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Facing a Giant


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 17; Psalm 9; Matthew 2

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Samuel 17:1-50


In today’s key passage, we read the popular story of David and Goliath.  Most of us have likely read this story before or have at least heard of it.  It is the type of Bible story that we are often told as kids in Sunday school, and there are many lessons to be learned from it.  Today, I would like to focus on the practical aspects of this story that we can all use as we walk through our lives.  The Philistines had moved into Israel’s territory and set up camp, so King Saul put together an army to face off against them.  The two armies were each perched on opposing hills with a valley in between them.  At this time in history, armies wanted to avoid losing a lot of troops in a long, drawn out battle, so it was common for an army to pit their strongest soldier against the strongest soldier of the opposing army for a “winner-take-all” battle.  Out of the Philistine camp came a giant named Goliath.  He was big, he was powerful, he was armed with heavy weapons, and he wanted to fight one of the Israelites to settle the battle.  When King Saul and the Israelites saw Goliath, they were all filled with fear.  They did not know how they could possibly defeat this formidable foe.  For forty days, Goliath would come out of the Philistine camp and intimidate the Israelites, challenging them to send someone to oppose him, but none of the Israelites would dare go against him.  All of the Israelites, including Saul, were focused on their own self-preservation, so they were frozen in their fear and unable to move forward against their enemy.

One day David, a young shepherd who was tending his father’s flock was sent to the front lines to bring provisions and to get a report on the war.  As he arrived, he saw Goliath come out of the Philistine camp for his daily taunting of the Israelites.  Unlike the rest of the Israelites, David’s focus was not on his fear or on self-preservation.  His focus was on the glory of God.  He said, “Who is this unbeliever, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (Vs. 26)  David was confident that God would defeat this enemy.  He knew that this giant was no match for the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, so he decided to step up and face off against the giant.  Though the other Israelites did not believe David could defeat Goliath, David still made the lonely walk to face off against the giant.  David had the faith to know that while he could not defeat the giant alone, God was with him in the battle.  In the end, David defeated Goliath using only a slingshot and a single stone.

As we walk through our lives, every single one of us will face off against “giants”.  These “giants” might be people who oppose us.  They might be habitual sins that we have trouble standing up to.  They might be difficult circumstances, illnesses, or financial problems.  Whatever the case may be, these “giants” will be a very real threat to us just as Goliath was a very real threat to the Israelites.  When we face these giants, we have a choice to make.  We can choose to be paralyzed with fear like Saul and the Israelites, afraid to move forward against the “giant”, or we can choose to have faith in God to solve our problems like David.  We can choose to focus on our own self-preservation, or we can choose to focus on the glory of God.  With the right faith in God, we can trust that He will deliver us from our “giants”.  With the right faith in God, we can be sure that He will bring us victory in His own time.  With the right faith in God, there is nothing we cannot overcome.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Creating Our Own Storms


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 11,12; 1 Chronicles 1; 2 Corinthians 11

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Samuel 12:12-25

After serving Israel for years as a judge, Samuel made a farewell speech to the Israelites.  In it, Samuel affirmed in the minds of the Israelites that he was trustworthy.  He reminded them of their history and pointed out their wrongs against God.  He also reminded them that it was their idea to appoint a king over Israel against God’s clear instructions.  Once the stage was set, Samuel then said, “‘Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes! Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call upon the LORD to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the LORD when you asked for a king.’ Then Samuel called upon the LORD, and that same day the LORD sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the LORD and of Samuel.” (Vs. 16-18)

To fully understand this passage, it is important to point out a few things about Israel at this time.  This event took place during the wheat harvest, which was near the end of the dry season in Israel during May and June.  During the dry season, rain was a rarity, so having a thunderstorm at this time was considered a miracle.  Unlike most “good” miracles, however, a thunderstorm during this time of the year could have been disastrous for the Israelites.  Any amount of rain during the wheat harvest could damage the crops and cause them to rot.  With this historical information in place, we can now see that this thunderstorm clearly illustrated God’s anger with Israel over asking for a king.  If they had never asked for a king, they would have never had to face that storm.

Sometimes the storms we face in life are created by our own actions.  If we fail to work hard at our jobs, we might find ourselves unemployed.  If we fail to treat our spouse the way we should, we might find ourselves with relationship problems.  Understand that not all of the trials we face are caused by our own actions.  Many times our periods of distress will have nothing to do with what we did and will instead be caused by the evil present in this world.  It is still important to note, however, that when we go against God, He will sometimes send us storms as a way of correcting us.  For this reason, anytime we face a storm it is important that our first step is to search our hearts for any unconfessed sin.  If we discover sin in our lives, our natural reaction as humans might be to try to hide from God.  Samuel offers a much better solution in verse 20 –  “‘Do not be afraid,’ Samuel replied. ‘You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.'”  When we discover that we have created our own storm, we must take that opportunity to press in closer to God instead of turning away from Him.  After all, God is the only one that can save us from the storms, even if we have created them ourselves.  If you have found that you are in the midst of a storm that you have created, find comfort in Samuel’s words in verse 22 when he says, “For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.”  If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are one of His people.  You are one of His children.  He alone will not reject you.  He alone will calm the storm.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Being Stubborn


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 8-10; 2 Corinthians 10

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Samuel 8:4-22

For many years, God knew that at some point the Israelites were going to want to anoint a king against His wishes (see Deuteronomy 17:14-21).  In today’s key passage, we see this desire for a king finally came to fruition.  The Israelites wanted to be more like their neighbors, and they wanted a king to call their own, so they came to Samuel and asked him to appoint one.  Now Samuel was a man of God, and he knew God’s wishes.  He knew that God was against the Israelites having any king over them other than God himself, so he took this request to God to ask for guidance.  In response to his request, God provided Samuel with a warning to pass on to the Israelites about appointing a king.  Samuel shared with the Israelites God’s warning about what would happen if they appointed themselves a king.  God promised that the king would:

  1. Make the sons of the Israelites serve him either in the army or in working his land
  2. Make the daughters of the Israelites be perfumers and cooks for him
  3. Take the best of the fields, vineyards, and olive groves away from the Israelites
  4. Take a tenth of the Israelites grain
  5. Take the Israelites best servants, cattle, and donkeys and make them his own
  6. Take a tenth of the Israelites flocks
  7. Make the Israelites his slaves

Now, I do not know about you, but none of these things sound very attractive to me.  Despite God’s warnings, however, the Israelites refused to listen and decided that they still wanted a king.  The Israelites were simply being stubborn.

Most of us have a tendency to be stubborn at times.  Sometimes this stubbornness can be a good thing, like when we refuse to quit a task despite its difficulties.  More often than not, however, stubbornness can lead to many problems, and when we choose to be stubborn despite God’s warnings those problems are guaranteed.  Like the Israelites, we will not have to guess when it comes to God’s warnings.  Just as God made His warnings clear to them through Samuel, He makes His warnings clear to us through His Word and through the Holy Spirit.  We know what the Bible says about sin, yet we sometimes still choose to turn away from God and sin anyway.  When the Holy Spirit convicts us that something we are doing, saying, or thinking is wrong, we sometimes still choose to do, say, or think those things anyway.  Looking back on the Israelites choosing a king despite what God told them the king would do seems crazy to us, yet we continue to turn away from God despite the fact that His warnings against sin are far worse than just losing our possessions or our time.  Join me today in asking God to take away our stubbornness towards Him.  Join me in asking God to help us get rid of any “kings” we might want ruling over us other than Him.  Do not choose to be stubborn despite God’s warnings.  Choose instead to live in obedience to Him all the days of your life.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Acknowledging God in Our Own Way


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 6,7; Psalm 72; 2 Corinthians 9

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Samuel 6:1-5

During a battle with the Israelites, the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant.  (The Ark of the Covenant was a large box that contained the Ten Commandments given to Moses.)  The Philistines were happy about capturing the ark because they had heard the stories of God’s great power in saving the Israelites in the past, and they hoped that since they now possessed the ark they would have that same power on their side.  What they found, however, was that everywhere they took the ark, devastation followed.  They took the ark from town to town, but God would always afflict the people in these towns with tumors as a punishment for taking the ark away from the Israelites.  In our key passage today, the Philistines were trying to decide what to do.  They knew they could not keep the ark any longer, because too many of their people were dying, so they decided to send it back to the Israelites.  They did not want to send it back to Israel (and to God) empty handed, so they decided to send with it a guilt offering consisting of five gold tumors and five gold rats.  This type of offering was the type the Philistines would make to their own gods, so they believed this would be acceptable to the God of Israel, even though this was hardly the type of sacrifice that God’s laws prescribed.  The Philistines were trying to acknowledge God in their own way instead of serving Him in the way He requires, and the results would be disastrous when the Philistines were defeated in battle by the Israelites.

Many people in our world today still try to acknowledge God in their own way.  These people have many different theories about God and believe there are many different paths to spending eternity with Him.  Some believe that if they do enough good deeds they will make it to Heaven.  Others believe that if they do not do anything “really bad” they will make it to Heaven.  Some people believe that as long as they go to church every once in a while or read the Bible, they will make it to Heaven.  Still others even believe that Heaven does not exist.  The sad truth, though, is that all of these people are lost.  Like the Philistines, those who are trying to acknowledge God in their own way will face devastating results.  Heaven is a real place, Hell is a real place too, and God has made it clear that there is only one way to ensure you make it to Heaven.  In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Some people believe that this sounds elitist or exclusionary, but in reality, it is actually quite the opposite.  There are no special requirements for coming to Jesus Christ and starting a personal relationship with Him.  The Bible says in Romans 10:9-10, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”  Even if you consider yourself a “Christian”, if you have never truly accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, today can be the day that you stop trying to acknowledge God in your own way.  Today can be the day that you receive salvation.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Learning from History


Daily Bible Reading – Judges 13-16; 2 Corinthians 2

Today’s Key Passage – Judges 13:1-5

As I have been reading Judges for the last week or so, two famous quotes have come to mind.  The first, attributed to the philosopher Edmund Burke is, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”  The second, attributed to a variety of people including Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein is, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  These two quotes seem fairly appropriate to any discussion of the book of Judges.  During the period of the Judges, the Israelites found themselves in a pattern of destructive behavior.  When they had no one to lead them, they would turn away from God and “do evil in the eyes of the Lord”.  Because of their evil, God would deliver them into the hands of an enemy who would oppress them for a period of years.  When the Israelites could no longer take the abuse, they would “cry out to the Lord” for help.  At that point, God would give them a judge – a person to lead them who would conquer their enemies.  When that person would die, the Israelites would once again turn away from God and the whole cycle would repeat itself.  It seemed that no matter how bad things were when they were far from God or how great things were when they were close to Him, they could not seem to break this cycle and they would always choose to ignore their own history.  They would do the same things over and over again and expect a different result.

As is common when we study the Bible, it is pretty easy to look back at the Israelites in hindsight and see their mistakes.  It is easy for us to wonder how they could possibly keep turning from the Lord when it always went so badly for them.  The sad truth, however, is that most of us do the same thing as the Israelites in one degree or another from time to time.  Think about it – every time we give in to temptation and sin, are we not turning away from God?  Are we not doing evil in the eyes of the Lord?  When things get bad for us because of our sinfulness, do we not cry out to the Lord for help, repent, and do everything we can to follow His ways again until the next time we fall to temptation?  Just like the Israelites, we too can find ourselves caught in a vicious cycle of sin, guilt, and remorse.

Fortunately for us, we have hope in breaking this cycle.  First of all, we have history to study to help us learn what happens when we stray.  Like the Israelites, we can look at our own personal histories to see the cycle of sin and see what happens when we choose to turn away from God.  Unlike the Israelites, we have something more.  Instead of just looking at our own history, we can also study the history in the Bible to see this same cycle through the ages.

Secondly, we have the help of the Holy Spirit living with us to break this cycle.  Through the power of Jesus Christ, we can overcome any temptation, no matter how great.  In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we read, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” God does not want to see us fail.  He does not want to see us in the same cycle as the Israelites.  He wants us to have freedom over temptation and sin, and He wants us to stay close to Him.

Finally, we have hope in knowing that in His limitless grace and mercy, God is always waiting for us with open arms if we fall.  Time and time again, when the Israelites cried out to Him, He answered their call.  Time and time again, when they were ready to follow Him again, He was there to lead them.  No matter how many times you have fallen, He is waiting for you to cry out to Him.  If you are willing to follow Him, He is willing to lead you.  Do not continue to repeat the mistakes of the past.  Learn from your own history and the history of countless other generations before you, and press in closer to God today.  Allow Him to be Lord of your life, and break the cycle for good.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Needing Assurances


Daily Bible Reading – Judges 6,7; Psalm 52; 1 Corinthians 14

Today’s Key Passage – Judges 6:11-40

In today’s key passage, we read the story of Gideon, a simple farmer who was called by God to free the Israelites from the oppression of Midian.  One day, while Gideon was threshing wheat, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that he was going to save Israel from the Midianites.  Gideon, being a farmer from a relatively weak clan, had serious doubts that he would be able to save Israel, but the Lord insisted that he was the right person for the job.  Despite God’s confidence in him, he still needed assurances from God and asked for a sign.  Gideon asked God to wait for him while he secured an offering to set before the Lord.  When Gideon returned with the offering, the angel touched the tip of his staff to the meat and the unleavened bread, and fire immediately flared from the rock it was sitting on and consumed the offering.  Gideon asked God for a sign, and God delivered!

Now, you would think that after seeing this miracle, Gideon would be satisfied that he really was the right man for the job of saving Israel.  However, once again, Gideon needed more assurances from God, and he asked for another sign.   In fact, three times Gideon asked God for assurances, and all three times God answered him in a big way.  Gideon would eventually believe what God was telling him, and he would eventually go to battle against the Midianites.  He would ultimately win the battle without ever lifting a sword against the Midianites and he would free the Israelites (for a time), but not before God did something truly amazing.  See, God knew that Gideon was still afraid.  He knew that Gideon was worried about this battle.  He was worried about whether he would be good enough to win and whether his people would be good enough to win.  God, however, knew that He was good enough to win any battle, so He made a little point to Gideon.  Gideon was ready to attack with 32,000 men, but God told him that he had too many soldiers.  God reduced the number of soldiers Gideon had to take into battle from 32,000 to 300, yet the 300 were still more than enough to triumph over the Midianites.

Reading this story today, I thought a lot about all of the people who need assurances in our present age.  There are so many who question whether God exists and need assurances of His existence.  There are others who feel so lost in the world and need assurances of His presence.  Some feel like they have heard a calling from God to action, but need assurances that the calling is legitimate, while others, though they have been saved and have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, still need assurances that they will really get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.  From time to time, all of us, no matter what our circumstances, still need assurances.  Fortunately, God’s assurances are all around us.  We find His assurances in the beauty and scope of His creation.  We find His assurances in the countless illustrations we find in His Word.  We find His assurances in the small voice we hear while we commune with God through prayer.  God’s assurances are literally everywhere.  Like Gideon, though, we each must decide for ourselves what we will choose to do with these assurances.  Will we accept God’s promises for us and have the faith and trust we need to move forward in our walk with Him, or will we continue to ask for even more assurances from Him as we make excuses to stand still.  My prayer today is that each of you reading this, regardless what you are walking through in your life will find the assurances you need from Him.  His assurances are there waiting for you.  All you have to do is look for them and hold onto them as you step out in faith.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Crying Out to God


Daily Bible Reading – Judges 4,5; Psalms 39,41; 1 Corinthians 13

Today’s Key Passage – Judges 4:1-16

Right before Joshua died around 1390 B.C., the Israelites promised him that they would never turn away from God.  It took less than fifteen years for the Israelites to break that promise.  At the time of our key passage today, the Israelites were living in Canaan, but they had turned away from God.  Because they had sinned against God and turned from Him, “the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor.” (Judges 4:2)  The commander of Jabin’s army was a man named Sisera, who had a large army with 900 iron chariots.  (Iron chariots were the most feared weapons of the day.)  For twenty years, Sisera ruled over the Israelites with an iron fist and “cruelly oppressed” them.  Finally, after twenty years, the Israelites “cried to the Lord for help” (4:3)  At that time, Deborah was leading the Israelites and she coordinated an attack on Sisera.  The Lord was with Deborah, so the Israelites prevailed against Sisera and he was killed.  Sounds like a happy ending for the Israelites, right?  Well, as we will find out in later chapters, their story of despair is really just beginning, but that is a story for another day.  For today, I would like to focus on one aspect of this story – why did it take the Israelites twenty years to cry out to God?

Notice that in our key passage, when the Israelites “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (4:1), he allowed Jabin to rule them, but as soon as they cried out to Him, He immediately rectified the situation and brought them peace.  Of course, the easiest remedy would have been to never turn from God in the first place, but knowing that they did you have to wonder what would have happened if they would have cried out to God sooner.  Would God have saved them immediately if they had cried out to Him after only one year of Sisera’s rule?  I have to believe that He would have, but sadly, the Israelites did not take their problems to God right away.  They tried to solve their problems without God’s help, and only cried out to Him when things got really bad.

It is easy for us to look back and wonder why it took so long for them to cry out to God, but the truth is that many times we can all fall into the same trap as the Israelites.  How often do we try to handle our own problems and wait until things get really bad before we cry out to God?  We waste so much time and energy trying to deal with things ourselves, when God really wants us to bring everything to Him first.  He does not want us to wait until things go sour to get Him involved; He wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives.  God wants to be consulted on everything we do, and He wants to be a part of our decision making process in all things.  In reality, we should be crying out to God every single day, not just when things are bad.  Every single day we should surrender ourselves to His will.  We should let Him lead us, as we simply follow His guidance.  When we cry out to Him in prayer when times are good and press into Him daily, we are less likely to create our own desperate situations.  Please do not misunderstand what I am saying – I am not suggesting that when we cry out to God He will immediately solve all of our earthly problems and fix all of our mistakes.  Crying out to God is not some magic wand we can wave to get our will.  However, when we cry out to God, we can be assured of one thing – He will bring us peace.  He will bring us the peace that comes in knowing that regardless what our present circumstances are here in this temporary home, our eternal circumstances in our permanent home are secure.  When we cling to Him daily, we will never lose perspective on what is truly important.  Our troubles here in this world are just a moment in time, but our eternal life with God lasts forever.  In today’s reading, we also read Psalm 39.  In it, we read in verse 5, “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.”  Cry out to God today and focus on the eternal.  Focus on what really matters, and let God take care of the rest.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Assuming the Worst


Daily Bible Reading – Joshua 21,22; Psalm 47; 1 Corinthians 10

Today’s Key Passage – Joshua 22:10-34

Is the glass half full or half empty?  Do you look for the best in people or the worst?  Do you imagine the best-case scenario, or the worst-case scenario?  Do you assume the best, or do you assume the worst?  In life, there are two types of people: optimists and pessimists.  When optimists look at a situation, they always assume the best.  When pessimists look at a situation, they always assume the worst.  In today’s key passage, we see two examples of assuming the worst.

Before entering the Promised Land, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh were all given land on the East side of the Jordan River.  Upon giving these two and a half tribes of Israel their land early, they had to promise to help the rest of Israel take over the promised land on the West side of the Jordan, which they did.  After all of the fighting was over on the West side of the Jordan, these two and a half tribes went back to their land on the East side.  On their way back, they decided to build for themselves an altar near the Jordan.  When the other tribes of Israel heard about this, they immediately assumed the worst.  They assumed that the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had decided to turn away from God, so they assembled an army to go to war against their brothers.  When they met up with the two and a half tribes, before going to war with them they asked them why they would turn from the Lord in this way.  At that point, Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh explained their actions.  They explained that they did not build the altar to offer sacrifices.  They insisted that they instead built the altar as a monument of their solidarity with the tribes on the Western sided of the Jordan.  They were worried that in generations to come, future Israelites on the West side of the Jordan would not recognize the tribes on the East side of the Jordan as brothers.  They assumed the worst-case scenario for the future, and based on that they tried to take action now to prevent that worst case from happening.

Like the tribes of Israel, we can all choose to life our lives assuming the best or assuming the worst.  We can worry, fret, and imagine all of the worst possible things that could happen, or we can have faith, trust in God, and imagine the best possible things that could happen.  It is important to remember that when we assume the worst, we are living in the flesh.  When we assume the worst, we are questioning God’s goodness and we are questioning whether He will take care of us.  When we assume the best, on the other hand, we are living in the spirit.  We are putting all of our faith and trust in God to do what He has said he will do, and to be who He said He is.  We can spend our lives always assuming the worst and having a negative outlook, but what will that bring us other than worry, strife, and misery?  God is looking for us to step out in faith.  He is looking for us to trust Him.  He is looking for us to assume the best.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Victory Takes Time


Daily Bible Reading – Joshua 9-11; 1 Corinthians 6

Today’s Key Passage – Joshua 11:16-23

Today we read Joshua chapters 9, 10, and 11.  For the last couple of weeks, it seems that all of our readings have been leading up to these three chapters.  In these chapters, Joshua outlines all the rest of the battles that the Israelites won to take over the Promised Land.  We knew this was coming.  Moses talked about it.  Joshua talked about it.  While we read Deuteronomy, we knew that the entire time the Israelites were perched right on the edge of the Promised Land.  Then we got into Joshua, and in the last couple of days, we have seen key victories in Jericho and Ai.  Now, in these three chapters, the pace really picks up.  In a single reading, we get to see the Israelites take over the rest of Canaan.  Our key passage today provides us with a nice summary of the battles, and throughout the reading we are constantly reminded of one important point – every victory that the Israelites experienced was because God was on their side.  In addition, there is another important point that is not really spelled out in the text.  While it seems like the battles were won quickly and that the Israelites conquered the entire land over the course of a couple of days, a little research reveals that this is not the case.  Even though it only takes a couple of pages for Joshua to tell us about all of the victories the Israelites were given in the Promised Land, these victories that seem to come so quickly actually took about seven years or so.  You see, sometimes victory takes time.

Do you ever feel like you are not progressing in Christ fast enough?  Do you ever wonder why you are not further along?  Do you ever wonder why you still struggle with certain things?  When we first give our lives to Christ, sometimes we think “the change” will happen for us instantaneously.  We wrongly believe that we will wake up the next day and we will never sin again.  We think that we will never have another evil thought or desire.  Then when we stumble – when we do have an evil thought or desire or when we do sin – we feel discouraged.  We wonder why we are not past all of this.  We want a complete victory over sin.  We want a complete victory over temptation.  We want to find ourselves living in the spirit 100% of the time and never slipping back into living in the flesh.  Basically, we want the quick fix.  We want the immediate victory.  We must realize, however, that victory is a process, and it takes time.  Never underestimate the changes God has made in you, and never discount those changes just because you are not perfect.  Sometimes we think of our walk with Christ as a journey with a finish line.  We believe that at some point, we will finally “get there” and we will no longer have to struggle with anything.  The fact is, though, there is no finish line – at least not here on earth.  While we are living here in our temporary home, we will constantly be evolving.  God will continually make changes in us and make us better.  Do not rush God and do not allow yourself to get discouraged.  Instead, praise God for the victories He has given you, pray expectantly for the victories He will hand you in the future, and always remember that complete victory takes time.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Facing a Setback


Daily Bible Reading – Joshua 7,8; Psalm 69; 1 Corinthians 5

Today’s Key Passage – Joshua 7:1-12

Yesterday we read about the Israelites battle with Jericho in which God handed them a victory.  In today’s key passage, we see a slightly different outcome.  After defeating the army at Jericho, the Israelites turned their sites on Ai.  As he did with Jericho, Joshua sent spies to see what Ai was like and to get a report about the opposing forces.  The spies returned and told Joshua that there were only a few fighting men in Ai and that the Israelites would not have to use all of their forces, so Joshua decided to only send about three thousand men to take Ai.  But according to Joshua 7:4-5, the Israelites “were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them.”  So, what was different this time?  Why were the Israelites able to defeat the mighty forces at Jericho but were routed by the small forces in Ai?

There were two main problems that caused the Israelites to face a setback in Ai.  First, there was the sin of Achan.  When Israel was going to take Jericho, God demanded that all of the “devoted things” there (all of the plunder from Jericho) was to be destroyed.  God demanded that none of the items found in Jericho be kept by any of the Israelites, but Achan went against God’s directions and decided to keep a robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and fifty shekels of gold.  By Achan’s own admission in 7:21, he “coveted them and took them”.  Sometimes people tend to rationalize that a single sin is not all that damaging, but here we see that this single sin was disastrous.  Achan’s sin caused God’s anger to burn against the Israelites.  Because of this single sin, God was not with the Israelites when they attacked Ai.

The second problem was that Joshua decided to attack Ai without first consulting God.  The only reason the Israelites defeated Jericho was because God was on their side, but when they faced a much less intimidating opponent in Ai, Joshua relied on the strength of his own army.  Does this sound familiar to you?  For most people, we are quick to consult God when we are facing a difficult task.  We pray for His help and we pray for His protection.  When it comes to a relatively easy task, though, we have a tendency to try to go it alone.  We try to conquer the easy tasks by our own strength, almost as if we are trying to “save” the strength of God for more important issues.  God, however, wants us to seek Him in everything we do.  He wants us to seek His help and protection no matter how easy the task may seem.  Since Joshua did not do this, God was not with the Israelites when they attacked Ai.

Finally, we can learn a lot about dealing with setbacks by Joshua’s reaction to losing the battle in Ai.  After hearing about the defeat, “Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads.”  (Joshua 7:6)  (In those days, tearing of clothes and sprinkling dust on your head were signs of mourning.)  When we face a setback, we should immediately turn back to God.  We should seek him to find out what happened.  We should search ourselves to see if we have any hidden sin that might be the culprit, and if we find anything sinful within us, we should destroy it completely.  Then we should wait patiently for God to provide us with direction on what to do next.  This is what Joshua did following his setback in Ai, and it is what we should do when we face a setback.  Do not allow a setback to be your undoing.  When you fall, get back up again and seek God’s council.  He will help you get up, and He will help you move forward.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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