A New Week – A New Chance to be Courageous

Sunday, October 8

 

Joshua 1-9

Numbers 13-14

Greetings!  This week we are going to be looking at the life of Joshua and the often-repeated refrain in his life – BE STRONG & COURAGEOUS!  Just as strength and courage was needed in the days of Joshua as he led the Israelites into the Promised (but Occupied) Land; so too,  Christians today are living in a land occupied by evil and Godlessness and a large dose of strength and courage is needed to effectively stand against Satan’s schemes.

Our memory verse this week comes from Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  It is easy to become terrified or discouraged when we see evil and lawlessness alive and well.  But the world doesn’t need any more terrified or discouraged Christians whose God is too small.  It is our opportunity – just as it was Joshua’s – to step out in courage to show our world a great big God who can do more than we could ever hope or imagine.

Before jumping into the book that bears Joshua’s name – we need to begin this week in Numbers 13 & 14.  Here we find the Israelites who had recently been miraculously delivered from Egypt on the front steps of the Promised Land.  Go ahead and read these quick chapters.  They provide such a great parallel of terrified and discouraged versus strong and courageous.

In Numbers 13 (as in life today, perhaps), the large majority is definitely panicked and defeated.  They have seen a scary reality and they quickly forget what God has already done for them.  Rather than concentrating on their great big God and the blessings he has in store for them just over the next hill; they crumble.  They “spread … a bad report about the land” (Numbers 13:32), they weep and grumble (Numbers 14:1&2), they blame others and they blame God (14:2-4) and they are even on the verge of great violence towards God’s faithful people (14:10).  They allow fear, discouragement, self-pity and negativity to overflow and it quickly becomes evident that their view of God was much too small.

Meanwhile, the faithful two – Joshua and Caleb – who had seen the same scary looking giants and large fortified cities – ALSO saw the land flowing with milk and honey and a great big God who could deliver His people.  They plead with their terrified and discouraged countrymen: “If the Lord is PLEASED with us, he WILL lead us into that land …Only do NOT rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land.” (Numbers 14:8,9).  If only the people would have listened.  They could have saved themselves from 40 years of wandering and early death.  They could have reaped the blessing instead of the punishment but they allowed their fears to reign.

Where are you right now?  What is your view of God?  Are you remembering all the good things He has already done for you or are you actively blaming Him instead?  Are you too busy spreading a bad report and grumbling to pursue a courageous act of following God?  Are you allowing a scary reality to shrink your view of God?  How can you spend time today magnifying your view of God to remember His greatness and the power He makes available to those courageous enough to put their full trust in Him.  Pray for eyes and a heart like Joshua and Caleb’s that will see not only the giants and fortified cities ahead, but also the exciting direction that God would have us go – the plan that requires that we be Strong and Courageous with a great big view of God.

-Marcia Railton

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It’s Time to HERO UP! (Joshua 15-18)

Tuesday, September 27

nikki-tues

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

nikki-mon

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.

 

 

 

Will you be like the 10? Or the 2? (Numbers 12-14)

Sunday, September 4 – Start of Week 7

talon sun

By Talon Paul

After the Israelites have been freed from their slavery in Egypt by God Almighty (see Ex. 3-14), the Israelites are on their way through the desert towards the land that God promised to Abraham and his descendants (see Gen. 12). However, along this brutal journey, the Israelites become hungry, angry, and resentful of their God. In chapter 13, the Israelites are within distance of the Promised Land and send spies to see how the land looks, and if they are able to overcome it. Two out of the twelve spies believe that God will give them this land, while the other ten are fearful and not trusting of God. It gets so bad that the Israelites start to miss their past life in Egyptian slavery! (see 14:3-4)

Our Christian walk can be much the same as the Israelites’ journey. There are times when we question whether or not the promise of the Kingdom of God is worth all the hardships that we face. We sometimes become bitter and resentful of our God as well, although we know He has a better future planned for us. We sometimes look back and wonder if our lives before becoming Christian was easier and better for us too!

Let the Israelites’ story be a warning to us. They were unable to enter the Promised Land because they desired their past life more than God’s plan. I pray that we don’t fall into that same trap. Put your hope in God and His plans, especially when times seem rough. He has a better future in store for us; immortal life without pain or sorrow.