Good Intentions Gone Bad

Today’s reading: Joshua 22:1-24:33

When we make vows and commitments to the Lord, we need to be sure we are trusting Him for strength to fulfill them. Jesus’ teaching about abiding in Him like a branch connected to a vine is very instructive (John 15:1-11). God is not glorified by the failures of our good intentions, but He is glorified when we confess them and repent promptly.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

God’s Faithfulness to His Covenant and People

Today’s reading: Joshua 19:32-21:45

We can count on God to fulfill all His promises to us. Our Savior has triumphed over Satan and won the victory. The place Jesus is preparing for us is in His Father’s house. Keep trusting Him to see you through and bring you home.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Godly Leadership: Wise and Fearless

Today’s reading: Joshua 16:1-19:31

Rare is the leader who is wise enough to see when his people need help and when they need to be challenged to rise to the occasion.   Rare is the leader who is fearless enough to risk the displeasure of his people by making them take responsibility for themselves. Joshua was a rare leader, worth emulating.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Equality and Inequality in God’s Economy

Today’s reading: Joshua 13:1-15:63

While today’s reading includes long lists of geographical locations and the territorial allotments given to various tribes, there is an important spiritual lesson to be learned here. Don’t miss it!

Comparing ourselves to others (what we are, what we have) will inevitably result in either envy or pride. Envy and pride are enemies which destroy our ability to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives – to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. Resist the temptation to compare yourself, your accomplishments, your possessions with others. Instead, focus your whole being on His glory.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

God Uses Sin for Good

Today’s reading: Joshua 10:1-12:24

How much time have you wasted lamenting your sin and past mistakes? In today’s reading, we have an example of the proper way to look at past sin which has been confessed and forgiven. The foolish treaty which Israel made with the Gibeonites was used by God for a good purpose, the defeat of the pagan kings of the Promised Land.

How should we deal with sin? Repent, confess, trust God for forgiveness, live with the consequences, move on, but watch Him use it in unforeseen ways for good in your life.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

The Anatomy of Temptation

Today’s reading: Joshua 7:1-9:27

I once spoke to a men’s group on the subject “Things I learned the hard way”. One of the things most of us learn the hard way is that sin never delivers the pleasure it promises. In today’s reading, Achan learned this lesson and became the horrible example for all of us. Learn from him. Try not to learn the hard way.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Godly Leadership: Giving Reassurance of His Presence

Today’s reading: Joshua 3:1-6:27

Secular leaders generally attempt to convince their followers of their own competence, intelligence, and wisdom. Godly leaders point their followers to God. Which kind of leader are you?

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Characteristics of Godly Leadership

Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 32:48-Joshua 2:24

Today we complete our reading in the first five books of the Bible, the books of Moses, called the Pentateuch.  Good work! Now on to Joshua and the historical books which follow.

Years ago I heard this saying: “There is no limit to what one can accomplish if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” There is truth in that, but I think we can go beyond it. Success is to glorify God. It is more than merely not seeking our own glory. True success is attained by faithfulness and obedience to Him.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Loving God and Enemies

Today’s reading: Joshua 23-24; Luke 6:27-49

11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. Joshua 23:11

35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35,36

Joshua urged the Israelites to love the Lord their God and to flee marriage entanglements with their enemies, the pagan natives of Canaan. He knew that, if they intermarried with pagans,  they would be drawn away from faithful and sincere service to God. At the same time, there were notable examples of Gentiles coming into the covenant people of God. Rahab and her family were protected from destruction in Jericho and admitted into the lineage of Judah and Jesus (Matthew 1:5). So the intention of Joshua’s command was not to withhold salvation from the Gentiles but to protect the Israelites from apostasy.

Jesus taught His disciples to love their enemies, demonstrating godliness reflective of the Father who is merciful and kind even to the ungrateful and evil. Jesus was not teaching a relativistic view of morality in which everything that is good to you is good. He specifically showed that there is good and evil and that these are not the same. Good and evil fruits are produced by good and evil trees. But Jesus’ disciples were sent to show mercy to their enemies, the ungrateful, and the evil.

Why does God patiently pour out blessings on those who rebel against Him? Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome: “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). In due time, the evil will face the judgment of God, but, meanwhile, we who believe in Jesus show our faith by an obedient, godly life, including loving our enemies.

The prohibition of believers marrying unbelievers continues (2 Corinthians 6:14). Marriage is not one of the ways believers show love to unbelievers. This may be misunderstood by them, but that is the risk we must take to live a life of obedience. Of course, unbelievers are not prohibited from marrying one another.  In fact, they should marry if so inclined.

Love God. Love your enemies, but love them as God does by doing them good and telling them of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Hated, Excluded, Reviled, Spurned

Today’s reading: Joshua 21-22; Luke 6:1-26

24 No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the Lord, the God of Israel?                         Joshua 22:24

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.                                                                                                     Luke 6:22-23

In the book of Joshua, we come to the end of the conquest of the land. The war was over and occupation had begun. It was now time for the eastern tribes (Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh) to return to their territories across the Jordan River. They nearly set off a civil war by building an imposing altar on the western banks of the river without explaining what they were doing or what they meant by it.

Driven by fear of future exclusion from the rest of Israel and from the worship of God, the eastern tribes erected what was suspected to be an unauthorized worship site potentially leading to apostasy and the wrath and judgment of God. The whole nation was still smarting from the wickedness of Achan that had brought God’s judgment on them (Joshua 7). Fear on both sides of the Jordan almost resulted in war. Diplomatic talks clarified the issue and reduced everyone’s fears. War was averted.

In Luke today, we find Jesus experiencing hatred and rejection by the religious authorities of His day. The plotting against Him has begun. He knows opposition will ramp up and He will soon die. So will some who follow Him, but He does not tell them how to avoid opposition that comes on His account. He tells them to welcome it “when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil” because as they experience it, they are blessed and their reward will be great in heaven.

Do not fear persecution on the account of Jesus Christ. Do not be surprised if you are accused of being evil. This is nothing new. In ancient days, the prophets were mistreated and sometimes killed for being faithful to God. Do not take extreme measures, like the eastern tribes, to attempt to avoid being misunderstood. Be faithful to the Lord and the gospel. God will bless your suffering and reward you both now and in eternity.

Note: please consult your physician before attempting to leap for joy.