Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 5 Apr 18:
1. Joshua 1:5, 6 — “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 (Joshua 1:5, 6).” Moses, Joshua, and all the heroes of faith had one thing in common: they were all ordinary people with no real power of their own. Their power came from God, the Creator, the Source of all power. No other power can stand before the power of God. Their God is GOD, your God, who lives within you and who has given you the power and authority to make disciples throughout the world. Facing seemingly insurmountable odds, Joshua could be “strong and courageous” because he could rely totally on the power of the Creator who loved (loves) him immeasurably and promised to protect him. You too can step out with strength and courage. Your God IS GOD! When commissioning His disciples, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me….” What does “all” mean? He then said, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” If the One with all authority is with you, who can be against you? Does the way you live your life each day reveal to a watching world the Mightiness of GOD?
2. Joshua 1:6-8 — “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 wherever you go.” God told Joshua what was going to happen: “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.” However, God gave specific instructions for Joshua to follow nonetheless. He commanded Joshua to obey the Book of the Law which was to be on his mind at all times.” Why? So that he would be “prosperous and successful.” But more importantly, “Have I not commanded you?” Finally, Rahab pointed out that everyone was watching what God was doing with and through His people. What does it mean to you when God commands you? Who is watching you? What are they learning about God from your life?
3. Joshua 1:8 — “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.” God expects you to fully immerse yourself in God’s word. All of our readings today point out the criticality of daily, dedicated Bible study, Scripture memory, and Bible application. It is key to our success, God’s primary instrument for providing us strength in times of trouble, the message for our witness to others, and our primary means for understanding reality and truth. All of our readings point out that we cannot understand what is going on around us or what God would have us do apart from constant meditation on God’s word. The World, the flesh, and the Devil are great deceivers. We cannot trust in our own understanding or wisdom (Proverbs 3:5-7), nor can we trust anyone else for understanding (Mark 13:12); things are not what they seem, and apart from being “on guard” with the knowledge of God’s word, even the “elect” risk being deceived (Mark 13:9, 22) – “Let the reader understand.” (Mark 13:14). Only the wise men who truly knew and understood God’s word knew where and when to worship the baby Jesus, and Jesus warns that only through the Bible will we be able to understand “the signs of the times.” (Matthew 2; Matthew 16:3; Mark 13:14) Just as we cannot understand apart from God’s word, we cannot and must not advise others apart from God’s word; note that Jesus always responds to others from God’s word; even today he quotes from Isaiah. How much can you quote from Isaiah? Most people my age could not quote any of the book of Isaiah from memory, but without thinking, they could recite the old McDonalds commercial — “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” (McDonalds commercial from 1975) – not at all helpful! The word of God is the “sword of the Spirit” God provides you for the battle of life, whether you find yourself on the offensive or defensive. (Ephesians 6:17) You must be a skilled swordsman to be effective. 2 Timothy 2:15 — “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
4. Joshua 1:9 — “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.” We are commanded to be “strong and courageous” by God Almighty, not because of who we are or out of self-confidence but rather because of who our God is and from the confidence we have in Him. It takes great courage and strength to walk in faith and obedience in the face of uncertainty and when God’s ways contradict human wisdom. The greater we know our God personally, the greater our confidence in Him. Strength and courage are conditions of the heart that come from genuine relationship with the Father. “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).”
– 2 Timothy 2:15 — Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
5. Joshua 2:8-11 — “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings…. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” God’s power in your life will be your testimony to the world. Again, Rahab was convicted by the observable power of God in the lives of the people of God. By seeing what God had done for His people, Rahab was ready to say, “the Lord your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” What power do people see emanating from the church today? Is the work of God in your life so evident that it causes people around you to want to know God?
6. Proverbs 5:11-12 — “And at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!'” You will either endure the daily discomfort of self-discipline or the deep pain of regret. You will reap what you sow. You cannot make up for a lack of investment. However, as the Chinese proverbs says, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second best time to plant a tree is today.” Today is a great day to start doing what you should have been doing. Don’t worry about the past – it’s over. Don’t worry about tomorrow – it is out of your control. Today, is in your hands – make the most of it, joyfully, thankfully, energetically, courageously, and obediently. This is your best way to correct what has been done and promote a positive tomorrow.
7. Proverbs 5:15 — “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.” Much sin starts with dissatisfaction over the gifts God has given you. Be grateful and content with what God has given you, and do not compare your situation with that of others.
8. Proverbs 5:19 — “Be intoxicated always in her love.” The most important institution established by God on earth is the institution of marriage. Husbands and wives reveal their love for God mostly by how they love each other. The primary testimony and witness of a married Christian is their relationship with their spouse.
9. Proverbs 5:23 — “He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.” True disciples of Christ are known for their discipline, because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), the natural product of a Spirit-filled person who loves Jesus above all. If you have a self-discipline problem in your life, search your heart, and pray that God will reveal to you what you cannot see in yourself that is quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit.
10. Mark 13:9 – “…and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them.” The reality of end times gives greater opportunity for testimony.
11. Mark 13:10 – “And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.” World evangelism precedes end times.
12. Mark 13:13 – End times call for endurance and perseverance.
13. Mark 13:13, 18 – Worry is never in order for end time – faith and prayer always are.
14. Mark 13:14 – “…let the reader understand….” Scripture is the only basis for understanding end time.
15. Mark 13:9-37 – God prepares us for end time. He tells you what you need to know so that you will recognize it when you see it and so that you can have confidence in your circumstances that God remains in control and is working all things together for His great purposes.
16. Mark 13:32 – Not even Jesus knew the dates of end time. If a preacher claims this knowledge, have nothing to do with him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 5 April: Today recommit to making Bible study and application your top daily priority, before exercise, before entertainment, even before eating. If you are having difficulty finding time for Bible study, make the commitment to eat nothing before you have studied your Bible. Proverbs 16:26 — “A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.” (See today’s readings)