Joshua 10 Part 2–Obedience and Victory

God knew what He was doing.  As Israel continued to seek Him, He was able to lead them to victory after victory.  What could have taken months to complete God was able to finish in a very short time.  The five kings that reigned in the south decided to show Israel who was boss–and they did.  They made clear, as they sat hiding in a cave while their armies were being destroyed, that God was boss, and Israel was the nation that God had raised them to be.Israel simply honored God’s commands and did what God told them to do.  The result was victory after victory.

Make no mistake, to achieve those victories, Israel was in battle after battle.  Men died; cities were wiped out–it was a difficult journey.  The claiming of their inheritance came to Israel at a great price. But the comfort comes from the truth that they fought those battles with God leading Joshua, God protecting the nation, and God providing victory.

Such is our journey. If we allow God to lead, He will do so with a glad heart.  We will see amazing victories.  But we cannot forget that our journey is still war. Our victory will also come at a great price, and we will see that it is God’s leadership and grace that will carry us through.  We cannot be afraid to face the battle.  We cannot be afraid to honor God in all that we do.  If we will do so, then God will lead us to a victory that we can be proud of.

God Bless You


20 So Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely, but a few survivors managed to reach their fortified cities. 21 The whole army then returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah, and no one uttered a word against the Israelites.

22 Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me.” 23 So they brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon. 24 When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks.

25 Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” 26 Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening.

27 At sunset Joshua gave the order and they took them down from the poles and threw them into the cave where they had been hiding. At the mouth of the cave they placed large rocks, which are there to this day…

40 So, Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills, and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded. 41 Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon. 42 All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.

43 Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

Daniel 2 Part 2–Making Our Dreams Come True

For King Neb’s magicians and prophets, it was not a stellar day. The king was having nightmares and now somehow it was their fault. That certainly did not seem fair.  But, the fairness of the King demanding their lives for his unwillingness to work with them–even a little bit, was unbelievable. So, as the soldiers approached to take Daniel and his friends to be ripped limb from limb and their houses be laid to ruin, Daniel was able to keep his head about him and focus upon God–not on the current circumstance.  He tactfully asked his executioner to lay the story out, and when he gathered all the facts, politely and humbly asked the king far a little extra time. Amazingly, the king gave him a day.
 
Next, Daniel got the gang together and did what true men of God do in dire circumstances–they prayed.  While praying in the night, God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel.  No one saw that coming. So, Daniel did what mighty men of God do when God answers their prayers–He praised God for who He is and thanked Him for the great thing the Lord had accomplished.  It was a good result for an unthinkable circumstance.
 
Life simply is not fair. Circumtances appear that are by most standards, unbelievably outrageous.  They are insurmountable, awful, and impossible to manage.  In the midst of those circumstances, God’s people hit their knees, keep their heads, and seek the Lord in humility and by faith.   That is when God does what He does best–turn the impossible into a praisewothy and teachable moment. 
 
After that, all that is left is the call for praise and thanksgiving. We have watched God come through time and again. As His chosen, to do anything other than to trust and seek Him in times of trouble, is simply foolish. Then, after He delivers, once again; we must remember to be thankful and grateful for His provision and protection.
 
That pattern has worked for many of God’s people–like Daniel. Help me, Lord to make that pattern work for me and my family as well!!!
 
God Bless You

This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.

14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Daniel 1 Part 2–God Perfectly Prepares Us for His Plan

There simply is never an OOPS! God is the most methodical and purposeful Leader and Father! Daniel and His friends, Hannaniah, Azariah and Mishael were taken captive from Israel by Babalonian soldiers, and then they were put into the service of the King–Nebchaduneezer. Unlike the other captives, these young men remained pure and kept holy with what they ate and drank.  As a result, God blessed them mightily. At the end of the training, each captive was sent to be interviewed by the King.
 
In the interviews, it is said that they stood out in the areas of literature and wisdom and that Daniel had a unique understanding of visions and dreams.  It was said that they were 10 times better than the magicians and enchanters already in the kingdom.  Clearly, these men stood out. At this point, no one knew what a difference these men would have for the nation of Israel and the empire of Babylon.  Well, that is not actually accurate…God knew.  He prepared these young men.  He gifted them and brought them together to impact Babylon and Israel.  That preparation started in Israel, continued in their training, and would shape them all the days of their lives.
 
The same holds true today.  The preparation that God started in our youth, continues throughout our lives.  We are uniquely situated  to carry out our piece of the Lord’s plan. We must remain committed and teachable. We must also be ready to employ all that we have received to honor the Lord and His plan.  We must not underestimate what value we each bring to God’s plan.  We must also maintain our faith through seemingly dire and dark periods. Remember, each event does shape who and Whose we are.  The encouragement we can receive from this is simple–God has a plan.  If we will trust Him, He will prepare us and employ us to be a significant part of His plan; and shape our lives and the lives of others!
 
God Bless You

As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.

2 Kings 13–The Pragtmatic End to the Pragmatic Prophet’s Story

So, the end of Elisha’s story is as simple as his time as God’s liaison.  He trusted God and simply did as he was told.  So at the end, the bible records 3 significant things:
  1. On his deathbed, Joash the king seeks Elisha’s council and receives a very positive prophecy
  2. Elisha died and was buried
  3. After Elisha was dead and buried, a dead man was tossed into Elisha’s tomb and when he touched Elisha’s bones, the dead man came back to life!
Elisha was a man that did not enjoy fanfare. So God honored that in the telling of Elisha’s story. Truly, however, it was clear that Elisha was a powerful prophet that had God’s support and power even after his death.  What an amazing tribute that even after he was dead and buried, Elisha could still raise the dead.
 
It would be amazing if one could be so faithful as to be able to show God’s power even after that person was dead and buried. I believe that would be a great tribute to the awesome power of God and his influence in and through my life.  It is my prayer, Lord, that you would lead me to honor you as faithfully as did your pragmatic servant Elisha!
 
God Bless You

Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. “My father! My father!” he cried. “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”

15 Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. 16 “Take the bow in your hands,” he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.

17 “Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.”

18 Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. 19 The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”

20 Elisha died and was buried.

Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. 21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

2 Kings 8–God Continues to Care for His Own

Well after Elisha had first met her, Elisha approached the woman whose son he had saved. God gave Elisha a heads up about an upcoming famine.  Elisha encouraged the woman and the family to leave for the time, and she did what Elisha instructed.  Seven years later, the family returned.  They appealed to get their lands back; since they had abandoned them for the seven years.  Normally, it would probably be an appeal that fell on deaf ears.  God loved Elisha, however, and the ones he helped. So, on the day of the appeal, Elisha’s servant was in the king’s presence.  In the course of their conversation, Gehazi shared the story of the woman and her son.  Then, as God would have it–the woman and her son came up to make the appeal. The king was so amazed to meet the woman, that he not ony granted her back her land, but all the income the land produced.
 
There was no coincidence, God knew the need and the timing.  This family was cared for by the same God they honored by caring for His prophet.  God continues to care for the ones He loves.  That should be a great encouragement for those facing these strange and difficult days.  As we know, God knows the plans He has for us.  Plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11. 
We can never underestimate God’s planning or timing.  In the characters we have seen, Ruth met Boaz while gleaning for survival, Esther saved Israel as a new queen of a foriegn nation, Elijah ended Baal worship in Israel on the top of a mountain by the call to God.  God is always on top of his plan and executing it.  What is more, God promised Solomon at the dedication of the temple, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I Chronicles 7:14.  We need to seek God and pray.  The Lord has established His trustworthy nature.  We know He cares for His own. We simply need to trust that God continues to care for us as He always had.
 
God Bless You

Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.” So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land. Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.” And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”

Esther 6 Part 1–God’s Plan Unfolds

Hamaan was ready. He built the grand gallows, he had the speech practiced up, and now he was going to approach the king and ask to hang Mordechi and end this annoyance once and for all…But wait, God had a different plan.  When Hamaan entered the court, God set the stage to force Hamaan to not kill Mordechi, but instead, to lead the padade that would honor Mordechi before the entire kingdom.  Hamaan was crushed. Mordechi was given a just reward by the man that hated him the most.  
 
While Hamaan was surprised and even the king was acting spontaniously, God had the entire plan scripted and ready. There was no way that one person that the King had just honored before the kingdom would be hanged.  Hamaan, who saw Mordechi as a nobody just announced that Mordechi was highly favored by the king. Hamaan’s troubles were just beginning.  
 
We can never forget that it is God’s plan that ultimately wins the day.  If we will trust the Lord, He will complete His plan in our lives. As God does so, He will give us an abundant and purposeful life.  In that life, we can have a meaningful impact on those we touch and leave a legacy that honors God and our family. We have to trust the Lord, however, to assure that will happen. 
Isaah 40:31 is one of the sweetest promises…”Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength,  They will mount up on wings–like eagles! They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”  
 
We simply must trust God to work His plan in our lives. If we will, He will truly do amazing things!
 
God Bless You
On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana[a] and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows[b] that he had prepared for him. And the king’s young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown[c] is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”

I John 5–In Closing…

In the end, there have always been two great commands from God; Love the true God, and love others as you love yourself.  All other commands and direction fall within those parameters.  John closes his letter to the church by laying that out very clearly.  We are God’s chosen adopted children if we believe that Christ is the Savior and Lord. The evidence of our belief is our love for God and his people.  Further evidence is following Him and doing what He has called us to do.
 
We see the truth through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  We also testify to that truth by our words and our daily lives. We are not expected to be perfect, but, we are called to be different. That difference is a lifetime process of transformation that always centers on the gift of salvation. As we journey, we see God’s hand on our lives and become more like him with the passage of each day. In the end, however, it still comes down to this: “He who has the Son Has Life; and He who rejects that gift does not have eternal life.”
As we end the decade, we need to be reminded that our Journey is swift and our destination is eternity. We, therefore, are called to live for that end and not for the temporary promises of this world.  Happy New Year.
 
God Bless You

 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

I John 3 Part 2–Love–Love for Us and Our Love for Others.

God truly demonstrated His love for us.  He loved us when we were unlovable.  He accepted us when we were unacceptable.  He calls us to love others the same way.  John reiterated his original message from his gospel, For God So loved the world that he gave his only son. He tells the church –this is how we know what love is…Jesus laid his life down for us. He tells the church its response should be similar…the church should lay their lives down for others.  Selfishness gets parked at the curb and believer’s lives are no longer their own.  It is not a mopey life of dower expression and mundane existence. Instead, it is a life full of meaning and purpose where the needs of others supersede the needs of self.  Amazingly, history reminds us that humans are at their best when they set their personal agendas aside.
 
In our lives, we have to choose each day to live for Christ and not for ourselves.  It is a difficult task. Even on Jesus’s birthday, we can lose the focus and become consumed with the consumerism of the holiday and the consumables we feast upon. If we are not careful, our entire life becomes filled with a desire to promote ourselves and obtain all we feel we deserve.  John’s reminder is stark and plain–live a life like Christ. Lay your lives and agendas on the alter and allow Christ dominion over them. When we live like that, we find ourselves full of life and purpose and we enjoy a glimpse of peace and joy like none other. 
 
God Bless You

 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brothers were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[b] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

I John 3 Part 1–Becoming a Child of God

It is a simple fact that being in a relationship with God changes you.  John took the time to remind the Church that one cannot be a child of God and remain unaffected by His Spirit.  In his gospel, John set it out at the beginning, “To as many as received Him, who believed in His name;  to them, He gave the right to become children of God!” John 1:12.
 
Becoming His children affects us. We begin to take on God’s traits. Selflessness, unconditional love, grace, mercy, purpose, and an eternal perspective all become part of us.  The world thinks we are weird, crazy, gullible and stupid–sadly, they think that because they do not know God. They miss the amazing nature and purpose of a Godly life.  they cannot grasp the joy of following God and living a life that is bigger than themselves.  They think the smile on the face of a philanthropist is an act.  They think people that see answered prayer and are humbly grateful are making too much out of coincidence. 
 
The truth is, once you accept Christ, the Spirit indwells you.  You begin to see the fingerprints of the Father on all parts of your life. You begin to understand how much He loves you and then cannot help but desire to show that love to others.  
 
You realize that you are not the center of the universe and that the more you give of yourself, the more you are living the life you were always intended to have–full of joy, free of fear, and driven with eternal purpose and perspective that helps to moderate the worries of the day.  There is no comparison! A life of faith is deeper, richer and more amazing than the best this world can offer.   
 
That is what makes this week–this Christmas holiday the most amazing. God emptied Himself of His Godly nature and was born in a stable, in a small town, in a small country.  Then, from that humble beginning, He showed the world that the Father truly loved them and only wanted for them to have life–an abundant and eternal life with Him. 
 
God Bless You

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like Him because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him, there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

I Timothy 3 Part 1–Desire to Lead

Leadership is critical in any organization.  In the body of Christ, the character of a leader is as critical as the leader’s skills and gifts. Paul told Timothy to do a careful search of the character of church leaders. They must live Godly lives, have a noble character, display restraint, gentleness amicability and have families that do the same. Are leaders supposed to be perfect? In Paul’s mind, he knew no leaders–especially himself, were perfect. But, due to the scrutiny and the importance of the role, Leaders need to be a cut above.
 
In our society, we have forgotten that character is often what distinguishes great leaders. Our culture looks at wealth, celebrity, charisma and social status as the hallmark of great leaders. In spite of that, there are many folks of amazing character that rise to the tops of their field and remain unassuming, noncontroversial and humble.  They work hard and are extremely gifted, but see leadership as a wonderful honor; one not to be taken lightly.  They have a lasting influence on those that they lead, and they are recognized and remembered for their legacy and character–not their title and wealth.  God calls his leaders to be servants, He prepares them, promotes them and uses them to shape the church and the community to become like Him.  Thank you, servant leaders, and thank You, Lord, for providing them.
 
God Bless You

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.