Joshua 15-16

“Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.” (15:63‬)
If God wants something done, asks you to do it, and you can’t, do not despair. He will get it done with someone else. Look at 2 Samuel 5:6-7.

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.”

The Jebusites lived in Jerusalem over 200 years before they were displaced by David. Of course they thought they were safe. But God accomplishes His purposes one way or another.

Just as Mordecai said to Esther, “If you remain silent, deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place.” He was sure God would save them somehow, but then he added, “but who knows that you have come to this royal position for such a time as this?” 

Indeed, David finished a lot of the work left by Joshua. He expanded Israel’s boarders and Solomon expanded them even further. Esther rose to the challenge and was used to bring salvation to the Jews in the whole Persian Empire. Ultimately everyone’s successes and failures were fulfilled in Christ. He came to do, and perfect, the work begun, and left undone, by His people. 

The Great Commission is our current, over-arcing directive, with a lot of little details along the way. His name will be exalted among the nations. Will you be involved? Has He brought you to your current position and sphere of influence to reach people only you can reach? The Great Commission shouldn’t feel burdensome. It’s a Great Privilege to be involved in His work. Something that wasn’t possible for someone else, might be possible for you through the power of Christ. 

Keep listening. Enjoy the obeying.

-Bethany 

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Joshua 13-14

“But Moses gave no allotment of land to the tribe of Levi, for the Lord, the God of Israel, had promised that he himself would be their allotment.” 13:33

Bethany always jokes that she’s like the Levis. She often lives in rented rooms from other families, she prides herself on being able to fit all her belongings in her car and her partner in life is the Lord. I’m realizing it’s less of a joke and more of a beautiful, special journey she’s on with God. Occasionally, when facing marital discourse, or being swallowed alive by material items and floundering for purpose, I envy this.

Culture will tell you that not having a relationship, or not taking out a mortgage on a house, or not advancing in some career means you don’t have meaning. You don’t have It. (Not a Stephen King reference.)

That’s not what I read today. Today I read that God allots us different circumstances. 

I have a husband, the security of a home and the role of being a mother. That is what God has allotted me. (Or I hastily chased after and he gave me over to those desires, who can really say.) Am I still putting my relationship with God first? Am I being a good steward of those things? Do I rely on these circumstances for false security? 

Think about what God has granted you in this life, or what he hasn’t.

Do you find yourself like the Levis? If so, are you entirely leaning into God for provision? Not just financially, but emotionally?

Do you find yourself like the others? Are you relying on God or your circumstances? Who are the Levis in your life, and how can you be a good steward of what you have. Let’s open our homes, our guest rooms, our fridges and our wallets and be generous with what God has given us.

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. “

 

-Carly

 

Joshua 11-12

All these Kings hear about the Israelite army’s victories and rally to try their hand at defeating them. I don’t think I would pick a fight with an army that had the weather on their side, but I’ve done stupid things before.

Our deeply rooted desire to rebel against God is the most distructive force on earth. We fool ourselves into thinking we can come against Him, trick Him, defy Him or undermine Him without experiencing any consequences. This just isn’t so. 

I have selective authority issues I constantly need to keep in check. The most detrimental thing I can do is reflexively react to God as I would a faulty authority figure. He is not like us. He is altogether different. I can’t respond to Him, judge Him or confront Him as I would an ill-appointed boss. 

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner!

What about you? How can we submit ourselves to the God of Israel, today, and say with our Savior, “Not my will, but yours be done,”?

-Bethany

Joshua 9-10

This is what is beautiful about the Bible: it is still relevant and applicable! It’s not a dusty history book. It’s alive. It moves, breathes and speaks to us. Do you agree with that? 

Among verses of impaled enemies and slaughtered cities, sits pieces of stories that speak to me today. In my day of nannying, cleaning up my house and preparing a simple dinner. That’s amazing. 

So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.” 10:13

Our country is getting a new President today. I feel overwhelmed, in general, about America’s future. I don’t think our leaders consult with God before making choices. And today, reading about what happened when the Israelites relied on their own leadership strength (9:14), I fear what’s in store for us. I wonder if God’s anger towards our country is a slow-burning wick; our nations choices will catch up with us. 

Then comes along this beautiful verse about God holding the sun in place and holding off the moon. Sentences before, God took down Israel’s enemies with gigantic pieces of hail. 

Weather. Sunsets. Moon rises. These are a few things we can absolutely not control. They feel inevitable, set in stone. Yet God calms the storms, parts the sea and holds the sun when we ask

Is there something you wish he would do that seems impossible? 

I can’t control our nation’s future. But I can pray, ask and rely on God’s faithfulness and expect him to be just. 

What battles are you fighting? Are you consulting with God before you make decisions? 

If you think I’m sweeping over all the intense violence we read today: I am. I see it. I wince at it. I wonder about it. But I’m making a choice to lean not on my own understanding. God would rather we draw near to him in moments of doubt or confusion, and not cower away. If something about what you read today bothered you, bring it to him. Knead the verses in your hand and look for God’s grace. It’s always there. 
-Carly 

Joshua 7-8

How many times have we mistaken the consequences of our disobedience as abandonment from God? Joshua immediately went to the dark place along with everyone in Israel! “Oh no! We’re done fore!”

“The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?”

God is not full of tricks, waiting for us to fail. Like I’ve repeatedly said, this was a very sensitive mission and there was no room for improvising. The LORD didn’t leave Joshua on his face for long. He got him up, showed him where change was necessary and got him back to work.

Too often we let our failures sideline us, as our ego demands a time out to mourn its bruises. God only needs the amount of time it takes to get back on our feet. 

I’ve totally been in a place where I felt I’d put all my trust in God and He let me down. I dispaired, I cried, I “how dare you”ed. He always graciously gets me back up and grants me a little perspective. We need His perspective to not make more or less of our sin. He is faithful to show us the truth of the matter.

Is there something you’ve let sideline you? Bring it to the LORD and allow Him to shed His truth light on it, so you can get back in the game. 

-Bethany 

Joshua 5-6

Has God ever prompted you to do something really weird? The other day I was driving home from the library and I saw a gangly teenage boy waiting on a corner nervously checking his watch. For some reason, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was suppose to ask him if he needed anything. That’s silly. He probably has a smart phone, is waiting for a ride, and is just cold. I talked myself out of approaching him. I thought about it the rest of the day! I wish I more easily responded to the Holy Spirit instead of being incredibly distracted.

I love imagining all the soldiers rising at dawn, tugging their boots (sandals?) on, and raising their eyebrows at each other as they headed out for another day of silent marching.

Following God means doing weird things, and believing in the unrealistic things he has and can do. I believe this story really happened. It takes some faith, because it defies logic, gravity and common sense. But I believe it. If he is so capable, why do I struggle to believe he can knock down the metaphorical walls in my life? 

It takes patience, a quieted heart, diligence and faith. Sometimes, so, so much faith. Faith that defies all logic and reason.

What wall does God have you trudging around? An unbelieving friend or family member? A hardened, bitter marriage? A job that wears you down? A relentless health issue?

Take heart this morning, reader. You are not alone in wild, seemingly-impossible tasks laid on you by the Lord. He doesn’t call us to things alone, he is God with us. Read this story and be encouraged.

“And he said to the people, ‘Go forward.’ “6:7

 

 

Joshua 3-4

“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.” (4:24)

The lesser known parting-of-the-Jordan-river is terrifying. As Rahab told the spies, everyone in the land was already quaking in their boots. The God of Israel had a pretty intense reputation. Canaan was the major trade route of the world, connecting Africa to Asia and Europe. It had been 40 years since the Exodus and everyone had heard the stories. 

They probably eased their fears by supposing the Exodus saga was sensationalized. “No way all those plagues happened to everyone but them.” Or “I’m sure their God doesn’t really lead them as a pillar of fire.” And “Maybe their God made the Red Sea shallow and they were able to wade through it?” 

But now, as their hearts begin to give way, something terrifying confirms all their deepest fears: the flood-stage Jordan stops, piling into a heap, and Israel indeed crosses on dry ground. They even bring rocks from the middle as menacing souvenirs! The God who is with them, is most certainly the most power God anyone has ever known: Creator God.

Now notice the end of that last verse: so that you might always fear the LORD your God. 

God’s people have the unfortunate tendency to get cocky and entitled. Yes they are chosen, yes He is with them, yes He has promised them blessing, but blessing in obedience. Obedience must be married to humility. 

As you will see, the LORD does not spare the Israelites who act wickedly or disobediently. This is a specific moment in time they’ve been trained for, like I said at the beginning of Deuteronomy. The people occupying the land are deeply evil, descendants of Ham, recreating the pre-flood society in the most influential part of the world. The LORD, who promised not to flood the place again, seeks to replace these influencers of evil, with His representives, intended to bring blessing to all nations. It’s a sensitive situation, and it will require undivided attention to His leading.

Not everyone is intended for complete annihilation. God directs who to take out and who to spare. Just as He spared Noah’s family, Lot’s family and now Rahab’s family, He’s all about making exceptions for anyone remotely interested in surrender. 

The chapters ahead can be hard to swallow. Please, don’t hesitate to engage, ask questions and press the Lord for insight. We know God to be good and the things He commands in this book feel impossible to reconcile with His goodness, from our point of view (which, we must humbly admit, is small and confined to our culture and place in history). My prayer for us is to face these questions head on and come out the other side with a deeper love and understanding of God’s goodness, along with a healthy dose of humility and fear. If I watched God stop a raging river for someone, I probably wouldn’t be waiting on the other side, hands on hips, taping my foot and announcing “I’ve got a bone to pick with you!” However, I am confident we will all find in this saga, glimpses of Christ and the “New Testament God” we feel much more comfortable with. So hang on! Our purpose is still to declare His power to the nations.

-Bethany