The Unknown Factor

“So the men of Israel took some of their [the Gibeonites] provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD.” (Josh. 9:14)

Just one small step was skipped in making the treaty with the Gibeonites.  Joshua and the other leaders considered God’s laws against making pacts with people in the land, they investigated carefully to the best of their ability the evidence that the Gibeonites were not from the area (i.e. the worn out sandals and the torn wineskins).  Careful consideration was made to the best of their ability to do things right.

But that is the problem: the best of our ability isn’t good enough.  Prepare for the journey all you want – flat tires still happen.   Use all the wisdom in the world before investing your money and the stock market may still crash.  Get a second or third opinion from the best doctors in the world and you still run the risk of the unknown quantity.

The brightest minds in the world still can’t know everything.  So ask counsel of the LORD.  “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17).  Be faithful, and inquisitive, and wise in your dealings, but never forget to inquire of God for His help and protection.  A prayerful novice is more blessed than a prideful expert.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)

#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Roll Away the Reproach

“Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” (Josh 5:9)
 
The LORD said this to Joshua after the next generation was all circumcised – obeying God’s command that all the males of Israel would be circumcised from eight days old and upward (Gen 17:12). The wicked generation that had wanted to return to Egypt had failed to circumcise their children and left the next generation to do the hard thing once they reached adulthood.
 
And that is true for many things in life. Many times, parents fail their children, leaving them in a spectacular hole. A hole made for them, but their hole to climb out of nonetheless.
 
So, if you come with baggage, and your pedigree is not pure, and you struggle with an imperfect childhood that has left you with painful scars and habits…
 
Or perhaps you are a victim of too much spoiling, so you never learned to work hard. Maybe you deal with the consequences of being told you are the center of the world all the time, so selfishness abounds in your character…
 
Or mayhaps you never learned how to be a husband, wife, father, or mother because your parents gave you a broken home instead of a proper model to follow…
 
Take Joshua’s advice – do what the previous generation didn’t. Roll away the reproach by sculpting your character according to God’s pattern. Do the hard things. Change your family tree.
 
That way, your children can run where you have stumbled.
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

The Immovable Rock

“‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?’ He said, ‘No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.’” (Josh. 5:13-14)
 
God doesn’t take sides. God is not a respecter of persons (Eph 6:9). When the angelic captain of the LORD’s army spoke with Joshua – he could just as quickly cut down the Israelites as be ready to fight for them. It is not a matter of whose side God is on, it is a matter of whose side we are on.
 
Do we stand by God and fight as His soldiers or do we fight for our comforts and selfish whims? Are our struggles and battles against sin and wickedness? If so, we are on the Lord’s side and His angelic armies fight in the same cause as us. Set your face toward the Son and you are guaranteed to shine brightly in the day of battle – we move to face Him, not the other way around.
 
Beware assuming that God is on your side – the Israelites thought that once and lost the ark to the Philistines (1 Sam 4). Young Saul thought that and found himself rebuked by Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Being religious does not make you right, nor does calling yourself a Christian make you faithful.
 
The battle belongs to the Lord (Pr 21:31) – but who do I belong to?
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

When they ask ‘Why?’

“When your children ask their fathers in time to come, ‘What are these stones?’, then you shall inform your children…” (Josh 4:21-22)

When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan river, they set up a monument of stones to commemorate how God caused them to walk on dry ground.  And like all things peculiar, generations of future parents would have their children point and ask, What’s that?!”

Because kids are naturally inquisitive.  They will ask questions.  They will want to know and understand the world their parents are leaving to them.  The questions will come naturally for them, but will you “inform your children”?  Do we have the information in our own minds to teach them why we believe what we believe?  Do we have the patience and the generosity of spirit to provide them with answers to their questions asked at inconvenient times?

Kids ask questions – but not all parents answer them.  Rise to the challenge.  Take the time.  They are our responsibility and the world’s future hope.  Evangelism begins where the home fires burn.

“but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;” (1 Pet 3:15)

#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Brain Food

“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 success.” (Josh. 1:8)
 
We meditate with the mind, speak with the mouth, and do with our hands. Joshua was told a successful life was dependent on all three of those things. A mind that contemplates God’s word is more likely to speak accurately of life and godliness, and for the honest soul, our words force us to back them up with action. What you think about is what you talk about is what you do.
 
Or more simply put, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is” (Pr 23:7).
 
Information is brain food and the bread of life is found in the Bible.
 
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4)
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Choose Life

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity” (Deut. 30:15)
 
Jehovah sets before us life and death – He sets it in front of us, but He never forces it upon us. Is there any doubt which He would choose for us?! The God who made us in His image (Gen 1:26), calls us His children (1 Jn 3:1), sent His Son for our transgressions (Jhn 3:16), and prepared heavenly mansions for us (Jhn 14:2) certainly wants life and prosperity for us.
 
But He will only set it before us because you are made to choose. The glorious power of freewill is so sacred that even God Himself will not remove it. Every day people choose. We choose to seek wisdom like the Queen of Sheba or we choose to suppress truth. We choose to glory in tribulations or we allow our suffering to embitter us. We choose to recreate the failings of those who have gone before us or we choose to change our family tree.
 
Our choices define us – even if those choices are to do nothing. Nothing is a choice, too (Jas 4:17). You cannot control your circumstances, but you can control your own spirit.
 
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Ahead of its Time

“And of the blood of grapes you drank wine.” (Deut. 32:14)
 
Deuteronomy 32 contains the Song of Moses – a psalm Moses gave to the Israelites just before his death. Written 1,400 years before Jesus walked this earth it refers to the ‘blood of grapes’ that God would give His people in the Promised Land. This is the first-time grape juice is referred to in this way.
 
1,400 years – that is almost 6 times longer than America has existed. The city of Thebes was the largest city in the world, the big news was that the Palace of Minos had been destroyed by fire, and the culture of the Tumulus was all the rage… in other words, a really, REALLY, R-E-A-L-L-Y long time ago.
 
And yet, God was already preparing the Jews for the day when the ‘blood of the grapes’ would call to mind the blood of the Savior leading us into His Promised Land.
 
“In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’”
(1 Cor 11:25)
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Unanswerable Questions

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29)
 
The LORD doesn’t tell us everything. There are mysteries of this universe and the vast galaxies that only He can fathom. There are fish in the ocean that only He sees and wonders in the heavens that only He observes. The divine wisdom of God understands and observes every hair on my head, but I only know the number is diminishing.
 
We also don’t know why everything happens. Why do God’s people suffer? Why does one person enjoy blessings while another must grieve like Job did? These unanswerable questions caused David to question his life and his faith – when David contemplated the success of the wicked and the struggles of the righteous he said, “my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped, for I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Ps 73:2-3). In the dark and hollow days of sorrow, it is natural to ask, “Why?”
 
The answer to personal suffering is – I don’t know. None of us does. We don’t get to know everything – we just get to know Him who does.
 
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor 1:3-4)
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Appropriate Expectations

“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.” (Deut. 30:11)
 
If God expects something of you, He will provide the strength to do it. Excuses are lists of what is preventing us from doing something, but God has removed all things that would prevent us from successfully serving Him.
 
You are smart enough, strong enough, rich enough, and talented enough to do what God has commanded – you may just not be brave enough or faithful enough. That is the blunt truth of God’s Word. It isn’t that the command is too hard, it is often that we are too soft. Excuses are our way of avoiding the hard truth that our shortcomings are personal and not circumstantial.
 
When it comes to following the Bible, it is never ‘I can’t’, it is only ‘I won’t’.
 
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23)
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

The Storehouses of God

“The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand” (Deut. 28:12)
 
After the farmer has plowed the field, planted the seeds, weeded, and fertilized; he is left to watch the clouds – helpless to control the rains. The heavens are God’s storehouse of blessings and completely out of our control.
 
After all your hard work, all your toil, sweat, and tender care, the increase still belongs to God. Every day people strive for success without achieving it. Turns out that the intangible things, the things often attributed to luck, happenstance, or serendipity have more control over your life than you do. You have no say in what the weather will be, when and where you are born, the mood of your boss, or the traffic along your commute. The uncountable and unquantifiable belongs to God.
 
So accept vulnerability and weakness. Accept your limitations and inabilities. When we do that, we are prepared to lean upon the God of all understanding. The omnipotent I AM becomes our guardian and guide, and after we have plowed and planted, we farmers can simply sleep peacefully as we await His rains in their season.
 
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.” (Jas. 1:17)
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4