Dueteronomy 3 Part 2–Be Strong and Courageous

At age 120, Moses had seen and heard it all.  He was raised as a prince.  He was chased as a fugitive, he was trained as a shepherd and called as a leader of the chosen people of God. Now, at the end of his life, Moses is directed to hand the reins over to Joshua and coach him on what direction to take God’s people.  So From his mouth comes the great command–“Be strong and courageous.”
 
What Moses was saying, in effect was that there is no magic bullet here.  As a leader, one is called to lead with strength and with courage.  Beyond that, God is in charge for clearing the land and inhabiting his people into this heathen controlled paradise.  Joshua had to listen to God, follow Him closely, and then have the courage to trust God, and the strength to lead the Israelites in the way the Lord commanded.
 
I am sure Joshua took the advice to heart.  The story that lies ahead was one of unfettered obedience and gracious acknowledgement that God is God. The other great news was that they Israelites in fact, followed and obeyed.  
 
In our journey, we are also called to be strong and courageous. We are not called to solve God’s problems, we are called to allow Him to solve ours.  We can never overestimate our ability to do life.  Neither can we underestimate God’s willingness to prepare us for and protect us on the journey.  Like Moses and Joshua, God simply calls us to be strong and courageous. He will bring us to the end with joy and an eternal perspective.  We must remain quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. If we will–He will do the rest.
 
God Bless You

Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Numbers 13-14 Leading When the Wheels Come Off

There was little doubt that the land to be inherited truly flowed with milk and honey.  They had to carry grape clusters on poles they were so large! So you ask–“What’s the catch?” Well if you had been paying attention when God parted the Red Sea, killed the Egyptian army, provided manna every day, or quail, or water out of rocks…you would probably say there is no catch.  That is what Joshua and Caleb reported.  
 
But, sadly the other spies looked past all of that, and saw only the giants and the walls in the land.  In short, they admitted that they were scared of the enemies and their fortified cities.  The people were quick to accept the report of the fearful spies, and quick to discount the wisdom of their leaders and the spies that focused upon what God provided; not what men could do. It really defined these people as liberated slaves and not free and chosen children of the Lord. 
 
What happened next would define Joshua as the leader of a nation ready to claim the land promised–but not that day, and not those people…Joshua and Israel had a lot to learn, and a great many steps to take before entering that land flowing with milk and honey.
 
We have to be prepared for the great times and also for the times when the wheels come off.  The outcomes can be horrible and demoralizing.  We can be confident, however, that in God’s time and in God’s way that He will prepare us and use us to forward His plan.  We have to remain faithful no matter the circumstance.  We have to keep our focus on the Lord and His plan and not on the circumstances that lay before us.  If we will keep our focus on the Lord, it will define us and make us ready to live an eternal life with Him.
 
God Bless You

At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. 26 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”

30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”…

 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.

11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

Numbers 13–Taking a Look From a Leader’s Perspective

God told Moses to send a group of men from the tribes to scout out the land.  He had Moses pick a leader from each of the tribes. From the tribe of Ephraim, Moses picked his assistant and friend Joshua.  These men were to go into the land and give it a real once over.  After all, these folks had not been there in 400 years, odds were that the landscape had changed a bit.
 
It is important to note that these men were leaders of their tribes, and could therefore represent them.  God wanted to make sure that there was no tribe that was left unrepresented. So, after all these years, the people of Israel would finally allow God to grant them their inheritance–or would they? Joshua’s presence in the group was important.  He did see things from a leader’s perspective.  Moses would rely heavily on his input. Joshua had a very intimate glimpse into God and His ways.  He knew God’s heart and perspective.  He would be invaluable.
 
As we continue on our journey with God.  We too have the unique perspective of seeing God’s hand and handiwork in our lives.  We have to view life through our filter of faith.  We need to be mindful of all God has accomplished in our lives; as we view the trials and events that lie before us.  If we will do that–like Joshua, we will have a better perspective of what lies ahead.  Hebrews 11:1 describes it best, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Moses trained Joshua to be a leader guided by his faith in God.  That Faith would literally carry Joshua all the days of his life.
 
God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites. These are their names:

from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zakkur;

from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;

from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;

from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;

from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun;

from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu;

10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;

11 from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;

12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;

13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;

14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;

15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki.

16 These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.)

Daniel 5 Part 1–Didn’t You Learn Anything From Your Dad?

King Nebchaduneezer passed and His kingdom was taken over by his son Beltshazzar.  Belshazzar had moved on, and seemed not to recognize any of the reverence for God that his father gained at the end of of his reign.  He partied like a wildman, and decided to take things a step further.  He remembered the temple treasures of Israel.  He needed more party cups, so he decided to use God’s cups for his party…God would not care, right?
 
Once again, as with his father, Beltshazzar had his attention grabbed by a literal hand of God! The hand was writing on the wall and nothing else was attached. Like his dad, the King called all his enchanters, magicians and wisemen to help him interpret what was written–he promised them the world! But, alas, they had no idea what the meaning of the writing was. So, the king’s wife remembered Daniel and had the king call him in…
 
No matter the circumstance, in whichever generation, God still remains in charge.  Nebchaduneezer had to be shown that a few times, but in the end, trusted God.  His son, on the other hand, seemed to have missed that lesson and not only failed to give God the proper reverence, but actually defiled the holy temple treasure.  Make no mistake, God will not be mocked; and, as Beltshazzar would soon learn, mocking God comes with a hugh pricetag.
 
As His own, we can never forget that God is God and we are not.  The reverence we hold for God is not a dreaded fear, but simply an earned respect and trust.  God has earned our trust, without doubt–but we have to continue to live lives that show that. Failure to trust and follow the lord only impacts our lives.  We do not impact God’s plan or ability to execute, but, we do cause chaos and destruction in our own lives.  We must grasp the picture of our Father leading us through treacherous terrain–often beautiful but also dangerous. That image should drive us follow Him humbly and gratefully.  The result we obtain is coming out safely on the other side.
 
In short–God has earned our respect and trust. If we dishonor God and fail to follow the Lord’s lead; what lies ahead will be horrific and chaotic.
 
God Bless You

 King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand.

Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared[b] to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8

10 The queen,[c] because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared, “O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.[d] In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.

Daniel 2 Part 1–Dream the Impossible Dream

The request was impossible for any man! The king of Babylon was having recurring nightmares. They were waking him up and disrupting his rest.  He neither liked it, nor wanted them to continue.  So the king did what kings did in his day. He called his magicians and enchanters to fix the problem.  
 
Thing was, Nebchaduneezer was no ordinary king.  He was not going to put up with parlor tricks.  So the king asked to have his nightmare interpreted, the only catch was that the magicians and enchanters not only had to interpret the dream, they had to tell the king what happened in the dream.  They, in effect, had to truly read the king’s mind.  That was no small task! Further, failure to do so had a penalty–the magicians and enchanters would be ripped limb from limb and their homes laid to ruin.  This, of course, was no small ask or penalty.  Interestingly enough, the king simply did not care.
 
In our lives, we are often faced with impossible circumstances. Curve balls are thrown at us that send us reeling.  When we step back and objectively look at it, the situation still seems hopeless and unfair.  
 
We are fortunate, however, to serve a God that thrives on the impossible and perserveres in the realm of the unfair. It is in those impossible moments and in company of impossible people, that God does His best work.  Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David and many, many more heroes of the Bible lived in impossible times faced with unfair circumstances. Life was and simply is not fair…Fortunately, they were not focused on life, but on the Lord. 
 
Like the Bible heroes, we need to accept the impossibility of circumstances and the unfair nature of life.  Once we cross that bridge, we can then focus on the amazing nature and result of the one and true God! If we will, we will see the same awesome results that other people of God have enjoyed. We have to be patient, we have to be comitted, and we have to be grateful.  But, in the end, God will do what needs to be done to prepare, protect and provide for our needs.
 
Goid Bless You

In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic,[a] “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm— if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.” 10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 11 The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

2 Kings 7–You Will See It but You Won’t Experience It!

We are often put in a position where we need to take God at His word. When I was a father of toddlers, I would deliver the most stern punishment when my children would not obey me, immediately.  I would not put up with having to ask several times for them to comply.  The reasonong was very simple–I needed them to trust and obey my word the first time for their safety.  If they were headed for the street, I simply did not have the luxury of counting, reasoning or bribing them–they could be hit by a car and die.  God operates under the same reasoning.  He led the people of Israel with the same loving fatherly committment. 
 
On this day, Elisha delivered a message to his would be assassin that God would not only end the seige and famine, but He would provide a surplus of everything to the point that the cost would be negligible. The assassin (A king’s guard that would later guard the palace gate) called Elisha crazy.  He said God simply could not perform that big of a miracle!  Elisha then, in his pragmatic way, ended the discussion; in effect, Elisha said–“Fine, tomorrow you will see the miracle but your lack of trust in God will prevent your enjoying the fruits of it!”
 
The sun rose, and as promised, God ended the seige with a mighty miracle.  There was so much food that the price of grain dropped to nothing. The afore-mentioned guard and would be assassin heard the announcement and as people stormed the gate to get the food they so desparately needed–the guard was trampled! Uggh.  
 
Thoughts on the story:  
1. Trust God to do what He says He will do.  We cannot lose our faith despite the circumstances we face. Often, continued faith builds an amazing history of miracles and provision that we can only attribute to God and His amazing nature!
2.  We are the ones that sin and break our promises to God.  We should be ashamed when we question and doubt the Lord’s power to prepare, protect and provide for us.
3.  It is so much easier simply to obey God immediately and forego the possibility of missing His blessing because of our lack of faith and trust in Him.
4.  God uses all kinds of folks in our lives, we have to get used to listening for His voice and following His lead.
 
God Bless You

Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah[a] of the finest flour will sell for a shekel[b] and two seahs[c] of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”

“You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!”

The Siege Lifted

Now there were four men with leprosy[d] at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”

At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”

10 So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and no one was there—not a sound of anyone—only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.” 11 The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace…

Now the king had put the officer on whose arm he leaned in charge of the gate, and the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God had foretold when the king came down to his house. 18 It happened as the man of God had said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

19 The officer had said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” The man of God had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” 20 And that is exactly what happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.

2 Kings 6 Part 2–Seeing Things From God’s Perspective

In life,there is often the easy way and then there is the right way.  Elisha was being given the commands of the king of Aram.  The king was trying to find ways to sneak up and raid Israel.  God was not having any of it. So God would tell Elisha, the kings very words and Elisha would in turn warn the king of Israel.  After a time or two, The king of Aram was furious and ordered His troops to surround and capture the pragmatic prophet…Not a good idea!  
 
So the troops surrounded Elisha, Elisha’s servant became terrifiied and cried out to his master.  Elisha calmed the servant down, and asked God to let his servant see things from God’s view.  Immediately,the servant saw the enemy surroiunded by charriots of fire manned with angels ready to wipe them out…Elisha was kind, however,and simp[ly asked God to blind them, Elisha then led them into captivity.  Elisha pray,  then God opened there eyes and nthey saw they were done for…Isreal fed them, gave them back their weapons and sent them home.  No more Armenean problems, and no one had to die.
 
Clearly, for the pragmatic prophet, this was not the easy way.  But, it was the best way.  His people were free, his king saw the power of the one true God, and his servant got a glimpse of the spiritual world–and we got to share it.  There is never a time when we honor God and His plan; that God does not ultimately bring out the best. If we, like Elisha, simply continue to trust the Lord and follow His lead; then we will see our enemy foiled, trapped, captured and shamed.  We do win in the end.  We simply must continue to see the world from the Father’s perspective.  Do not be afraid; our army has charriots of Fire and mighty servants at its command.  Thank You, Lord, for your preparation, provision and protection from all our enemies.
 
God Bless You

Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”

The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.

11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”

12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”

13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.

15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.

20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.

21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”

22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.