What is Your Refuge? (Joshua 19-21)

Wednesday, September 28

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Nikki Green

The Israelites were given the privilege to celebrate the LORD as their military general, intelligence leader, informant, strategist, defender, King, and Promise Keeper.   Joshua followed the orders of his commander in chief and finished up the land divisions.  Inheritance was finally bestowed on him, as well, and he received the town of Timnah Serah in the hill country of Ephraim.  Joshua rebuilt the town and settled down.  He was reminded many times through his career to be strong and courageous.  He listened and believed – and the LORD granted him success.

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The LORD requested Joshua to set aside cities of refuge for those guilty of accidentally causing someone’s death.  Moses heard this command also, in Numbers 35:9.  This was the beginning of the judicial system for God’s people.  If someone had been accused of murder and was a fugitive, they could find sanctuary as they awaited judgement.  They could flee to one of these designated cities of refuge, stand at the gate, and state their case.  The elders of the city would allow the fugitive to enter their city and provide a place of protection for them to live as they awaited trial.  These people, awaiting trial, were safe there, as long as the high priest was alive.  How grateful I am to have a high priest who never dies!  “The LORD will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

 

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It’s Time to HERO UP! (Joshua 15-18)

Tuesday, September 27

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Nikki Green

We need heroes who will conquer the giants of life.  Giants will persist as long as we let them.  We see literal giants hang around for 45 years, occupying the land promised by God, as Caleb waits to take on his old nemesis.  We have learned that Hebron was given to the tribe of Judah.  Caleb quickly “heroes up” and drives the giants out of his God given land (Josh.15:14).   Caleb was not only a mighty man of bold action, but also a man who encouraged others to great and bold deeds.  He did this by offering his daughter in marriage to the man who was brave and courageous enough to conquer a city to have her.  Caleb’s nephew, Othniel, was up for the challenge.  He takes the city and then collect his compensation, a wife -the daughter of one of the greatest heroes on earth.  Achsah, the bride, is okay with marrying this guy, but is not okay with living in the desert.  She asks her dad for land with springs of water.  She imitates her dad’s boldness and asks for what she wants.  We see God, the Father of the Israelites, give choice land to his kids and now we see Caleb do the same for his child.  As insignificant as daughters may have been to some people in that day, I love that her dad got her a quality man, a hero in his own rite.  Then we see Caleb ask her “What can I do for you?”  She replied, “Do me a special favor.  Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.”  (Josh. 15:18-19).  A dad doing something special for his little girl – I love this!  And it seems he doubles what she requested – not one, but two areas of springs.  He gives her land with upper and lower springs (Josh. 15:19).

Joshua continues divvying up land for the Israelites.  Sadly not all were like Caleb and Othniel, willing to put in the effort, time, or energy to drive out the Canaanites.  As God’s people took over the land, they began making compromises that later get them into trouble.  Many of the people decided, instead of fighting and destroying the enemy – they will just do what’s convenient and create a forced labor from these people.  This may have seemed innocent but it opened their hearts, eventually, to idolatry and struggles they should have never had to deal with.  This becomes a giant that keeps popping up because it wasn’t handled properly.  The Israelites did not fully conquer their immoral enemies, they disobeyed God and fell short of what He had for them.  How sad they couldn’t see the challenge in front of them, and get rid of all evil in their sight.  We will soon watch their personal giant show up time and time again, as significant struggles in the days of the Judges.

We all have giants that need conquered.  Anyone, like Caleb, had to deal with such an adversary for 45 years?  Is your giant taking up residence where it doesn’t belong?  Let’s be bold, brave, and courageous in our thoughts, actions, and requests.  God gives the victory to His kids.  He wants to bless us with more than we even know to ask for.  Time to HERO UP Friends!

Requesting war with giants on their home turf – super crazy or super hero? (Joshua 11-14)

Monday, September 26

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Nikki Green

In 1933 two Jewish boys had an idea for a super hero.  This hero was an outsider, taken from home, and dropped in a strange land.  He believed in justice and truth.  His role would be to save people.  This soon became the legend of Superman.  This brings to mind a similar story.  Moses was dropped in the land of Egypt and became the hero God’s people needed.  He stood up to the Pharaoh and delivered the Israelites from slavery.  As we moved through the Bible, Joshua becomes the Moses 2.0.  Joshua 11:15 reminds us “As the LORD commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses.” Joshua followed God’s commands and led Israel to ultimately take over all the royal cities and their kings.  Chapter 12 reiterates, without any exaggeration or embellishment, the many victories of God’s hero, Joshua.  The Israelites had followed this great man through warfare and were now ready to receive their inheritance.

Joshua, the chief priest, and the heads of the twelve tribes oversaw the allotment of God’s Promised Land.  Joshua seems to barely wrap up his military duties and has to quickly take on the responsibilities of property management and administration.  He assigned lots as God commanded through Moses.  The Levites had not been granted an inheritance in terms of land.  The sons of Joseph had become two tribes (Manasseh and Ephraim), since Jacob had adopted them as his own (Gen 48:5).  This made it possible to have the twelve part nation.  The Levites carried out religious duties for the Israelites.  They were given cities to live in, but were not land owners “because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance” (Deut. 18:2).

We need heroes that show us how to follow God wholeheartedly.  Caleb, from the tribe of Judah, had joined Joshua 45 years earlier as one of the twelve spies sent by Moses to scout out the Promised Land.  Caleb boldly approached Joshua, on behalf of his tribe, and requested exactly what both men had heard Moses promise to Caleb, because he “followed the LORD wholeheartedly” (Josh. 14:8).  This is where the hero-status jumps up to a whole new level!  The land Caleb was requesting was not void of “bad guys”.  As a matter of fact, if you remember the “giants” that terrified 10 of the 12 spies – they were inhabiting this land.  Caleb admits he’s 85 years old and says he’s still as strong as the day Moses sent him out.  He says he’s ready to go out to battle.  “Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day.  You yourself heard that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” (Josh.14:12).  Why does the Bible name the folks living there?  The 3 sons of Anach (Sheshai, Ahiman, & Talmai) were also known as 3 clans of giants – the stuff legends are made of.  We watch 85 year old Caleb request the large, fortified cities, full of giants, & on a hill – for his retirement package.  I wouldn’t have blamed him if he requested land near the river, shaded with palm trees, and free of his enemies!  In his old age, he did what the rest of Israel could not and would not do – he believed in God’s word & defeated the giants (and their fortified cities) on their home turf.  (Josh 15:14).  He won and took up residence in Hebron, something he’d probably envisioned for his tribe for more than four decades.

2 Cor.16:9 tells us “the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him”.  Young and old can learn from Caleb’s example, as he followed God wholeheartedly – that’s the stuff heroes are made of!  I’m sure those two imaginative Jewish boys heard their fair share of Old Testament Bible stories.  Superman is fun to read about, but as we continue our journey through God’s instruction manual, we have some truly super men to learn from.

 

 

 

Your Name Means WHAT?!? (Joshua 8-10)

Sunday, September 25 – Start of Week 10

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Nikki Green

Do you like your name?  Any clue what it means?  Working as a labor & delivery nurse opened my eyes to many interesting names.  Here are a few that stand out over 20 years: “7” (yes, the number), Anakin Skywalker, Luke Sky Welker, Kal-el Krypton, Beau Ty, A-a (pronounced A-dash-a), Sonny Boy, Sunshine, Tequila, Serenity Bliss (also the name of an incontinence product), Yaz (after the birth control pill that failed), and Benjamin James, The Sequel (not “Jr.” or “II”).  Some of these parents created names, hoping to lead them into a specific character or vocation.  Some were placing blame.  7’s mom was hoping for a rock star, she said.

Hebrew names given to people & places were more than just labels.  Joshua was renamed by Moses (Numbers 13:16), anticipating his later life mission.  “The LORD Saves” was a great name, and great reminder that Joshua would be completing the mission of redemption that the LORD started with Moses.  As we read Joshua 8 we get a glimpse at God’s specific, military direction, and how much better life plays out when everyone follows God’s game plan, not their own.  We get to read the excitement that goes with hiding, ambush, and claiming their promised land.  We also see how God blesses his army with wealth by giving permission, this time, to carry off the plunder and livestock they find.

In Exodus 23:32 the Israelites had been forewarned not to form any alliance with local people.  Joshua had been working hard at living out the destiny Moses prepared him for.  He was a problem solver, military leader, and spiritual mentor.  As we all do, he made a mistake.  When a group of people approached him requesting a treaty, he did not inquire of the LORD.  They showed up carrying mended wineskins and moldy bread, dressed in worn out clothes and patched sandals.  It appeared they had traveled quite a distance and were not a “local people,” but it was all a scam.  They were “local people,” only five or six miles away.  Joshua formed a treaty with these deceptive Gibeonites.  Once he realized the sham, he reduced them to being woodcutters and water carriers.  This reminds me that I intentionally need to consult God, not just think “this seems okay, everything looks good”.  We read that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).  The meaning of his evil name is “adversary/one who resists”.

As Joshua continues his calling, he follows what is asked of him by God’s people (and those he’s become responsible for).  Conflict and conquest seem to become a theme for our brave leader.  Chapter 10 describes one of my favorite military strategies.  Who hasn’t ever wished for more time in their day?  Joshua, with complete confidence, knows what will help his men and boldly asks the LORD to have the sun stand still.  The sun stopped and delayed going down about a full day.  Joshua had an all-night march with his men and then took them by surprise.  The LORD threw them into confusion, fought with them by hurling large hailstones from the sky, and gave His people a great victory.

What a blessing to watch someone fulfill their God given purpose.  Joshua’s parents spoke life over him with his birth name, Hoshea.  This name meant Salvation.  Starting with a foundation of “Salvation” and exchanging that name (and need) with “The LORD Saves” (the answer), became a great foreshadowing for his life.  How does your name suit you?  Regardless of the interesting names we were all given at birth, Oh how sweet to know God wants to bless us (like his army), and will call us by name! Isaiah 45:3 says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.”

 

Nikki Green considers it a blessing to come from a family of believers.  She’s the daughter of Steve & Betsy (Mattison) Moore.  She married her HS sweetheart, Greg, and they have 3 kiddos (Justin, Natali, & Brendan).  She enjoys teaching Jr. Church, which she’s done since 1989 and loves spending time with her family.  She plays piano at Troy View, while her husband leads worship, and feels blessed to have Dan (& Rachel) Cain leading their congregation.  She loves working as camp nurse-even though most injuries seem to be the FUEL staff! 🙂 She relies on God daily and prays He will use her to further His kingdom.

 

Jericho! (Joshua 5-7)

Saturday, September 24

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By Jill McClain

God told Joshua that the Israelites were going to use a very unusual strategy to conquer the walled city of Jericho. The Israelites marched around the city once every day, for six days.  Then on the seventh day they marched around the city seven times.  On the seventh time around the city they played their trumpets and shouted, and then miraculously the walls surrounding the city came crashing down, so the Israelite army could enter the city and destroy every living thing in the city, except for Rahab and her family. Rahab was spared because she had faithfully assisted the spies that Joshua had earlier sent to the city. God had his people conquer the city of Jericho in such a unique way, so that there would be no doubt that God had been in control and caused the victory.  Do you have a something in your life that seems too large or difficult to overcome?  Do you need to turn your issue over to the Lord and let him help you win the battle?  Listen carefully for signs from God about how you should proceed with your problem.  We read earlier in Joshua that God wants you to remain strong and courageous in your battles against the world and that he will never leave your side.  However, just like the Lord’s army had to obediently march around the city for seven days, there may be actions that the Lord requires of you before you can be victorious in your own battles.

Following the successful battle at Jericho, Joshua sent a portion of the army on to the region of Ai.  There were only a few people living in Ai, so Joshua assumed that it should be an easy victory for his army. However, the Israelites lost 36 of their soldiers in the battle and were quickly defeated and chased out of Ai. At first, Joshua was devastated by their loss and could not understand why God would allow his chosen people to face defeat. Then God revealed to Joshua that one of the Israelites, Achan, had stolen plunder from Jericho for himself, despite God’s specific commands to destroy everything in Jericho. God allowed the Israelites to be defeated at Ai because Achan had been deliberately disobedient.   Are there sins in your own life that you need to seek repentance for?  Are there areas in your life that you need to turn over to God so that you can experience all of his blessings?

 

 

(Note from GROW16BibleReading – feel like some Saturday morning cartoons – here’s a 60 second story of The Battle of Jericho from Taylormation – Enjoy!

If you were making the cartoon, what would you have included?  AND – how can you use each and every one of your talents to please God and spread His Word? )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94ltRveQVJY

 

 

 

Learning From Joshua (Joshua 1-4)

Friday, September 23

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By Jill McClain

With the death of Moses, Joshua becomes the new leader of God’s chosen people.  The book of Joshua records Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land.  God quickly reminds Joshua that it is imperative that Joshua and his people remain faithful and then they will succeed in finally entering Canaan.  “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)  God has lovingly given us a book that contains instructions for how we are to live our lives.  However, it is up to each of us to thoroughly study his word day and night, so that we will know how to do just as it says, not veering to the right or left of what has been written.  Hopefully, these devotions have encouraged you to read your Bible daily. Meditating on the Bible is an important first step, but that must be followed up with obedience to all that is taught in God’s word.

Leading God’s people out of the desert that they had been wandering in for 40 years was a challenging assignment.  Yet, Joshua bravely and with calm determination stepped up and became the strong leader that the Israelites needed.  Joshua was able to act courageously because for years he had witnessed God’s faithfulness and he knew that God would always be with him.  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)  What is something that you are facing that requires you to be strong and courageous?

In chapter two Rahab stepped out in faith to help the spies.  Rahab had heard how God had led his people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea.  She had heard stories of God’s protection of his people, and she knew that he must be the one, true God.  Because of Rahab’s faith, God was able to use her, a prostitute from Jericho, to help keep his people safe.  Think of a way that God may be calling you to step out in faith?

In the following chapter, God caused the Jordan River to stop flowing so that his people could walk across. He used this miracle to demonstrate once again that he was with his people.  Then in chapter four the people created a memorial from stones to serve as a reminder of God’s always present help.

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The Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32-34)

Thursday, September 22

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By Jill McClain

Moses lived an incredible life, but at 120 years of age he realizes that he is about to die. He names Joshua as the next leader of the Israelites.  Then Moses teaches the people a song.  The song reminds the people of their history with God. It tells of the people’s repeated failures to follow and trust God, despite his repeated faithfulness and protection.  The song tells again of the punishment that awaits people that do not follow the commands of their Heavenly Father, but it also tells of God’s grace when his people repent and return to him.

In Deuteronomy 32:48-52, Moses is told to climb Mount Nebo where he will be able to see the Promised Land that God is giving to his chosen people.  However, God reminds Moses that he is not going to enter Canaan because of a sin that he committed earlier.  God loved Moses throughout his entire life, even in the midst of his sins.  God never left Moses side, but there were still consequences for his sin.  The same is true for us.  God has offered us grace and forgiveness when we fail and sometimes when we make poor choices we are able to avoid all possible negative effects.  However, other times, like Moses, we may have to face the negative consequences of our errors, but God still loves us and will always be with us through it all.

In chapter 33 Moses blesses each of the tribes of Israel.  Then in chapter 34 Moses climbs Mount Nebo and after seeing the Promised Land he dies.  “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt – to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land.  For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)