Archive for May, 2006

The Cost of Disobedience – Joshua 7

Okay – if you haven’t been reading along, let me give you the cliff notes version. Joshua just got finished leading the children of Israel to victory over Jericho. God gave specific instructions to destroy the city and everything in it. He warned the people not to take anything for themselves, as was sometimes the custom (to the victor go the spoils). In the beginning of this chapter, we read of this man named Achan (btw, means “He that troubleth”) who secretly took a beautiful robe imported from Babylon, two hundred silver coins, and a bar of gold that weighed more than a pound. Achan buried them under his tent, thinking that no one would ever know.

God knew – and because of this disobedience, He removed his blessing from the armies as they went to fight against the city of Ai. This was a small town and should have been an easy victory for the army of Israel, so they sent only 3,000 troops. As a result, Israel was defeated and lost 36 men as they were fleeing down the hillside.

Imagine the shock of the army and the leaders. They must have been very confused. They had seen God’s blessing on them and their confidence in Him was building day by day. Suddenly, they are bested by the puny city they should have easily defeated. Where is God? Why has He abandoned us? Why did God bring us this far only to allow us to be slaughtered here?

The Bible says “their courage melted away.” (verse 5)

Just look what a simple act of disobedience caused. God was very serious when he warned them not to take anything for themselves. As a result of a “harmless” act of selfishness, 36 men died and the courage of the entire army of Isarel was shaken. The price of this disobedience was great to Achan, too. Achan paid with his life, along with the life of his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, and sheep. Even his tent, and everything he had were destroyed.

Only then God’s blessing returned. “So the LORD was no longer angry.” (verse 26)

I have to be honest. I was a bit surprised that people had to die because of one man’s hidden sins. Was that fair? Couldn’t there have been some kind of warning before these men went into battle? And, why did Achan’s entire family have to die?

How do we apply this today? Do we ask what we’ve stolen from God? Do we ask what He has told us to do but we didn’t do? Are there those among us who have disobeyed the Lord and as a result, His blessing has been removed from us?

I think the message today is to make time each day to listen to Him. Ask Him to show you those things that are causing any diffiulties and deal with those things He reveals. In Joshua’s time, it took the death of 36 innocent warriors to signal the presence of unresolved sin. What will it take in your life?

peace,
e

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Right Away, No Delay! – Joshua 6

When my daughter was young, her mother and I tried to instill in her a respect for her parents and for authority. I knew there would be times I would need her to carry out a request (or command) that I wouldn’t have time to explain all the reasons behind the request, so we frequently would have her say a quick little rhyme with us that went something like this – “first time, right away, no delay.” That simply meant when asked to do something, she needed to respond right away, and that we did not need to repeat the request.

I find it interesting that God had Joshua carry out such an elaborate set of instructions to defeat Jericho. I mean, God could have told Joshua to do anything – close your eyes, hold one foot up in the air, spin around seven times and shout, “Ohwah – Tagoo – Siam!”

As I’m beggining to understand about God, you just never know what to expect. Even in Jesus time, sometimes He would have them put things on their eyes and go to a certain river to wash before they would receive the gift of sight. Other times, He would spit on the ground and touch their eyes. Other times, He simply spoke the words and the person was healed, like the man at the pool of Bethesda who waited for years for his turn to jump into the waters when they stirred. In this case, God gave Joshua the following instructions regarding the victory at Jericho:

2 But the LORD said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its mighty warriors. 3 Your entire army is to march around the city once a day for six days. 4 Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. 5 When you hear the priests give one long blast on the horns, have all the people give a mighty shout. Then the walls of the city will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the city.”

I didn’t read about Joshua questioning God at all. I didn’t read where he delayed the instructions or took a break to get rested up. We see in verse 8, the priests took up the Ark right away and began marching. Nobody questioned it, they just did it.

Which, makes me think about my response to God’s requests (commands) to me. First, do I take time to listen for His instructions? Then, once I’ve heard them, do I begin questioning His logic or formulating a better way to do it? I think sometimes I do, which only points to a lack of faith on my part.

Thank You, Lord, for Your word for me today. Help me to listen and then to act “first time, right away, no delay.”

peace,
e

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So the World Will Know – Joshua 4

What is a legacy? Dictionary.com defines legacy as: “Something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past.” Joshua left a rich legacy.

The Lord told Joshua to build a memorial at the place where they crossed the river Jordan:

6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future, your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the LORD’s covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a permanent memorial among the people of Israel.”

I love what the last verse in this chapter says:

24 He did this so that all the nations of the earth might know the power of the LORD, and that you might fear the LORD your God forever.”

Because Joshua was faithful to do what God had asked him, God was able to demonstrate His power. Joshua and the tribe leaders built the memorial so that the world would be reminded of God’s power forever. The Bible says this memorial remains to this day. If not physically, it is recorded in God’s Holy Word for us to read about.

Joshua’s legacy was that he heard and obeyed God. As a result, God made Joshua great in the eyes of his people:

14 That day the LORD made Joshua great in the eyes of all the Israelites, and for the rest of his life they revered him as much as they had revered Moses.

What is your legacy? Do you think about what it is you’re handing down to your children and their children? What is it in your life that will cause your children and your grandchildren to stop and ask, “What does this mean?”

I want to leave a legacy that I heard the Lord and did what He asks of me. I want there to be a trail of memorials in my life that cause people to recognize the power of God – not me. I don’t want to do anything in my own power or of my own thought.

I’m listening, Lord.

peace,
e

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Bring Out The BIG GUNS! – Joshua 3

Joshua to the children of Israel: Okay people, listen up. Today we go into the promsied land and you’re all going to know that God is with us. We’re going to watch Him drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites.

We already saw in the last chapter that people had already begun to talk. All the “ites” had begun to talk. Rahab told the two spies that people were “living in terror” having heard of how the Lord had made a dry path through the Red Sea. No one had the courage to fight after hearing such things.

Now, Joshua tells the priests to bring out the “secret weapon,” the “big guns”:

 

3…”When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, follow them. 4 Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.”

It must have been an exciting day. After all this time, it was finally the day to see victory. God had everything prepared. Joshua told everyone to purify themselves.

Isn’t it cül that as soon as the priests’ feet touched the water, the river piled up in one heap. Downstream, it dried up. Where they were to cross, it was once again dry ground.

One thing that stuck out to me is the first four words in this chapter: “Early the next morning.” Those who would bring great things to pass, must rise early. “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty.” – Proverbs 20:13

I don’t know if you sense it, but God is on the move. He’s definitely up to something. The heat has been turned up and He is seeking those who will rise early, purify themselves and cross the river and follow Him. With Him in the lead, what is there fear?

peace,
e

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Your Reputation Preceeds You – Joshua 2

God provides a way when there seems to be no way. In this chapter we see how God provided Rahab, a resident of Jericho who believed in God.

Joshua sent two spies into the land east of the Jordan river. They came upon the great city of Jericho, but the king found out about it and he sent men to find them. Rahab hid them on her roof beneath piles of flax (my mom always said that stuff was good for you). Later, she helped them escape the city. Her house “just happened to be” built into the wall of the city. She simply lowered a rope and they escaped.

Did you catch Rahab’s declaration?:

9 “I know the LORD has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone is living in terror. 10 For we have heard how the LORD made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.

Such a statement of faith. She didn’t know these men, but because of the reputation of God and His power, Rahab believed and helped His people, these two spies. Talk about “bold and courageous.” She took a great personal risk to help these men she did not know.

I say it again, God provides a way when there seems to be no way.

peace,
e

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Want to be successful? – Joshua 1

Welcome to the book of Joshua. Recently we finished up reading Exodus where we saw the release of the children of Israel from captivity in Egypt. Moses received the law and is considered one of the Bible’s greatest leaders. As we will see in this book, Joshua is considered one of the Bible’s greatest military leaders. Here are some facts we’ve seen about Joshua to this point:

  • Joshua was born as a slave in Egypt, about 40 years before the Exodus. He was the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim (1 Chronicles 7:20,27).
  • Originally named Hoshea (Numbers 13:8), meaning salvation, Moses renamed him Joshua, meaning The Lord is Salvation (Numbers 13:16).
  • Joshua was an active participant in the Exodus, and was Moses’ military commander when the Israelites defeated the Amalekites in Rephidim about 2 months later (Exodus 17:8-16).
  • Joshua was a close aide to Moses. He was permitted to accompany him part of the way up Mount Sinai when Moses received The Ten Commandments from God.
  • Joshua was one of the twelve men sent by Moses to explore the land (Numbers 13:16-17), but only Joshua and Caleb gave an encouraging report.
  • Before Moses’ death the leadership of Israel was formally transferred to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:23).

Now, the Lord appointed Joshua leader here in chapter 1 (verses 1-2) with a promise:

 

3 I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Everywhere you go, you will be on land I have given you – 4 from the Negev Desert in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River on the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and all the land of the Hittites.’ 5 No one will be able to stand their ground against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.”

What stands out to me in this chapter is how many times God tells Joshua to ‘be strong and courageous.” Once is enough for God to mean it, but three times in rapid succession?:

6 “Be strong and courageous, for you will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give their ancestors. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. 9 I command you – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

God tells Joshua to obey the laws and medidate on the law day and night. What is the reward? “You will be successful in everything you do.” “Only then will you succeed.”

Like Joshua, God wants us to be successful. But, we need to know “the law.” For us today, God’s law is The Bible. We need to be in God’s word, studying it, applying it, obeying it. Only then will we be successful.

peace,
e

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Pssssst – Want to know a Secret? – Ephesians 3

Pssssst - Want to know a Secret? - Ephesians 3Like many people, I love a good mystery. I loved reading those Encyclopedia Brown books as a kid. I still love Sherlock Holmes stories. Logic puzzles would completely frustrate me until I was able to put the last answer down, but I was drawn to them every time.

I guess this is what led to my love for mathematics and my change to math major in college. But, it wasn’t always that way. In high school, I struggled with math. I was an “A” student, but when I got into Algebra and Calculus, my grades began to nose-dive. This created quite a drama. I had the desire and the drive to be good at math, but I couldn’t understand it. Looking back, I now understand that my math teachers were two coaches and the choral director. I remember asking for help but not getting much.

My first year at Oscar Rose Jr. College in Oklahoma City, I decided that I would go back to Intermediate Algebra and if I didn’t get it, I would forget about math and go a different direction. I had the priviledge of sitting under one of the most famous mathmaticians of our time, John Saxon.

This eccentric little German man came complete with a funny accent, Tyrolean hat and a beer stein (I still wonder what was in that pewter mug), but he had passion to teach. He taught us from unfinished manuscripts (which later became his famous textbooks), and he had us all up at the chalkboards working out problem after problem. (Yes we really used chalk! Boy, I’m starting to feel old)

Today, even after his passing, elementary and middle school students are using Saxon math textbooks – especially homeschoolers. It’s highly sought after and highly effective. Mr. Saxon knew the secret to teaching math. He had passion. He got us involved. He had us memorize acronyms to remember formulas (do you think this is where my abnormal love of acronyms was born?). Not only did I start to understand math, I loved it! I changed my major from computer science to mathamatics. John Saxon made me want to be a math teacher. I knew that if one man could change my understanding so drastically, I wanted to be able to do the same.

As I read today’s chapter, God’s secret plan jumped off the page:

2 As you already know, God has given me this special ministry of announcing his favor to you Gentiles. 3 As I briefly mentioned earlier in this letter, God himself revealed his secret plan to me. 4 As you read what I have written, you will understand what I know about this plan regarding Christ. 5 God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now he has revealed it by the Holy Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets. 6 And this is the secret plan: The Gentiles have an equal share with the Jews in all the riches inherited by God’s children. Both groups have believed the Good News, and both are part of the same body and enjoy together the promise of blessings through Christ Jesus. 7 By God’s special favor and mighty power, I have been given the wonderful privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.

I’m not of Jewish heritage, but God revealed to Paul His “secret plan” to take the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ to everyone, not just those of Jewish heritege. It was God’s plan all along! But, He chose not to reveal this plan to previous generations.

Like my struggles with math, until the right teacher came along I was hopeless. I wanted to understand and I knew I liked math, but something was missing. I asked for help, but couldn’t receive understanding from the answers I was given.

Praise God that He chose to include all the world (Jews and Gentiles alike) in His plan! And, I’m thankful that we have God’s Word to bring us the truth (the secret plan).

Okay gumshoes, your mission, should you choose to accept it: share the secret plan with those around you today.

This message will self destruct in 5 seconds…

peace,
e

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Bounce Back Spirit – Ephesians 2

Listening to the new Israel & New Breed CD entitled “Live in South Africa” I was reminded of a childhood memory. Did you ever have one of those inflatable “punching bag” toys? I think mine was Bozo the Clown. I loved that thing. Or I hated it. Or I loved to hate it?! I could punch it in the face, kick it in the head, throw my newest leggo aircraft creation at it, and it would sway and bob, but it always came back for more (hmmm – did I have violent tendancies as a child or what?).

Why did it always bounce back? Because it had that heavy weight in the bottom. Look at the verses in today’s chapter:

20 We are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also joined together as part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

He is our foundation – our weight, our anchor that allows us to have a “bounce-back” spirit. No matter what the world throws at us, because Christ is in us as our foundation, we can bounce back. Because we’re “carefully” joined together we can help each other to bounce back. Wow – that preaches!

There is something else I picked up on this morning in Ephesians 2. I really like the NLT version of those famous grace verses, Ephesians 2:8-9. Check it out:

8 God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Salvation is not a reward… There are rewards for serving Christ, but Salvation is not one of them. Otherwise, if we could earn Salavation, we would boast about it. It is a gift.

Lord – thank You that You have been my heavy weight, my foundation that has allowed me to remain flexible and bounce back no matter what the world and the enemy has thrown at me. Thank You for my brothers who have helped me bounce back because we are so “carefully” joined together.

peace!
e

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Power Source – Ephesians 1

I love this chapter. Paul’s description of the things God has done for us in verses 3 through 14 is breathtaking. If you’re only reading other dBraggers’ thoughts, let me encourage you today to get out your Bible and read these chapters for yourself. I have nothing you need to read, but the reading of God’s word will change your life.

I must admit that today my mind is elsewhere. So much is going on right now with family and friends. I read today’s chapter in the shadow of my mother’s heart catheterization this morning. She has already had a quad bypass and I’m praying that another will not be required.

As I read today’s chapter, with all this in mind, my eyes focused on verses 19 & 20 and I read it over and over:

19 I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

I know the power these verses speak of. I’ve heard stories of miraculous healings. I’ve seen it before my own eyes. I know that God “heals all our diseases” (Ps. 103:3). It’s amazing to think that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is for us who believe Him.

So, I ask you to join me in praying for my mom today.

Lord, with all the faith I can “muster” I ask You to touch my mother’s heart and circulation system. Restore those vessels & veins to their perfect function, unblocked and flexible. Lord, guide the plans and the hands of the doctors. I pray they will find nothing wrong and that she has been restored to full health. I understand that the power that raised You from the dead, Jesus, is for those who believe You. Thank You Lord, for healing my mother.

peace?
e

 

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God Filled – Exodus 40

34 Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glorious presence of the LORD filled it.

It is finished. This chapter also seems a bit redundant with God telling Moses exactly what to do with each finished piece of the Tabernacle, then we get a play-by-play of Moses setting each piece up in the Tabernacle. Do you think God had very specific intentions for every minute detail concerning the preparation of the Temple? Everything had to be just so.

Which seems to crush my previous premise of comparing our “temple” to the Tabernacle. Do you see what I mean? Maybe I’m still a bit cloudy this morning, but if I had to have everything “just so” in my “temple” before the glorious presence of the Lord filled it, I’d be running on empty most of the time.

I’m thankful that God has chosen to reside me in spite of me. Thank God that the only preparation I’m required to carry out has to do with accepting what Jesus did on the cross. Because of that, God dwells in me in the Holy Spirit.

Well, that about does it for our study of Exodus. Want to know what’s next? Check out my blog:
http://jaqua.blogspot.com/2006/05/whats-next.html

See you in the Word!

peace,
e

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