It’s all about obedience I just finished rereading the book of Joshua, and I continue to be amazed at the difference between God’s instructions to Joshua before and after the conquest of Jericho. When about to conquer Jericho the Lord said, “Keep away from the devoted things… all the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into His treasury” (6:18-19). And what happened?
Achan took some of the plunder and as a result 36 men lost their lives unnecessarily and his entire family were killed. “Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks which remains to this day” (7:26), the biblical scribe reports. But now watch this: with that heap of rocks still somewhere close in sight, the Lord tells Joshua, “I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land…. Except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves” (8:2).
Had I been Joshua, I think I would have wanted to say, “Really Lord? We just killed a man who did that.” But Joshua must have learned a lesson from Moses. Remember when Israel was in the desert without water and God told Moses, “Strike the rock and water will come out of it for the people to drink” (Exodus 17:6)? Remember also that at a later time when the nation was in need of water, God told Moses, “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water” (Numbers 20:8). And what did Moses do? He “struck the rock twice with his staff” (v. 11), and even though “water gushed out,” Moses was never allowed to enter the Promised Land.
Why? He disobeyed God’s instructions. The first time he was told to strike the rock. The next time he was instructed to speak to the rock. It’s all about obedience. Lord, give us open ears to hear from You and open hearts to obey You. We pray in the powerful Name of Jesus.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”
How do we hide God’s Word in our hearts?
I don’t know any way other than memorization.
But don’t let that scare you. I’m not talking about memorizing whole chapters, although that’s great if we can do that, but I’m talking about single thoughts or verses. You may not consider that you are good at memorizing Scripture, but if you are walking strong in the Lord, you have certain scriptures inside you that hold you closer to the Lord, even if cannot quote those scriptures word for word in any of the many translations.
For example, how many of us take comfort again and again in Paul’s assurance that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose?” We may never have actually memorized that verse, or may not even know where to find it (it’s Romans 8:28), but we know its content, and we rely again and again on its truth.
As we read through Scripture again this year (and I trust you have some kind of plan for reading regularly through Scripture), let us find those truths that will transform us, let us mark them, learn them, journal them, hide them in our hearts, quote them, and use them so that, as Paul says when writing to the Corinthians, we will continue to “reflect the Lord’s glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18) and be transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus.
That’s my hope for you. That’s my hope for me. As we move through this new year. Have a blessed year.
This Psalm has been a strength for many believers who turn to the Bible looking for answers during this trying and unknown time. The psalmist even foresaw times like the one in which the world is experiencing now. Twice he spoke of being protected from the pestilence – the “deadly pestilence” and “the pestilence that stalks in the darkness.” Once he speaks of the “plague that destroys at midday.”
But the opening verse is the key for our focus: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Dwelling in the LORD brings rest.
Paul tells us that “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:8). And from our perspective with God, we see Him at work in all situations. He will never allow the enemy to win the battle. Jesus has been given “all authority” not only in heaven but also “on earth” (Matthew 28:18).
Let us pray for all those who will turn to the Lord during this worldwide “pestilence/plague.” Let us become the believers who put our trust in Him, trusting that even this will be turned for our good as we trust in Him.
I’ve been impressed again as I was reading in the early chapters of Joshua how often God talked to Joshua about what He was “giving” Israel, even though they still had to fight for it.
When they approached Jericho, God said, “I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” When they got over the debaucle at Ai and were going up under God’s anointing, again He said, “I have delivered Ai into your hands.”
Interesting. A past tense verb for a future event. But when God speaks, it’s as good as done, even though there may be many battles before its completion. I like this.
Since He promised that Israel “will come trembling to the Lord and to His blessings in the last days,” it is as good as done, even though we may not see it with our natural eyes for a few years.
When He speaks of that corridor between ancient Assyria and Egypt along with Israel becoming a blessing upon the earth, it is done though we have yet to see it. When God speaks, it’s as good as done.
Stand firmly on His promises.
Thousands of us are entering or have entered into a time of fasting and prayer in these opening days of 2019. In all my years in the Nashville area, and in other cities, I have never known the body of believers to be so united for such a time of corporately seeking the Lord together with prayer and with fasting.
Fasting is not the easiest thing we have ever done, so why are we fasting and what do we expect from this time? As I was sitting and pondering this, here are some of the things that are motivating me:
- First of all, Jesus expected His followers to connect to God through fasting and prayer. He did not say, “If you fast,” but “When you fast,” and told His accusers that when the bridegroom left, His disciples would fast (See Matthew 6:16 and 9:16).
- I/we need a more complete surrender of ourselves to Jesus, and this manner of full-body praying (that’s what I call it) helps us in that surrender. We humble ourselves through fasting (Psalm 35:13).
- There are areas of our lives where we are not gaining the victory. When this happened to the disciples, Jesus said, “This kind comes out only through prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29 NKJV).
- Because we are desperate to see a greater move of God in our region and in our world.
- Asking for instructions and God’s provisions for the days ahead (Ezra 8:21)
- For healing (Isaiah 58:3-9)
- When we need God’s intervention for a particular crisis (2 Chronicles 20)
- As a way of joining across all lines as we seek to answer the prayer of Jesus in becoming one before the Father, so that the world will know that Jesus is the Sent One from the Father (John 17:20-21).
Let’s join our hearts together during these days and encourage each other as we devote meal times and other times to be before the Lord, expecting Him to work in astonishing ways in our own personal lives and in the lives of those around us.