and began military campaign that left 31 defeated kings in the wake of God’s people obeying their divine authority.

My previous three trips to the Holy Land were frustrated because Jericho was closed to visitors.  The closest we Israel 2014 IFL 217could get was on the out skirts looking over the valley from miles away.  This ancient city that began the opening of the Land was closed to the eyes of a very eager pilgrim.

Now, I could walk on the grounds that Joshua had led the people.  Here they marched around the city walls for seven days.  On the seventh day the marched around the walls in silence as before a total of seven times.

I must have been an eerie feeling that week to be a defender on the walls of that city.  The growing panic that then must have erupted when the walls fell down was no doubt horror of the greatest kind.  God’s power shines while man’s best efforts just crumble.

Israel 2014 IFL 226Now, centuries after this cataclysmic miracle, rubble is all that still remains on this site.  No one has rebuilt a lasting fort on this location.  God declared a judgment on this people for their rebellion against Him and the penalty has been permanent as He said.

We saw the remains of the entry switchbacks at the gate to the city.  Archaeologists have uncovered key foundation stones of this ancient city.  Fertile fields surround the site but the remains of the destruction still remind modern pilgrims of the wrath of God against sinful lives.Israel 2014 IFL 225

When Rahab was saved from the city, her choice to follow the one and only true God was the right decision.  She was embraced by the people of God.  God included her in the line of the Messiah, a beautiful picture of the meaning of grace.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Israel 2014 IFL 341

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your sprit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love,
How can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love,
I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.

Israel 2014 IFL 336

photo credit: brucefong photography

the Garden, where Jesus prayed before He was crucified for our sins

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