Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grace and mercy to those seeking God

Grace and mercy to those seeking God

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3 When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai,4 they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended ,5 and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled.6 They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, "We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us."7 The men of Israel said to the Hivites, "Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?"8 But they said to Joshua, "We are your servants." Then Joshua said to them, "Who are you and where do you come from?"9 They said to him, "Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the Lord your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt,10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth.11 "So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, 'Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, "We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us."'12 "This our bread was warm when we took it for our provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled.13 "These wineskins which we filled were new, and behold, they are torn; and these our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long journey."14 So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the Lord.15 Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.Josh 9:3-15 (NASB)

Deception of the Gibeonites (vv. 4-15). Craftily pretending to be envoys of a far-off country, as if from across the Jordan (for they claimed to have known about Sihon and Og, but did not mention Jericho and Ai. See 9:10), a group of Gibeonites perpetrated their hoax upon Joshua by means of their old sacks and mended wineskins, patched sandals and threadbare clothing, and dry, crumbled bread. God allowed the Israelites to let people at a considerable distance submit and pay tribute to them, but he ordered them to wipe out completely cities belonging to the peoples of Canaan (Deut 20:10-18). Convinced when they ate of the Gibeonites' stale provisions (which very act of eating, by ancient Oriental custom, established a more or less enduring friendly relationship), the leaders of the congregation made a formal covenant-treaty (berît) with them. "The Israelites were guilty of excessive credulity and culpable negligence, in not asking by the high priest's Urim and Thummim the mind of God, before entering into the alliance" (Jamieson in JFB; cf. Num 27:21).

—Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The


Other people heard these tidings, and were driven thereby to make war upon Israel; but the Gibeonites were led to make peace with them. Thus the discovery of the glory and the grace of God in the gospel, is to some a savour of life unto life, but to others a savour of death unto death, 2Co 2:16. The same sun softens wax and hardens clay. The falsehood of the Gibeonites cannot be justified. We must not do evil that good may themselves to the God of Israel, we have reason to think Joshua would have been directed by the oracle of God to spare their lives. But when they had once said, "We are come from a far country," they were led to say it made of skins, and their clothes: one lie brings on another, and that a third, and so on. The way of that sin is especially down-hill. Yet their faith and prudence are to be commended. In submitting to Israel they submitted to the God of Israel, which implied forsaking their idolatries. And how can we do better than cast ourselves upon the mercy of a God of all goodness? The way to avoid judgment is to meet it by repentance. Let us do like these Gibeonites, seek peace with God in the rags of abasement, and godly sorrow; so our sin shall not be our ruin. Let us be servants to Jesus, our blessed Joshua, and we shall live.
—Matthew Henry Concise

A -  The application that comes to me is one of mercy.   I know God has commanded the Israelites to rid the land of Canaan of all its residents and sparing none. The background was that they were an evil and idolatrous peoples whose customs and rituals  flew in the face of God.  God's sending the Israelites to destroy them was more about their sin, than the Israelites righteousness.  But here we see the Gibeonites, who while deceptive, come in a reverent and submissive posture to the God of Israel,  willing to abandon all their old ways and become servants of the God's people.   I think despite Joshua's ignorance of the lie,  he did not seek God's guidance in a situation that at first glance may have seem a little suspicious.  
    For me I believe God is calling me to be particular about who I allow to be in and around my family.   I need to be suspicious of those in who in the guise of a follower of God my infiltrate my inner circle, but also gracious and merciful enough to allow those with a less clean past, but repentant heart come close so that the light of God's family may shine on them.

P -   Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.   I pray lord for discernment of any I am to rid from the influence of my family.   I also pray Lord to any of those I am to be graceful and merciful to that you would help me to show your light and hope to them through my family.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Searching for and ridding yourself and your family of Sin (a defeated reflection)

Searching for and ridding yourself and your family of Sin (a defeated reflection)

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1 But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel.2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, "Go up and spy out the land." So the men went up and spied out Ai.3 They returned to Joshua and said to him, "Do not let all the people go up; only about two or three thousand men need go up to Ai; do not make all the people toil up there, for they are few."4 So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai.5 The men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water.6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.7 Joshua said, "Alas, O Lord God, why did You ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan!8 "O Lord, what can I say since Israel has turned their back before their enemies?9 "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?"10 So the Lord said to Joshua, "Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face?11 "Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.12 "Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst.13 "Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, 'Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the Lord, the God of Israel, has said, "There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst."1 
Josh 7:1-14 (NASB)
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Achan took some of the spoil of Jericho. The love of the world is that root of bitterness, which of all others is most hardly rooted up. We should take heed of sin ourselves, lest by it many be defiled or disquieted, Heb 12:15; and take heed of having fellowship with sinners, lest we share their guilt. It concerns us to watch over one another to prevent sin, because others' sins may be to our damage. The easy conquest of Jericho excited contempt of the enemy, and a disposition to expect the Lord to do all for them without their using proper means. Thus men abuse the doctrines of Divine grace, and the promises of God, into excuses for their own sloth and self-indulgence. We are to work out our own salvation, though it is God that works in us—Matthew Henry Concise
Joshua's concern for the honour of God, more than even for the fate of Israel, was the language of the Spirit of adoption. He pleaded with God. He laments their defeat, as he feared it would reflect on God's wisdom and power, his goodness and faithfulness. We cannot at any time urge a better plea than this, Lord, what wilt thou do for thy great name? Let God be glorified in all, and then welcome his whole will.
God awakens Joshua to inquiry, by telling him that when this accursed thing was put away, all would be well. Times of danger and trouble should be times of reformation. We should look at home, into our own hearts, into our own houses, and make diligent search to find out if there be not some accursed thing there, which God sees and abhors; some secret lust, some unlawful gain, some undue withholding from God or from others. We cannot prosper, until the accursed thing be destroyed out of our hearts, and put out of our habitations and our families, and forsaken in our lives. When the sin of sinners finds them out, God is to be acknowledged. With a certain and unerring judgment, the righteous God does and will distinguish between the innocent and the guilty; so that though the righteous are of the same tribe, and family, and household with the wicked, yet they never shall be treated as the wicked.
—Matthew Henry Concise
See the folly of those that promise themselves secrecy in sin. The righteous God has many ways of bringing to light the hidden works of darkness. See also, how much it is our concern, when God is contending with us, to find out the cause that troubles us. We must pray with holy Job, Lord, show me wherefore thou contendest with me. Achan's sin began in the eye. He saw these fine things, as Eve saw the forbidden fruit. See what comes of suffering the heart to walk after the eyes, and what need we have to make this covenant with our eyes, that if they wander they shall be sure to weep for it. It proceeded out of the heart. They that would be kept from sinful actions, must mortify and check in themselves sinful desires, particularly the desire of worldly wealth. Had Achan looked upon these things with an eye of faith, he would have seen they were accursed things, and would have dreaded them; but looking on them with an eye of sense only, he saw them as goodly things, and coveted them. When he had committed the sin, he tried to hide it. As soon as he had got this plunder, it became his burden, and he dared not to use his ill-gotten treasure. So differently do objects of temptation appear at a distance, to what they do when they have been gotten. See the deceitfulness of sin; that which is pleasing in the commission, is bitter in the reflection. See how they will be deceived that rob God. Sin is a very troublesome thing, not only to a sinner himself, but to all about him. The righteous God will certainly recompense tribulation to them that trouble his people. Achan perished not alone in his sin. They lose their own, who grasp at more than their own. His sons and daughters were put to death with him. It is probable that they helped to hide the things; they must have known of them. What fatal consequences follow, even in this world, to the sinner himself, and to all belonging him! One sinner destroys much good. What, then, will be the wrath to come? Let us flee from it to Christ Jesus as the sinner's Friend. There are circumstances in the confession of Achan, marking the progress of sin, from its first entrance into the heart to its being done, which may serve as the history of almost every offence against the law of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
—Matthew Henry Concise
A -  The application for me is to recognize that God has a mission for me and my family,  he has a promise, and a promised land, and is with us.   Critical will be my consistency in obedience to God’s command and discernment when things are not going well as to the cause.     The lesson from Joshua and Achan, is one of disobedience and hidden sin and its impact on  God’s favor and our victory.   I must seek to mine out hidden sin in my life, as well as my family’s life.  As we saw with the Israelites the sins of one amongst them caused all to be defeated.  It was just Achan who was punished either, it was his entire family that was destroyed.    I believe that means as the leader I have full responsibility to not only not lead my family into sin, but to be sure I can discern and cast out all sin of those involved in my family with taking the promised land.

P -  Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today’s opportunity to dive deeply into your word and particularly learn and grow from your servant Joshua what it means to take the promised land.    I pray lord for discernment of any sin in my life, or my family’s life that I need to rid myself of. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Remembering the victories God has won for us

Remembering the victories God has won for us
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1 Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying,2 "Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe,3 and command them, saying, 'Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.' "4 So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe;5 and Joshua said to them, "Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel.6 "Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later , saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?'7 then you shall say to them, 'Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.' So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever."Josh 4:1-7 (NASB)

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The works of the Lord are so worthy of rememberance, and the heart of man is so prone to forget them, that various methods are needful to refresh our memories, for the glory of God, our advantage, and that of our children. God gave orders for preparing this memorial.
—Matthew Henry Concise

3) The Crossing Commemorated and Completed. 4:1-18. Before the priests bearing the ark could leave their post, stones for two cairns were collected, and one of these was erected where the priests stood in the river.
5. This verse may be translated, Proceed to the presence (i.e., the vicinity) of the ark of Jehovah your God, to the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder... Joshua and the twelve appointees may have remained on the eastern bank until the multitude had crossed. 6, 7. The heap of stones was to be a witness to God's power and faithfulness in bringing all Israel back to the Promised Land (cf. 4:21-24). Both the OT and archaeology testify to the frequent use of single standing stones (maṣṣēbôt) and cairns as memorials to commemorate theophanies (Gen 28:1835:14), vows or covenants (Gen 31:45-53Josh 24:26), supernatural events (1 Sam 7:10-12), or even relatives or tribes (Gen 35:20Ex 24:4). An altar, since it was built of unhewn stones (Ex 20:25), could serve a similar purpose (Isa 19:19Josh 22:1026-34; cf. Gen 12:726:24, 2535:137Ex 17:15Deut 27:1-8Josh 8:30-35).
9. Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan on the very spot where the priests had stood. This spot must have been on the eastern brink, where they first stepped into the flood waters, for neither 3:17 nor 4:9, 10 indicates that they had proceeded any farther into the river. Hence the cairn must have been readily visible during most of the year. Note that the two sets of twelve stones bore witness to the fact that all twelve tribes were in the wilderness together and entered Canaan at once.
10. And the people hasted and passed over. This statement explains in retrospect (i.e., had hasted) how the priests were able to stand patiently. 12, 13. The men of the Trans-Jordanian tribes, unencumbered by families and possessions, had led the crossing (1:12-18).
—Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The

The significance of what a feat it must have been for the 12 tribes to cross the river, put themselves in the land described 40 years earlier as full of great and large men who were to be feared can be lost if we don't remember the whole story and think about the geography of the land.   Though they had just defeated three kingdoms on the other side of the Jordan,  strategically crossing the Jordan meant they would be putting themselves in a position of no retreat against a potentially powerful enemy.   The difference this time for the tribes of Israel is that their faith in God had been built in the desert and they were now ready to trust in God's strength and  and and claim the promises He had for them.
A -   The application for my life is two fold.  First to follow the wisdom of God's guidance to the people of Israel.   The Israelites had traversed the land between Egypt and the promised land, they rid themselves of their idolatrous and pagan ways from their time in Egypt, they grew their relationship with God, and He proved capable and trustworthy.    Their journey was not over yet though, they still had the not simple task of claiming the promised land, and this too would require great trust and obedience, against odds that seemed that by human standards would seem overwhelming.  So how do you work up a group of people to take this on.  God tells them what to do,  erect a monument to always remember what God has done,  it will act as a milestone to where you have been, how much you have overcome.    I am to do the same thing in my life personally as well as at work with the teams I lead.   The lord has done great things in my life, has saved me, drawn me closer to him and and equipped me along the way for this season of taking the promised land.   The mile markers are clear , my salvation,  my surrender, my growth, my edification, my equipping, my service,  and now my leadership and teaching.     At work in this season, it is about my project team, who has made great strides to build a highly effective and cohesive team, who is doing things different than ever before.   As a team we face a huge challenge ahead of us, but we must mark and celebrate the milestones along the way to remind us of how far we have come.
P - Dear heavenly Father, thank your promises, and being trustworthy to keep them.    I pray for help in remembering and celebrating the milestones along the way in my life, and on the teams you have given me to lead.   I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Boldy take possession of the promised land

Boldy take possession of the promised land

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"No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.6 "Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.7 "Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.8 Josh 1:5-8 (NASB)
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Joshua is to make the law of God his rule. He is charged to meditate therein day and night, that he might understand it. Whatever affairs of this world we have to mind, we must not neglect the one thing needful. All his orders to the people, and his judgments, must be according to the law of God. Joshua must himself be under command; no man's dignity or dominion sets him above the law of God. He is to encourage himself with the promise and presence of God. Let not the sense of thine own infirmities dishearten thee; God is all-sufficient. I have commanded, called, and commissioned thee to do it, and will be sure to bear thee out in it. When we are in the way of duty, we have reason to be strong and very bold. Our Lord Jesus, as Joshua here, was borne up under his sufferings by a regard to the will of God, and the commandment from his Father.


The people of Israel engage to obey Joshua; All that thou commandest us to do we will readily do, without murmuring or disputing, and whithersoever thou sendest us we will go. The best we can ask of God for our magistrates, is, that they may have the presence of God; that will make them blessings to us, so that in seeking this for them, we consult our own interest. May we be enabled to enlist under the banner of the Captain of our salvation, to be obedient to his commands, and to fight the good fight of faith, with all that trust in and love his name, against all who oppose his authority; for whoever refuses to obey him must be destroyed.
—Matthew Henry Concise

I. Entrance Into the Promised Land. 1:1-5:12

A. God's Commission to Joshua. 1:1-9. At the close of the Pentateuch the death of Israel's outstanding leader and lawgiver and Jehovah's faithful servant is recorded. The Israelites were still encamped east of the Jordan. God's inspired history of his chosen people now continues.
1. The Lord spake unto Joshua... Moses' minister (cf. Ex 24:13Num 27:18-23Deut 1:3831:23). Whereas Moses, whom Joshua had served as chief assistant or officer, had previously given a charge to him, now God spoke directly to him to assume command of the Israelites. While probably not "mouth to mouth" (Num 12:8), this revelation must have come almost immediately after Moses died, in order to maintain the continuity of God's theocratic rule. The Lord gave Joshua four specific orders: (1) go over Jordan; (2) be strong...; (3) cause this people to inherit; (4) observe to do according to all the. Law. 2. Arise, go over this Jordan. Up! prepare to cross over into Canaan. The Jordan was now at flood stage (3:15). The land which I do give. I am giving (Heb. participle), or, I am about to give.
3. As I said unto Moses. See Deuteronomy 11:23-32. They actually had to occupy the territory in order to receive it from God, as Christians must claim and appropriate their spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph 1:3), 4. This Lebanon. According to the lxx, Anti-Lebanon, of which range Mount Hermon, perhaps visible from a height above Abel-shittim, is the southernmost peak. The land of the Hittites. This phrase is not in Deut 11:24; the lxx omits it here. In 1407 b.c. the Hittite emperors had not yet overrun Syria; their supremacy between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean began thirty to fifty years later, under King Suppiluliumas. If this phrase is genuine in the original manuscript, then the book of Joshua was not written before about 1350 b.c.
5. I will not fail thee. Literally, I will not drop, abandon thee (cf. 10:6, "drop not," or "slack not, thy hand"); lxxI will not leave thee in the lurch. 6. Be strong and of a good courage (cf. 1:7a9). God's second order, so necessary to a warrior, was, Be strong and resolute, inflexible; lxxBehave like a man. For unto this people... the land. Literally, for thou shalt cause this people to inherit the land, God's third command to Joshua. Canaan was promised in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 15:16-21).
7. Observe to do according to all the law. The fourth command was to keep watch or be careful to practice the whole Mosaic law, not merely the letter of the Law, but the spirit of it as well (cf. Mt 5:27, 28, etc.). 8. Meditate therein day and night. Hāgâ, "recite in an undertone." The lxx uses meletâō, denoting the meditative pondering and audible practice of orators. Joshua's courage, hope of victory, and wisdom necessary for success were dependent upon his constant attention and inflexible adherence to the written Law (tôrâ, "instruction, teaching").
—Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The

A  -   The application for me is grow in my confidence of the Lord's commandment in my life, and embrace the season of entering the promised land.   The season of entering the promised land promises to be one of provision but also great challenge.  Confidence in God's promise is the key to successfully and boldly stepping forward and actually possessing God's promise.     Boldly doesn't mean without humility.    Humbleness is towards God, knowing in my own strength I cannot take the promised land, but instead through Him I shall receive the promise land, my part is to simply be obedient and step in the right direction.   This is symbolic of our first step of salvation.  He has set up salvation so that we cannot earn it, Jesus has already paid for it, all we must do is turn toward God and take the first step in faith and salvation and eternity with God are ours for the taking.    In seasons of entering the promised land the challenge ahead will not be small, in fact it will likely seem impossible.   The promises will seem great , but the act of how exactly you will be able to possess the land will be dependent on God and not me.
Here are three take aways from Joshua that I can apply to my life:
 1.  Arise and go when God says go.    A listening ear, and a discerning heart , tuned into God is necessary to ensure first you hear God's whisper (or shout) to stand up and move out.   Trust and obedience are the second requirement.

 2.  Be strong and courageous.      While the first step is generally the hardest,   the process of taking the promised land is rarely a moment, it is usually a long season of challenges and victories, even some small set backs and defeats.  This will take a deep sense of courage and commitment to God's call so that when the passion and excitement from the initial push wears off and the middle one third of the journey when your spirit starts to flag

 3. Observe God's law, meditate on His word day and night.   For me this one seems only at this point in my life more obvious.  It is is critical to stay connected to God's word, daily.   I am in a growing season, where my old reading plan has been set aside for a more spirit led and in depth book study in the bible.  While each reading plan is different, and the journaling different, the key is daily interaction with the word of God, as both a reminder, and refreshing of what it is God expects of me.  God's word is alive and speaks to me in my circumstances and in preparation for the day, week, month and year ahead.

P -   Dear heavenly Father, thank your for your inspiration and guidance through the study of Joshua.   I thank you for your encouraging and enboldening words to get up and take the promised land with confidence. I thank you for your daily guidance on where it is I am to go, what challenge I am to face, and the strength and endurance to overcome the obstacles that each challenge presents.  I pray Lord for a refreshing, and restoring spirit, and grateful and humble heart, and fearless and unashamed spirit to take the promises you have laid before me.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.