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A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)
A joyful heart, oh yes, good medicine indeed! What comes to mind when you think about a joyful heart?
Joy seems to be the product of thankfulness, especially when choosing thankfulness over getting upset, being prideful or selfish. For example:
- Hearing the footsteps of my children at a time when they’re supposed to be in bed, or when I’m trying to get some rest.
- When our basement nearly flooded due to a frozen pipe or when our dishwasher flooded our kitchen. Both could have been 1,000 times worse. We caught both just in time. No small miracles.
- Thinking about how long and how earnestly I prayed for a wife. The one I have is the one I will keep, for better or for worse.
- A nice blanket of snow.
- Deep, deep laugher, or remembering a time when we deeply laughed. That wasn’t just happiness, it was joy.
- Getting a glimpse into the wretchedness, the weight, and the cost of my sin. What greater joy than knowing that it is forgiven?
Today’s featured photo is of Atalie Joan Somers, the newest addition to Somers family. Newborn baby foreheads: GREAT JOY! Congratulations Mike, Jamie, and Eleanor! May God continue to bless and keep you.
Today’s reading: Joshua 16, Proverbs 16
Remember in April of 2016 when I told you I am an “accounting dork”, love using numbers to tell a story, and often can’t resist the urge to count and/or reconcile most everything? As we started to read about how the Promised Land was divided among the tribes in Joshua 13 this week, I found myself with a familiar urge to reconcile. In the book of Genesis we read about Jacob’s 12 sons, who became the 12 tribes amongst whom the Promised Land was divided in Joshua 13-19, who are the same 12 tribes cited in Revelation 7 where we read about the preservation of God’s people during the end times. In theory these tribes should be the same in all three books, but they don’t reconcile exactly:
|Genesis 29-30||Joshua 13-19||Revelation 7|
Hmm… We see inconsistencies with Levi, Joseph, Manasseh, Ephraim and Dan. Are you curious as to why? I certainly was, and went digging to see what I could figure out. The three factors I think account for the inconsistency between Genesis and Joshua are:
- In Genesis 49, Rueben, Jacob’s firstborn son, lost his birthright when he slept with his father’s concubine. Jacob gave the birthright to Joseph, firstborn of his second wife Rachel. Remember, a birthright is essentially a double portion of inheritance.
- Jacob adopted Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim as his own sons in Genesis 48.
- In Joshua 13:33, we also learned that no land was given to Levi, the tribe of priests. Here is how I reconciled the tribes in Genesis to Joshua:
|12||Sons of Jacob in Genesis 29-30|
|+2||Add Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were adopted by Jacob (Genesis 48)|
|-1||Take away Joseph, as his double inheritance was accounted for by his sons|
|-1||Take away Levi, as this priestly tribe did not receive land (Joshua 13:33)|
Reconciling the tribes in Joshua to the tribes named in Revelation was a little harder. Why were the tribes of Levi and Joseph added back? Perhaps because land is no longer the “inheritance” of Christfollowers under the new covenant? Perhaps just to reconcile back to 12? I’m not totally sure. I do, however, understand why the tribes of Dan and Ephraim were removed from the list of God’s people in Revelation 7. It is because these tribes were worshipping idols (See Judges 18:30-31 and Hosea 4:17). The Bible is clear, those who worship idols are not God’s people and should expect nothing but judgment from God. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Ephesians 5:5).
Here is how I reconciled Joshua 13-19 to Revelation 7:
|12||Tribes who were allocated land (Joshua 13-19)|
|+2||Add back Levi and Joseph|
|-2||Take away Dan and Ephraim (Judges 18:30-31, Hosea 4:17)|
Now we know where everyone went, and we mostly understand why. So what? What is the benefit of this exercise? I believe it illustrates God’s incredible patience, and willingness to use imperfect people to accomplish his purposes. It gets messy sometimes, but don’t be deceived. God will accomplish his purposes with or without us. We can either choose to be part of his plan, or he’ll leave us behind and move on.
The Lord works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster (Proverbs 16:4).
Joshua 15 Proverbs 15
Chapter 15 of Joshua is divided into three parts: the land given to the tribe of Judah first, the towns Judah inherited last, with the land given to Caleb sandwiched between the two. Full disclosure: I get a little overwhelmed trying soak in the description of how big this land was…or the names of the towns. However, my study bible makes a good point: “Notice that these boundaries and descriptions of the Promised Land are very specific. God was telling Israel exactly what to do, and he was giving them exactly what they needed. There was no excuse for disobedience.”
In regards to Caleb and his receiving of land, who is he and how does he rate to get some special land? I’m sure many of you recall a song from your childhood: “Twelve men went to spy on Canaan, ten (all ten fingers in the air) were bad (thumbs down) and two (two index fingers in the air) were good (thumbs up).” Well, the two “good” ones were Joshua and Caleb. This story can be found in the book of Numbers. Numbers chapter 14 verse 24 reads: “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went and his descendants shall possess it.”
There is also one little last tidbit provided at the end of chapter 15 in Joshua. It tells of how the tribe of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites…”so the Jebusites live there among the people of Judah to this day.” This piece of information is repeated in Judges 1:21. However, the rest of the story is played out in 2 Samuel 5:6. The Jebusites mess with the wrong Marine in the form of King David.
Proverbs 15 is full of wise sayings, but it starts off with one that hits home with me: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” While I have an incredibly large amount of room for growth in this area, I have to praise my wife…as this is a tremendous gift of hers. I truly thank God each day for her kindness and gift of a gentle answer.
Where do you have room for growth? Pray that God will help you with that, today.
This last Saturday I was blessed to attend an event called Equip with many other brothers and sisters in Christ. This event hosted and lead by Eastview Christian Church staff and members provided a chance for those involved in small groups to join in fellowship. It also provide meaningful spiritual wisdom to prayerfully lead well giving insights that allowed us to walk away more equipped to focus on God. These insights encourage and support our small groups on their spiritual journeys and remind us of the influence we have day in and day out on others as part of the body of Christ. What an amazing day and I truly appreciate the wisdom, time, and love shared to grow the body of Christ.
One reminder I walked away with is that God is always in earshot of us. That when we “lean in” and listen to what God has to say. It will influence our lives. This influence will then be the nudge we need to influence others. A reminder of this influence can be found in 1 Peter 2:9 that we are chosen by God, that we may proclaim the excellence of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
Today’s Reading is Joshua 14 and Proverbs 14. Digging into these chapters I selected a few verses that captured my heart and literally spoke about the heart. In Joshua 14 Caleb, son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite , shares how Moses had promised him land. Now, we have already seen through Joshua the division of land, but what I reflected on mainly is what Caleb says in verses 8-9. Caleb says… but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God whole-heartedly. So on the day Moses swore, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.
Breaking down wholeheartedly requires our school dictionary Merriam-Webster that defines wholeheartedly as; completely and sincerely devoted, marked by complete earnest commitment: free from all reserve or hesitation.
My heart check question to reflect on today was, “Where am I at with a wholehearted following of our Lord?” Can I be completely and sincerely devoted? Marked by complete earnest commitment? A realistic answer is that I fall short many times and influenced by my flesh instincts. I will follow this realization with specific prayers for our continued growth, resilience, and obedience to Him and His living word. That we continue to journey each day with praise and submission to Him. In verses 10-11 Caleb says that even from the age of 40, (which is an age I can reflect back to :), until his age of 85, Caleb was still as strong in the Lord, and vigorous to go out to battle. He wholeheartedly continued to love and serve the Lord.
God, we ask that at whatever beautiful age we are at, give us the wisdom and endurance to exhibit an obedient spirit to consistently grow our faith in You that does not lose strength.
Proverbs 14 has many powerful verses, this includes verse 30 that made a connection to our heart topic for the day. It says, A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
Our heart makes a difference, not only on a physical and medical level, but mainly through our closeness with God. This closeness is available to you today. He is waiting for us. Just call out, listen, and trust. This peace provided by our Lord leads to a an earthly time of happiness, and an eternal time of love and fellowship.
Reach out to God today wholeheartedly. Let Him provide you with the peace we all need!
Over the last couple of weeks and months, I have been matured in my understanding of life and death on a major scale. I have recently changed areas of pharmacy practice from community pharmacy to hospital pharmacy. In this transition I have witness the transition from life to death on several occasions. This has made me mature emotionally and spiritually and reflect more on future planning. What is the inheritance plans for my family? What are the plans that my mother and father have for their end of life? What is the portion that will be given to my wife and children? These thoughts have lead to some interesting and challenging conversations with my family, but this communication it is needed to understand the wishes of the individual.
As we read Joshua 13, we are presented with the inheritance of Israel’s sons; Reuben, Gad, and Joseph’s son, Manasseh (half of the tribe). The detail of the land East of the Jordan is difficult to imagine without having traveled in it for forty years. I have to imagine that the people were very aware and knew exactly what they were receiving. This is the land that the people had inhabited for the past forty years. They knew the ins and outs of the fields, streams, and mountains. They knew the food sources and the dangers of the land. The people were satisfied with the portion that they had claimed. They knew their inheritance and had tasted the fruits of the land.
We have to go back to see the inheritance of these two and a half tribes to get a better understanding of the promise and the inheritance from both Jacob and Moses: Genesis 49: 3-4, 19, 22-26 and Deuteronomy 33:6,13-17,20-21. The tribes had amazing blessing bestowed upon them by Jacob on his deathbed. They knew that they would possess great portions of the Promised Land and they chose to declare their portions before they knew the fullness of their reward. These verse have echoes of the the Prodigal Son.
How many times have we been promised something and not allow the fullness to be manifested? How many times have we pushed for something and the timing was not aligned with God? How much have we lost ourselves in the immediate satisfaction, instead of deferring the gratification? I have been the in each of these scenarios at different times in my life, but now I choose to allow God to reveal the greater reward than the one that is easily perceived.
Holy Father, Thank you for being the portion of my eternal inheritance. Thank you for your peace of spirit and clarity of understanding that allows us to not settle for the easy or quick reward. Thank you for empowering us to continue on to see the fulfillment of your Promise. Amen
Joshua 12 and Proverbs 12 are our readings for today.
Joshua chapter 12 simply sums up all of the kings that have been defeated by the Israelites, to date. First, the kings that were defeated under Moses’ leadership, Sihon and Og. Then, the kings that were defeated by the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership are mentioned. They conquered the kings of: Jericho, Ai, Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, Elon, Gezer, Debir, Geder, Hormah, Arad, Libnah, Adullam, Makkedah, Bethel, Tappuah, Hepher, Aphek, Lasharon, Madon, Hazor, ShimronMeron, Acshaph, Taanach, Megiddo, Kedesh, Jokneam, Dor, Goyim, and Tirzh.
No detail is given about any of these kingdoms; how much territory they covered, or anything about them. They are simply listed.
So…how does this relate to us? Or…what can we learn from this passage??
Joshua defeated and killed thirty-one kings in all! He took their land as their possession for the tribes of Israel. Each of these battles presented unique challenges and difficulties. Each of these kingdoms presented real dangers. And yet, in the end, God enabled Israel to be victorious in every singe one.
No matter what situation we are in or what challenges we face today, God can and will enable us to be victorious if we will trust and obey Him. And…be like Joshua…STRONG and COURAGEOUS!
What battle are you facing today? What battle will God give you victory in??
While reading the book of Joshua, I find my focus shifting. I either excited about the tremendous victories of Joshua or disturbed by the brutal violence. In fact, the two stand in such opposition that I am questioning who God is. One is good and the other horrible, right? How can he be responsible for both? My heart hurts for the lost cities. It hurts for all the people killed. I struggle to celebrate victories that are won because of the mass destruction. I want it to be different. However, a closer look reveals that my perspective is short-sighted.
Consider for a moment that you were Jabin, the king of Hazor. You just received the news of Joshua’s great victory and the utter destruction left in his wake. Not just the destruction, but the ruthless hanging of five kings (Joshua 10:26). It’s obvious who is next on Joshua’s list. You are! Think for a moment about the two choices you have. Make peace with Israel, or take them out. Their choice is documented in verse 19. “There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except the Hivites.” Simply put, Hazor chose to protect his own kingdom rather than come under the authority of Israel. What other choice does Joshua have? What other choice does God have?
Do you see how Hazor and Israel correlate with our own lives? Think about it, God shows up, all powerful and sovereign. While stand, silently, watching his work, we get to choose. Will we make peace with him, or will we fight? Unfortunately, like Hazor, we often choose to build and protect our own kingdoms rather than come under His authority. How long should we expect God to watch us? You see, He has a choice to make too. For Hazor and his buddies, God’s compassion had a limit. As a result, He hardened the hearts of the five kings after they proved to be fully against him. It is important to note that God has not changed. In fact, Romans 1:25 reminds us that when we exchange the truth of God for a lie, we too will be given over to our sin. Its the same thing! Make no mistake, when that happens, death and destruction is on our horizon. This is not what God wants. He is not planning destruction for us. In fact, He wants us to live, fully, with him.
Today, God is offering us hope in the name Jesus Christ. It is written:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 (ESV)
Today’s reading is Joshua 10 and Proverbs 10.
I will admit, growing up, like many I thought the Bible was boring. This must have been because I hadn’t read enough of it. In reading through Joshua in preparation for today’s post, I could not put it down. Joshua is filled with stories of redemption like Rahab, battle after battle, deception, and amazing miracle after miracle by God to assist the Israelites. I’m just wondering when Hollywood will do a movie on Joshua! Let’s just hope they stick to the Word and get it right.
One of the things that always struck me about the Old Testament is how many people were killed in battle against the Israelites because they were God’s chosen people and the other nations were not. How could God let all these people be killed? Our pastor, Mike Baker, said something to the effect that all these other nations and peoples could have been saved if they would have just surrendered to God by surrendering to Israel. We see this in Joshua 9, as the Gibeonites surrendered to the Israelites in fear and their lives were spared. However, we see throughout the book of Joshua, more times than we can count on one hand, every other nation who did not surrender to God and Israel were destroyed. Time and time again the leaders of these nations and the people stated they heard of the many miracles God had done for Israel, knew God had chosen Israel and they were fearful, but instead of surrendering to Israel and God, they fought back and were destroyed.
How many times do we try to fight our own battles in our everyday lives, instead of surrendering to God and trusting He will fight for us and has a perfect plan? This is very tough for me. I’m in a career where there is a direct correlation between effort and reward and there is even a science showing what activity leads to what results. However, I have to keep learning and trusting in my professional and personal life that yes, I have to put in effort and use the talents and abilities God has given me, but I have to trust and truly believe that He is in control and will fight for me.
In Joshua 10:14 and Joshua 10:42, we read that the Lord fought for Israel. Moses spoke similar words all the way back in Exodus 14:13-14. “And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation the Lord, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you and you only have to be silent.’” We read in Joshua 5:4 the generations who God brought out of Egypt passed away, yet God was still fighting for Israel to complete his plan and keep his covenant. Here in Joshua 10, we read how God made the sun stand still, and it remained daytime so the Israelites could win. He also rained down stones to kill the enemies of the Israelites. Really?! We’ve already read so far in Joshua alone He stopped the waters of the Jordan from flowing and made the mighty walls of Jericho fall with only a yell, just to name a few. Do you think the Israelites were fearful as they wandered in the desert for 40 years, and as they went into battle? Yes. Do you think with their human minds they could have thought of the miracles God would do to help them? No. Are we any different in our everyday lives? No. But, God fought for them, and He’s fighting for you when you’ve given your life to Him through Jesus, surrender to Him in prayer, and when you ask Him to do miracles in your life where you will use them for His kingdom and give the glory to Him. We are now all God’s chosen people like Israel through Jesus. Romans 8:34 says, “Who is to conderm? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised, – who is at the right hand of God who is indeed interceding for us.“ He will fight for you, even while you sleep, in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God..”
Reading Proverbs has reminded me we must pray for God’s wisdom, and then we will live righteous lives due to His direction (Proverbs 10:24, 10:30). We must also ask God for wisdom to remember past miracles in our life to remind us He can and He will do it again in ways we can’t imagine. He knows we are prone to forgetting and need reminded. How cool is It in Joshua 4 that He instructed them to bring 12 stones from the Jordan so they could remember God helped them by stoppping the rivers of the Jordan flowing and so they remember to tell their children even. In the Israelites journey, we see they are similar to us and are prone to forgetting God’s miracles, questioning Him and His presence, and falling back into sin. However, we don’t see as much of this in the first ten chapters Joshua. Could their continuing trust in God during this stretch be due to them having stones as a reminder? They didn’t know what exact miracle God would do to help them. They could have never imagined how, but they knew He would.
Reflect. What past miracles has God done in ways you could not have imagined? Remember them. Pray for Him to give you wisdom and do miracles again in your life and you will give Him to glory. Let Go. He will fight for you.
Check out “Do It again” by Elevation Worship. I pray it can impact you, as it has for me, going into 2018 and beyond.
On December 1st last year, I posted on “Harsh Words”. Betrayal. Trial. Denial. Today, we add another harsh word: Deception. What comes to mind when you think of the word deception? Have you ever been deceived? I imagine the answer is yes. I can think of a number of instances of deception in my life, some very harmful. I could get worked up just thinking about one particular deceptive friendship (or so I thought it was a friendship.)
In the case of today’s story, it’s an interesting twist. The strategy of deception was used so that the Gibeonites would not be attacked. They heard what Joshua and the Israelites had done to other cities, Jordan and Ai, and people. Instead of joining with the larger forces and Kings west of the Jordan (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites) to fight the Israelites, they decided to use a plan of deception. They weighed the option of joining, fighting and possibly failing, and they went into submissive mode, acting as if they had nothing, even their bread was rotten, “dry and moldy”. Woe is me (us). They went right into the Israelite camp and pretended they were something they were not. They lied about where they came from, saying they were from far away when they were not. They wanted a treaty so as not to be killed. The Gibeonites decided living as servants was a better life than not living at all. An interesting strategy.
How many times in life do we see people act a certain way to get attention or recognition, either positive or negative but just to get people to take notice and validate who they are? Do you know people who exaggerate the truth, outlive their incomes, flaunt their clothes, jewelry or travel, talk about themselves constantly, all to get attention or to get ahead? The people who will say whatever they think others want to hear? Do you know people who pull the “Woe is me” card to gather either money or sympathy or attention or “likes” on social media? Trickery.
I love the way Joshua handles the situation when he finds out he has been deceived: “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? 2”
He calls them out. Do you feel like calling people out sometimes? Why did you exaggerate or not tell the truth about your whereabouts? Hopefully a lesson I have taught my kids, but one of them in particular had to learn the hard way (see the image at the top of this post for how I felt!). Is it really worth not telling the truth and trying to deceive me? I always find out. To me, it’s best to tell the truth, be real, even if you may not receive favor or if you may get in trouble or if you won’t get ahead at work. If you deceive someone, then when does it stop? You have to continue to play games.
It would have been interesting to see if Joshua would have had mercy on the Gibeonites if they had arrived, saying “we are here, don’t kill us, we want to have a treaty, what can we do?“ Rather they presented themselves as being in great need and traveling from far away. Joshua did not kill them but his punishment was harsh. 3 You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”
Some of the Gibeonites might have been ok living like servants rather than dying in a battle with the other great armies. However, a better strategy could have been telling the truth. Would they have been allowed to live differently?
As we carry out our daily lives, this lesson is a good reminder to be real. Be yourself. Don’t lead people down false paths. Don’t “dress to impress”. Don’t use the “woe is me” card. Don’t worry about “likes”. Do your best at work by being honest with thoughts and actions. God loves you just the way you are and so do we!
For me, when things are going really well it’s easy to talk about how good God is, to be thankful, to be joyful, and to acknowledge that God is in control. When things don’t go the way I had hoped (and prayed) they would, it is way to easy for me to feel discouraged and feel like God has forgotten me, or that He doesn’t have a good plan for my life. Feeling discouraged can make me hard-hearted and sometimes angry. I doubt I’m alone in that. For the past week I’ve been struggling with a big disappointment over not getting something that I had really, really wanted and prayed for. My heart has been heavy, my spirits low, and, while I know that God’s promises still stand, I don’t feel like they do. This is a difficult thing to admit, but it’s where I was today. So,while reading through Joshua 8 and Proverbs 8 for this post, I was searching for something that would provide comfort to me about my feelings of disappointment. I read, re-read, prayed, and meditated on these passages, looking for something that would soothe the wounded part of my spirit.
What eventually spoke to me was not what I went looking for. In the last paragraph of the Joshua 8, after the City of Ai has been conquered and the spoils plundered, Joshua builds an altar to the Lord, writes on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, and then reads all the words of the law to all the people. I kept thinking about how tired these people must have been. How excited to have plundered the riches and been able to keep them this time, etc. But we don’t read about a fantastic celebration with feasts and music, we read that Joshua immediately carves into stone every word that Moses had commanded (which sounds like a lot of work), then reads every bit of it to ALL of the people, even the little ones. My thought is that Joshua probably did not “feel” like doing all of that right then. I was then reminded of 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.”
Joshua’s actions at the end of chapter 8 seem to me to be obedience to God’s command, not a reaction born of feeling. My feelings of disappointment, despair, etc., do not make me feel like rejoicing, praying or reading scripture. But that cannot get in the way of obedience. The Proverbs reading only reiterated this to me. “Blessed are those who keep my ways.” Prov 8:32
God, forgive me for doubting your promises and your perfect plan. Help me to be obedient even when I don’t feel like it. Thank you for the comfort that your word brings to my heart, and thank you for the Holy Spirit revealing truths through that word.
Joshua 8:30-35 30Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, 31as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses-an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the LORD burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. 32There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses. 33All the Israelites, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the LORD, facing the Levitical priests who carried it. Both the foreigners living among them and the native-born were there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel. 34Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law-the blessings and the curses-just as it is written in the Book of the Law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.