Now the descendants of Abraham were going to be able to enjoy living in the land promised to him so long ago. There were no more enemies to defeat. They were home.
Before they all went their separate ways Joshua spoke to them. Listen to what he said:
Be very careful to keep the commandments and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him, and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.
Jesus reminded us of Joshua’s words and added… love your neighbor as yourself
What is the purpose of our lives? What is the greatest commandment and the secret for happiness? We just read it today.
And by the way, it’s Easter Sunday morning. I attended the sunrise service at the pier on the ocean. Hundreds of us worshiped the risen Savior as the sun came up over the lighthouse. Was it a morning like this when Jesus walked out of that tomb? When the angel spoke those amazing words to the women… He is not here. He has risen as he said.
Dear friend, do we realize the truth in what we celebrate today? Jesus is alive. Really, physically, absolutely alive! What a privilege we have to love him with all our hearts and souls, to walk with him, to obey him, to hold fast to him and serve him.
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Joshua 19-21, I Chronicles 6:54-81
I don’t totally understand the cities of refuge and avenger of blood. It sounds as if, when a person accidently killed another there was someone who was assigned the task of getting even. But if the guilty person reached a city of refuge first he was safe. Kind of like a game of tag. As long as you are touching home base you can’t be tagged. But step away and you are fair game.
Spiritually speaking, we all have someone after us trying to tag us, to destroy us. Satan is in hot pursuit. He is waiting right outside our door.
God wants to be our city of refuge, our safe place, home base. When we are in His presence Satan cannot destroy us. Jesus said in John 10 that as the Good Shepherd, his sheep are safe. No one can snatch them from Him.
That tells me that as long as I stay close to Him, Satan can throw his best shot… but God will hold me strong. And Satan knows that as long as I stay in my city of refuge he can’t have me.
God, I thank you for being my city of refuge. May I stay in that safe place as I read your Word, as I go about my day in an attitude of prayer, as I obey you. Thank you for the assurance that Satan cannot snatch me from you as long as I am tucked away in your care.
Joshua 16:1-19:31, I Chronicles 4:24-33
Joseph’s family weren’t all that thrilled about their inheritance. They looked around and realized some of the other families seemed to have received more land than they. So they complained to Joshua. Give us more, they cried. Joshua says, If you don’t like it, if you think you need more, then put down the remote and get busy clearing the land you have. They replied, it’s too hard! To which Joshua said, get over yourself. Clear it. You can do it.
Ok. Maybe that’s not an exact quote from Scripture but you get the idea. Joseph’s family wanted to live comfortably in Canaan but they were unwilling to do what needed to be done to make that happen.
This Christian life is hard work. While we walk this earth there are things to do, battles to win. And each of us has a job to do no one else can do. If we want to live in Canaan we’ve got to cut down some trees. If we want that deeper relationship with the Lord we’ve got to cut out sin.
It’s a personal road we are on. And if we don’t do what God is asking we will never realize what it is like to fellowship with him on that deeper level.
Today is Good Friday, the day we celebrate the death of our Savior. Talk about a tough job. Jesus had to go to the cross. He was the only one who could do it. But he was obedient all the way. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame. The thing is Jesus WANTED to go to the cross. He set his face like flint, meaning he knew what he wanted and nothing was going to stop him. The joy that was set before him was me. It was you. It was all of us who choose Jesus.
Dear Jesus, thank you for going to the cross for me. You went willingly because you knew I would accept you as my Savior two thousand years later. I pray that I won’t be satisfied just to accept your gift of salvation without doing everything it takes to walk as close to you as I can get this side of heaven. Reveal the sin in me that needs to be cut down. And may I be quick to obey, for the joy set before me… the joy of having that deeper relationship with you.
Two people in these chapters made specific requests when the land was being divided among the Israelites. One was an old man. One was a woman.
Caleb, at 85, felt as strong as he felt when, as a 40 year old spy, he was sent in to see what the Promised Land held for the Jewish nation. Remember when he made his report he was the one who told Moses that they should go in and take the land from the giants. God promised Caleb a specific plot of land as a reward for his faith. Now Caleb is going to Joshua to ask for that land.
The other person was Caleb’s daughter, Acsah. She asked her dad to give her land with fresh water.
Both people got what they had asked for.
I think God wants us to be specific with our requests. What is my heart’s desire? It’s ok to ask. The worst that can happen is He’ll say no. But if He does, He’ll give us the grace to accept His answer. And anyway… He just might say yes.
God, as I lay my desires at your feet today, I ask you do with my requests as you see fit. Help me to trust you with the answers. And may my heart’s desires be in line with your will for me.
The Israelites took the Promised Land. City after city fell as the Jewish army swept in. God was obviously on their side to the degree that God gave them a full day… 24 hours of daylight so they could finish one of their battles. There has never been a day like it before or since.
One thing I noticed, God had promised them the land but He didn’t just hand it over to them. There were battles to fight, enemies to defeat. God went with them. But they had to go to war in order to live in the land.
Once the nation of Israel captured the last city God had given them, they enjoyed a time of peace. No more war. For the first time in their life time they had houses to go home to. They were finally where God intended them to be.
God would have us see that He is still in the business of destroying enemies. He still fights on the side of His people. And He will do whatever it takes to win… even go to the cross Himself!
Let’s let God help us defeat Satan in our own lives. He made the earth stand still that day. He died and rose again. Nothing is too hard for God and no enemy we face too strong for Him.
May we, like Joshua and the Israelites allow God to have control, destroy Satan’s hold, and may we enjoy the peace that comes from victory over sin.
Achan found out that there is no such thing as a secret sin. We may succeed at hiding it from the people around us but make no mistake. God sees and he isn’t ignoring it.
I don’t know what Achan was thinking but I know the thoughts I’ve had when I try to hold on to what I think is a secret sin. Thoughts like… it’s not that big of a deal, it’s not hurting anyone, I’ll confess it later, I’m entitled to a little fun.
I need to be reminded that those arguments are never from God. They are Satan’s attempts at keeping me from a right relationship with God.
Achan’s story also reminds me that my life and my choices affect those around me. The nation of Israel could not win their battles as long as Achan held on to his sin. I wonder what blessings, what victories have been denied my loved ones, my church because of sins I think I’m hiding.
God, reveal to me anything in my life that displeases you. May I lay it all before you so that you can cleanse me. I don’t want anything standing between us today.
God had parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross on dry ground during their escape from slavery in Egypt. Now he parts the Jordan River so the Jews could enter the Promised Land forty years later. Most of the people who crossed the Jordan were either too young to remember or hadn’t been born when the Red Sea parted. They had heard the accounts from their parents and Moses. But now they were experiencing the miracle for themselves.
Not only did a new generation of Jews witness the amazing power of God… but so did a new generation of foreign nations. 5:1 says the hearts of the Amorite kings west of the Jordan melted and they no longer had courage to go against Israel because of the power of their God.
Once again God chose the people of Israel to reveal Himself to the world. And once again I am challenged to allow God to do the same in me. Whether it’s the example of my walk with the Lord on a day to day basis, or the privilege of being a witness of God’s power in times of trouble. My prayer is that others will be drawn to God because they can see evidence of Him in me.