Be Kind Rewind....and Rejoice in the Lord
Do you remember the stickers on VHS rentals from ancient American history? A little over 2 decades ago, a person’s character could be determined, not just by their willingness to return their shopping cart to the corral, but also if they rewound the movie they watched to save the next entertainment seeker the trouble. It allowed whoever rented the tape after you to start the movie from the beginning instead of the end. Any movie, or story for that matter, makes so much more sense when we start at the beginning, it helps us make sense of what is going on and why things turned out the way that they did.
Our passage for this morning is a rewind and rejoice session for Joshua and Israel. God covers everything that has happened since the flood in these 13 verses. In doing so, He shows Israel that the reason they are in the blessed state they are in has to do entirely with His intervention. God had defeated their enemies and led them to the promises land just as He said He would. Joshua is about to call on Israel to choose to continue to follow the Lord but before he does, he rewinds and starts at the beginning of their story so that they understand how they got to where they are, spoiler alert, it had nothing to do with their own abilities and everything to do with God’s faithfulness.
Shechem, is a place with deep history for God and His people, it is where Abraham and Joseph are both buried and it is in many ways, the birth place of the nation of Israel. God had met with Abram before he was known as Abraham at the oak of Moreh here (Genesis 12:6,7) afterward, he built an altar to the Lord to honor and remember the promise that God had made about the land. Later on, Jacob would do the same after he came home and reconciled with his brother Esau (Genesis 33:18-20). Joshua had followed their example back in chapter 8 of this book when he renewed the covenant after they defeated Ai. So here in Joshua 24, the Biblical story is back at the start of Abraham’s joinery with God. In the same place that both Abraham and Jacob had worshipped and said yes to God’s promises, here at Shechem, a great nation descended from Abraham gathers to say thank you Lord for keeping your promise to our father Abraham. This is a good place to rewind and rejoice in God’s unfailing promises!
Shechem is a place of choices both good and band. If you fast forward through Israel’s history to
1 Kings 12:1, you see that later this is the place that Israel stopped being a unified nation and broke in two. It is also the place that the king of the northern tribes ruled from as he made idol worship the national religion (1 Kings 12:25-33;2 Chronicles 11:15). We can receive God’s blessings or the curses that come from rejecting His rule over our lives. The choice is ours, will we rewind and rejoice at what God has done, or will we forget and reject His rule over our lives.
God’s grace is there for the taking if we choose to walk with Him, He will give us the victory as a short rewind of the previous 500 or so years of Israel’s history proves here in Joshua 24:1-13. God will also be faithful to bring about the things He warns us of, which a quick fast forward through the rest of the Old Testament shows.
Take time this morning before you face your day and rewind through how you got to where you are right now. Remind yourself and rejoice in all the ways the Lord has blessed you to bring you through the trials and troubles this world throws at you. And choose to follow Him once more. A good place to start is Ephesians 1:3 that says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” We have been given an eternal inheritance in Christ as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:20, all God’s promises find their Yes in him! Jesus goes with you today, be faithful to Him because He has been and will be faithful to you.
Hold on Tight!
When my kids were young walking through a crowed parking lot or crossing the street meant that I held their hands tightly. They were not able to see oncoming cars and the cars were not able to see them. So I would tell them hang on tight and we would walk through the parking lot together. If they pulled their hand out of mine and tried to run on their own the results were not good for them. They would get in big trouble because of the danger they invited on themselves. The greater the danger the greater the consequence they faced. These were life and death situations and they were to understand this or face the wrath of their frightened momma.
The people of Israel are told to, “cling the Lord your God,” and to not “cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you.” (Joshua 23:8,12) Joshua tells them twice in this short section that God has got them where they need to be and that they do not have to fear anyone, “one man of you puts to flight a thousand,” (Joshua 23:10) because of their relationship to the Lord. On the other hand if they turn and begin to behave like the people they are replacing in the land, then they will have someone to fear, God! Joshua says that just as God is faithful to deliver on His promises of blessing, the Lord is faithful to deliver on His promises of punishment, “the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until He has destroyed you from off this good land that the Lord your God has given you.” (Joshua 23:15) The point being, this is life and death, to worship the Lord God brings life, to go after other gods brings death. So long as they walked with the Lord they had nothing and no one to fear, the moment they began to walk with other gods, they had everything to fear, most of all God Himself.
Cling to the Lord today. This frosty Tuesday morning is another day. Yesterday is finished, no matter if you failed or succeed in clinging to the Lord on Monday, cling tightly to Him today. His promise is to forgive you and lead you on the path of righteousness if you will just trust Him and put Him first in all that you do. He wants to bless you today but He can’t if you keep pulling away from Him and running headlong into the dangers of worshipping all the things of this world.
Let the words of Joshua 23:11 repeat in your mind and heart today,
“Be careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.”
Are We There Yet?
Parents of this generation know very little about hearing those words, “are we there yet,” come out of the mouth of their little travelers. Since the arrival of DVD Players, IPhone, IPad and the like, now it seems we more often hear, “oh wow where are we anyway?” But there was an entire generation forced to ride in silence as they listened to whatever the parents chose for them to listen to, they did not even get to pick the station! At least I didn’t, I’m not bitter about it at all haha. As I reflect on those long rides from home to wherever we were going, I wonder why it seemed like it took so long. It seemed sometimes like every curve in the road was followed by another turn or another curve without end. I imagine, that as we witness the end of the book of Joshua, many in Israel felt the same way about their travels.
Israel had come a long way, imagine being on a road trip that took so long that took over 40 years to make. Now that’s a long trip! Well over 40 years ago they had left Egypt on their way to their new home, and now finally they are getting ready to here those words we all love to hear come out of our phones, “you have arrived.” Before they can even really get unpacked though, Joshua has some last words that tell them to watch out and not get too comfy just yet. Joshua 23:4 records God’s assurance to the people about their boundaries for their inheritances. The land is theirs, but there’s work yet to be done. Joshua 23:5 continues this thought, “The Lord your God will push them back before you,” which lets them know that this will not happen over night. God had tried to prepare them for this fact, in Exodus 23:29-30, where He told them that He would push out the people living in the land gradually as they got strong enough to take care of the land, this was to prevent the land from getting overgrown without caretakers.
They were not quite there yet but, God was going to fulfil His promise. Here Joshua reminds them of this to give them the confidence they needed to go out continue taking the land and being true to the Lord God who had saved them.
Joshua 23:6-7 is Joshua telling them one more time how they can take the land, through obedience to the Lord. Here Joshua warns them to stay faithful to God’s commands not going to the right or the left. Also he again tells them to worship God alone and not the gods of the people who were living in the land when they got there, they had been isolated most of their lives and now they were entering place with a whole new set of beliefs and cultures. That meant brand new temptations to idolatry. They are to stay on the straight and narrow until they have hold of all that God had promised to give them. God does not want them to forget that they cannot follow Him to their inheritance and the gods of this world at the same time.
This is very similar to how Paul described his walk with Christ.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” (Philippians 3:12–16, ESV).
Paul tells us here that the reason he was able to stay so faithful to the Lord is his anticipation of arriving in Heaven. God’s grace that had been shown to him and the promise of eternal life kept things in perspective for him in all of life. That’s not to say he was perfect or did no still have temptations. He reminds himself and us in verse 12 that his journey is not over, he is not there yet. Paul kept his attention on where he was going so that he didn’t get distracted on his journey. So long as there was breath in him he knew there was work to be done and he didn’t have to ask, “Are we there yet?” There would be zero doubt on the day he entered glory.
The same is true for us, let’s keep pressing forward on this Monday morning toward the Home in Heaven Jesus has prepared for us, do not let this world take your focus to the left or the right, you stay on the straight and narrow knowing all the time that He has a hold on you.
Real Rest Joshua 15-21 Focusing on Joshua 21:43-45 & Hebrews 4:8-10
When is the last time you felt truly rested? I am amazed at how tired people, including myself, feel on a regular basis. Why does the world wear us out? One answer is that there is no place to really, truly, fully, rest. The struggle against everyday pressures to achieve and temptations to sin against God are relentless. But God does in fact offer us real rest and peace in Jesus. Jesus told His disciples before He went back to heaven, “Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you. Not as the world give do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). The rest that Jesus offers us is not one you can discover by studying the ways of this world. You cannot find true peace in wordly success.
The rest Jesus offers is the rest that Joshua gave a type of in our text in Joshua 21. Once Israel had taken possession of the land, we read in our passage that God gave all their enemies into their hands. They had no one left to fight, they could simply enjoy the promised blessings of God. There is a problem though, true peace never lasts in this world. There is always another enemy, another temptation, another battle to be fought. This constant struggle is what the author of Hebrews is pointing out for us in Hebrews 4:8. On the day that God finished creating the world he could truly rest because He had no more work to do. The rest that God offers in Jesus is the same rest God experienced after He finished creating the world. He could truly stop His work because there was nothing remaining for Him to do. Joshua could not offer this sort of rest to Israel, because they would always have to stay on top of things to keep hold of the land they lived in. There was always more work for them to do.
Jesus offers us real rest though through His finished work on the Cross. He did our work for us. There is nothing left for us to finish when it comes to having a right relationship with the Father. He said, “It is finished,” and it was truly over. In Christ we have a fully completed righteousness with nothing to add to it. We can know that we are truly loved and accepted in the beloved because Jesus the Son invites us into the Father’s presence through His death burial and resurrection. He gave us His right standing with God in exchange for our futile efforts and sinful hearts.
The peace Jesus offers is not like the peace the world offers because the peace Jesus offers never ends. It can never be taken away from us. We are His and He is ours forever and ever. The home in Heaven will never be taken away, there is nothing anyone can do to take it from us. Jesus has finished the battle, the war is over we are called to simply rest in Him.
Everything else we get this side of Heaven is just the cherry on top. So rather than viewing the world as a place that has something that will give you joy and happiness, look at it as the place where you can find things to enjoy on your journey Home to your great King Jesus. If you miss out on that Black Friday deal, so what, you are headed to Heaven where that thing will be worthless whatever it was. If you miss that promotion, no sweat, you are a child of the most High God there is no greater status in the universe, that person stops being your friend? Find comfort in knowing you have a friend that sticks closer than a brother and will never leave you!
Find real rest today and enjoy the life that God has given you.
Happy Thanksgiving! Old Hundredth, as this Psalm is sometimes referred to, is the only Psalm that is given the description of, “A Psalm For Giving Thanks.” It is rightly titled, and a great reminder for us today, that we have much about which we should be grateful.
The great Baptist Preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said it best in his comments on this Psalm, “Our happy God should be worshipped by a happy people,” (C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David). God is indeed a happy God and when we are in right fellowship with Him we are the happiest version of ourselves possible. The best version of your life is the one where you are happily serving the Lord and spending time with Him singing His praises.
This Psalm gives two calls to thanksgiving. They are found in, Psalm 100:1-2;4. First we see in verse 2, that all the Earth is called on to give joyful expressions of praise and service to the Lord. Verse 4 gives the call specifically to those who are God’s people, to gather before Him as we corporately give Him our thanks. Thanksgiving brings far greater joy as a group exercise where we can give testimony to the shared experiences of God’s loving grace.
The reasons for giving thanks are found in, Psalm 100:3;5, verse 3 reminds us that we give thanks because we know and are known by God. We can know that the One we serve is the God of this universe, and that He is the One who made us. Our existence is intentional not accidental, there is divine purpose in every breath we are given. As the cross-stitch my Memaw made for here grandkids said, “God don’t make no junk!” Regardless of how you may feel or what others may tell you, you are a treasured, loved, and adored possession of the greatest being in the entire universe! Your status comes with benefits to! The most powerful, most wise, most loving being imaginable looks at you and says, mine. This is what the Psalmist is expressing when he says, “we are his people, the sheep of his pasture,” like any good shepherd, the Lord God is going to make sure His sheep are provided the best of the very best.
The second reason praising the Lord is His supreme goodness. This simple truth leads to the infinite expressions of God’s love for His people. True goodness is found only in the Lord God, this world has been broken ever since the sin of Adam and Eve. God made the world good but we messed it up, first chance we got, and have continued along that path ever since. So there it is hard to find good in this broken world, but God, He is good and we can trust Him and He gives us all good things! Despite our many failings, “His steadfast love endures forever,” this is the love of God that Sally Lloyd Jones in her children’s bible, the “Jesus Storybook Bible,” calls His, “never stopping, never giving up, always and forever love.” When we fail, God continues to show us His kindness and continues to pursue us in His love and mercy. His faithfulness extends to all generations. His grace never runs out. Where we might have run out of patience by lunchtime, God’s loving kindness keeps on keeping on no matter how many times we have failed Him.
No matter who you are, what you have done, how you have succeeded or failed on this Thanksgiving Day, know that God is good and He wants you to be happy! He wants you to enjoy the life He has given you. And you can indeed be happy in your life if you will just begin with the instructions of this ancient short song that God’s people have sung for Millenia and will sing for all eternity.
Now if you have never placed your faith in Jesus, you cannot know the love of God expressed in this Psalm, you are separated from God by your sin, but God wants you to be happy! If you have never trusted yourself to Jesus, you should know that God has shown you great love and concern. To prove His love for you, God made a way for you to be a part of His family even after you sinned against Him. He sent Jesus, His own Son to die in your place, to pay for your sins, so that you can be forgiven in Him. All that stands between you and being called a child of the King is believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Give Thanks for He is Good!
Focusing on Joshua 14:6-15
No matter what your mom tells you, you know the truth, sharing is not always fun. Which would you rather have? A whole toothbrush, or half of one? Your own car or one you share when your brother is not driving it? A whole steak or half? You get the point, whole is better than half. When it comes to following the Lord our God, it is whole or nothing, God does not go in halfsies with anyone. To give half your heart to a another is to give it the whole thing away, your heart cannot follow two loves that are headed in two different directions at the same time. What would happen? It would tear your heart in two. Which is what happens when we attempt to follow the Lord and the our own desires, our hearts are broken by our own attempts to have the Lord and the world at the same time, it will not work. What will work fantastically though is to follow the Lord your God with your whole heart! (Joshua 14:8,9,14).
Caleb shows us what this whole hearted obedience looks like. He first appears in Scripture as the spy representative of the tribe of Judah when Moses surveys Canaan. He and Joshua are the only two who return with a good report, the rest of the spies are afraid and, “cause the hearts of their brothers to melt,” (You can read this account here, Numbers 13-14). That was 45 years ago and Caleb tells Joshua that he is still in the best shape of his life at 85 years old. He is still ready to take on the next challenge and go after the land where the giant Anakim had their cities built. Caleb does not retire from serving the Lord, at 85, he feels like he is just getting started! I know at 41, I already find myself hesitating before doing things that in my early 30’s I would not have even questioned. Now, before I even jump up in the back of a pickup to grab something, for example, my mind says, “you know you will have to jump back down right?” Not Caleb, he is ready climb that mountain (Joshua 14:12) and he is not even worried about the climb back down. He is laser like focused on his mission and nothing will turn him to the right or the left. This is what wholly following the Lord looks like.
The path that led Caleb to the Lord might have something to do with His whole hearted obedience. While he is counted with the tribe of Judah, Caleb is called a Kenizzite both here and other places, Kenaz was not a son of Israel but of Esau (Genesis 36:40-43). At some point Caleb’s family was brought into the tribe of Judah, we are not told when or where this happened only that Caleb could trace his genetic ancestry to Esau but his spiritual heritage is from Judah, the line of kings. I wonder how much this distinction kept Caleb focused on the privilege it is to call oneself a child of God. Where others took their heritage for granted, Caleb never forgot that he was added into Israel. Why else would Joshua point out Caleb’s family except, to draw attention to the fact, that he was different than others who were born into Israel from the start. It feels to me that God is reminding all of us that our obedience is fueled by our awareness of the supreme privilege of being added into the family of God.
Whole hearted faithfulness to the Lord allowed Caleb and Joshua both to leave a lasting legacy for the generations that came after him. Think of King Saul from the tribe of Benjamin, the same tribe as Joshua and then of course, King David who is the promised king that arouse from Judah. Caleb’s was a strong heritage of passion and bravery in serving the Lord and his children seem to have passed this on. Do you want to leave such a legacy? Listen to Caleb’s testimony, “my brothers made the hearts of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God” (Joshua 14:8). He never left the Lord’s service or slowed down, he kept pressing on until his last breath was taken. The same path is open to you, follow it not just for yourself but for your children as well.
One final note about Caleb’s faith in the Lord. His was a humble faith. Joshua 14:12 records his openness to the Lord fulfilling the promise as He saw fit, “It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just the Lord said.” Caleb understood that all things come in God’s timing according to His will not ours. This is the same idea at work in James 4:15, when we are told how we ought to approach goals that we believe the Lord wants us to pursue, we are to say, “If the Lord will, we will live and do this or that.” Rather than arrogantly announcing our plans and expecting the Lord to make it so.
Caleb’s heart was so wholly the Lord’s, that he trusted the Lord’s wisdom in what God gave or did not give. The wholly following heart, is a heart that says, “Lord your will is best, and I will serve you where you lead because you God, know the way home!”
Let’s follow the Lord all way home today give Him your all not your half.
When you trust Christ, your troubles are God’s troubles even when your troubles are your fault! Reading Joshua 10 reminds me of a vehicle I bought against my father’s sage advice. It was a S10 Zr2 Blazer, coolest car I have ever had, at least I thought so, as long as you ignored the inoperable windshield wipers and short that drained the battery and oh yeah, broken 4 wheel drive, it was amazing! Before I purchased it, my dad told me not to because it was a lemon. I did not listen and conned my mom into cosigning for me and committed myself through contract for paying for this vehicle for the next several years with all of its mechanical problems. As I read this chapter I pictured in my mind my dad standing in my yard with the fuel tank on the ground to change out the fuel pump on my blazer because it too had stopped working, or changing out the actuator that engaged the four wheel drive. Even though I had made foolish commitment against his sound advice my father continued to help me with my troubles that I brought upon myself, he took my troubles on himself as his troubles, even though they were my fault. This is what is happening inJoshua 10.
The Gibeonites had tricked Joshua into signing a treaty that obligated them to defend them if they were ever attacked. It looks as though the very next event that happened is the rest of the kings in the land joined together to destroy the Gibeonites, before they were able to join forces with Israel, who they feared. So the Gibeonites call in their new allies to help them defeat these kings. Joshua and the people have made this treaty and must honor it or they will be found as liars and unfaithful to their word, foolish or not, their commitment has to be fulfilled.
Joshua and Israel go out to fight for Gibeon and save them from these kings that are coming to destroy them. As they do God tells Joshua, “do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands,” (Joshua 10:8). God is telling Joshua, your troubles are my troubles, even if you caused them yourself. The battle went on so long that Joshua needed more time to finish off these armies, so he appeals to the Lord to cause the sun stand still and God, “heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel,” (Joshua 10:14). The Lord caused the world to stop spinning for His people on the day that He dealt with the troubles they had caused their own selves!
Think on that today, your good, good Father does not stop being your dad when you get yourself into trouble. In fact that is when you see Him doing the most for you. God is in the mess cleaning up business. Even when you have created a mess of things and acted foolishly, He still loves you and is there watching over and caring for you.
Do not be afraid to take your troubles to Him today, even if they are troubles you got yourself into, be honest before your God, own up to your mistakes and ask Him for His gracious intervention. Joshua did not blink when he asked God to do something that God had never done. Even though, Joshua was in that situation because he had failed to ask God’s counsel to begin with. And God did not say, well if you would have listened to start with, you would not be in this shape, no the Father simply took care of His children’s troubles.
This is what the Gospel teaches us and what Paul is trying to explain in
Romans 8:31-39, as you have worries today, I encourage you to revisit these words and thank your Good Father for taking care of you no matter what:
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31–39, NLT)
If you have ever been to a State or County Fair then you can understand what is happening in Joshua chapter 9. The people who run the games at the fair, where you throw darts at balloons to try to pop them, or baseballs at stacked bowling pins for you to knock over, know how to convince you to step right up and show your lady friend how strong you are. They never show you what is truly going on with the game. You are told how someone who has your skill and ability will surely win everything they have hanging on the wall. The truth is, not nearly as many people win as play. Those games are designed to convince you of a reality that does not exist and usually flattery has a big role to play in the scam. The reason this tactic is so effective is that we love to hear how amazing we are and all that we are capable of achieving. In the end we realize we have been played the fool by our own egos and desires. This is not a new strategy, the people who run those games are simply using the same tactic the serpent used on Eve in the garden all those years ago, and that the people of Gibeon used on Joshua and the Israelites.
They appeal to Joshua by presenting all the right evidence, worn out clothing and old moldy bread along worn out shoes to show how far they have traveled to get to see Israel. Israel had been told not to make any treaties with people who lived in the land they where conquering so the Gibeonites are trying to convince them they are from far away. Another part of their trick was to play up how impressed they were by Joshua and Israel. “We are your servants, just command us, you great and awesome people, we just want to be your friends.” The Gibeonites tell Israel all about all the amazing feats they have heard about and before Joshua knew what had happened, Israel was eating out of the palm of the Gibeonites hand. You can almost hear a voice of reason saying, “don’t you guys think we should check out their story?” Followed by someone telling that voice to “be quiet the visitors are speaking more great things to say about us before they are done.” In the end Israel is fooled and tricked into signing a peace treaty with their enemies. Be careful to not fall into the same deceptions, not everyone who talks about how amazing you are is telling the truth!
How were they fooled?
gives you the answer. “but they did not ask counsel from the Lord.” It’s not that they forgot the correct questions to ask. They weren’t fooled due to lack of due diligence. No they were tricked because they failed to ask the Lord for Wisdom and the truth is, deep down they did not care what the Lord thought. They enjoyed the idea of someone coming and expressing such praise for their mighty deeds.
Wisdom is never out of our reach if we will just ask the Lord for some.
tells us that all we have to do is ask the Lord and He will grant us wisdom.
gives us insight into what can cause us to miss out on the Lord’s Wisdom. We do not have because we do not ask. Or we do ask but when we do, we ask wanting to use that wisdom or whatever we are asking for, to get what we want, not what God wants. God calls us to ask for wisdom to know His will, not how we can achieve our goals. This is where we miss the mark very often.
You may feel as though God has left you out in the cold on this frigid Monday morning but He hasn’t. You have the wisdom you need for the step in your journey that you are on. There are seasons where God calls us to wait for His plan to be revealed, rather than rushing in to fix a situation, where He calls us to wait until we have more information. Sometimes, for example we really want God to show us the next step in our life and journey with HIm. The next job, or maybe what person we should marry. Other times it could be that we are simply seeking resolution to a trying situation in our lives. There are times where God’s Wisdom to us is to simply wait. There are times where things are not as they appear. We do not want the same to happen to us as here in Joshua where we are being fooled either by someone else or our own selves. It could be waiting another day is the equivalent of checking to make sure no cars are coming, one more time before you enter the street.
I want to encourage you to wait on the Lord today until He provides clear answers for you. He has not forgotten you, He has given you the grace you need to make it through this, and if you ask Him, He will give you the wisdom you need to make your next move. Just make sure you are spending time with Him and not only seeing and hearing what you want to see and hear. Ask the Lord for His guidance and He will give it to you. Trust His promise not other people’s flattery today.
A good battle plan can be the difference between victory and defeat. Great generals throughout history have taught us this fact. You could look at men like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, George Washington or more recently generals like Patton. These strategists were famous for their ability to out maneuver their opponents on the battlefield. You see the same scenario take place on the football field with coaches like Nick Saban and Bill Parcels, back when he had Tom Brady at least. Coaches like these can make half time adjustments that change the outcome of a football game entirely and give their team victory instead of defeat. We all need a good battle plan to achieve victory in life as well. There are plenty of books that will give you strategies for life and give you 5 keys to success or 7 steps to victory but before you read those I suggest you look at God’s plan for victory He has given you in His Word.
The book of Joshua gives us the account of Israel taking the land that God had promised them. Before they could enjoy the promised the blessing though, they had to remove the lands current inhabitants. They had to achieve many military victories. Joshua 6-8 gives us detailed accounts of Israel’s encounter with the first two cities they fought when they entered the land. Jericho being the most formidable opponent and Ai being one of the weakest. Jericho was taken without blinking an eye and Ai defeated them on their first try. What was the difference between these two cities? When they fought Jericho everyone paid attention and followed God’s plan for victory perfectly which led to success. The second city, Ai, was not the same case. When they fought this city one man decided to reject God’s battle plan and caused the defeat of the entire nation. The one detail that made the difference between failure and victory was obedience to God’s Word.
So, after the defeat of Ai, Joshua bolds and underlines God’s plan for success in the promised land. He makes sure that no one misses the point God has just made with these first two military encounters. “Obey the Lord and we win, ignore Him and we lose.” He writes down the commands God had given them and he reads the entire book of the law in front of everyone in Israel. Notice how each and every person is made to listen as Joshua reads the first five books of the Bible. The people need to know where they came from, how they got to where they are and what God wants from them from now on. Joshua 8:35 highlights this for us, “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.” There was no one in Israel who could be confused about the difference between victory and defeat, obedience to God’s Word.
The same is true for you today, real victory for you and your family is not found the newest book or strategy being pushed by whichever social media app you use. It is not found in the latest fad that everyone else is doing to get rich or become an influence. True success is found in your faithful, normal, ordinary actions as you follow God’s map to victory, His Word.
I encourage you on this Friday morning to not worry with how you stack up against the family down the road, ask the Lord the show you how you can be faithful to follow His Word as you face a hostile world that wants to keep you from being obedient the Lord God who wants you to live in peace and victory.
There is an old phrase that has been repeated often, but for the grace of God, there go I. One tradition attributes the quote to a Martyr, John Bradford who when he saw a group of prisoners being led to their execution would say, “there, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” His point was that any good, either in our character or our circumstances can be traced back to God’s gracious hand upon our lives. The distinction between those who experience God’s blessings and those who experience His wrath can be found in their relationship to Him and Him alone.
The difference between the people in Canaan who experience God’s wrath at the hand of Israel and the Israelites themselves is God’s grace. This distinction is made clear from the very beginning of the battles for the promised land. Rahab, though she was not part of Israel, received grace from God by faith. Achan, though he was born into Israel, received God’s wrath because he did not trust God’s grace. Here in our text for today the king of Ai met the same fate as Achan, (Joshua 8:29). Trust in the Lord’s grace is the distinguishing mark of those who receive His blessings. God wanted Israel to know from the very start that the only hope they had of continuing to receive His blessings was His grace.
This is the same hope Paul talks about in 1 Cor 15:8-11. He knew that the only difference between who he used to be and who he was an Apostle was God’s grace. This knowledge did not lead him to sit back and do nothing but to work with everything he had to serve the God who gave him such grace.
The same is true in our lives today. God’s amazing grace through the Gospel of Jesus calls you to real life transformation for the better. He calls you to stop trusting in your own plans for your life and instead put your faith in His purpose and plan.