Joshua 1–God Prepares His New Leader

Now Joshua was in charge.  He was no longer Moses’ assistant, He was now the leader of all of Israel.  God knew it would take a great deal of preparation for the job that lie ahead.  Early on, it was clear that Joshua was a great commander of an army, but, Moses trained Joshua to be a shepherd. And for the remainder of his life, Joshua would have to employ the patience and sacrifice of a shepherd to complete the mission that God set before Israel.
 
In the command from God, three things stood out. First, God did not change His plan simply because He changed His leader. God tells Joshua to go and take the land just as promised to Moses.  There was no second place prize or alternate promise–God gave Joshua the same power and authority that was given to Moses.
 
Second, God expected two things from Joshua courage and obedience.  Once again, God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous–there must have been great trepidation on Joshua’s part to lead these people that had disappointed God so many times. But, God also told Joshua to meditate on His word and focus on the commands of God.  God knew that attention to God’s leadership  was critical for mission success.
 
Finally, God reminds Joshua that the Lord would never leave or forsake him.  Joshua could relax because God would be with him every step of the way. Joshua had seen the difficult discussions between God and Moses and knew these people could make one want to walk away.  God encouraged Joshua that He would not leave Joshua to fight alone.
 
The great news is that God is as much in control today as He was in the time of Joshua.  He has not shifted plans in our lives.  He wants us to remain strong and courageous. He wants us to confidently go into battle; knowing that He will not leave us or forsake us. The Lord also wants us to meditate on His word, and not allow it to fade from our lives. As we remain focused upon Him, He will remain active and diligent in the amazing journey we are on.
 
God Bless You

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Numbers 14 Part 2–Leading When the Wheels Come Off, Part 2

Imagine the disappointment, Joshua and Caleb had just returned from this beautiful land that was to be theirs.  They were to be a part of the transformation of a people that were once slaves but, now were to be a nation of priests.  Situated between Assyria and Egypt, Israel was set to become the center of action and help to transform these groups of heathen peoples into a god fearing culture–BUT, instead, the people are talking about stoning the leaders and running back to Egypt?!!?  
 
Joshua and Caleb were trying to reassure the people while Moses was trying to persuade God not to kill the lot of them.  This clearly was not the shining star of leadership that business guru’s pen management books about.  Still, Joshua had no idea that it was this defining moment that would propel him into the leader that would actually claim the very land he surveyed.  Joshua would learn patience, and he would watch this nation transform over time from slave to free.  He would see a generation grow to trust God for all aspects of their lives and that would be the people he would lead. Sadly, there would be years of travel and disappointment ahead before the transformation would occur.
 
In our journey, we have to stay focused upon God and his flawless faithfulness.  We have to understand that life is a series of experiences used to prepare us for what God so eagerly wants us to enjoy.  Trying to hand us the reward before we are ready to receive it, is like this encounter, a disaster just waiting to happen.  If we could grasp the reality that God truly wants to bless us, then we could live expectantly rather than fearfully. It is the difference between Joshua and Caleb and the other 10 spies.  Help us, Lord to live expectantly and not fearfully!
 
God Bless You

 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”

13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’

17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people,just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lordfills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signsI performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.

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.”

Exodus 32–The Darker Side of Leadership

One of the most difficult parts of leading is understanding that your passion and commitment to the plan may not be shared with the people you lead.  Forty days earlier, Joshua accompanied Moses up Mount Sinai to receive the law from the Lord’s own hand. It was to be the Lords first direct tutoring of His leader on how to build and administer a nation. For Joshua, it had to be amazing and exciting to be there and see Moses’ transformation into more than a shepherd of people–but to be the servant leader of God’s chosen people.
 
Then, the fun was over.  God had to break the news to Moses–“YOUR people, the ones YOU brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves…” In that scene, Joshua was able to learn more about leadership, about God’s passion for the people of Israel, and about balancing one’s personal feelings with the duty of leading–than he had in all the miracles and events that had occurred before.
 
God was ready to wipe the whole lot of them out! the Lord told Moses to allow Him to do so–but, then Moses, personal anger set aside, became Israel’s advocate before God and offered his own life for payment of their sin. Moses literally called God out on His covenant promise–“Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God?” So Joshua saw that leaders were critical and had to do all that was necessary; in good times and bad to represent and ultimately preserve the folks they lead.  Needless to say, Joshua learned from the best.
 
Joshua’s life is a great picture of God’s willingness to devote a lifetime to prepare His own for the plan He has for them.  In Philippians 1:6, Paul tells us that He who has begun a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. That was true in Moses life, in Joshua’s life, in Israel’s life and it will be true in our lives. As Joshua progressed through the years, he would see Moses and God lead the people through almost every scenario. In those events, God would mold Joshua into an amazing leader for Israel.
 
God Bless You

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18 But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” 19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people

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 4–The Lengths God Will Take to Draw Us Back

God is most concerned with our eternal salvation.  He wants His chosen to prepare for eternity.  Certainly, God saw Daniel as His best liaison to the king.  So, once again, God sent Nebchaduneezer a dream.  Once again after everyone else took a turn, Daniel returned to his king and gave him the news.  You have grown great because God has allowed it.  But, you still somehow feel that you are the reason for your greatness.  God is going to completely take it all away to help you see He is in charge and not you.  After a time, God will restore your reason and your kingdom–but, then you will recognize that it is He and not you that rules.
 
One year later, God did as He said He would. the king was completely stripped of reason and became as a wild beast. After a time, (Years) God restored the king’s reason and his kingdom.  When that happened, Babylon was blessed and the king was as great as ever–BUT, from then on, the king realized and acknowledged that it was God and not the king that controlled the world and kingdoms.  That realization helped to fulfill the initial prophecy by Daniel, Nebchadunbeezer was then the greatest emporer of all time.
 
We must grasp that we are not in control of our lives or world. If we would humble ourselves and seek God, then like Nebchaduneezer, we could finally enjoy the true greatness that lies in the shadow of God’s authority and plan.  We could rest in any circumstance, and know that in God’s time, He will execute His plan.  Then the Lord will release us to enjoy the benefits of following His plan.
Lord, please, make it so.
 
God Bless You

Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s Humiliation

28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws…

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Daniel 3 Part 2–“But, If Not”

Daniel’s friends made the decision long before to serve the Lord first and foremost.  When Daniel approached their handler about staying kosher, they stood beside him.  They trained together and prayed together.  All four men stood firm in their walk with God despite pressures from the other royal functionaries.  So, after their prayer and fasting had produced the king’s dream and interpretation to Daniel, the King rewarded them with top jobs in his court. 
 
The king then got proud, He took the message from the dream and decided that since he was the head of gold He should build a statue to honor himself. What is more, he decided that everyone else should worship him as well. So he decreed that when the band played, everyone should fall down and worship his statue.  Failure to do so would end in being executed by being thrown into the firey furnace.  
 
Shadrach, Mishak, and Abednego did not need to think about it, they made that decision years before.  So when they heard the band, they refused to bow. The king heard the news and was furious.  These were 3 of his top guys, after all! They set the tone for others in the administration, and in the land.  So, the king hauled them in and gave them one more chance.  He did not need to.  The men looked the king in the eye and said that they did not need even a second to consider–they would not bow down.  What is more, they told the king that God would deliver them. Here is the kicker, though–they went on to say,”BUT IF NOT king, We will still will not serve your gods or bow down to your statue!!!!! 
 
We have to choose early whom we are going to serve.  If we wait until circumstances force a choice, we will follow the path of least resistance.  It is a matter of a deep-seated faith, that allows us to stand up under adversity.  Such faith will allow us to watch God do awesome things to establish His place and authority.  If we choose to serve God, however, we can count on the fact that the enemy will try to destroy us.  
 
In those times, we have to come to the place where we too can say, we are going to serve God and He will deliver us. Then, it is that faith that leads us to continue and say, “BUT, IF NOT!” 
 
We must be willing to give up all we have, even our lives, to honor God and allow Him to lead. Jim Elliot, martyred missionary to the Aulka indians in South America said it best, “He is no fool that will trade what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose!”
 
God Bless You

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.[c] But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated.