Joshua – The Plan

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Now we begin probably your favorite part of Joshua’s calling—conquering the walls of Jericho.

Joshua had begun to scout out the nearest Canaanite stronghold—Jericho. As he goes, he is confronted by a man with a drawn sword. He realizes this is a messenger from God.

Joshua fell down and asked,

“What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the Lord’s army said, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” Joshua 5:14b-15

          

Where have we heard that before? As close as Joshua was to Moses, I think we can imagine Moses telling  his story to Joshua of the time when the Lord spoke through the burning bush. Moses had the Pharaoh to deal with, Joshua has a city!

He has already surveyed this tightly walled city—thick walls that is. The Israelites have no heavy equipment to forge their way in. So here’s the plan:

The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.” Joshua 6:2

Great!

“March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of ram’s horns in front of the ark. Joshua 6:3-4a

Say what?

“On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.” Joshua 6:4b-5

 You’ve got to be kidding!

Well, this may not be what Joshua said or even thought about these instructions, but in later verses, he seems to give instructions only one day at a time. I suppose Joshua thinks that’s all they can manage.

Sometimes the Lord gives us instructions that are challenging. I have fretted over the editing of my manuscript. Do I have it professionally edited?. What about publishing? And then there’s the marketing. God said, “Trust me. Think, ‘What is the next thing that needs to be done?’ Take that one step as I lead you.” Two weeks later, I received a free four-session video set called “Getting Unstuck!” from a publisher. 

A friend has cancer. She went through treatments before and did well, but his time she has opted not to have treatments. She’s making her funeral arrangements. “This feels weird,” she says, but she’s found some surprising joys and peace in this process.

My daughter woke up in the middle of the night thinking of a friend from childhood who is a missionary in Turkey. The Holy Spirit gave her a strong conviction that she should send an email of encouragement. Though not knowing anything specific, she obediently obeyed. The friend sobbed saying it was very timely.

Sometimes God gives us unusual commands. His plans are always best, even if they sometimes feel weird. Are you listening? Are you seeking?

~ Joyce ~ 

 

 

Joshua – Be Strong and Courageous

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Moses died at age 150, but before he died, he climbed Mt. Nebo and God showed him a view of the Promised Land. Obviously, the people wept and mourned the passing of their great leader, but he had left them in good hands.

Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses. Deuteronomy 34:9

At this point, the people have made their way around the Dead Sea and are near the shore of the Jordan River across from the city of Jericho. Immediately, the Lord gives instructions.

“Now, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give them. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” Joshua 1:2-3

Now this was no easy task. It wasn’t like the land was empty and Joshua and his people could just march in and set up their flag. No, tribes of people had come into this land and lived there during the 400 years that Jacob and his descendants had been in Egypt. These tribes of Canaan had formed their cities and their armies along with their many gods.

Just as Jesus told his disciples, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20) so God tells Joshua,

“I will be with you: I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

Then three times, the Lord gives the command, “Be strong and courageous!”

“… because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” Joshua 1:6

The land had been promised to Abraham centuries before.

The second “Be strong and courageous” warns Joshua to be careful to obey the law God had given to Moses.

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” Joshua 1:8

The very reason the pagan people of this land must go is because they have been worshiping idols and other gods. It must not be so with God’s people.

The third time, God emphasizes again to Joshua—

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

God has plans for your life and mine, no matter our age or circumstances. He warns us to study His word, meditate on it, obey it, and remember that He will be with us at all times. Then He says even to us, “Be strong and courageous!”

When we are weak, He is our strength. He will bring a song of joy! I love that reminder on one of my tea cups.

      

Perhaps the battle for control of your mind and years of worry have made you vulnerable to the enemy. Be strong and courageous!

~ Joyce ~

 

 

Saul the King

Searching His Word
  Seeking His Heart

We have been following young David the shepherd boy for a while with songs (or psalms) that he may have first composed on the hillside. Great things are ahead for David, but before we get to that, let’s take a look at what else was going on in Israel at the time.

Samuel was the people’s adviser and spiritual leader, serving as the last judge of Israel. He had seen them through many battles with neighboring towns and particularly with the Philistines, but now, the people wanted, no, they demanded to have a king!

Samuel’s heart was broken. He felt rejection, but the Lord said to him,

… it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. I Samuel 8:7

Samuel told the people of God’s warning of the fallacies of kingship, but they cried all the more to have a king. They wanted to be “like other nations” who had kings. Here they had God Himself as their king. Their hearts were not in the right place.

At times in our lives, we may continuously reject God’s leadership even though He strives with us. At some point, He may give us over to our selfish desires until we learn lessons from our actions.

God relented and told Samuel,

“Listen to them and give them a king.” I Samuel 8:22

Who would it be? Well, there was…

…Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others. I Samuel 9:2

Saul got the job! For a while things went okay. In fact, Samuel told Saul that a procession of prophets were coming.

“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. I Samuel 10:6

Saul led the men in battles to protect his people as well as others. He ended up reigning for forty-two years, but little by little, we discover that though Saul may have been a head taller than the others, his heart was not as big as his head. Maybe another way of saying he was big-headed!

        

In one incident after another, Saul failed to follow the leadership of Samuel the prophet, and thus failed to follow the commands of God.

Eventually, Samuel told Saul,

“You have acted foolishly. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. I Samuel 13:13-14

How sad when the Lord blesses someone richly, but they take matters into their own hands instead of seeking the Lord’s will in their lives. Samuel constantly warned the people that they must turn to the Lord, but they were busy pattering after Saul who sought after his own will.

The Lord was ready to lead Samuel to anoint another person. 

Next week, quite a surprise for our young shepherd boy!

~ Joyce ~

 

Lessons from the Daffodils

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Let’s take a break from Matthew to consider the daffodils we are enjoying these days. Two weeks ago I hopped in the car to run some errands when what to my wandering eyes should appear but Forsythia! And in the next block—daffodils!

“This is only February,” I said out loud. Since then, I’ve heard at least three people say they have been trying to talk to their blossoms and buds, urging them to go back in—all to no avail. 

Now I just wouldn’t want an incident like this to slip by without gleaning a lesson to be learned, so let’s think it through.

We reason that it isn’t time for the flowers to be bloom yet. We surmise that more bad weather will yet come. The temperatures will drop, maybe to freezing, maybe snow! Their petals will freeze. They’ll shrivel up and die!

But they don’t listen. They stand there in defiance just like our (terrible-two) two-year-olds or middle schoolers or high school know-it-alls or even our adult children. We can see ahead; we know the devastation they face, we try to warn them, but off they go into destruction.

Whew! I guess that’s one lesson we can imagine from our little yellow friends. Let’s look at another.

Daffodils were made to bloom. They happen to usually be the ones to herald in the Spring, but mostly, they were made to respond to warm soil in rising temperatures with nourishing rain and that’s exactly what they have done. They have been obedient to their calling. They have no calendars tucked under their leafy arms; they simply respond according to who they are.

We, too, were made to respond to the Creator’s wooing, but He gave us the gift of choice. Over and over in the Old Testament, we are encouraged to be obedient. Moses said:

Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. Exodus 12:24

In the New Testament, Jesus made it clear that obedience was still important and that we would be blessed by it.

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 

He also told us to teach obedience to others. He said “Go,” “baptize,” 

“…and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” And the best part… “I am with you always to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Oh, that we could naturally respond to the Savior like the daffodils do—the sun is shining, the rains have come, the ground is warm, let’s go! Indeed, we can become responsive to what He gives us; we simply must choose to do so.

~ Joyce ~