Re:Verse reading–Joshua 9 (day four)
Discernment is one of those Christ-like character qualities that can keep us on the narrow track of obedience. Discernment is being able to see both sides of an issue and then, through the filter of God’s Word and His Holy Spirit, being able to determine the difference between the right and the wrong decision. Often, discernment becomes that ‘still, small voice’ or that ‘red flag of caution’ that tells us which way to go or what decision to make. Being attentive to the voice of the Lord requires us to have been regularly in His presence so that we recognize His voice. Once we recognize His voice, our obedience will determine our response to it.
We don’t really know if Joshua and Israel just never bothered to check with God or if they knew better, but chose to disobey. Either way, it was sin and they had to deal with the consequences for the rest of their lives. Before we condemn though, we need to ask ourselves if we are seeking God first in every decision.
Re:Verse reading–Joshua 9 (day three)
“They resorted to a ruse.” The Gibeonites were attempting to stay alive–and they succeeded. The Israelites did not attempt to learn wisdom from God to see through this charade, but that’s not the Gibeonites’ fault. In fact, we all should be so shrewd. Jesus said in Luke 16 that we have much to learn from those who use their minds to find new ways around old problems. He seemed to recognize a tendency of those who have known God’s favor to grow spiritually and intellectually complacent. We tend to make plans for the future God has made available to us while we ignore today. But we won’t have a future until we rightly steward the present.
Re:Verse reading–Joshua 9 (day two) So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the Lord. vs. 14
Then Joshua called for them and spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you are living within our land? vs. 22
Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware. I have never been good at negotiating. Whether with my siblings, or for a new car, or house. I suppose most savvy business folks would say that I don’t have what it takes to secure the deal. My problem is always the same. I begin with the assumption that everyone will be completely forthcoming in the process. I will be very forthright about what I can pay or exchange, and I assume that you will do the same. To put it another way, I always put all my cards on the table from the start. It’s a very trusting posture, but not a very sound one in making deals.
I have learned this about myself, and as such I try to never make a deal on the fly. I force myself to stop, sleep, and pray. If I can’t find peace about it, it is not for me. Joshua would have been wise to follow this advice. He looked at the situation and assumed he understood. He did not seek the Lord’s counsel, and as a result were deceived.
Nothing is worth getting ahead of God.
Re:Verse reading–Joshua 9 (day one)
“When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho. . .they acted craftily.”–v 3-4.
One of Satan’s oldest strategies. Snake-like subtlety. “You won’t die”, he whispered to Eve (Genesis 3). “It won’t matter”, he whispers to us with each offered temptation. Liar.
The Gibeonites are his disciples in Joshua 9 and, sadly, the people of God fell for the deception. “So the men of Israel took some of their provisions and did not ask for the counsel of the Lord. . .and made a treaty with them, to let them live.”–v 14-15.
Feel like you are being lied to these days? More than likely you are! And the only remedy is to seek daily counsel and correction from the One who truth in His very nature.
“Do not be deceived!”–Galatians 6:7. The problem is not that people lie. The problem is that we listen to them without seeking counsel from God.
Re:Verse reading–Mark 15:16-20, 24-40; Mark 16:1-8 (day seven)
“When they looked up, they saw the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.”–16:4
It was an object lesson. One of many on that history-shattering morning. Silent, powerful testimony. The first thing they noticed. Their worries had been unnecessary. God had already rolled away the stone.
It spoke to them of God’s power. “You shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.”–Matthew 17:20. Over time we realize. Our “problems” are not really the problem. What we lack is confidence in God.
The stone spoke of God’s promise and provision. Waters will part and obstacles will remove from the road that God calls us to walk.
But, sometimes the “stone” is not ON my path but IN my heart. God will make the way possible, but ONLY for those willing to walk forward in faith. The stone said so.
Re:Verse reading–Joshua 7, Mark 15:16-20, 24-40; Mark 16:1-8 day six)
Achan’s sin is catastrophic. Thirty-six people died, not including he and his family, as a result of his disobedience. Like a cancer it spread, and although it began with him, he could not control it or contain it. A whole people were left demoralized because of one man’s moment of greed. And it resulted in death.
Jesus went to the cross for Achan. Holy Week is a searing reminder that we are no better off than Achan. We are worthy of being stoned; we are worthy of the cross, and yet while we were still enemies of God Christ died for us. In the cross and resurrection we discover the cure for that uncontrollable, uncontainable cancer. And so we lament at the great cost of our sin, and yet we also rejoice knowing that it is finished!
He is risen!
Re:Verse reading–Mark 15:16-20, 24-40; Mark 16:1-8 day five)
As believers, the Empty Tomb is the pivotal picture of our faith, hope, and life. But, before it was empty, it was occupied. The scripture tells us in all four of the gospel accounts, that Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb. The details are given: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. What we know for certain is that Jesus was dead, and that His body was placed in the tomb. The occupied tomb communicated undeniable hopelessness to His followers.
I wonder if they were thinking somehow Jesus could escape death. Maybe at the last possible second, God would send an angel or another miracle would spare His life. There was no angel’s rescue that day. There was no life saving miracle. There was just darkness and despair. Jesus was killed. The tomb was sealed. The guard was posted to stand watch. The disciples were hiding in confusion, devastation, and fear. And the Savior lies lifeless in a tomb.
How did His followers process what has just happened? They must have had a thousand painful questions. “How could He be the long awaited King if He was just killed?” “Is there something we could have done to stop it?” “If they tortured and slaughtered Him like that, what will they do to us?” On Friday they watched, waited, and worried.
Re:Verse reading–Joshua 7 (day four)
Achan had sinned. God had commanded the Israelites not to take any spoil from Jericho. He warned them that if they disobeyed Him He would not conquer the enemies before them. When the children of Israel turned in retreat before the armies of Ai, Joshua did not know what had happened…but God knew. After a careful winnowing by lot, Achan was discovered and confessed his sin. He and all of his family were taken out to the valley and stoned for their disobedience. From then on, the valley was known as the ‘valley of trouble’.
Fast forward now to the prophet Hosea’s day. Hosea 2:15 says, “Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.” God promised to take the valley of trouble and turn it into a door of hope. That is what He does with our lives through Jesus…He takes the disaster of our disobedience and through faith, He gives HOPE!
Re:Verse reading–Joshua 7 (day three)
“What are you doing down on your face?” When is it time to be done with prayer? The answer is the one the Lord gives to Joshua: When prayer becomes a substitute for doing what needs doing. Now, we do not ignore the Bible’s instruction to “pray without ceasing.” We do, however, recognize the temptation to use prayer to stall for time, to keep confrontation at bay, to delay conflict. If you’re honest, you know you would often rather ask questions of God than answer the question that has been put to you. If action never follows prayer, to what end are we praying? The steps will be faltering, awkward, arduous. But so are a baby’s, and we cheer him on. You’ve prayed. Now what will you do?
Re:Verse reading–Mark 15:16-20, 24-40; Mark 16:1-8 (Holy Week reading, day two) Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 15:29-30
…”fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…” Hebrews 12:2
Jesus endured unimaginable torture before succumbing on the cross. He knew what he must do, and he knew that it would be unbearable…and yet he did it. The writer of Hebrews calls it “joy”. The joy was not the cross, but the victory beyond it. Jesus knew this too. His eyes were fixed, not on the cross, but on the throne. My allegiance is to the one who bridged the gap on the cross for sinners like me to have access to that joy.
Have a blessed Holy Week.