In Numbers 13 is a well-known Bible story, The Israelites were at their promised land and God told them to send in spies to spy out the land “that he was going to give to the sons of Israel.” They had just witnessed the deliverance from the army of Pharaoh and then God had provided them with manna, water, and quail as they traveled.
As we learned in a song years ago “12 men went to Canaan land, 10 were bad and 2 were good.” The spies came back and reported that the land was good but the people were strong and the cities are fortified, they are descendants of the giants. In verses 30-31 Caleb said “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.” But the men said “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” In Chapter 14:7-10 Joshua says “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” After he tells them this, the congregation wanted to stone Caleb and Joshua. The two that knew God would take care of them, and give them the land that he promised them, are threatened by the rest of the congregation.
After this God decides that the people of Israel will wander in the desert until that generation dies, Joshua and Caleb are the only ones that will go into the promised land of that generation. Ch. 14 v. 24 says “But my servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.” The difference between Joshua and Caleb, and the other 10, was not that they were smarter, or stronger than them but that they put their trust in God. They wandered in the desert for 40 years because they did not trust that God was in control and that He would never leave them or forsake them. Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
We only have to wander in the desert for 40 years when we don’t follow God wholly. As we live our lives, I pray that we will all have the spirit of Caleb and follow God fully. Let’s go into the Promised Land that God has prepared for us even when things look too difficult for us, because we know that God will take care of the obstacles in our way. When we have trust in God, we know that things that are too difficult for us alone can be accomplished because God is with us.
Have you noticed that there is a book about every subject. There are books on marriage, parenting, preaching, finding God’s will for our lives, etc. I listen to Christian talk radio and it seems like everyone that preaches or speaks has a book to sell or give you for a donation. What about the book that God wrote. Many people buy books on God’s will like: Do Something, God’s Will for your life, and any number of books promising to find that specific thing that is just for you.
Philippians 2 gives us a seemingly simple yet admittedly hard will that God has for all of our lives. In fact, if done, promises that our light for God will shine like the stars in the sky. Philippians 2:14 says to do everything without arguing or complaining. God’s word always seems to get to the point and save you hundreds at Barnes and Nobles. This verse, if followed, promises that we will not have labored in vain on the day of Christ.
Is God’s will for our life really just 6 words? Try it. Today just listen to what is going on around you. There is complaining and arguing on politics, religion, driving skills or lack thereof, and the speed at which we get our fast food and God hates it. In Numbers 14 this issue kept the children of Israel out of the promised land. The place that God had planned for them. What “promised lands” are we missing out on due to our attitude.
Just yesterday as our work crew pulled up to the construction site, one of the workers from the other crew met us and said, “The Christians are here”. He said he was listening to the preaching and music we were listening to and was enjoying it. You can shine in this world if we focus on God and his son. Like the song says, “The things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
Wednesday, October 11
601,730 – that was the number of fighting men counted in the second census conducted in the wilderness, just before Moses passed along leadership to Joshua (see Numbers 26). Add to this number: women, children and older men. Now, picture yourself in this massive crowd. Three days ago you all travelled the very last leg of a trip that has lasted more than 40 years! At last, here you are at the shores of the Jordan River – the boundary of the Promised Land you have heard so much about. This is the same Promised Land that your parents aren’t here to see because their fear, discouragement, and lack of trust in God led to their death in the wilderness. What are your thoughts and feelings as you stand on the shore? How big is your faith in God? What are your greatest fears? How do you combat them? Are you ready to see amazing things?
How do you combat your fears? The people were told to watch the ark of the covenant and follow it. This was their physical connection and tie to the Almighty. Inside the ark was the precious Word of God as well as evidence and reminders of just some of the miracles God had already performed on their behalf. How well are you following the Word of God and remembering His miracles. God’s Word has the power to take you where you have never been before – into a deeper and deeper relationship following the Almighty. And remembering His miracles deepens your faith and combats your fears.
How do you prepare yourself to see amazing things? “Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you’ ” (Joshua 3:5). Consecrated – to be dedicated to a sacred purpose. What purposes are you dedicated to? Work, family, friends, vacation, finances, fun, fame? What consumes your time and your thoughts throughout the day? Those are the purposes that you are dedicated to. In Joshua’s day they proved they were consecrated by following ceremonial laws for washings and other outward evidences that they were set apart for God’s purposes first and foremost. Do you have evidence that you are consecrated to Him? Is your bank account, your calendar, your thought life dedicated to Him? Is your Bible well worn? Does your family, neighbors, co-workers, and peers know that you are consecrated to Him?
God has some amazing things waiting for those who are dedicated to His purposes. Prepare yourself to see them – CONSECRATE yourself to Him.
Go With God – all day long – Marcia Railton
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
Sunday, October 8
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.
Friday, March 31
What a powerful passage. If you would like a visual of the valley of dry bones, I recommend checking out this minute and a half Youtube clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dafYxu8cQQ).
While we can pull out hundreds of things to say about this passage, I am going to stick to two simple ideas. Ezekiel 37 acts as a double prophecy. In other words, we can expect two different things to happen:
- God will restore Israel and make a nation again from the scattered people. He will bring his chosen people back to the promised land.
- God will establish His kingdom on Earth. We know that Jesus is coming back to Earth again to reign until God Himself reigns above all men.
We see in Ezra and Nehemiah that prophecy number one is fulfilled as the temple is rebuilt. In the New Testament we also get a glimpse at prophecy number two. When Jesus died on the cross we know that the curtain was torn and we have hope in the future Kingdom! After all, Jesus did preach most about the kingdom of God during his time on earth.
As my dad says, he has two major goals in life: 1. To be sure he maintains a strong relationship with God, and 2. To get as many people into the Kingdom as possible. I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to live forever on the streets of gold glorifying God and Jesus all day long! How are you furthering the Kingdom cause through your everyday actions?
Revelation 21:1-4: Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look!” God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or morning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
By Joseph Partain
Are you enjoying this book as much as I do? There is so much truth and a true picture of the loving God we serve. There is also the realization that we need to conform our lives to his words and commands for our benefit.
Chapter 8 stresses the importance of being humble and remembering that God disciplines us because he loves us. Verse 6 gives us a glimpse of the promised land – God laid out a land that they can enjoy and work on and be prosperous. God wants us to have good things but to always remember who is the giver of every good thing. This chapter reminds me of Prov.30 v. 7-9 where Agur asks for neither poverty nor wealth but only his daily bread. He does not want to become rich and in turn have a proud heart. The humility that comes from God allows us to praise the one who has given us everything and especially his Son.
Chapter 9 has God preparing themselves to again enjoy the spoils of his victory against a powerful foe. He tells the Israelites he is giving the land to fulfill his covenant with Abraham and not for any good thing they had done. Moses then warns them not to reject God but to turn to him. It seems like the only time the Israelites and we turn to God is in a time of distress but how good would it be to just praise him instead of having a rebellious heart?
Chapter 10 gives us a glimpse into God’s character. Verse 14 states that even though he owns everything in heaven and earth, he set his affection on you. How blessed are we to have a God that loves like this. How could we change if we take our eyes off ourselves and love those around us like this. This chapter also states that God loves the ones who are in need, the widow, the orphan and tells us to love them also. Look around and it won’t be too hard to find someone that you can share the love of God with.
What a choice God gives us in ch.11 v 26 . A choice between blessings or curses. Who in their right mind would even have to think twice about that choice but every day since Adam and Eve, man has chosen curses. Gal 6:7-10 says God will not be mocked, a man reaps what he sows. If we sow to ourselves we reap corruption, but the good news is if we sow to God we reap eternal life. The choice is before us today curses if we disobey but blessings if we choose to obey God’s word. Now start today making a choice to allow God’s blessings in our speech, relationships, and activities.