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Category Archives: Joshua

AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE…

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As for me and my house…It makes a great plaque, front door declaration or statement of faith, but what does it really mean? Let’s look at the context:

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

This was Joshua’s declaration of faith and obedience near the end of his life. From the context we can learn a few things:

  • It simply doesn’t matter at all what others think, say or do. I will choose to serve the Lord.
  • We must challenge others to choose this day, the day of salvation, whom they will serve. Don’t let the people you know wander through life not making a decision because by not making a decision, they have. Educate others that salvation does not come automatically, but by responding to the love, grace and mercy of God. One must choose salvation, or one has chosen the default, condemnation.
  • Be straight about the consequences of not serving the one, true God. In a time in history when so many are so seeker sensitive that they don’t want to offend someone, offend someone if you must. Not everyone ends up in heaven, but everyone is invited. Wide is the way that leads to destruction and most travel that road. Narrow is the way that leads life and few find it.
  • Our parents may not have had it all right. We must seek the Lord for ourselves and establish a hunger and thirst for Him of our own. We must become convinced of sound doctrines ourselves and seek to go deeper than what comes natural or is comfortable. The stakes are extremely high and we dare not come up short on this most important subject of our faith in God.
  • As for me, I will serve the Lord. No matter what comes or doesn’t come, I will serve the Lord. As Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
  • Everyone in my house will serve the Lord. We parents have the privileged opportunity to make disciples. Christians really should have more kids than the world. And we should make it job one to see that their minds, souls, and spirits are cleansed through the Word and the Spirit. Kids may become converts by watching us or hearing us casually, but it takes more than that to make them disciples. As the Scripture says, teach them while you walk with them, when they lie down and when they arise. Every day is another opportunity to train up a child in the way they should go. And we dare not miss too many of those days.

Most of the heroes of the faith in the Bible and beyond had this in common: They had uncommon receptivity to God. They listened, they heard, they obeyed. There are no short cuts to greatness in discipleship. We too must listen, hear and obey. And then we too will influence others and hear “Well done” in the end.

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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Blogging Through the Bible, Joshua

 

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ALL

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Joshua gave those in Israel who were settling on the other side of the Jordan some instructions that we can learn from:

“But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Joshua 22:5

Let’s take this apart and apply it:

  • Take careful heed: This implies constant care and attention to keeping the commandments of the Lord. Too often we bebop through life enjoying the trail of grace and pay little attention to the details of our life in relation to pleasing God. Much thought and intention must be applied to our lives in order to make them a pleasing offering to our great God. We must live on purpose…with a purpose.
  • To Love the Lord your God: Do I love the Lord or just like Him? The Bible says if we love the Lord we will obey His commands. Do you love the Lord? Are you obeying Him? Jesus said that to Love the Lord our God is the first and greatest commandment. When we love someone we look out for their interests and prefer them above ourselves. We think of them a lot and look forward to spending meaningful time with them. So it is to be with our God. If we draw near to Him, and He will draw near to us.
  • To Walk in All His ways, and Keep His Commandments: Again, the expectation God has for His people is that they live according to His ways. It is popular to say Christianity isn’t a bunch of dos and don’ts. Whoever said that hasn’t read their New Testament lately. It is many things like faith in a Savior, love for God but also most certainly dos and don’ts. It is a delight and a privilege to offer ourselves as living sacrifices and obey our loving Savior. It is not a burden to walk in His ways, it is our pleasure and our God enables us to walk in His ways thanks to His Spirit.
  • Hold Fast to Him: We must allow nothing to dethrone our God from His rightful first place. Everything must be not just second but a distant second…not even close to our love and affection for the One who made us, redeemed us and promises us everlasting life.
  • Serve Him with all your Heart and all your Soul: Way too often we find ourselves more enthused and devoted to earthly things instead of heavenly things and our Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the Bible, the word “all” is used to describe our devotion and service to our God. Not partial, not mostly, but All. Through the pursuit of Him and time spent with Him, we must develop a dedication for our God where we are “all in”. Every day throughout the day we think of our Beautiful God, have great affection for Him and make ALL our decisions in light of how the results would affect His Great Name and in light of our intense love for Him.

In short, we fix our affections on things above, not on things of the earth. We daily fulfill the first and greatest commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. As the hymn goes, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give…

 
 

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THE JUDGMENT OF GOD

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If one is going to blog through the Bible it is impossible to escape the theme of the Judgment of God. It is everywhere in the Bible. Yes, even all over the New Testament. The positive thinkers of the day think we should not dwell on or even talk about the judgment of God. But plugging our ears and saying, “LaLaLa” doesn’t make the possibility of it go away. God put it all over the Bible for a reason and that reason is for us to learn from past judgments and beware of future judgments. This is the first blog of likely several over time about the righteous and inevitable judgment of the Holy One.

Throughout the book of Joshua we see Joshua and Israel conquering nation after nation and annihilating them, according to the commandment of God. Israel was just as justified in killing the wicked then as God was in the flood during Noah’s time. They were commanded to clean house because of the wicked deeds of these nations. God told Israel it wasn’t because of their righteousness that they were called to do this but because of the wickedness of the wicked. God is very longsuffering but He eventually runs out of patience and it is time to reap what one sows.

Why when Israel had an incredible track record of defeating their enemies did the cities and nations keep challenging them? Why not make peace? Joshua 11:20 has an interesting comment:

For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them.

We are warned about this in other scriptures. Eventually God gives sinners over to their sins, hardening their hearts, blinding their eyes, and pronouncing judgment on them. He does this with people and also with nations. History is full of the judgment of God. The Bible gives an account of several thousand years of God’s dealing with nations. And then history since the Bible continues to show us that the days are numbered for a nation that sins and thumbs its nose at God. Empires have risen and fallen since the beginning. Great leaders have had their time and then been humbled. Different forms of government have come and gone. The map of nations and empires changes constantly. Nothing will last until the King of Kings returns and things are done His way.

And then there is America. Somehow we have the idea we are different and perhaps have a pass and won’t get detention for our sins. But there is no favoritism with God. If we commit the sins other nations have committed and then were judged, how can we expect a different result? Look at what He did to Israel for thousands of years: He judged them big time. If Israel, who God had a very special relationship with, was judged so severely, the United States of America has nothing to stand on. We have no covenant with God. We have no promises. All we have is righteousness or wickedness. And it is clear which way we are going. We also will indeed reap what we are sowing. Israel didn’t necessarily commit as many sins as other nations. But Israel knew better, or should have. They had light and chose to live in darkness and were handily judged by God. Maybe we also aren’t sinning as bad yet as many of the already humbled nations of the past. But then again we have probably had more light than any other nation in history other than Israel. So we are accountable in a big way. Our only hope is to repent and do right and believe in God and his Son Jesus Christ. Or God will again do what He has always done to wayward nations…He will rightly pronounce judgment on us and it won’t be pretty. How He does it is up to Him. We may still have time but probably not a lot.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Blogging Through the Bible, Joshua

 

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Splitting Hairs

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In Joshua chapter 2 we find an unlikely hero of the faith: A prostitute. Joshua sent spies into Jericho and Rahab the harlot hid them from those who would have killed them. The reason? She believed in the one true God and greatly feared Him. Her and her family were rewarded for their act of faith and kindness by being spared when Israel attacked and destroyed the city of Jericho. They were given long term permission to live among God’s people.

But that isn’t the last time in the Bible we hear about Rahab. In Hebrews chapter 11, the great faith hall of fame chapter, so called, mentions Rahab too. She is honored for faith with the likes of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and others. Huh? A prostitute…and Moses in the same list of the faithful? Jesus said the tax collectors and sinners will enter the kingdom of heaven before and instead of Jews who knew all the right stuff. Apparently old things really do pass away when one turns to faith in God. Our sins are removed and tossed away as far as the east is from the west…and it doesn’t get any farther than that!

The story of Rahab gives me an excuse to address something I have been pondering for the past several years. I have come to the conclusion it is not all about our perfect doctrines. Supposedly there are over 38,000 Christian denominations worldwide. Incredible. There was supposed to be one. Many if not most of these denominations’ beliefs differ from each other. So who are the Christians? Who are the imposters? Is it possible for someone else to be a God pleasing Christian if they believe different than we? Oh, we shudder at the thought!

There are those who will read my blogs, or another’s, or a book and agree and be challenged or edified by what is said. But if their radar detects something not quite like what they believe, look out! All of the sudden all that was written previously is in question, not to mention the author’s entire ministry, because they don’t believe the same.

There are ministries who blast ministers of the gospel as false teachers and false prophets because of a difference of opinion. With 38,000 denominations, isn’t there an off chance that we could be wrong about something, and the other guy right? The search for truth doesn’t end in our 20’s or when we become believers. It lasts the rest of our lives. And, if we are humble enough and are truly seeking the  truth, we will likely change our opinion about some doctrines at different times in our lives. What are the chances we landed everything right at the beginning of our journey?

A couple years ago I studied the history of beliefs about eschatology, the end times, since soon after the apostles all died. The beliefs for the past many centuries differed greatly. And yet most of the believers who held beliefs that most of us today would never adhere to, were committed, God loving Christians, and will likely be rewarded as such. The fruit of their lives was more important.

The revivalists George Whitfield and John Wesley were contemporaries of each other. Yet their theology couldn’t have been more different. And make no mistake, they were very convinced the other was very, very wrong. Yet the Spirit of God was poured out on both of their ministries big time. Thousands repented and were converted. Now one of them likely had more truth than the other. But apparently God got over it.

To be sure, it is important to believe the right things and be in continual pursuit of truth. And certainly there are certain doctrines that we must hold sacred. But not all of them. I have the sneaking suspicion that humility, love for God and the fruit of the spirit may be more important than splitting hairs about this or that doctrine. Are we doctrine lovers or God lovers? Are we doctrine lovers or neighbor lovers?

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Blogging Through the Bible, Joshua

 

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BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS

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The book of Joshua begins with God having a kind of motivational talk with the new leader of Israel, Joshua. He begins by telling them about all the success they can expect. He promises to not leave them nor forsake them. And then He says this:

  • 1:6 Be strong and of good courage
  • 1:7 Only be strong and very courageous
  • 1:9 Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you
  • 1:18 Only be strong and of good courage

I have met Christians who are strong and courageous. They inspire me. Throw anything at them and they figure out how to have faith anyway and glorify God it the situation. I’ve also met the other kind of Christians. The simplest trial has them curled up in ball bemoaning the fact that things aren’t going their way and why is God so mean to me? Of course things don’t always go our way. Since when is life without difficulties and challenges? I know pretty well what trials are and no one says we have to like them. Lots of times they just plain stink and we may even have to curl up in a ball for a moment. But God is still God and He is still enthroned as the Almighty, Great I AM and Ancient of days. We can still trust Him.

The devil and the world are having their way with believers and intimidating them. Sometimes we act like the cowardly lion with no courage at all.  In the face of physically superior enemies God said to Joshua, be strong and courageous. Our enemies in the flesh and in the spirit are no greater than Joshua’s and our God is just as much God now as He was them. His message to us is the same too: Arise, shine, for your light has come! Be strong and courageous. He will never leave you nor forsake you. If God is for us, who can be against us? For of Him and through Him and To Him are all things. He is the ever-present help in the time of trouble. He is the rock that is higher than I. He is my shelter and my stronghold, my high tower and my refuge. He is God, and there is no other. What He says is true and forever trustworthy. His promises are yes and amen and can be counted on now and forever.

Two things in the first chapter stand out as keys to being strong and courageous. One is in verse 8:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

We cannot expect to be strong and courageous without being strong in His Word. Mediate and repeat the words of God. Eventually we will believe them more than the words of the world or the devil. Day and night, eat them and drink them. Listen to them and memorize them. And, above all, obey them. Then, even though the trials will come, your way will be prosperous in ways that matter.

Secondly is the reminder that God is with us. When, because of time spent with Him, we begin to see Him who is invisible, the visible no longer intimidates or sways us. Our God is more real to us than mere earthly things and trials. Our affections are on things above, not on things of the earth. We co-labor with Him and are seated in the heavenly places with Christ. We are filled with the Holy Spirit. What can man, the world or the devil do to us?

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in Joshua

 

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