Tag Archives: Devotional

Finding peace

Finding peace in the middle of a storm is not an easy proposition.  When a trial rages beyond your control, you may be tempted to assume the worst and withdraw.  Colossians 3:15-17 paraphrased tells those who believe in God to “let the peace of Christ rule in you hearts…be thankful…sing to God with gratitude in your hearts…give thanks to God.”

Maintaining an attitude of thanksgiving while one battles an unseen enemy seems counter-intuitive.  However, being thankful to God means we haven’t given up hope.  We can be vigilant while at the same time being kind and encouraging to others.  This approach means we believe there’s a future beyond the present situation, even though the road ahead remains obscured.  Fight fear with thanksgiving!  What do you have to be thankful for?

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Joshua 16-19: Possess your inheritance

photoshop-2845779_960_720Joshua chapters 16-19 go into great detail of how the tribes of Israel received their inheritance beginning with Caleb (from the tribe of Judah) and ending with Joshua (from the tribe of Ephraim). Lots were cast before God’s presence in the tabernacle in Shiloh (Joshua 18:6). Casting lots for land distribution involved God in the process. Today’s equivalent would be casting dice or picking a slip of paper out of a hat with a choice written on it. How many of us today would attribute the casting of lots to divine providence?

Joshua 16

Ephraim is given land before Manasseh even though the latter was the oldest child. This follows the order of Jacob’s blessing pronounced on Joseph two sons is found in Genesis 48. Jacob (old in years and blind) knowingly reverses his hands placed on the heads of his grandsons by Joseph and blesses Ephraim first. Jacob said, “his younger bother will become greater than he.”

Joshua 17

This chapter chronicles the land given to Manasseh, which includes the daughters of Zelophehad. Back in Numbers 27:1-11, the inheritance of Zelophehad is in jeopardy because he has no sons, only daughters. Zelophehad appealed to Moses to grant his daughters their father’s inheritance. God instructed Moses to honor their request.

“Do we as Christians lack the boldness, assurance and confidence to lay hold of God’s provisions?” D.R. Davis

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

The opposite of bold faith is complacency.  We find complacency clearly demonstrated by Israelites when they fail to completely possess the land, allowing the Canaanites to remain.  The Canaanites worship of Baal would become a cancer to the Israelites and eventually cost them their inherited land.

Should Christians be complainers if, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Joshua 18

A fair amount of grumbling and complaining occurred as the land was being distributed by the casting of lots. It became necessary to have the lots cast before God’s presence in the tabernacle.  Joshua exhorts the remaining seven tribes to stop procrastinating and possess their inheritance.

Joshua 19

The last allotment taken was for Joshua. He received the town, Timnath Serah, which is what he asked for.

Judges 2:4, “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua…”

The territory dispersed began with Caleb and ended with Joshua, two of the twelve spies who gave a good report when the Israelites spied out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13-14). The remaining spies gave bad reports.  The same pattern continued after the Israelites entered the promised land and possessed it.

Christians are not perfect and need to go about the business of giving a positive report to the dying world around them. True believers will one day receive their inheritance. In the meantime they should not see themselves as the “elite,” rather, humbly live out their lives in a manner pleasing to God.

On the fourth day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds.  An old English version of the song refers to them as “colly” birds.  Colly, refers to something covered with coal dust, something completely black.  After taking a quick tour of the internet I gathered the following information on colly birds:

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They are most likely blackbirds.  Wikipedia states blackbirds unlike many other black creatures, are not normally seen as a symbol of bad luck.  They have the ability to sleep effectively with half their brain while the other half maintains a degree of alertness.  Unlike migratory fowl, blackbirds remain during the winter if food is available.

In the theological version of Twelve Days of Christmas, four colly birds represent the four Gospels found in the Bible.  To this Wikipedia adds: “The symbolic meaning of blackbirds is eternally linked to the “dark vs light” phases of the moon. I’m talking nocturnal awareness. … The bird is symbolic of life in the heavens (higher ideals, higher path of knowing) and the color black is symbolic of pure potential.”

The gift my true love gave symbolizes her faithfulness and commitment to our relationship, ever watchful to protect it no matter the season of life.  Together we will prosper with the wisdom and blessings from heaven.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Proverbs 31:25-27

Joshua 13-15: Live by faith

Joshua chapters 13-15 begin an account detailing of how the land of Canaan was to be divided among the 13 tribes of Israel (Joseph received a double portion). Each of his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh are counted as a tribe. Though this material may seem dull to the modern reader it chronicles the fulfillment of Israelite inheritance.

Inheritance – biblical inheritance in the literal sense is a possession or piece of property that is linked to the promises of God (i.e. Promised Land). It’s transcendent meaning holds that God himself is our inheritance.

Levites – the tribe of priests didn’t receive a swath of territory like the other tribes. Instead they received cities, which included the surrounding pasture lands. The Levites received the sacrifice offerings brought by the other tribes to the Lord. God was to be their inheritance. The twelve cities they received were scattered throughout the new land of Israel (see Joshua 21).

While Joshua chapters 1-12 chronicle God’s great victories fighting for Israel, much of the land still needed to be taken.  God himself would continue to fight for Israel if they remained faithful and followed his instructions. The areas yet to be secured included some of the coastland occupied by the Philistines, and areas to the north and south of the lands already conquered.

When the Israelites began to enjoy the Promised Land, they made compromises to speed the process along, permitting people who served other gods to live among them as slaves.  Ironically this would lead to the Israel’s undoing.  They would become slaves to idolatry and eventually to the Canaanites.  The book of Judges chronicles this.

Like the Israelites, how many of us have proved faithful to God in times of great crisis (during the storms of life) only to lose our resolve to remain faithful in the little everyday things?  Faith prizes the gifts god God gives us. Great faith sees beyond the gift and remains faithful to God who gave it.

saint-2356564_960_720Caleb stands out as an example of how Israel’s tribes ought to be living out their conquest of Canaan. He remained faithful to God.  He wanted the complete portion God promised. His faith wouldn’t let him make compromises.  At age 85, he set out to claim the land promised to him.  The same land his feet trod 45 years earlier when he and 11 other Israelites first spied out the land of Canaan under Moses’ leadership (See Numbers 13).  He approached Joshua and said, “Give me the land God promised through Moses.” It didn’t matter to him that the land was occupied by giants.  Caleb’s faith in God allowed him to conquer the land.

Our faith in God can sustain us.  Great faith remembers what God has done and is grateful.  Even today, Jesus is preparing an inheritance for those who are his faithful followers.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  John 14:1-3 NLT

Joshua 11-12: Battle fear with faith

chariot-1151742_960_720As we walk through the book of Joshua, Chapter 11 validates God’s decision to appoint Joshua to be the leader of the people of Israel and secure the Promised Land.  After Israelite victories over the Canaanite factions in central and southern Canaan, war again appears on the horizon.  Jabin, king of Hazor, is furious and filled with hatred.  He gathers the northern Canaanite kings together to form a massive coalition army intending to rid the land of the Israelites once and for all.

Hazor was a massive city of some 200 acres compared to Jericho which was less than 10 acres.  Hazor was located on a main trade route, which runs from Syria to Egypt.  The Canaanite army had a massive numerical and technological edge, yet the power of God shines brightly (Deuteronomy 20:1). Josephus, a Jewish historian, records the size of the force facing Joshua is 300,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry and 20,000 chariots.

“The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel.”” Joshua 11:6

To engage the enemy, Joshua has to march his army for five days over difficult terrain.  When he arrives he finds the enemy forces bogged down in a now flooded plain. Joshua attacks.  Any tactical advantage Jabin planned to use was washed away by a flood. Joshua routes the Canaanite army, pursuing remnants of the fleeing enemy to the east and west.  The war was not over however.  Joshua reassembles his army and attacks the northern cities, decimating them.  

We need to remember the Bible gives us a condensed account of this war. In reality the war with the Canaanites lasted a long time (Exodus 23:29-30; Deuteronomy 7:22).  The war included a battle against the Anakites to the south, the “incredible hulks of the land of Canaan.” (D.R. Davis). These were the same giants that discouraged ten of the twelve Israelite spies some forty years earlier.  “Who can stand against them”, they asked, shaking with fear.

Though the descendants of Anakin were defeated by Joshua, a few of them remained in the Philistine cities of Gaza, Gath and Ashdod. David would later fight Goliath from hailed from Gath.

The listing of conquered kings in chapter 12 appears to be a boring account, but it demonstrates in detail the complete fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21).

What can be learned from this scripture passage?  When you face giant problems, don’t focus on how big they are, instead focus on your faith. Rob fear of its victory.  And when you pray remember to give God detailed praise for all the blessings He has bestowed on you.

 

Water and Light

IMG_0195Oh spring!

I love planting things in the spring and watching them grow over the summer.  This winter I became infatuated with the idea of growing lima beans; a vegetable plant I’ve never grown before.

Recently, my wife and I located a package of seeds at a garden store.  At the time it was way too early in the spring to plant them outdoors so we decided to replicate the experiment I did as a child at school.  Do you remember putting bean seeds in a glass of water with a paper towel stuffed in it to keep the seeds upright?

Handling the seeds, I was amazed at how hard and, well, dead-looking they were.  As you can see from the photo, we were successful at our experiment and one of them is now potted and awaits it’s final transplant in our garden.  (The other seed is going back in the glass of water.)

This fun project reminded me of how important life-giving water and light are to bring what appears to be a dead, dried up seed back to life.  We all need water and light to have abundant life.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.  It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”  John 4:13-14 NLT
He rescues them from the grave so they may enjoy the light of life. Job 33:30 NLT