7Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side!
9For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?”
10But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings.
13“Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.
Joshua was a great leader who made a wrong assessment. Here is his train of thought.
We were defeated by our enemies
It’s my fault for overreaching
I should have aimed for less
I should have been content with little
What matters is what others think
And it’s up to me to give God a good reputation with others
While he is wallowing, God slaps him across the face and calls him to follow him.
“Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this?”
God had a very different train of thought.
My leaders don’t wallow. Get off the dirt.
My leaders follow me.
Think like a man of God.
This battle is spiritual, not just physical.
There are demonic powers involved.
There is a hidden sin.
The demonic powers have used this to their advantage.
You won’t be defeated until you have a camp that pleases the Lord.
Then you will be backed by the host of heaven.
Deal with the real problem and you will win.
As a leader, there are times when I am tender when I should be bullet-proof and there are times I’m teflon when I should be tender. Toward the Lord I must have vulnerability; toward my enemies, I must be tough and clear-minded. In times of defeat, I’m not to wallow, I am to follow God. I cannot allow satan to lead me into a pseudo-humility, that looks like tenderness, but really offends God. Instead, I am to stand tall, face the facts, and know that even my radical ambition pleases the Lord.
Father, where I’m wallowing today, help me to stand up and follow. Amen.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
The Holy Spirit is God with us on planet earth. Jesus and the Father are in heaven. The Holy Spirit is with them in the inferno of relating we call the Trinity.
The gracious Spirit also stoops to be with us. When two or more are gathered, when we worship, when we pray in the prayer language of heaven, when we humble ourselves, especially in baptism, when we fellowship together, and more he is with us. What is happening in heaven is closer to us on earth an our own skin. The Holy Spirit is here so heaven is here.
“Walk by the Spirit,” means exactly that. We ought to find where the Holy Spirit is moving and stick close to his side.
I am to do life with the Holy Spirit. It is as simple as breathing these words, “Holy Spirit, where are we going today?”
I remember reading about Jackie Pullinger ministering to drug addicts in the rat-infested, Forbidden City of Hong Kong, that she would pray in tongues as she walked through the streets asking the Holy Spirit to guide her. He did. Thousands changed from those prayer walks.
Of all the things I yearn for in ministry, what I want even more than to see souls saved, is that I will be the best friend of Jesus. I want to be the friend of the groom. I want to do life with the Holy Spirit, so that my entire ministry is an act of devotion. So much is released from the Lord when we love him.
I’ve been thinking much recently, of how important to God is our love for him. It is as we love him, that he is moved to help us. Love is everything and I’m to remain there. Here are some of the verses that have been in my heart:
Psalm 91:14 “‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will deliver him.’”
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”
Deuteronomy 5:10 “…showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments”
Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
Joshua 23:11 “So be very careful to love the Lord your God.”
Nehemiah 9:32 “Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love…”
Daniel 9:4 “I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments…”
Matthew 22:37 “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”
John 21:16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 “However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him…”
1 Corinthians 8:3 “But whoever loves God is known by God.”
Ephesians 5:1 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children…”
Hebrews 6:10 “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
Jude 1:21 “…keep yourselves in God’s love…”
Father, I love the Holy Spirit. He is my tow rope that links me to heaven, the Trinity inferno and my eternal home with you. Never let my work with your church, replace my affection for you. Let love for Christ and friendship with Jesus be my life goal. From that love, let your interests and concerns be mine. The church is the focus of your blazing eyes. So may this lampstand absorb me as it does you. But may our eyes keep meeting in the midst of the work through the Holy Spirit. I never want my work with you to come between us. Jesus keep us closer. I choose to do life today with the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Command the people of Israel, and say to them, When you enter the land of Canaan (this is the land that shall fall to you for an inheritance, the land of Canaan as defined by its borders)…. Numbers 34:1
9So no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another, for each of the tribes of the people of Israel shall hold on to its own inheritance.” Numbers 36:9
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[d] with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed…. Matthew 26:36-39
Boundaries are a line drawn around the gift of space God has given to us. Within that space is everything that we need to love God and love others. The Lord draws lines around prayer, thoughts, intimacy, family, work, relationships and more. Each person is given space from the Lord in which to delight within.
Boundaries matter to God. We are not to violate them and intrude in the space of others. We are to maintain good boundaries in our own lives so we can fully develop what God has given to us.
Jesus’ last hours is a picture of boundaries at work. There was a garden on the edge of the city where Jesus could be alone in a chaotic place. The crowds did not know where the garden was. It was a secret. Jesus’ friends knew where that place was and were trusted not to disclose that secret. Within the garden, was a boundary that some friends could pass, but others could not. Only Peter, James and John were allowed to be close enough to hear what Jesus was praying. There was a third boundary that only Jesus could cross. It marked the place where Jesus would be alone with the Father and the Spirit. Jesus’ friends respected his boundaries. Jesus maintained his boundaries. Judas, however, violated all the boundaries.
God has given boundaries to me. It is mine to maintain them. I need not dominate others. Nor should I be childish. With mature resolve, it’s my responsibility to maintain my boundaries and respect the boundaries of others. Within my heart there is a secret garden. Even my closest friends are not to intrude there. I may invite them to a Mount of Transfiguration moment. But most of the time, they will watch me climb the mountain alone or hear me pray from a distance. These boundaries are what will make me flourish.
Father, I want to make the most of the inheritance you have given to me. I want to delight in it. Help me to draw lines. Show me the times I’m to let people cross them. Help me also to know when I’m to not let others in. I cannot give away the territory you have willed to me. Make the most of it. Amen.
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear to do this. He said, “God will certainly come to help you. When he does, you must take my bones with you from this place.” Exodus 13:19
They took the bones of Joseph with them because there was faith still in them. Joseph’s dying hope was that God would certainly come to help his people find their way back home. He did not want his bones to stay in the slave country. Though he were dead, he wanted to rest in the land of promise.
I want to die believing things that will outlast my generation and spill into the next. I want to die believing for greater things. I want my bones to be filled with faith to the marrow. This week the news is abuzz because the bones of Richard III, King of England, have been found under a church parking lot. Genealogists have tracked down direct descendants, and have done a DNA match. Bones can live from the past into the present when there is faith in them. May there be such faith in my bones, that like Elisha my dead body will perform miracles.
Father, let faith fill my generation and spill into the next. Amen.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:26-27
I am made in the image of God. The word “image” is quickly qualified. I’m in the “likeness” of the Lord. I am “like” God, but I’m not God. That’s a relief. I wouldn’t want his job. I’m not made to bear that glory or responsibility.
But I am made to rule. Oceans, skies, and earth are my domain. Somewhere on this spinning ball, I am given a responsibility to behave like the God I resemble.
How does God start his best seller that we call our Bible? With a detailed account of the Lord as Creator and Provider. I know from the beginning that God is God and I am not. And yet, I am like God, so more is expected of me.
My image is broken, like a mirror in a thousand pieces. I am prone to seek other models of what I want to be like. I must bring my broken self to be recreated. I must look to Jesus to be like him. Idolatry is a temptation to look at someone else and try to be like them. Instead, I look at the Son of Man and let him take me over. I want to be found “in Christ.”
Father, I’m humbled by design. Thank you for the inexpressible delight that you have singled me and my kind from all the animal world to look like you. Let that dignity call me to a holy life. I bring the broken pieces to you. And I stop trying to be like someone else. I will be like you. Amen.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. John 12:23-26
A seed is of no use on the shelf, for it must fall into the soil to be of use. There are shelves of dry comfort that enables a seed to shrivel tightly within itself. In the hands of Jesus, a seed is reminded that the purpose of life is not self protection, but to be sown into the moist earth. There miracles happen. We are no longer alone. We are surrounded by abundant life.
I let Jesus sow me. I will hate my life, or in other words, I will brace myself for cold, wet, windy, sunny conditions. This means that I’m in the ground, growing.
Father, as close my eyes, I can see life as if I were lying on the ground, embedded into the soil. I see the back of your hand scattering other seeds just like my own. The change of condition from the warmth of your hand into the chill of the soil is love. I see your tanned skin, the weathering of your fingers, and the rough clothes of the farmer. I see the sky beyond you. I know that I will view you from the ground up from now on. I am tumbling, falling, and sinking into the earth. This is not chaos; this is the sower at work. I am about to grow. Father, may my life bring forth the greatest fruitfulness I’ve ever known because I stop living for my own comfort. May I cease interpreting life in terms of what is lost and perceive it in terms of what is gained. Amen.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” John 9:8
Jesus can change people so thoroughly that they are unrecognizably healed.
May this Christmas season lead to a year of changed lives.
Lord, I will not pray a prayer with limits, but with no lid at all except what you place upon it. From Christmas Lights, begin a chain reaction of changed lives that goes nuclear, beyond human explanation or control. May Evergreen swell greatly in size and spiritual power. Bring your kingdom. Amen.