May 7, 2011

Today you should read: Joshua 24

Grace motivates us to obey…now finish well!!

Wow! Could this chapter possibly show any more of God’s glory?!?! It is packed! It is a testimony to God’s sovereignty and His power, to His faithfulness and His strength!

This chapter begins with a testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness towards Israel from the time of Abraham to the present success of Joshua and the Israelites. We are reminded of all He has done up to this point.

Then we see Joshua’s last official act as the Lord’s servant and mediator: the renewal of the covenant and the appeal for the Israelites to serve the Lord for their entire lives.

Today’s “Walk-Away”:

From verse one to verse thirteen, Joshua testifies to all that the Lord has done. He remembers all that the Lord has conquered, and he describes all of the gracious gifts that God has given to Israel, including victory, freedom, and possession…none of which the Israelites earned on their own. They were gracious gifts. And after this impressive testimony comes perhaps the most important word in this chapter. Beginning in verse fourteen it says… “Now” (in light of all God has done, in light of all God has given and of His gracious acts) “Obey”. Joshua then proceeds by appealing to Israel to put away their gods and to yield their hearts to the Lord.

Titus 2:11-12 tells us that the grace of God teaches us to say “no” to all ungodliness, and this is exactly what we see in Joshua 24. In light of God’s underserved acts, Israel is motivated to obey the Lord.

So how about you? Think back to all the Lord has done. Think about His grace shown to you throughout your life. Think about His patience with your “slow-to-learn” heart. Think about the undeserved blessings He has poured out on you. Think about His ultimate act of grace in sending His only Son to suffer and die for you in order to redeem you and save you from eternal torment. He has indeed been gracious. NOW, in light of that, obey the Lord. Grace should motivate us to want to live for Him. It should captivate our hearts with His unconditional love and lovingly inspire us to want to live for Him and with Him. Is His grace motivating you to obey? It is the only thing that will!

You have a chance today to start over. God has been gracious and patient in your pursuit of other things; now turn back to Him. He is waiting. You see, Joshua sets a strong example for us to finish well. Finishing well is more important than starting well. You still have a chance to finish well – it’s not over. All hope is not lost. Why? Because God is gracious and He is ready to graciously pick you back up so that you can finish well.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

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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

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