April 29, 2011

Today you should read: Joshua 17

Many times reading these chapters of land allotments and genealogies can be boring or seem to be useless. But, we must be careful of this attitude for two reasons. One is that God’s word, all of it, is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Secondly is that many times God hides, in these passages, huge lessons for us that may be over looked if we skim through it flippantly. In this chapter there are two big time lessons for us to see.

In verses 12 and 13 we see the Israelites make a mistake that seems harmless enough but, as we will see later on, becomes disastrous. They were told by God form the very beginning to destroy all the people of the land. God knew that if the people were allowed to live in the land with the Israelites they would sway them toward idol worship. The Manassites did not do what God told them to do. They thought they would do one better than God. How often do we do this in our own lives? God tells us to go there or do this and we say, “you know what God, that sounds great but if I do this instead I could have so much more impact, or if I go here it would be a much better situation.” When God directs our steps we should have only one answer, “YES!”

The second lesson we can take from this chapter is found in verse 16. The people of Joseph are complaining that their portion of land is not big enough. Joshua tells them to clear out the forest and take that land. Now, God has already allowed the Israelites to take over most of the land, even when the odds were stacked against them. They have destroyed numerous large, powerful armies. The people of Joseph must have forgotten this because they are afraid of a few rebel Canaanites living in the forest. They tell Joshua that there are still some Canaanite people in the forest who have iron chariots.

How often does God do something unbelievable in our lives and then one small problem, one small “iron chariot” pops up and we quickly forget all that He has already done? God parted the Jordan River, made the walls of Jericho fall, and these guys are afraid of a few iron chariots! Joshua basically tells them to get over it and go take the land, just as God told them to. When you feel like there are “iron chariots” in your life that are holding you back from doing what God has called you to do remember what God has already done and remember that what God starts, He finishes.( Phil.1:6)

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

April 28, 2011

Today you should read: Joshua 16

“If I see one more diet commercial I am going to scream!” ~ Marie Wiles
My wife makes me laugh every day of our marriage. This particular quote came this past week while we were going for a walk and encouraging one another in our pursuit to stay healthy. “People are always trying to figure out a quick easy way to lose weight, but the only way to really do it and make it last is to eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise” ,Marie stated. She is so right. Later on that evening we were watching “The Biggest Loser” and a commercial came on for another crash diet plan. Their slogan was “lose weight at your convenience.” That made for another five minutes of frustration for her and amusement for me.

Convenience- anything that saves or simplifies work, adds to one’s ease or comfort, etc., as an appliance, utensil, or the like. ~Dictionary.com.

In today’s passage, we see the descendents of Joseph receiving their inheritance but particularly the tribe of Ephraim. As I read this passage (v. 10) grabbed my attention. They did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in the land instead they made them slaves. Was this God’s plan?

If you remember from chapter 13, God recognized that Joseph was getting old but there was still a lot of land left to possess. God told Joseph to divide the land and He promised in chapter 13:6 “6all the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians. I myself will drive them out from before the people of Israel. Only allot the land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded you.” So, if God promised to drive all inhabitants out then why do we see the Canaanites remain in the land?

Without revealing too much from tomorrow’s reading, we find out that Ephraim was afraid of the Canaanites and instead of trusting God he did what was convenient for them. We see this theme all through the scriptures and in our lives as well.

Unfortunately, sometimes convenience drives our lives. The problem with that is Jesus calls us to pick up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). Basically, the very idea of living for convenience goes against living for Christ. To live for Christ means to be selfless, disciplined, endure hardships, and to put others above yourself for the gospel. There is no easy ,fast track to living a good Christian life. There is one path and that path was paved by Jesus. The gospel is the key to walking it.

Ask yourself:
Do I live for convenience or for Christ?
Am I obedient even if it means giving up my comfort?

Posted by: Chad Wiles

April 27, 2011

Today you should read: Joshua 15

Remember the silly arguments you had with your siblings when you were young? My brothers and I would bicker about things like who gets to ride in the front seat of the car, who got the last of the ice cream, who gets a turn at the video games, or who got the biggest slice of cake.

When you get to Joshua 15, you see who got the biggest slice of cake… Judah’s tribe. But why? Why do they get so much more than everyone else? Simple. His brothers were VERY disobedient (see Genesis 35-35). Thus, their slice — significantly smaller.

One commentator described this chapter like this: “Judah’s tribal allotment is described in greater detail than that of the other tribes. The failures of Judah’s elder brothers (Genesis 34:25-31; 35:22) put him in line to receive the mantle of leadership. Thus, the tribe of Judah received a central geographical position among the tribes, guaranteeing its leadership in the nation (Genesis 49:8-12; Deuteronomy 33:7).”

While the tribe of Judah had the privilege of owning prime real estate, they also made a significant mistake. The final verse of this chapter says:

“But the tribe of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites, who lived in the city of Jerusalem, so the Jebusites live there among the people of Judah to this day.” Joshua 15:63

WHAT?!? Judah could not drive out the Jebusites? Really? Is not the God of Israel much stronger than the idols of the Canaanites? What could stand in their way, especially since they were enjoying so many victories?

It was probably more of a “did not” rather than a “could not”. While it may seem insignificant, it was directly against what Moses told the Israelites (he made it clear that the Canaanites should not live among Israel). And guess what? It caused them problems later:

“The tribe of Benjamin, however, failed to drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem. So to this day the Jebusites live in Jerusalem among the people of Benjamin.” Judges 1:21

One of my study Bibles (ESV) put it this way: Perhaps statements of what Israel “could not” do are to be read as early evidence of spiritual slippage—of failure to follow the Lord “wholly” (see 14:8)—which will become increasingly evident in the book of Judges.

This chapter makes me examine my sin with a magnifying glass. How often are we like this? God has made something clear, yet we simply do not obey and follow through?

My challenge to all of us today is this: simply obey the voice of the Lord. Can you imagine the pain it could have saved the Israelites if they would have? Imagine the pain it would save us.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

April 26, 2011

Today you should read: Joshua 14

What are you asking God to do that only God can do? Are you chasing after something so big that when you tell others about the dream you have, they think it’s impossible?

It has been said, “If you win the men you win the war”. What I mean by this statement is simply that, if a general were to win his men over and gain their trust and loyalty, then the men would go to battle and never give up. We see this under the leadership of Joshua in today’s reading. There is some pretty astounding stuff in these verses. Once again, if you’re a man’s man, this passage will fire you up and give you motivation to fight the good fight like Paul tells Timothy.

Before Moses died, he commanded Joshua to break up the land into portions to give to the different tribes. There were nine and a half tribes that that land was to be distributed to. The first tribe to receive land was the tribe of Judah, but something crazy happens just before Joshua begins to portion out the land. This rough and tough old dude named Caleb is filled with the Holy Spirit and asks Joshua if he can have the city named Hebron. Now, this might not seem like a big deal if you have been tracking with us through the book of Joshua – you know now that there were some pretty tough warrior dudes all throughout this book – but the crazy thing about Caleb was, at the time of this request, he was 85 years old! Let me say that again: HE WAS 85 YEARS OLD.

Here is a little background on Caleb:
1) He was spared from the plague that took the unbelieving spies in Numbers 14:36-38.
2) He did not die while they were wandering the dessert.
3) He didn’t die during all the battles of Canaan.
4) Finally, we see his faith stronger than ever and he wants to continue to conquer cities.

As we enter the storyline in chapter 14, Caleb makes a request of Joshua asking for the territory of Hebron, which was then ruled by Anakim. Evidently, the Anakim people were giant in size and a great people. So, what does Caleb do? What any 85 year old warrior under the power of a Holy God would do: he thinks to himself, “They are on my land. I am a man of God desiring to glorify God. I will conquer them and drive them out of the land by the strength of God!”

There are several things that leap off the pages of God’s Holy Word when I read this passage. Verse 11 is something I pray that will be true of me one day. Caleb says, “Joshua, I am as strong as I was when Moses sent me!” I pray to God that I am as strong and stronger than I am today. I pray that you are, too. I pray that your strength will increase and your faith will deepen every single day of your life. My second observation is in verse 14. The reason Joshua gave Caleb the city of Hebron was because Caleb followed the Lord fully. Oh, how I pray that I live this way. I don’t want to be a man that follows God halfway, or just when I want to, but all the time FULLY!

Hopefully, this will challenge all the men out there to step up their game and unleash their inner warrior for the glory of God and the good of people. If you’re a man, be the warrior God created you to be. Make no mistake: we are in a war and Satan is trying to drive a stake in this country and claim this land. I beg you to have holy ambition! Beg God today that He would give you a ministry or a job where you make tons of money that can be funneled into the kingdom of God or a prayer life that starts at 4 a.m. and ends when you go to bed. Pray, beg, and plead with God that you will be like Caleb, glorifying God and remaining strong until the day you die! The future generations depend on it.

In the words of Tim Parsons, “Get off your blessed assurance and do damage for the Kingdom of God!”

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

Posted by: Zach Monroe