Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 15 July 2022:
Joshua 7:1 – “But the people of Israel broke faith.”
All sin is breaking faith with God.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joshua 7:11, 12 – “Israel has sinned…. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies.”
Good parents don’t give defiant children rewards while they are misbehaving. 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)
Joshua 7:13 – Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the LORD, God of Israel, There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.
“Just as the obedience of one Christian can bring blessing to others, the sin of one Christian can bring harm to many others. The children of Israel were rapidly advancing into the Promised Land. They had experienced a miraculous victory over the city of Jericho, and they were continuing toward their next conquest. To their surprise they met decisive defeat as they attempted to capture the small town of Ai. They sought God’s explanation for their failure, and He provided it. He revealed that someone among them had disobeyed His clear command not to keep any possession from Jericho. The disobedience of one man and his family had paralyzed an entire nation! Achan thought he could conceal his sin and it would not affect anyone else. God chose to demonstrate the destructive power of one sin to His people. One act of disobedience cost Achan and his family their lives. It caused his countrymen to lose the battle; innocent soldiers were killed. His sin had serious repercussions for others, denying them the blessing, power, and victory of God.
Your sin will have an impact on others. Choosing to disobey God may cost your family God’s blessing. The power of God may be absent from your church because you are living in disobedience. Your friends may suffer because you are not living righteously. Diligently seek to obey every word from God, for you do not know how your disobedience could affect those around you. Scripture promises that if you will obey the Lord, your life will be a channel of blessing to others (Ps. 37:25-26).” (Henry T. Blackaby)
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.
1 Thessalonians 3:2 — Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai.
“After sanctification, it is difficult to state what your purpose in life is, because God has moved you into His purpose through the Holy Spirit. He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself, thinking, ‘God has called me for this and for that,’ you barricade God from using you. As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord.
I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. I should never say, “Lord, this causes me such heartache.” To talk that way makes me a stumbling block. When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness. Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world. Doing this creates for me my own cozy “world within the world,” and God will not be allowed to move me from it because of my fear of being ‘frost-bitten.’” (Oswald Chambers)
1 Thessalonians 3:10 – “…as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?”
Prayer should be earnest and continuous.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 — “…and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
God is love, only God is pure Fidelity, and only God is blameless and holy. He Created all wisdom and goodness. He is the Creator and Source of all love and goodness. You cannot create love and wisdom – you can only receive it from the Creator and transfer it. To grow in love, faithfulness, purity, and holiness, you must grow closer to Jesus – there is no other way, and all of your earthly relationships depend on your relationship to God. Willpower, self-motivation, positive mental attitude, personal power, and knowledge cannot get you there – you must depend solely on Jesus and be guided by the Holy Spirit which is not natural but supernatural.
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 – “…may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
Who makes you increase and abound in love? Who establishes your heart blameless in holiness before the Father? God does it all. If you desire to grow in love and holiness, get closer to Jesus, abide in Him. What is the evidence of your true relationship with God? What is the natural fruit of the Spirit in your life? The love you have for others, not the sort of love which the world gives, but a supernatural love which comes from God and compels your heart to unconditionally, selflessly, and sacrificially love even your enemies wholeheartedly and earnestly:
– John 13:35 — By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
– 1 John 4:11-13 — Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
– Matthew 26:6-13 — Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
Love and worship (which is an act of love to God) are costly, inefficient, and often unreasonable to others who will question why you are wasting your valuable time, effort, and resources on people who don’t deserve it or on God who is unseen and perhaps unknown to them. The woman ‘wasted’ expensive ointment in a shocking way to love and worship. Perhaps, one of the best ways we can love others is to ‘waste’ our time being with them and caring for them, particularly when it causes us to sacrifice our own priorities in costly ways.
“God is love (1 John 4:16). His very nature is perfect love, but because of sin love does not always come freely and naturally to His children. You may have been raised in a home where love was not expressed. Perhaps you were hurt by someone you loved, and your heart became hardened as a defense against further pain. You may love others but not know how to express your love in words or actions. You may feel frustrated because you have been called by God to love, yet you do not understand how to love others.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica to encourage them not to become disheartened as they learned to love each other (1 Thess. 3:7). They did not need Paul to explain to them how to love, for God Himself would teach them how to love one another. God would give them His love, and as they followed Him, He would cause that love to multiply. If they found someone who was difficult to love, God would enable them to love through His Holy Spirit.
God in His grace has made provision for our human weakness, and He is prepared to teach us how to love one another. There are no exceptions. God can teach us to love even that especially difficult person.
Are you struggling to love someone? God will help you. He will enable you to love your parents, your spouse, your children, your friends, or your enemy in a deeper way than you could ever love them on your own. If you do not know how to express your love in a meaningful way, God will teach you how to do this. God is the authority on love. As you relate to others, ask God to make His love overflow to them through your life.” (Henry T. Blackaby) “Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 July 22: Today, focus on abiding in Jesus, and allow the Spirit to flow from Him through you as His conduit of love to others and as His messenger of reconciliation through Christ. Pour out your expensive ointment of love upon God and others today in ways that shock others.