Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 8 Apr 18:
1. Joshua 7:1 – “But the people of Israel broke faith.” All sin is breaking faith with God.
2. Joshua 7:1 – “…for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.” Achan’s sin affected everyone. God held the people of Israel accountable until the people of Israel held Achan accountable. God’s discipline was to protect the holiness of his people. One bad apple can spoil the bunch.
3. Joshua 7:6 – “Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel.” In times of crisis, where do you turn? Joshua went straight to the Lord, and he didn’t go alone but took the elders with him. God responded to Joshua, and He will respond to your fervent prayer.
4. Joshua 7:7 – “And Joshua said, ‘Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan!’” We ere when we assume the motives or intent of God (or of other people). From our myopic perspective, we tend to underestimate God and others, while thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. Joshua could not understand God’s behavior and assumed the worst, while implying the issue at hand was God’s behavior rather than the sins of the Israelites. “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:3) But Joshua approached God in all honesty as we see done so often in the Psalms. God accepted Joshua’s candor. God wants you to approach Him honestly in your prayers too.
5. Joshua 7:9 – “For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?” Joshua understood a couple of things – Reputation (and trust) takes a long time to establish but can be ruined by one major failure; and, more important than what people think about us is what they think about our God, the One we have been called to glorify. The name “Christian” means, “little Christ.” We represent the character of Christ before others. What do we do to the Name of Jesus when we destroy trust and establish a bad reputation. We must guard our character carefully.
6. Joshua 7:10 — “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face?” – First pray, then obey. When God gives you a work, don’t delay – step out.
7. Joshua 7:11, 12 – “Israel has sinned…. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies.” Good parents to give defiant children gifts. Often God has to deal with your sin before He can bless you. The Israelites had “stolen and lied,” yet expected God to reward them with victory against their enemies. God will not bless disobedience. Are their sins of which you still need to repent that your holding you back? “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) “I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.” (Joshua 7:12)
8. Joshua 7:20,25 — “And Achan answered Joshua, ‘Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did’…. And all Israel stoned him with stones.” Being sorry doesn’t excuse you from prosecution or punishment.
9. Joshua 8:1-9 – God’s ways may involve the use of tactics and even tactical deception in warfare to defeat enemies.
10. Joshua 8:30 – “At that time Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal.” The proper response to God’s salvation is worship.
11. Proverbs 8:8 – “All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.” Your Teacher, Counsellor, Coach, and Guide should be the Holy Spirit, not a person. Don’t let any person or philosophy be a substitute in your life for the Holy Spirit and God’s word, the only source of truth that is not partially crooked. Even your favorite pastor, priest, preacher, or Bible scholar sees the truth from a limited perspective — 1 Corinthians 13:12 – “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” It is amazingly tragic how many Christians turn to others to filter and interpret God’s word for them rather than getting it first hand from the Holy Spirit. Commentaries and commenters can be helpful, but always be like the Bereans – “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
12. Proverbs 8:13 – “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil.” Do you hate your own pride like God does? Are you proud of your humility – think about it….
13. Proverbs 8:17 – “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Knowing God more and more each day is your life purpose and goal. It is not what you do or where you end up, it is who you know and who you are with – Jesus.
14. Proverbs 8:34 – “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” Practically applying this proverb involves being immersed in God’s word, applying it, keeping your eyes open to see what the Holy Spirit is doing and obediently serving Him in the moment.
15. Psalm 41:1 – “Blessed is the one who considers the poor!” Again, give freely! God gave you all, at the expense of His One and Only Son, when you deserved nothing at all, in fact, when you deserved death. How you give displays how you truly feel about what God has given you. It also reveals how much you really trust God to take care of you in the future – “If I give away what little food I have, God may use it to miraculously feed thousands, but what will I eat?”
16. Psalm 41:9 — “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” Having just read in Mark 14 the story of the Last Supper and Jesus’ betrayal, the similarities with David’s betrayal described in Psalm 41 are not missed: “one of you will betray me – one who is eating with me… one who dips bread into the bowl with me… you will all fall away.” (Mark 14:18, 20, 27) However, David highlights a significant difference between his situation and that of Jesus: David was not innocent. Jesus displayed mercy and grace from a position of perfection and complete holiness. Jesus was the only soul who has ever walked on earth who could have demanded justice, yet he didn’t for our sake. Conversely, David, in his persecution, recognized that he could not stand simply on justice; he too relied upon forgiveness, mercy, and grace from God – “As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!” (Psalm 41:4) Towards the end of Psalm 41 David says, “But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever (Psalm 41:12).” What integrity could the sinner David be talking about? I believe it is the truth of his statement in Psalm 41:4 – David has truly acknowledged that he is a sinner who relies totally upon God’s grace for salvation. David understood Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” I believe he also had some level of understanding and put his hope in the promise of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” While Jesus certainly had the right in his perfection to demand justice from others, we, total sinners relying totally on God’s grace, certainly do not have the right to demand justice for ourselves from others. Jesus points this out throughout his teachings. He taught us to pray to God, “forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us (Luke 11:4),” and his famous parable about the “Unforgiving Servant” in Matthew 18 points out that we stand in no position to offer anything but forgiveness mercy and grace to others being totally dependent on the same so wonderfully provided to us by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. To live in integrity is to acknowledge our total dependence on God’s grace and to treat others accordingly. The more we truly understand what God has done for us, the easier it is to treat others graciously.
17. Psalm 42:2 – “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Do you thirst for God’s presence? He will not deny you.
18. Psalm42:4 – “How I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise.” Are you leading many to God with shouts of praise?
19. Psalm 42:11 — “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Are you ever doubtful, fearful, or depressed when you know that, through faith, you shouldn’t be? It is comforting to know that the Bible records that all of God’s servants struggle with these feelings and that God understands them. Remember last week when we read in Mark 9 of the man who begged Jesus to heal his son? When Jesus questioned the father’s belief, “the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)!’” Perhaps you feel that way sometimes – you have faith but desperately want more complete faith. Be grateful that God knows your limitations and can provide all the strength you need in your weakness. Pray that God will build up your faith and help you in your unbelief.
20. Psalm 42:11 – “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Sometimes you have to remind yourself and coach yourself to trust in God and to praise Him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 8 April: Commit to radical, shocking forgiving and giving as an act of worship and celebration.