May 6, 2011

Today you should read: Joshua 23

This is an awesome passage. It is full of lessons to learn and words of wisdom. Joshua is about to die and he is giving his farewell, last hoorah speech. It is so amazing what he says first. He reminds them of what God has done and where they are because of it. Then he says something absolutely profound in verse 6: he repeats exactly what God told him. He tells the people to be “very strong” and to obey the Law of Moses “without turning to the right or to the left.” This is a great principle to live by.

When God tells us something, we should live by it and never forget it. Joshua was told two things by God when he first stepped into Moses’ shoes of leadership: “be strong and don’t stray from My words.” He never forgot it and now, as an old man ready to pass on, he gives this same call to all of Israel.

Joshua reminds the Israelites that God has driven out the people from the land. So many times in our lives we don’t give God His credit. We, proud as we are, feel that we make accomplishments happen on our own. We do or say something, get an award or promotion, and we take the credit for ourselves. God gives us all we have. We cannot forget who really deserves all the praise and glory for everything that happens in our lives.

Joshua then gives the Israelites a grave warning. He tells them that they can see for themselves that God has not failed to do all that He promised for them. Everything God said He would do, He did. Joshua also reminds them that God said other things would happen if they turned from Him and worshipped the false gods of the land. We will see later that they did not believe this would happen because they quickly fell into idol worship. God is always true to what He says, good or bad, blessing or curse. We can thank the Lord that He is always faithful to fulfill His promises.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

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May 5, 2011

Today you should read: Joshua 22

How much of our decisions or perceptions based upon assumption? We assume our president is looking out for the best interest of our country. We assume that reality shows are real. That’s what the word reality means right? There are usually some reasons for the assumptions but they are never based on proof. Proof is the difference between knowing and assuming.

Take Joshua 22 for instance. Joshua sent the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and one half the tribe of Manasseh back to their homes in the land of Gilead. When they got to their land in Gilead they built an alter that was similar to the alter built to the Lord. So the other tribes of Israel became furious. They gathered together and decided to make war against their brothers.

The people of Israel assumed that their brothers were in sin. From the outside looking in it seemed like they were right. Why would they build another alter if they were not going to use it right? The problem with this scene is they didn’t have all the facts. They were making a big assumption about their brothers and one that almost caused a war.

So what was so bad about the assumptions Israel was making? First, they were wrong. They didn’t take the time to find out the truth before they were ready to go to war. Second, their motive was selfish. They were worried about how their brother’s decisions were going to impact themselves.

Our culture is driven by assumptions. From gossip magazines and talk shows to the pews of our churches. It is everywhere. Before we make assumptions we should go to them and get the facts. God’s word is clear about how to handle matters with others.

15 “If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. ~Matthew 18:15-17

Ask yourself:

When I have been wronged do I go to the person first or do I tell others first?

If I see a situation that looks like it could be sin do I address it with that person or do I draw my own conclusions?

Posted by: Chad Wiles

May 4, 2011

Today you should read: Joshua 21

There are two fantastic highlights in today’s reading. The first exposes a good moment of obedience for Israel. The second points to the faithfulness of God.

Israel has not been known for her obedience thus far in the scriptures. If you were to classify Israel, you would more than likely use words like complaining, unsatisfied, proud, unfaithful, unwise, wayward, defiant, etc., not obedient. But in verses 1-3, you see a moment of simple obedience:

Then the leaders of the tribe of Levi came to consult with Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders of the other tribes of Israel. They came to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us towns to live in and pasturelands for our livestock.” So by the command of the Lord the people of Israel gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own grants of land. Joshua 21:1-3

This is a great moment for the Israelites. They didn’t question God or try to come up with a better plan. They followed the Lord’s plan for the Levites according to what He told Moses to do.

I don’t know about you, but I typically try to add to God’s plan or find my own way to follow through with what He has told me to do. This is a great reminder to trust God’s commands and simply obey. Why? Because He is unwaveringly faithful.

The Israelites heard all kinds of promises from God, but many wondered if these promises would ever come true. They probably asked questions like, “When will God come through on His word?” or “Why follow a God who doesn’t keep His promises?”.

We get to the end of the chapter, and we are reminded once again of the incredible faithfulness of our great God:

So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true. Joshua 21:43-45

GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES! As if it were not clear enough, the word “all” is used in the Hebrew text 6 distinct times in verses 43-45. What an awesome reminder. Never forget the faithfulness of the Lord, especially as New Testament Christians. We have so many to cling to, but none greater than Jesus Himself:

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” ascends to God for his glory.
2 Corinthians 1:20

Additional Study Help
Robert Swartzentruber told me about a great resource via GoogleEarth that helps with all of the geography mentioned in the Bible. It works by Bible chapter. Check it out with Joshua here…

Posted by: Todd Thomas

May 3, 2011

Today you should read: Joshua 20

If you’re like me, when you first read this passage you might have the thought, okay, what in the world is this chapter talking about? Manslayers, avengers of blood, cities of refuge?That is exactly what I began to think, but as you take a look into this passage there are some pretty neat parallels that point to Jesus.

In Chapter 19 the country had been divided. The next step in this process was to set up different cities of refuge. Now, as I understand it, a man slayer would flee to a city of refuge to escape the avenger of blood. A manslayer is someone who accidently killed someone without a premeditated cause. The avenger of blood was likely a close relative. The manslayer would stay at the city of refuge until the high priest died, which would then allow him to return to his native country with no penalty.

The cities of refuge are significant in Israel’s history. These cities picture the nation of Israel’s guilt in connection to them slaying the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The cities of refuge point toward a place where they can find sanctuary. William MacDonald quotes D.L. Moody who notes, “the cities of refuge are a type of Christ, and their names are significant in that connection.”

West of Jordan
Kedesh – Holiness
Shechem – Strength
Kirjath-Arba or Hebron – Fellowship

East of Jordan
Ramoth-Gilead – Uplifting
Golan – Happiness
Bezer – Safety

William MacDonald goes on to say, “thus Christ provides every blessing suggested by the names of these cities. A glance at the map will show that the cities of refuge were strategically located so that no point in the land was more than 30 miles from one of them.”

D.L. Moody says, “as the cities of refuge were so situated as to be accessible from every part of the land, so Christ is very accessible to needy sinners.” (1 John 2:1, 2).

So, can you relate to the manslayer? I know you probably have not killed anyone lately, but are you experiencing a storm in your life right now? Maybe a trial or two? Well, as the manslayer found hope within the city of refuge, so we can also find hope and refuge in Jesus Christ! The incredible thing about Jesus – He is not a temporary refuge like the cities of refuge, but rather an eternal refuge! Be in awe of God today! The whole Bible points towards Christ!

Worship God – Enjoy God – Be useful to His Kingdom!

Posted by: Zach Monroe