June 5, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The Lord shall increase you more and more…”
Psalm 115: 14
“Thou standest on the threshold
of days which are unknown,
Thou standest at the gateway
of paths, unmapped, unknown,
But God Himself is with thee,
thy Saviour, Keeper, Friend;
And He will not forsake thee nor
leave thee in life’s end.
Thou standest and thou askest;
‘What have the days in store?’
He answereth thee: ‘Blessing!
‘Yea, blessing more and more.’
What form that blessing taketh,
thou mayest not yet know;
But blessing upon blessing
He waiteth to bestow.”
Today’s Study Text:
“It was under Ahab’s rule that Hiel of Bethel refortified Jericho, but at a terrible cost: He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn Abiram, and his youngest son Segub at the setting up of the gates. This is exactly what Joshua son of Nun said would happen.”
1Kings 16: 34
The Message Bible
“God’s Word Stands Forever” Part 2
“The trust we put in God honours Him much, and draws down great graces.”
What does the story of Joshua and the Israelites at Jericho teach me about trusting God?
What had Hiel and Ahab forgotten about the God of heaven and earth?
“The only place we can safely put our confidence is in God.”
“Trusting God trumps understanding God. The train will have long left the station and left us on the platform if we determine to ride only with full understanding. Life will have passed us by. I’m choosing to trust the conductor and the track He’s laid down for me.”
His name was Joshua, son of Nun. Called to follow in the path of Moses, the young Joshua was greatly encouraged by the promise bestowed on him by his heavenly Father, found in Joshua 1: 5, 6: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage.” (KJV)
Let me ask you this question. If God came to you and told you He was with you; that every step of the way His hand of care was guiding you; and that His power would fill you with heavenly courage and strength, how would you feel? I’ll tell you how I would feel and one word is adequate, “invincible!” To understand the depth and width of the word “invincible,” I went to Webster’s Dictionary where I found that in Latin, this word means, “incapable of being conquered.” Frankly, that says it all. As I reflected on the fact that more than once, God came to Joshua and reinforced the truth that he had a “Companion” right by his side, guiding and leading him and the children of Israel, it certainly helped me to understand why under Joshua’s capable leadership, the Israelites were able to conquer city after city as they settled in Canaan -- the Promised Land.
With this background set by God’s promise of providing strength and courage, we can better understand the fearlessness exhibited by God’s children as they prepared to move forward toward the city of Jericho. When the Israelites approached the Jordan River, which was a barrier to them getting to Jericho, God instructed Joshua to tell the Levites to bear the Ark of the Covenant to the edge of the Jordan River. Joshua told the children of Israel that the ark would pass “over before you into Jordan.” But there was another request God made. He told Joshua, “Therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel.” These men were to stand on dry ground in the Jordan River and after all the people had crossed and the ark was carried out of the dry riverbed by the Levites, these twelve representatives from each tribe were to each take a large stone out of the river with them and carry it to the place where they would lodge.
Here is the reason Joshua gave for the “stone carrying” mission: “This may be a sign among you that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What mean ye by these stones?’ then ye shall answer them, ‘That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord…and it came to pass, when the priests that bare the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priest’s feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place and flowed over all the banks, as they did before. And the people came up out of Jordan…and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he (Joshua) spake unto the children of Israel, saying…’Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you…as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea…that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever’” (Joshua 4: 6,-9, 18-24, K.J.V.).
At this point in our devotional, you may be wondering, “What are we doing back in the book of Joshua?” There’s a very critical reason we are taking a look at the mighty hand of God at work in the lives of the Israelites. For it was this profound history of God’s deliverance which was the historical backdrop that reminded God’s children how He had repeatedly worked in their behalf. And it was vital that God’s power never be forgotten, so Joshua had an altar built with twelve stones as a remembrance of God’s victorious salvation on behalf of His children.
An emancipation from hundreds of years of Egyptian slavery culminated in a planning session after the crossing of the Jordan River. God wasn’t finished with all He had to accomplish.
The city of Jericho, with its fortress-like walls was the next barrier the Israelites faced. However, as our Father in heaven always does -- He had a plan, already in His mind, to allow His children complete success in the destruction of Jericho.
It is with the upcoming strategic engagement in Jericho that I want to end today’s devotional. Tomorrow, we will find out that the trustworthiness of our God links every activity throughout Scripture together, from the fall into sin in the book of Genesis to the wondrous revelation of Jesus Christ that is the climax in the last book of the New Testament, Revelation.
Several months ago, as I was reading a modern translation of the Bible, I was inspired by this rendering of Psalm 91: 1, one of my favorite texts in Scripture: “He (she) that chooseth as his (her) permanent abode the secret place of the Most High shall always be in touch with the Almightiness of God.” If like Joshua, you and I choose to be under the watchful eye of our heavenly Father and if we abide in His presence, we too, will not only “be in touch” with our Almighty God, but we will be filled with His courage and empowered with His strength. In the words of Hannah Whitall Smith written in 1906, “Our lives are full of supposes. Suppose this should happen or suppose that should happen; but what could we do and how would we bear it? But, if we are living in the ‘high tower’ of the dwelling place of God, all these supposes will drop out of our lives.”
Today, let us say: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in You and I’m safe.” (Psalm 91: 2, The Message Bible).
“Father God, grant me eyes to see Your hand at work and a heart to trust Your ways. Even as I long for quick action and a shortcut through my trials, cause faith to rise within me for my best and Your glory.”
“Lord of my origin
Draw me closer to You
Lord of my existence
Direct all my ways
Lord of my calling
Give me strength to go on
Lord of my faith
Preserve me from doubt
Lord of my hope
Keep me from despair
Lord of my love
Let me never grow cold
Lord of my past
May I never forget You
Lord of my present
Be near me always
Lord of my future
Keep me faithful to the end
Lord of my life
Let me live in Your presence
Lord of my death
Receive me at last
Lord of my eternity
Bless me forever. AMEN.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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