Joshua 8 Part 1–Joshua the Shepherd

When all is right with God, it is much easier to lead with confidence.  Joshua had grieved the loss of his men at the first battle of Ai. He grieved the sin of Achan and the punishment and pain it had caused. So, after dealing with the sin and dealing with the loss–God picked up his leader and gave him back the confidence to continue.  And continue Israel did.

This time God told Israel to take all the spoils of the battle. He devised the plan to ambush Ai.  He knew they would be cocky and confident and would not think like soldiers.  He was right.  Ai left themselves unguarded and their city open to attack because they were going to show those Israelites a thing or two. Israel seized on their overconfidence and destroyed them.  As the people finished up the battle and divided the spoils, Joshua was able to breathe. He had again brought the people back in line and in right fellowship with God. 

Joshua was again reminded He was a shepherd–not a general. His job was to lead his people to follow the Lord.  It was God’s job to then clear the land for the people.  

One of the most difficult parts of following the Lord is placing our confidence in Him, and not placing it in our own abilities.  It can lead us to make choices we regret, and or place us in positions where our overconfidence leads to our own destruction.  If we lead like Joshua led, seeking God, and allowing Him to lead us–then, the Lord will do amazing things.  If we try to wrestle control away from the Lord, God will allow us to have control but, He will also us to fall into the traps that come with it.

God Bless You


And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.”

So Joshua and all the fighting men arose to go up to Ai. And Joshua chose 30,000 mighty men of valor and sent them out by night. And he commanded them, “Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you remain ready. And I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out against us just as before, we shall flee before them. And they will come out after us, until we have drawn them away from the city. For they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us, just as before.’ So we will flee before them. Then you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God will give it into your hand. And as soon as you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire. You shall do according to the word of the Lord. See, I have commanded you.” So Joshua sent them out. And they went to the place of ambush and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai, but Joshua spent that night among the people…. And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 And the others came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. And Israel struck them down, until there was left none that survived or escaped. 23 But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him near to Joshua.

24 When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. 25 And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. 26 But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction.[b] 27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their plunder, according to the word of the Lord that he commanded Joshua. 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. 29 And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening. And at sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day.

When All Reverence is Gone–Genesis 19 Part 1

God knew.  He had seen it before–in the eyes of Cain, the world at the time of Noah, and now, again in Lot’s time. All reverence for God and man had departed from Sodom and Gomorrah.  In the absence of reverence, selfishness exploded into abuse and utter chaos. As the two angels appeared in Sodom, they were met at the gate by Abraham’s nephew, Lot.  He could see immediately they were angels, and he was deathly afraid of what they would do to his home and what his city would do to them. He was right to be afraid.
 
The angels wanted to explore the city, to search for the 10 Abraham interceded for–they simply were not there. Lot knew that and knew he had to bring these messengers to safety. Try as he may–the city found out and appeared in force–to abuse and destroy the visitors–it did not matter where they were from; why they were in the city or whose guest they were–all that mattered was that the men of the city were entertained and satisfied; utter selfishness and chaos.
 
We live in a culture not so far from that.  From the halls of government,the doors of business and centers of entertainment–most have lost reverence for all things sacred. In world War 2, all fighting stopped for Christmas Eve, not out of a sense of celebration, but more out of reverence for what the holiday represented.  Now, on Thanksgiving day–the stores fling open their doors and slash their prices to yell “buy, buy, buy!” We have forgotten why we set days apart as holy–now they are simply reasons to skip a day of work and have a big meal.  As his chosen, we must maintain our reverence for God. We need to be people of prayer and seek God’s forgiveness and restoration for our land.  If we lose all reverence as a nation; with its loss will come the loss of freedom, family and peace.  It will be replaced, as it was in Sodom, with tyranny, chaos and a total disregard for life and others.  Join me in a vigilant course of prayer for the return of holy reverence for life and God in our land.
 
God Bless You
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

Following God, the Making of a Hero–Genesis 11 Part 2

After studying the Bible for almost 50 years, I remain intrigued that God was so open and transparent about his plan to save the world.  He actually, like every good author, reveals himself in almost every chapter.  As we focus on the lineage that brings us to Abraham, we realize that the age of men dropped dramatically.  From Adam to Noah–the average age of men landed in the 900’s, now, by Abraham’s time that has dropped by 80%.
 
God knew men would not change–but, he also intentionally used frail men to carry out his plan of restoration.  The other revelation, is that the men that God used were not superheroes–they were normal people who lived normal lives. It was their desire to continue to seek God that distinguished them in the history of God’s plan.  
 
If we, as his chosen people. would commit to remaining faithful to God’s word and plan–we would see that faithfulness shine in this culture.  We truly make a difference, by standing in alignment with God’s plan and walking daily in the path he has made for us.  In addition, we, like the heroes of old, draw closer to him and are sensitive to his direction–making our journey easier to align with God’s leadership.  We need not be timid or ashamed, instead; we must stand tall and firm in the faith, humbly following God at his word.
 
God Bless You
This is the account of Shem’s family line.

Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father[d] of Arphaxad. 11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters.

12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. 13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.[e]

14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. 15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. 17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters.

18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. 19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.

20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. 21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.

22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. 23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.

24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. 25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.

26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

Proverbs 29 Part 2–Coming Along Side

Proverbs has clearly contrasted two lifestyles.  The lifestyles of the wise and lifestyles of the foolish.  Interestingly, Solomon never classed people by their wealth, class, education or job title. As the richest king in Israel’s history, Solomon knew the value of wealth and the ease it brought to life.  He addressed the fact several times.  But, unlike most in his position, he looked at how people treated those less fortunate as a sign of their reverence and wisdom. 

Solomon knew that God decided men’s paths and whether rich or poor all men needed to be treated with dignity and care.  If the rich treated those less fortunately carelessly or with intentional meanness—God would vindicate the poor. Solomon also knew that the poor had to be patient—God still loved them and would reward them in the end.

It is just difficult to accept your circumstances when they are tough.  One tries to be patient, philosophical and content, but, after a time, weariness sets in and faith is shaken—spiritually, one hits the wall and simply cannot continue on any further. Or so they think—at that moment, God’s people press on to take hold of eternal perspective and hold on to the hope of glory. It is in those moments, they have the greatest impact on the community of believers and the world at large.  We as a church have to come along side those that are weary and encourage assist and pray to see God’s restoration in the lives of the ones oppressed.  We do not pity them we honor them for remaining faithful and we pray without ceasing for their restoration—Then, like Israel, God will hear our prayers and hopefully restore and revive the weary travelers—that would be a great honor to them, him and us!

God Bless You

Fools give full vent to their rage,     but the wise bring calm in the end.

12 If a ruler listens to lies,     all his officials become wicked.

13 The poor and the oppressor have this in common:     The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.

14 If a king judges the poor with fairness,     his throne will be established forever.

15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,     but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.

16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,     but the righteous will see their downfall.

17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;     they will bring you the delights you desire.

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;     but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;     though they understand, they will not respond.

20 Do you see someone who speaks in haste?     There is more hope for a fool than for them.

21 A servant pampered from youth     will turn out to be insolent.

22 An angry person stirs up conflict,     and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.

23 Pride brings a person low,     but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

24 The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies;     they are put under oath and dare not testify.

25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,     but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

26 Many seek an audience with a ruler,     but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.

27 The righteous detest the dishonest;     the wicked detest the upright.

The Angel of The Lord–Joshua 5 Part 2

There is little attention paid to the story before the Story.  In Joshua, the Lord made his transition between Moses and Joshua clear and complete.  Joshua had taken the mantle of Moses as the people crossed the Jordan River and entered Canaan.  Now, as the armies were fast approaching their first battle, God sent the Angel of the Lord to make sure Joshua knew he was not alone. 

This was no ordinary angel (AS IF THERE IS SUCH A THING).  This was the pre-incarnate Christ.  When asked if he was for Israel or Israel’s enemy—he said, neither.  But he was there to keep his covenant and deliver into the hands of Israel—their inheritance. With the armies of the Lord on his side, Joshua was ready to start marching around the city of Jericho.

We have the Holy Spirit walking with us on the journey.  He is a part of us and provides strength, comfort and direction.  Mostly, like the Angel of the Lord, the spirit is with us to honor the covenant God has made with us–His chosen people. If we will humbly walk with him and honor him with our lives, he will prepare us, protect us and provide for us everything we need to face the battles that are in front of us.

God Bless You

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord[e] have for his servant?”

15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

The Champion–Romans 12 part 2

When we, like Abraham, decide to become a living sacrifice, we then, like any seasoned traveler, must gear up for the journey.  The journey for most requires that they outfit for the world’s standard—independence, self-absorption, base survival instinct and the focus of self-preservation by any means necessary. Paul knew, however, that the journey for a person that was committed to live a life for Christ required a complete transformation.

The Rocky movies that were produced in the 70’s, 80’s and up to a few weeks ago—(Creed), illustrated the transformation very well.  At the critical moment, the hero realizes that what he is doing is not working, and changes his entire thought process and regimen to become the champion. It is never simply harder physical training; instead, the hero transforms by the change in attitude, spirit and drive.

That is what Paul—and God calls us to do! We are to be transformed into a humble but God focused champion.  We face the challenges of the day with the mind of Christ.  We do not look to our own abilities to meet the battle, but we rely on prayer, study, fellowship with other believers and sober judgement to win the spiritual battles of the day.  We never quit and always push forward to be transformed into his image, the image of a true champion!

God Bless You

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.warrior

The Plague Of Blood–Exodus 7 Continued

There was little doubt about the outcome of Moses’ demand to free the Israelites. Both the Egyptians and the Israelites knew that It would take beyond amazing to change the heart of Pharaoh. Still the plague of blood was a stage setting event to say the least. If we remember that God was not nearly as interested in Pharaoh’s reaction as he was in the reaction of the Canaanite world for years to come, then the message of each plague rings clearer for us.

 The Nile was a great river—a sweet river. The water was known as wonderful around the known world. So for the entire supply to be destroyed, for the fish to die, such an event hit the Egyptian nation at their most crucial core—survival. every sense was affected. Hunger, thirst, smell, sight and mind were completely rattled—No matter where they turned—there was no relief.

 Meanwhile, the Israelites had water. God prepared them for the plague and they were unaffected. God wanted to set his chosen apart and make sure that the people of Egypt knew that they were no longer in charge of his people—HE was. The growing thirst had to exacerbate their jealousy and fear. The worst news for the people of Egypt—“They ain’t seen nothing yet.”

 God makes his messages clear. Early submission to his lead will always beat a hardened heart. In addition, as with Pharaoh—we have to remember that our choices impact so many others. We as a people should live to honor God, if for no other reason , because it will change lives. Failure to do so will also change lives. Sadly, as Pharaoh showed the world—that kind of change will neither be well received nor well remembered.

God Bless You

  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.’”

God Is Not Mocked–Exodus 7 Part 1

It would be so much simpler to obey and trust God. It would not necessarily be easier, but it would definitely be simpler. God is not mocked—whatever a person sows, that they will also reap. As the Israelites suffered at the hands of the Egyptians, God was keeping an accounting. There would be no doubt, at the end of the Exodus, that God avenges his chosen ones.

Pharaoh did not have a chance. He had become so ruthless to Israel, that human reason would not guide his choices. In addition, as the days progressed, Pharaoh’s self-absorbed pride would deal out the punishment for Israel’s treatment. Could Pharaoh have chosen differently, in a word—NO. He was a prisoner of his own heartlessness and pride. God was simply allowing Pharaoh to be himself. Now, apart from God, Pharaoh would experience the chaos his heartless foolishness bought.

God is still not mocked. ISIS thinks it is having its way with the church; it is not. Muslim leaders who are killing and selling Christians are not surprising or outsmarting God. World leaders that are refusing to intercede on behalf of the Christians being slaughtered will be held accountable and yes, even those of us that simply turn our heads and look the other way will have to give an account.

As with Israel and Moses, IT IS TIME to take the current events seriously and seek God’s mercy and intervention on behalf of our family that is spread across the globe. The persecution we shake our head about today will be the persecution we face tomorrow—apart from God’s merciful intervention.

God Bless You

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”

10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.

I am Who I Am–Exodus 3 Continued

Credentials are important for any leader to be successful. Resume, experience and presence–all frame the leader in the sight of those he leads and those he must oppose. God had spent 80 years preparing Moses for his mission; now as he is charging him with the details, Moses wants clarity about his credentials. In the next couple of verses, God sums up credibility and credentials for Moses and all who follow God in the days to come. 

“I Am who I Am” is the title and name of the God that sent Moses and each leader since. All at once, Moses and his pedigree became of little value compared to the surpassing greatness of God. Note that God’s name speaks nothing of the past, though his history is remarkable. It speaks nothing of the future, though he will lead us to a remarkable eternity. 

In a word-God simply is– not affected by time, place or person. He is all knowing, all powerful and in all places and times at once. He called the universe into being. And details each atom and cell within it. For Moses, that was ample credibility and resume for his mission.

What’s more, it is equally complete for us in our missions. We need never rely upon our credentials or record to complete God’s call on our lives. In fact, his word says our credentials and righteousness are as sickening blood soaked bandages compared to him. God will not only prepare us for our journey, he will precede us, provide for us and bring to bare all the tools necessary to complete the mission he has assigned. What a beautiful gift, and what an amazing God!!

God Bless You

So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’“This is my name forever,the name you shall call mefrom generation to generation.

Table for 5000 Please–John 6 Part 1

Can you imagine the staggering impact Jesus’ question must have had on the disciples…How are we going to feed these folks. The buzz among his men must have been a mixture of shock and awe.  Clearly, there was no way either economically or logistically for the disciples to feed this crowd.  Yet, they have seen Jesus do amazing things every day.  So the brainstorming begins–it will take a half year’s salary, but that does not even deal with who will have that kind of supply! Andrew found a boy with a fish–kid’s meal–I am sure Jesus smiled at that one and said, “Okay, that should work!”

Remember, this same Jesus called the universe into being.  Light, earth, vegetation, sea creatures, birds, land animals and ultimately man. He has turned water into wine.  He has healed the sick, raised the dead, made the lame to walk and the blind to see. He has cleansed lepers, and astounded Rabbi’s–So what’s a little bread and fish among friends!!!

We need to remember–God has faced countless and impossible challenges for thousands of years.  He can handle the big ones like parting a sea or feeding a mob.  But, he takes equal care in  protecting his kids and meeting their needs.  He gets giddy about feeding a family.  But nothing brings him more joy than restoring that eternal bond with one of his own. We do not always know how God will execute his plan, but, with a little faith, we can rest easy that he is absolutely going to do so with excellence and power. What a guy to have a picnic with…right?

God Bless You

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”