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
Wednesday, June 7
Stephen had an interesting life that was cut way too short. I wonder what would have happened had he lived longer? How many more people could he have reached? I admire the way he knew his Old Testament history. Beginning with Abraham leaving his country, Stephen then recounts stories of Isaac and Joseph and Moses.
In verse 38 of Chapter 7, it tells us of the living words Moses received to pass on to us. These words are still being passed on to this day. Even when people hear the living words, they have a choice of what to do. Back in Moses’ day, these living words were rejected. The people refused to obey and in their hearts turned back to Egypt (7:39). How have you heard the living words and what has your response been? Are you listening to these words or rejecting them?
I respect the courage Stephen had in saying what needed to be said even if it meant angering those who could kill him. Even as he was being stoned, he was full of the Holy Spirit and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Stephan prayed that the Lord Jesus would receive his spirit and he asked him to not hold this sin against them. This is an example of an extremely dedicated and devoted man of God. How many of us can praise God as Stephan did while being persecuted?
While Godly men buried Stephen, Saul began to destroy and persecute the church. Tomorrow we will hear more about Saul and his stories.
Saturday, February 18
In Isaiah 43:16, Isaiah remembers that God is the one who parted the Red Sea and led Moses and the Israelites into it followed by the Egyptians. Right after he remembers this powerful act of God, God says “Forget the former things! Stop dwelling on the past (43:18)!” If we always look to the past, we’ll miss the things that God is doing right now. Sometimes we get so caught up thinking about all the good places we used to be that we don’t realize the good that is happening right in front of us. We look back to when we were younger, fitter, smarter or anything else we can imagine. All that does is blind us! No matter where we are right now, whether north, south, or the ends of the earth, God is trying to take us home (43:6). Don’t let the treasures of your past keep you from seeing the path that God is trying to take you down. Open your eyes and see. Open your ears and listen. Follow the cloud and the fire in your life.
– Nathaniel Johnson
(Photo credit: http://dustoffthebible.com/Blog-archive/tag/isaiah-43/)
Thursday, September 29
As we wrap up the book of Joshua, we find our strong and courageous leader in the last days of his life. Joshua calls the twelve tribes together to review all God had done for His people. Joshua states that the LORD fought for Israel and drove out the other nations. He urges the Israelites to remain faithful to God. He warns them not to worship foreign gods or marry outside the Israelite nation. He cautions them not to disobey – not to turn to the right or the left. The theme of courage is echoed again. He reminds them that what God gave, He can take away. The land has always been His. Joshua’s words of wisdom lead to a choice when he says, “Choose this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh 14:15). The Israelite people responded with the commitment, “We will serve the LORD, for He is our God” (Josh 24:18).
After the remarkable history lesson and reflection on the mighty deeds of God, we read that Joshua died at age 110. He was buried in the land of his inheritance – the Promised Land. Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua, which speaks volumes about his leadership and authority. The book of Joshua ends with the completion of a generation of heroes. We are reminded of Moses and Aaron, the dynamic duo, who began this great land repossession quest. Joshua and Eleazar, the priest, jump in and prove to be the next generation of heroes. Joshua was mentored by Moses. Eleazar was the son of Aaron, Moses’ brother, and received outstanding mentorship from these men as well. The book ends with the death of these “super men” and symbolically completes the story of conquest and conquer as “The LORD Saves” (Big thanks to Moses for Joshua’s new name & the answer to what we all need)!
Tuesday, September 20
By Jill McClain
Moses had previously told the people all of God’s directions and commands. He gave them very detailed instructions about what type of behavior God expects. Next Moses lays out the consequences for either following or disobeying God’s rules. God has created all humans with a free will. We are free to walk in his ways or to defy his directions. However, there are definite consequences for the choices we make. Chapter 28 first lists a series of blessings that the people will receive if they observe God’s decrees. There are blessings for individuals and the entire nation. Crops, livestock and children will all flourish, enemies will be defeated, and the people will be granted “abundant prosperity” (verse 11). Conversely, there is also a list of curses that the people will face if they are disobedient. Diseases, plagues, famine, and the loss of their land are just some of the curses listed. Ultimately, God’s people are always free to choose if they will follow in his ways, but there will be consequences for their actions.
Forty years earlier God and his people had made a covenant. God promised to bless the Israelites, and they in turn, vowed to love and obey God. In Chapter 29, Moses once again urges the people to honor their commitment. The chapter concludes with verse 29, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” There are some secrets that God has not revealed to us. However, he has shared with us all that we need to know to have eternal life. It is up to us to diligently study the Bible and apply all we have learned to our own lives.
Tuesday, September 13
By Joseph Partain
Deuteronomy 3 begins again with God giving the Israelites the victory over their foe, Og the king of Bashan. After the victory Moses begins to divide the land between the tribes. The women and children were allowed to stay and settle the towns while the “able bodied men” went on into battle with their brothers. God was giving the victory but I think he was helping the tribes to fellowship with each other and enjoy God’s blessings together. God states in Hebrews that we will all enjoy his victory and blessing together in the kingdom. Moses was allowed to view the promised land but was told by God that he would not be able to enter the land but that he was to encourage Joshua for when he led the people. How many of our parents have told us, “That is enough!” like God tells Moses in v.26. God is loving and caring but he will not leave sin unpunished and this is a hard lesson that Moses is taught. Sometimes we visualize God as “the man upstairs” or the “big daddy in the sky” but he is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY which when said three times in Hebrew means unsurpassed holiness. If we remember this is who God is some of the seemingly small sins need to be taken seriously.
Deuteronomy 4 reminds us how jealous God is for us. He wants our wholehearted devotion as Caleb was described in Ch. 1. Again he reminds them to let their lives be directed by God’s laws and to impress them on their children, a theme that runs all the way through Deuteronomy. The importance of recounting God’s goodness and what he has done for each one of us should be our theme throughout life. If we share what God is doing in our lives it is hard to complain or grumble, instead a joy should shine through to others. V40 says the benefits will be a life lived well for you and your children in the Promised Land. What more could we ask for than to live eternal life with loved ones in the Kingdom of God. What a reminder that God gives us that he is blessing us to be a blessing to others. Are you up for the challenge?
By Talon Paul
Once again, we have come across another section of Numbers with a number of sacrifices, laws, and other things that the ancient Israelites were expected to fulfill. Unfortunately for us, those laws are not as relevant to us today and can seem boring. To them though, these were essentially important to living in communion with their God. But what lesson can we Christians who are no longer bound by the Old Covenant take from this section?
I believe that 27:15-23 has very great insight for all people of all ages. This passage explains that Moses will not be leading the people into the Promised Land because of his disobedience back in 20:8-12. However, Moses is commanded to install Joshua as his successor as leader of the Israelites. Up to this point, Joshua was likely studying underneath Moses and worked with him.
The point of this lesson is two-fold: Those that are older need to prepare someone younger to take their place eventually, and those that are younger need to learn from those that are older. Unfortunately today, people have a mindset that their generation is the only one that is correct, while the truth is that there is much that can be learned from all generations, both older and younger.
To those that are older: Look for the potential in those that are younger in your church and start training them up to eventually enter ministries that you will be leaving eventually
To those that are younger: Learn from those older than you, be willing to do ministry work in your church, and develop a passion for the Lord.