April 14

Joshua 9:3-10:43

There’s that old adage, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” That was the strategy of the Gibeonites. While the other nations of Canaan were joining forces against Israel, the Gibeonites sought to join forces with Israel, through deception. We need to remember that if the enemy can’t devour us as a roaring lion, he will try again as a slithering snake.

The key here is that Joshua and the men of Israel did not pray about their decision.

Joshua 9:14 (NKJV) “Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD.”

It turns out that Gibeon was just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Gilgal, where Joshua was stationed. Gibeon was right smack dab in the middle of Canaan – they lied about their location (the enemy does that), and yet Israel, so easily deceived by their moldy bread, worn out wineskins, and torn clothing, made a covenant with the Gibeonites.

Rookie mistake on the part of the leaders – even the congregation knew better. But it was too late, they had entered into a covenant with the Gibeonites, in the name of the LORD their God.

Joshua’s only possible consolation in it all, is that he would make the Gibeonites cutters of wood and carriers of water for the house of his God. The Gibeonites were okay with it, their lives had been spared.

In the meantime the kings of the other inhabitants decided to attack Gibeon for the treaty they’d made with Israel. Since Israel had entered into a covenant with the Gibeonites they were obligated to help. It turned out for their benefit for now they faced five kings and their kingdoms at once, and God would give them the victory.

The Israelite men marched all night before the battle (which normally wouldn’t be a wise battle strategy), but as God leads and with God’s help, there’s no need to worry – the LORD would fight for them. God gave them a great victory using different modes of ammunition, raining down hailstone upon His enemies, even making the Sun stand still (or slowing the earth’s rotation) in order to keep the fight on, and give Israel a complete victory.

Joshua had a lot of boldness to ask this of God (Joshua 10:12) and God honored his faith. We have a big God, so don’t be afraid to pray “big.” God has land for all of us to conquer, not necessarily physical land, but spiritual land, souls to win, saints to encourage, more people to love on – may we fight – not for victory but from victory. It may even be areas in our own lives that needs to be conquered for Christ – He is able – may we believe and receive. The explanation is simple:

Joshua 10:42 (NKJV) “All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.”

Israel’s conquests in Canaan. (thebiblejourney.org)

Luke 16:19-17:10

The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is not a parable because Jesus never used names in parables. That means this is a true and detailed account of what actually happened in history. Lazarus was a poor, pitiful beggar, but he was also a believer. The rich man was not only rich, he was rotten, and he rejected the Gospel. When they died, they went to two different holding tanks. In Old Testament times the afterlife was a duplex. One side was the compartment of the saved, (Abraham’s Bosom – Abraham is representative of faith) – the other side was hell, with a gulf between them that no one could cross. You notice that the rich man had all five senses intact – and he was burning in the flames. The rich man had no relief available! Realizing he was doomed to this destiny, He asked Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead, to warn his brothers, assuming they would believe if someone came to them who had risen from the dead. Abraham said the Scriptures were sufficient, and even if someone rose from the dead, if his brothers rejected the Scriptures, they would still not believe. This is an indicator of the hardness of man’s heart and his love for sin. Today, people still don’t believe the gospel, even though Jesus Christ rose from the dead. 

This parable is a heavy warning about hell. Some reject this possibility in the afterlife even though Jesus spoke more about hell then He did about heaven. All I can say is I believe it’s real because the Bible says it, Jesus said it, and that settles it. This makes me want to share God’s love with an even greater urgency.

If you have 7 minutes – some heavy thoughts about the reality of this place.

Today (after the cross) there’s no longer a holding tank for the righteous, when we die as Christians, we are immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Luke 16 begins with the fact that because we live in a fallen-world where men and women have a free will, offenses will come. It’s a warning, it’s also heartbreaking when our family becomes the victim. But don’t be defeated or discouraged, God has a way of working everything out for good for those who humbly come to Him – AND – one day justice will take place for all the offenders. Jesus issues an especially heavy warning to those who cause the children to stumble. This includes people such as child-molesters, child-abusers, and ultimately anyone who in any way would steer these children wrong and break them at young ages, when they’re in some ways, “innocent” and vulnerable, and their little hearts are being formed (Luke 17:2).

In Luke 16:3-4 Jesus gives us some very practical commands – how we are to be people who rebuke, people who repent, and people who forgive, even as we’ve been forgiven. Can you imagine forgiving seven times in one day? But doesn’t God forgive us much, much more than that? Sandy Adams said, “Be as generous with your forgiveness as God has been with His.”

The Apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith – and Jesus essentially said, it’s not the quantity of faith we need to look to, it’s the quality. Warren Wiersbe said, “Faith is like a seed: it seems small and weak, but it has life in it; and if it is cultivated, it will grow and release power.”

Serving for the right reason is vitally important for us as Christians. In Luke 16:7-10 Jesus makes us check our hearts: Do we serve for a pat on the back? No, we are to serve because it is our calling from Christ, our daily duty, because the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. I don’t think Jesus’ illustration is teaching us that God doesn’t care for His workers or even that God is ungrateful; He just wants us to simply serve with a servant’s heart – that at the core it’s not, “What can I get?” But “What can I give?”

Psalm 83:1-18

This is another one of those Psalms where it sounds as if God is silent, and sometimes He is, but that’s okay, we can rest assured, He is never absent.

Asaph prayed because the enemies of Israel were mounting up with a plan:

Psalm 83:4 (NKJV) “They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”

(Sounds like modern day Iran). Asaph prayed for God to defeat these evil alliances just as God had defeated many kings and nations in the time of the judges (Psalm 83:9-11).

Asaph prayed for God to blow them away as chaff, to frighten them away with His thunder and lighting.

It’s interesting to note that two times Asaph seems to indicate that his heart was that these enemies would be saved – that they would know the LORD and even seek His name (Psalm 83:16, 18).

Warren Wiersbe said, “Asaph had a purpose in mind—not just the safety of Israel but the glory of the Lord (Psalm 83:16–18). Some of the enemy soldiers might even trust in the God of Israel! It was not important that Israel’s name be preserved (Psallm 83:4), but it was important that God’s name be glorified.”

Proverbs 13:4

Just because a man is hardworking physically, doesn’t necessarily mean he’s hard-working spiritually; here we read about the soul of the lazy man, and the soul of the diligent.

Deep down inside, they both long for spiritual riches, but if we’re not willing to work hard as disciples, not merely reading the Bible, but digging into the Word, listening to studies, reading Bible based books, which is just gleaning and growing with other teachers, if we’re not willing to work hard for those spiritual riches, then we we’ll posses less and less – this Proverb even uses the word “nothing.”

But, if we are diligent as disciples, we will be made rich spiritually.

We’ll know God, we’ll serve God, and we’ll be all God wants us to be.

Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV) “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

Work hard, pray hard, go hard for God.

Colossians 4:12 (NKJV) “Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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