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 33–Joshua Stayed Close

Moses had a big job.  He had to convince God to stick with His chosen people–even after they worshiped a golden calf. They turned from God as He was putting the law on tablets for them. While working to restore the relationship between God and the people; Moses set up a tent to meet with God and took Joshua with him. Over time, Moses and God became friends.  As Moses would meet with God, the pillar of cloud would cover the tent. The people would see the the pillar cover the tent and then they would worship the Lord. Then as Moses finished the meeting, He would leave the tent.  Then, after the meeting Joshua would stay at the tent.
 
Joshua was not the person that befriended God, but he was the one that remained at his side.  Moses left the tent, but Joshua stayed behind.  Joshua never grew tired, never lost faith, and never questioned God’s authority.  If their was a human that had reason to question, it was Moses’ assistant. That was the amazing thing; Joshua learned to love the Lord from God’s friend.  He stayed close to Moses and he stayed close to God. Then as years passed, Joshua remained close. He remained close to Moses, and then as Joshua took the lead, He remained close to God.
 
In our lives, we have opportunities to follow the Lord. Through the years, we build our relationship with God.  We see life at its best and at its worst. If we remain close to the Lord, whatever the circumstance, we learn–as Joshua did, to be a friend of God.  There are no short cuts, it is a function of time and proximity. Like Joshua, we have to simply remain close to God, to those that would mentor us and with others in fellowship with God.  Then at the end of the journey, we can say as Joshua did–“Choose this day whom you will serve…As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
 
God Bless You

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Moses and the Glory of the Lord

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

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 6 Part 1–But If Not, Reprise

Daniel was now serving his third king. He was brought out of retirement and made an administrator of Babylon.  As was his way, Daniel excelled and made the other administrators and bureaucrats angry and jealous.  They watched as the new king wanted to make Daniel the 2nd in command.  So, they set about looking for ways to expose Daniel’s flaws.  After much review, they found nothing.  
 
That of course did not stop them.  They proceeded to create a solution that would ultimately find a problem.  They convinced the king to pull a page from the Nebuchadnezzar playbook, and make everyone pray only to the king or be thrown into the lions’ den. It was a foolproof plan, really.  Daniel and his friends had this issue before, and they always chose God over king.  The bureaucrats  were right.  Daniel simply shook his head, went home and continued to pray and worship the Lord as he had always done–Checkmate! Or at least, that is what the bureaucrats thought.
 
When we settle the issue of which God will be our God, the matter of safety becomes secondary. The friends told Nebuchadnezzar–“Our God will deliver us from the fiery furnace–BUT IF NOT, we still will not bow down and worship your gods or statue!” Now as Daniel faced Jerusalem and prayed, that statement echoed from the past.  That statement needs to be the sentiment of all of us that follow the Lord.  Caving to the pressure of the enemy or world culture, will not bring us safety or relief. Instead, it will only destroy our faith and upend our journey with the Lord.  God has got this. We must continue to trust and follow Him; no matter the attacks and threats.
 
If we will remain faithful in that God will continue to protect, prepare and provide for us.  BUT IF NOT, we must settle in our hearts that that is fine, and that we will not serve the idols of our world!
 
God Bless You

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

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.