Monday, October 9
40 years of wandering have passed since yesterday’s devotion and the Israelites stand at the doorway to the Promised Land once more. But, this time their leader Moses is dead and Joshua and Caleb – the two who courageously trusted God to lead them into the land of giants – are the only ones of their generation to have survived the wandering. A new generation is at the door – this time with Joshua as their leader. Is there any hope that this new generation, which did not personally see how God provided miracle after miracle in saving His people out of Egypt, will have the courage to do what their fathers did not?
Just before his death, Moses – at 120 years of wisdom – had rallied together the younger generation for some final words. He knew the power of fear and discouragement and he remembered all too well the events of 40 years ago. To the gathered Israelites he said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Then he called forward Joshua and spoke to him: “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land…The Lord himself goes with you…Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8).
What more could be done to inspire them to action with a courageous heart and not crumble again in fear? God knew they would need a strong connection to Him, reminders of His faithfulness as well as His requirements. So He directed Moses to write it all down and make sure it was shared with the people – and thus the first five books of the Bible were created – with direction to listen to it, learn it, and teach it to the children – so that they would fear the Lord their God – rather than fearing the circumstances around them. What a gift! What a treasure!
And so, in Joshua 1 God himself speaks to Joshua – giving him his orders and how to lead His people. In one short paragraph (Joshua 1:6-9), God tells Joshua three times, “Be strong and courageous!” This is important!! Fear and discouragement must not be allowed to reign in Joshua’s heart. And what is sandwiched in between that repeated refrain – the answer of HOW to build up Joshua’s courage and give him daily doses of Godly direction. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; 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.” (1:8).
There it is: the answer to living a courageous life of action following God’s direction (as well as being successful) — daily – meditating – on – His – Words. Are you ready to exchange fear and discouragement for a good dose of strength and courage? Get in His Word! How many times can you read Joshua chapter 1 today? What new directions, warnings, details will you find each time? God’s Word is loaded with what we need. It is our connection to the God of the Universe. Use it boldly and courageously!
Go With God Today – Marcia Railton
The Memory verse for this week is Proverbs 9:10:
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
The book of Proverbs is a genre of literature known as wisdom literature. Along with Job and Ecclesiastes, Proverbs looks at the world in a slightly different way than the historical books of the Bible or the prophetic books. In the wisdom books, the sages find information about God throughout the world of nature. Where God reveals himself directly to Moses and Israel in Exodus and he reveals himself in visions to the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel, to the sages who write in Proverbs God often reveals himself in the created world and by observation of human behavior.
In Proverbs 6:6 he writes: “go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” An ant is a comparatively small and very weak creature when set alongside a human being, and yet, ants are industrious and hard working. They plan and prepare for the winter by working hard and gathering up their provisions in the summer time. There is wisdom in hard work and preparation. The wisdom writer uses this as a way to admonish the person who is lazy and refuses to do the hard work of preparing for winter. So the wisdom lesson here is “don’t be lazy, work hard to prepare in advance and you will be much less likely to suffer adversity.”
We could then apply this to other areas of life. For students this means, don’t wait until the night before your test to begin “cramming” for the test. Work hard at your studies each day in your preparation. Read your assignments, do your research. Then, when the harvest comes (the test) you will be successful because you worked hard and prepared. That’s wisdom applied to life and that’s the value of Proverbs.
Later in Proverbs 6 wisdom is applied to relationships and to marital faithfulness. He gives a stern warning against the sin of adultery. He compares adultery to scooping a fire into your lap and expecting not to get burned or trying to walk across hot coals without burning your feet. As Forrest Gump would say “sometimes things just don’t make no sense.” Thinking that you can play around with fire and not get burned is foolish… and thinking that you can cheat on your spouse or with someone else’s spouse and not get burned is just plain foolish. “A man who commits adultery has no sense.” Instead of the ant, the author uses the jealous husband as the example from nature “he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.”
One doesn’t have to look far to find wisdom. God has imbedded it in all of his creation and we just need to pay attention- whether it’s the wisdom of the ant in working hard to prepare for Winter, or the wisdom of not fooling around with someone else’s wife or husband, we need to pay attention to God’s wisdom that’s revealed all around us.
~ Jeff Fletcher
2 Chronicles 26-29
Thursday, December 1
In today’s passage, three out of four kings are more good than bad for a change, however one intriguing thing happens during the time of a bad king, while two good kings have different experiences in the Temple of God.
During the time of evil King Ahaz, Israel wins victories over Judah, but when they intend to treat people from Judah as slaves. a prophet of God who lives in Israel, then leaders of Ephraim also defend the captives (2 Chronicles 28:8-18). This shows that there can be people who fear God amongst those who do not. Think about how difficult it was for them to live amongst a rebellious people.
Two kings have different experiences in the Temple. Uzziah begins to reign at the age of 16 and starts out great, but becomes arrogant as he became more powerful. He decides that he will offer incense in the Temple, even though only the priests are supposed to do so. He ends up being afflicted by leprosy. In the end of today’s reading we read about Hezekiah’s great effort to purify the Temple. We might read both and wonder why God places so much emphasis upon ritual. I think it is good to take time to think about this. When we get to our readings in Hebrews we will read much more about this, but for now, just take time to think about why God gives such specific teaching about how the Temple is to be maintained.