Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wednesday 8-25-10

"If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15

Joshua had seen God's word come true, he had experienced first hand the crossing of the Red Sea. He had traveled with the Israelites around the backside of the desert for 40 years. He had seen God's provision in making a way through the sea, and God's power in destroying the Egyptian army. Joshua had seen God's mercy poured out as He provided the Israelites with manna, water and clothes that did not wear out. Joshua had seen God's fury when a man and his family was swallowed whole by the earth. Joshua had seen God's patience with the Israelites when the forsook Him, and made a golden calf to worship. Joshua had seen God's faithfulness, as the pillar of smoke by day, and pillar of fire by night led the Israelites for many many years. 

There was no room for doubt in Joshua's statement, he did not allow for "excuses" or "special circumstances" in which he would not follow God. Far from it, Joshua challenges the people with the commitment he had made. Just prior to this, he had reminded them of the many things God had done for them, the uncountable ways God had blessed them. Joshua then declares that he and his household were going to follow after the Lord God and none other. 

The question I am left with is: have I completely and totally without reserve decided to follow God, and make Him my Lord of all? That said, I know that without His grace, and choosing of me based upon His grace and glory and not upon anything I have done or could offer Him, such a "choosing of Him" would not be possible. Because it was He who first loved me and choose me, not the other way around. By His grace, and only based upon His grace I can stand firm that I have decided to follow my Lord God with all that I am or ever will be. I do not trust in my steadfastness to be able to accomplish this, but I instead rest firm upon His grace and power to seek and desire Him above all else.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday 8-24-10

"But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day." Joshua 23:8

"So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God. "For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know with certainty that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you." Joshua 23:11-13

There were only two options for the Israelites: cling to the Lord their God or cling to the rest of those nations. There was no middle ground, no serving of both. It was one or the other: the Lord God or gods made with hands. Likewise, Jesus said that no man can serve two masters. For he will either love the one and hate the other or cling to one and despise the other. So, knowing this... why do I attempt to reap the benefits of serving God while seeking to enjoy the temporal pleasures of sin?

I need my faith increased, I need more of His word. Here God tells the Israelites that either they cling to Him, and He will drive the nations out before them. Or if they reject Him and cling to the nations, that He would not continue to drive them out. And if they were not driven out, He also said that they would be a snare and trap to them, and a thorn to their eyes. This so closely mirrors sin, either I cling to Jesus and forsake my sin. Or I forsake Jesus and hold fast to my sin. There is no room for middle ground, it is simply one or the other. 

I am so thankful for Jesus' work on the cross. Because no longer am I reliant upon my own ability (more like inability) to keep God's commands. My relationship with God is not some list of rules I must keep in order to obtain eternal life. No I have eternal life, through Jesus Christ! But now, I am not free to sin. I have been bought with a price, I am not my own. I am neither enslaved to sin, nor do I have the right to sin, for I am dead to sin. I am alive to God through Christ's work on the cross, I am to live to Him and dead to sin. I need to diligently hold fast to obeying Joshua 23:11 "So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God."

Monday 8-23-10

"And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass." Joshua 21:44-45

These verse really excited me as I read them. "And no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand." The Lord promised that He would give the Israelites the land, and that he would drive out their enemies before them. Here is the promise coming true! Why is this exciting? Well I've been reading in Romans 6 and there it says that those who are buried with Christ into death, are dead to sin. This is a promise, this is true. This is exciting because no longer am I slave to sin, I am dead to sin, I do not walk as the 'natural' or 'fleshly' man does. I now have the amazing privilege of serving the only risen and living Savior that has ever been, or will ever be. 

These verses are exciting, because God proves that His word is true. We serve a living God, a god not made with hands, a god not made of stone, wood or gold. The Lord God of heaven and earth, is a trustworthy. Therefore when I read in Galatians 5:16 "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." I have peace in that fact, that as I walk with my Savior I will become more and more like Him, and begin to look nothing like this world! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thusday 8-19-10

Reading through Joshua this evening, several verses stuck out at me.

 "For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will You do for Your great name?" Joshua 7:9

Joshua the new leader of Israel, had much to be concerned about, here in the midst of God declaring that He will destroy the Israelites, Joshua's first concern here is undeniably God's glory. As a leader, in ministry, in marriage, in anything. My focus must remain on God's glory, my desire must be to see Him made much of through everything in my life, I must seek to make much of Him in all things! It is so easy to become preoccupied with tasks, people and such, and these are important I should be diligent in my work. But if my motivation for working or serving God, is anything short of His glory, than all that I do will not be done for His glory.

"Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day." And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones." Joshua 7:25

Here Achan had taken some items from under the ban and hidden them under his tent. God had expressly forbidden anyone to take the items, for they were to be set apart for the Lord's sanctuary. Never-the-less Achan had taken them, and because of that thirty-six Israelites died in battle against the men of Ai. God clearly revealed to Joshua that it was because of Achan's sin that the men died, and when Achan admitted to stealing those items which were to be completely  for the Lord. Joshua did not delay in rightly dealing with Achan's sin. In my own life, I need to first obey God; sin never pays in the end, and never once have I found it to be worth it. Also when God brings to my attention and convicts me of any sin I need to not delay in confessing and repenting of the sin. I need to by God's grace and power take drastic steps to remove anything that was leading to sin. Ultimately I need to walk according to the Spirit that I would not obey the lusts of the flesh.

"So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD." Joshua 9:14

What folly! Granted it seemed to be the smart option, but that was without fully investigating the matter, and more importantly seeking God's face concerning the matter. They went on what they "felt" rather than what God called them to. As I walk and grow in Christ, I should not be basing my decisions of what I "feel" or "think" I need to fervently seek the Lord for counsel!

Wednesday 8-18-10

"The LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. "You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days." Joshua 6:2-3

Real briefly, God has been teaching me about my position in regards to sin because of the Cross. Yes, I "know" that I am not enslaved to pride, lying, selfishness, lust, disrespect, rebellion, ect. I "know" that Jesus' death on the cross set me free from sin's hold. But "knowing" that, and living a life that represents that, are two totally and completely different things. It is very easy to simply have knowledge about being dead to sin. And it is another thing to live a life that is dead to sin.

Now what does this have to do with Joshua 6:2-3? As I read this evening, it seemed to have everything to do with it. Here God flat out told Joshua that He had given Jericho over to the Israelites, yet the walls were still standing. Joshua could have become discouraged and disheartened, in that Jericho was not yet conquered. Yet instead he obeyed God, and marched around the city. No doubt it was not easy at times, for sure there was opposition from both sides at times. Yet Joshua took God at His word and obeyed believing God's word to to be true.

Likewise I read Romans, and it it filled with wonderful verses which speak of being dead to sin. And how the believer is made dead to sin through Christ's death on the Cross. Sometimes I look at my life, I see that I am not perfect (far from it..) but I believe that God is faithful when in Galatians 5:16 He says that "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." God is not weak or insufficient to overcome sin, no, far from it. In fact sin and death were completely overcome on the Cross. Therefore I believe and rest firm upon the fact that as I walk according to the Spirit, as I grow in Christ and become more conformed to the image of His son. That sins draw and attraction will grow dim, and that I will not care out the desire (or lusts) or the flesh.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday 8-13-10

"10 'Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O LORD have given me.' And you shall set it down before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God; 11 and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given you and your household." Deuteronomy 26:10-11

As I read this passage of how God wanted the Israelites to bring forth the first fruit's offering, I realized how crazy it was. Not that the amount they were to give was crazy, nor the way they were to offer it was crazy. But rather what was crazy was realizing how little they were offering! God had blessed them, just imagine how much land, and not just any land but some of the most fertile land in the world. There is no doubt that they did not lack food or crops at all. I have no doubt that they had an overabundance of crops, from wheat to grapes to corn to you name it they had it. Yet in verse ten all that they were to bring was "the first of the produce." If I remember correctly the first of the produce was supposed to be some of the best of the crop, and here God commands that part of the first produce be given as an offering. Why? Because He is worthy. That is enough of a reason, but I think it also served (and still does serve) as a reminder, a reminder of His provision, a reminder of His goodness, a reminder of our need for Him. 

As I read this I am convicted, I do not spend the time with God in the mornings that I need. Sure I get to read some of His word on the way to work, and I pray all throughout the day. But there is something about giving the first part of my day to Him, that brings out how much I need Him, that brings out His goodness, that brings out His provision. I need to spend the time in the mornings, on my knees in some focused and serious prayer. I need to dig into His word in the mornings, and have my heart set upon the things of God. I need more of Him each day and much less of me!

One last thing verse eleven, "and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given you and your household." God has been good to the Israelites, He has brought them out from Egypt, He has given them a land unrivaled by any other. He has blessed them beyond belief, and He commands them to " the Lord." They had no reason to complain, worry or be anxious, God had provided and blessed in so many ways. Likewise I am blessed I deserved God's wrath being poured out on me for eternity, I deserved punishment and scorn. But thanks be to my Lord Jesus Christ! And God my Saviour, who spared no expense in sending His son in my place to die that I might live. I should not be complaining, or worrying, I should be trusting God and rejoicing in Him!