Joshua 4 Part 2–The True Changing of the Guard

God never does things half way. When it came time to cross the Jordan and start the new campaign, God did it in a big way. He stacked up the waters so that Israel could cross on dry land.  He exalted Joshua as leader before the people.  Then He prepared them for the first of many battles that were to come. 

Verse 14 stood out.  “That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of Israel; they stood in awe of him all the days of his life–Just as they stood in awe of Moses.” 

Joshua had big sandals to fill–God knew that, and so God made sure there was no doubt that Joshua was the leader–with the full confidence and Spirit of God resting upon him.  Remember, this was a stiff-necked people.  They needed a strong leader that would operate like a gentle shepherd. Joshua was uniquely trained to fill that role.  As time would pass, Joshua would be given the opportunity to show what a lifetime of faith and obedience could produce.  That picture should have inspired Israel for generations.  That picture should inspire us for all the days of our lives.  

These people, led by this man of God, had the single most direct illustration of the preparation, protection and provision that God could offer. Now, as they sought to claim their inheritance, the world would get a glimpse of God’s direction and care for those He loves.  One can never forget, Joshua was not leading a warrior nation–He was leading a nation of priests called to share God’s love with all men.  Joshua, the great General was now also the amazing shepherd to lead God’s people to fulfil their destiny and their role as that nation of priests.

God Bless You


Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, 11 and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched.12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them.13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.

14 That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.

15 Then the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.”

17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.”

18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.

19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

Speaking of Dreams–Genesis 41 Part 1

In time, we all adapt–we acclimate to our circumstances and allow our lives to move forward.  Pharaoh’s cupbearer went back to his duties and quickly forgot all about the king’s tantrum that had landed him in prison.  He was serving his master, when all at once–his promise to Joseph came back and hit him like a ton of bricks. 
 
The Pharaoh had a strange dream, and its meaning escaped him.  Still as the dream spun though his thoughts, it began to consume him.  When he shared this with the cupbearer, the switch flipped and the cupbearer remembered Joseph–ugggh, the Hebrew that had interpreted his dream.
 
Certainly for the cupbearer and Pharaoh it was a good news scenario.  While the cupbearer had failed to send Joseph home, it made Joseph very available to bring him before the Pharaoh! Meanwhile, back at the prison, Joseph continued to serve God and pretty much everyone in Pharaoh’s jail.  Joseph, no doubt had adapted, but things had been quiet for a long time, so Joseph had probably forgotten about his dreams of ruling brothers, dad and anyone.  He probably figured he simply was not the guy God planned to use.  He was wrong.
 
We develop a mindset that we have God figured out.  In that realm, we ride a roller coaster of emotion that spikes when we see good outcomes and plummets when we encounter trials.  Ultimately, as we search over time through our lives–we begin to see God’s leadership and handiwork in the peaks and valleys. 
 
It is only when we finally learn to be content (acclimated) in all circumstances, that God can use us to do mighty things. We, Like Paul, must realize that–“Well fed or hungry; living in plenty or in want, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:12-13 That is where Pharaoh found Joseph and that is where God seeks to find us.
 
God Bless You

When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

The Journey Begins!–Genesis 27 Part 2

Isaac had no intention of yielding to God’s will–He attempted to subvert God’s plan by blessing Esau–not simply a “God Bless You” after a sneeze–this was dictating to God who would serve whom.  But, even though Rebekah saw and corrected Isaac’s intentional disregard for God’s will–Jacob was still in danger. So, It was time to leave for Jacob.  He was not much of an adventurer, but God was about to transform this scoundrel into the leader of his nation of priests. 
 
As with any transformation, this journey would start with one step–the most difficult one.  Jacob would have to leave the comfort of his home and protection of his family to start on his own.  In his case, Jacob’s journey was aided by his circumstances–he really felt like he had no other options, and at that moment, he felt all alone. 
 
In our lives, so much of God’s plan us seems dictated by circumstance.  Marriage, jobs, family and health often send us in directions we would have never have dictated.  Still, as we continue to trust and follow him, he will lead, guide and direct us through his plan for our lives.  Then as we look back–while we have no idea how he did it–we see we have become more like him, in our thought and deeds.  We see his hand in our steps, and we finally realize–like Jeremiah, in Jerimiah 29:11; that the father meant it when he said, “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans to prosper you–not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future!”
 
We will never understand his plan–until it is in his right time.  In the meantime–we simply need to trust and follow him humbly, gratefully and closely!
 
God Bless You

Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”

35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob[a]? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”… 42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

So Long Sister Sarah–Genesis 22 Part 1

 Abraham lost his best partner.  Sarai, later Sarah stood beside Abraham during his days in Haran, then as he wandered through Canaan.  She allowed herself to be taken as Abram’s sister–by a number of Kings. She never held a grudge, nor did her years of bareness cause her to lose faith. She waited until  nearly one hundred to bear her son. She raised him faithfully and allowed God to continue to do the leading.  In that mode, she watched her family grow to be wealthy and powerful, but, never expected anything; she only followed faithfully.
 
It is also the same today.  We are in a wilderness of culture similar to the godless Canaanites. As we follow God closely, we may often feel like wanderers.  We may face points in the journey where we seem like hopeless captives, homeless foreigners or simple nomads. All the while, we journey toward the promised land–Heaven.  As we approach, we look more and more like the one we follow most closely.  Interestingly, our journey leaves a trail of others who also adopt the relationship and legacy of those who want become like our father.
 
Sarah, Abraham and those who came after, had one likeness–their desire to please and honor God.  That desire, the attitude of their heart was the greatest legacy they could leave.  It is also the greatest legacy we can leave.  God never demands perfection, only a desire to seek and follow him.  So as we follow God–we need to adopt the same spirit as Sister Sarah…
 
God Bless You
Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.

Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites.[a] He said, “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”

The Hittites replied to Abraham, “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”

Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you.”

10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. 11 “No, my lord,” he said. “Listen to me; I give[b] you the field, and I give[c] you the cave that is in it. I give[d] it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.”

12 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13 and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.”

14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels[e] of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.”

16 Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants.

That Just Isn’t Fair–Genesis 21 Part 1

We see the world linearly, while God see’s the world from an all knowing, omnipresent way. Because our view is so limited, many things that God does and allows seem both unfair and unreasonable.  What Abraham understood was that God knew the plan–and it was not his job to question it; it was his job to trust God and follow his lead.  Make no mistake, Abraham loved his son Ishmael, but, God always intended to build Abraham’s lineage through Isaac. Trusting that, Abraham honored God’s command and sent Hagar and Ishmael on their way.  I am sure it was not easy, but, as Abraham had trusted God for 25 years–he had to again trust God to bring his plan to fruition.
 
Nothing has changed.  There is so much in the world that seems unfair.  Many of the things result from men’s choices to do evil and reject God.  Some things that happen, however, do not seem–from our linear perspective to make sense or even align with God’s nature in any way.  We, therefore, begin to blame God for life’s trials–rather than seek Him to make sense of them and follow him through the difficult times.  Many things will never have a why attached, but, most will find him walking with us and propping us up–when it seems we cannot continue to go forward.
 
God is both ready and able to meet us where we are and carry us through any and all circumstances–even those that do not seem fair. We, like Abraham, must be willing to trust him and follow him even in the times we do not understand his plan or life’s circumstance.  This is war–and, as his warriors, we must be prepared to take the steps to survive and follow his lead.
 
God Bless You

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac[a] to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away

The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

Don’t Cling to “The Good Ole’ Days”–Ecclesiastes 7 Part 2

cpthegoodoldays_796907061It is impossible to bring back the past. The older we become, the fonder we are of the way things used to be.  It is a phenomenon, but as time passes we forget the bad and cling to the “Good Ol’ Days”.  Truth is, each time passes with its great things and difficult periods.  What Solomon realized was–people must be patient and trust God and allow him to carry us through this difficult but “Amazing Journey.” 

When running a race or even walking trails, we would consider people foolish–if they wanted to go back to a particular part of the course to walk it again, especially if it was because that portion was easier…Each path has the equal numbers of up and down hills.  we cannot enjoy the down hills until we have climbed the up hill–and here is a truth, the down hills pass so much more quickly than the up hills.  God calls us to “Forget what is behind and press toward what is ahead–to take hold of that for which Christ took ahold of us!” Philippians 3 :12-14.  We  must keep an eternal perspective as we live here in this life.  Otherwise, we will cling to the past and be of little use in this present period.

God Bless You

8The end of a matter is better than its beginning,and patience is better than pride.

9Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

10Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.

11Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun.

12Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this:

Wisdom preserves those who have it. 13Consider what God has done:

Who can straighten what he has made crooked? 14When times are good, be happy;

but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.

Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.

Missionary–Acts 11 Part 2

The greatest part of accepting that God holds the plan for our future and its timing is the discovery and recognition of the plan coming to fruition.  First, God brought the newly founded church to Jerusalem.  There he empowered it with His Spirit to start its growth.  Once its growth was established, he used various trials and tribulation to put a structure in the church and then spread the church throughout the region.

Now, as the church was growing out among other parts of the region, God used Antioch as the launching pad for European expansion—he prepared for a Mission.  God brought in a godly servant-hearted man named Barnabas (Son of encouragement).  Barnabas sought out that reactionary former Pharisee named Saul. He found Saul back in his home town.  He brought Saul back to Antioch and mentored him and prepared the two of them to begin the first “Christian” missionary journey–that was designed to primarily to collect food and funds for the new church to provide for a famine God was going to allow.

In these times, God is still in charge.  He is still executing his plan. While it seems we live in a time that is post-Christian and his impact diminished; truth is, he is preparing a new group to carry on his mission in these chaotic and difficult days.  We do not know who will be this generation’s Saul and Barnabas. But we do know that God has led for thousands of years, and his plan has worked every time.  We must continue to trust him, humbly follow and listen to his teaching.  We must also allow the trials and discipline he puts in our lives to prepare us for the days ahead.  It may be that we will be the next Paul and Barnabas.  It also may be that we are simply the structure God uses to prepare and send them out to change the world—either is fine, especially if we allow God to lead!

God Bless You

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.