Joshua – Get Ready!

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

When the spies returned from Jericho, they shared their good news with Joshua. (See Joshua – Rahab’s Pact) They summed it up by saying,

“The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.” Joshua 2:24

Three days earlier, Joshua, who heeded God’s encouragement to be strong and courageous, had given orders to his officers.

“Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’ “ Joshua 1:11 

The spies had been gone those three days and arrived back to the camp just in time to give their good news and get ready to travel with the camp. God’s timing is always perfect. His finger points us in the right direction when our eyes are watching and our hearts are ready.

So this huge group of people have packed up their things once again, ready to move forward.

When they move to their new location, they camp again fairly close to the Jordan River. The plan is to wait three more days.

Now the officers go through the camp giving another order.

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out and follow it. Then you will know which way to go since you have never been this way before. Joshua 3:3-4a

Why the ark of the covenant? While God is not confined to a box, this “box” had special meaning to the people. It contained the ten commandments, Moses’ rod, and a sample of the manna which represented God’s commands, His protection, and His provision. More than that, it represented the presence of God to these people. 

So, in essence, following the ark of the covenant was like following God. Just to maintain respect and awe for their divine God, they were told to keep a respectable distance from it, about a thousand yards. Imagine ten football fields!

To prepare for this special moment, Joshua tells the people,

“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5

“Consecrate” usually meant bathing themselves and preparing themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually for something special. Think of a graduation or a wedding. You take a bath, prepare your garments, think through what is about to take place.

Think of moving forward for something special in your life—a renewed relationship with your spouse, a new job, a new ministry, a witnessing opportunity, even a burial for a loved one. You prepare yourself or consecrate yourself.

For me, right now, it is preparing for the publishing of my book. I edit and ask others to look at it.  I watch videos of teachers giving advice on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing, praying God will give me the next step.

What amazing thing is he ready to do in your life?

~ Joyce ~

Feeding the 5000 – Let’s Get Organized

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Okay, now we have something to work with to feed 5000+ people—five barley loaves of bread and two fish. (See Feeding the 5000 – Time to Eat) Not a lot to go on, but then it wouldn’t be a miracle if the food was already plentiful, now would it?

Being an organized person, I love the next scene in this power-packed day. Jesus saw the need for getting things organized and he asked the disciples to help Him. We have hind sight. We know what’s going to take place, but they didn’t.

Jesus gives two instructions. Pretty simple.

Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” Luke 9:15

Sit on the grass (the” grassy slopes” John says)—in groups of 50. Easy breezy, you say? But look at the crowd! We discover they are 5000 strong.

I’m going to give you a little sneak preview of how I plan to construct this scene in my next book about Matthew.

Peter stood straight up, hands on hips. “He wants us to do what?”

Matthew turned to Peter, “He wants the people to sit in groups of 50 or so.”

Gesturing to the crowd of thousands, Peter complains, “You mean we have to count off to 50 that many times?” 

“Peter, can you usually get about ten men in a boat?”

“A big boat.”

“Just think five boatloads in each group.”

“Oh, I see.” So Peter shouts over to some of the other fishermen disciples and repeats the plan.

Matthew smiles and quickly sums up a group of ten men. “The master wants you to sit on the grass,” he tells them. As they sit, he motions another group of ten to join them. Then another ten, “Will you join this group, please?” And so forth for five tens—fifty!

Then he turns to another group of ten. “Please form a new group by sitting here.” To another ten, “Please join this new group.” And on and on.

Keep in mind that they’re going to need 100 groups of 50. That means each disciple must organize about eight groups of 50. As you can see, it’s a mammoth task, but with each disciple helping, it is do-able. It will take time, however. 

No doubt some in the back begin sitting when they see others sit. Then you have the problem of asking some to get up and move to form separate groups. Nothing is easy when you’re dealing with massive groups of people.

I imagine the disciples have been so busy with the “project” that they haven’t considered what’s coming next. They will eventually realize that all this preparation will serve them well. They will be able to move around the people and know who has been served and who hasn’t. Much more orderly! A great lesson for us in the value of planning ahead.

Next week is the big climax. How amazed the disciples and the people will be when Jesus feeds them all with just five loads of bread and two fish.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

David – Preparation

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

How did King David handle his fears? I think much of his ability came with early preparation as a shepherd on the hillside. 

David developed his natural skills as he cared for his sheep. I picture him practicing with his sling over and over again, aiming his stone at a medium rock, then a smaller rock, vying for accuracy ten times out of twenty. Then 15 out of 20 or victoriously, 20 out of 20.

Maybe David challenged himself at greater distances. Perhaps he aimed at birds in flight, anticipating how far ahead the stone would need to go to coincide with the bird’s path. Whatever he did in practice, we know it eventually paid off with precision and strength when his target was a lion or bear and eventually the forehead of a giant. Preparation!

No doubt this handsome, Jewish boy had been taught about God. His psalms were evidence of a growing faith—many of which were likely made up in the calm of a day’s feeding time or in the quiet of a long watch at night. His prayers and meditations formed easily into songs of praise, sung over and over until he remembered them.

Wouldn’t you love to have heard his voice or listened to his harp accompaniment, a harp he fashioned from just the right arched-shaped branch, wide enough to accommodate a few different length strings, but small enough to sling over his shoulder. In those early days, Israel’s great song writer began the hymnal for his people. He learned the technique that calmed agitated sheep and later calmed the very soul of King Saul. Preparation!

In the days on the hillside, David poured out his heart and soul to the Lord, meditating, praising, seeking the Lord’s strength, drawing near to Him. He looked at his woolly charges and pictured the Lord caring for him like he cared for his sheep.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

As David provided fresh pastures for his sheep, he watched them lie down following an afternoon of grazing. He continued to develop the comparisons.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. he restores my soul. Psalm 23:2-3

However, in David’s life, as in ours, life was not just pleasant skies, lush green grass, and lazin’ around. He had strays to rescue, wild animals to subdue, and at the end of the day, burrs to pull out and cuts to anoint with oil. The ruggedness of shepherd life was enough to remind him that:

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Preparation! We will see how that plays out in the next few weeks in David’s life. 

How does your preparation play out for you? How can your meditative times prepare you for whatever is ahead? Let us say with David:

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust. Psalm 25:1

~ Joyce ~