Joshua – New ways

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

The children of Israel have built their stone memorial to remember the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River. They have settled in Gilgal, which interestingly enough means “circle of stones.”  (See “Joshua – Remembering“)

In addition to encouraging the Israelites, God had in mind to impact the people of this new land.

He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might fear the Lord your God. Joshua 4:24

Do you remember how the news of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea had had a powerful effect on Rahab who helped Joshua’s spies? Now to hear this news so close to home would really have the people of Jericho nervous. Not only them—

Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites. Joshua 5:1

The young men in the Hebrew camp needed to understand their heritage and be dedicated to bravely defend their sacred duty as God’s chosen people. Those who had been born in the desert had not been circumcised, the mark of every male who was a son of Abraham. This procedure held them down a few days while they healed. New ways.

The people had not celebrated Passover since they were in the desert, another new thing for the younger ones.

Remember that all through the desert, God had provided manna for them, their only food. 

The day after the Passover, they ate some of the produce of the land; unleavened bread and roasted grain. Joshua 5:11

          

Wouldn’t you love to see they’re faces with the first taste? Wouldn’t you like to hear their comments? Did they love it? How did they feel when they realized that their food would no longer fall from heaven? They would have to seek it out, grow it, and harvest it. More new ways.

We’re facing new ways, aren’t we? We’re learning to take our masks every time we go out. We’re conscious of staying six feet apart, sanitizing, and seeing empty waiting rooms at the doctor’s office. New ways often tax us because we like the familiar. 

Let’s admit it, even before the pandemic, we liked our routines and had a struggle at times adjusting to new patterns or life changes. We might move to a new city or struggle with a teenager. Perhaps we find ourselves in the hospital or lose a spouse. We may not like changes at church or feel frustrated with a job.

New ways require patience and perseverance. Hm, sounds like something from Romans.

…we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 6:3-5 

~ Joyce ~

  

Hard Times, Good Times

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Today’s title fits every life and particularly our present shared condition. These days give new meaning to being “shut-ins.” Right?

We will interrupt our study of the individual disciples and take them as a group as the pathway to resurrection unfolds with hard times and good times.

When the disciples were previously in Jerusalem, the religious leaders were hot on Jesus trail finding fault and asking hard questions with Jesus constantly countering their attacks. They even tried to stone him.  The disciples felt the sting of it all and were reluctant when some time later Jesus said they were going back to Jerusalem for Passover.”

Hard times.

Now we find them somewhere along the Jordan River ministering and baptizing while Jesus teaches and performs miracles.

Good times.

A messenger rushes in to declare that friend Lazarus is very ill. Though they are surprised that Jesus doesn’t go immediately, are they possibly relieved not to be going closer to Jerusalem? Alas, two days later, Jesus says they are going. That’s when we hear Thomas say,

“Let us also go that we may die with him.” John 11:16

When Martha greets them, we feel her heartache, not only that her brother is dead, but also that Jesus had not cared enough to come to heal him. Jesus begins talking immediately about resurrection. He would soon give a vivid portrayal of life after death.

Martha said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” John 11:25

Jesus gives a response, similar to when he had earlier told the disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus, said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25

Martha gives her wonderful testimony of faith,

“Yes, Lord, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.” John 11:27

As Jesus walks to the tomb, we see his human compassion for Martha, Mary, and their friends as well as for his friend, Lazarus, which leads us to that simple verse,

Jesus wept. John 11:35

   

Hard times.

Well, we know “the rest of the story.” Jesus commands the tomb to be opened and shouts, “Lazarus, come out!” They see a display of resurrection right before their eyes.

Good times.

      

Word spreads like wild fire. Pilgrims, coming in for Passover, line the pathway from the view of Jerusalem to the eastern gate, cheering and praising God. They drape their cloaks across the path as Jesus rides in on a donkey. They wave palm branches in a celebration of victory as they sing songs of hosanna.

Very good times!

May we join these joyful praises as we celebrate and join live-streaming services this Palm Sunday! Joyful times in the midst of hard times.

~ Joyce ~