April 28 – Say What Now? – “March, Sound the Trumpet and Shout, and I’ll Bring Down the Wall”

Read Joshua 6:1-21

“Joshua fought the battle of Jericho

Jericho, Jericho!

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho

And the walls came a tumbling down!”

If you have grown up going to church, you have probably sung that song a time or two and have learned about the miraculous way the city of Jericho was destroyed with just a shout. But have you thought about how much faith it took to complete that task? Joshua was a warrior. The people of the surrounding land had heard of him. They were curious and, according to Rahab, they were even afraid.  As Joshua got closer and closer to Jericho, the emotions must have been rising to an all time high. 

“How will Joshua attack us? How should we prepare for battle against him?”

When God revealed His plan to Joshua of how to take Jericho, it must have been one of those “Say what now?” moments in time for Joshua.   But he had seen how God had led Moses and was now leading him.  So, the only thing for him to do was to trust God’s leading. God told Joshua to “Be strong and very courageous”.

If this battle had been won in the conventional way, it probably would have just been added to the list of Joshua’s other victories. We would not be singing about it thousands of years later. This victory wasn’t a “Joshua thing”, but a “God thing.”

Can you imagine the gossip spreading throughout the town as the Israelites came and marched around the walled city in total silence except for the trumpets of the priest, only to return to their own camp? They did that for 6 days!  By the time the 7th day rolled around, the entire population of the city would have been curiously standing on the top of the wall. Then, when the wall was completely surrounded that 7th day, Joshua gave the signal for his army to shout and the wall came tumbling down. They had thought they were safe in their walled city that no one would be able to break through the wall and destroy them.

What seemed impossible became possible right before their eyes!

Joshua didn’t have engineers to figure out the weaknesses in the wall or if it was even possible for this to happen. But God knew. Even though it might have sounded silly and wasn’t how Joshua usually would have taken a city, he trusted God for his directions

Are you willing to put your complete trust in God’s plan for your life, even if it seems impossible? Are you willing to follow the plan for success that God gave to Joshua? 

1) Read the word of God and apply it to everything you do. Don’t turn to the left or right of it.  Then you will be successful. Have the words on your lips so you can readily speak them. You might not bring down walls to cities, but you will be able to bring down walls of fear, discouragement, hatred, and doubt. 

2) God repeatedly told Joshua to be bold and courageous, standing up for what is right even if it meant going against the popular thing to do at the time.  We are children of the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!

We need to ACT LIKE IT! BE BOLD!

Pat Arnold

February 9 – Faithfulness – He fights for us

Read Deuteronomy 3:22, 20:4 and Joshua 23:10

“God, I’m really sorry for…”

Have you ever prayed something like that? It’s a simple call for forgiveness. When we know we have done something wrong and are asking to be forgiven. However, have you ever thought about what takes place in the spiritual realm when a simple prayer like that is uttered?

Let me assure you, it’s not as simple as you may think.

We are in this series talking about God’s faithfulness. He is constant and consistent in many different ways but specifically in the way that He fights for us. You will see in our reading today the promise that was made to the Israelites that God would never forsake them and would always fight for them. If you read just a little of the Israelites’ journey, you will know that they didn’t necessarily deserve to have such divine backup.

The truth is, neither do we. When we pray to God for the forgiveness of our sins. Immediately a battle takes place. Satan, the Accuser, immediately interjects and points out just why we shouldn’t be forgiven.

“Seriously?! Jake wants you to forgive him because of this thing that he said? We can all agree that this is the same guy who has done these things and thought these thoughts, right? If there’s anyone that doesn’t deserve forgiveness, it’s this dude.”

As soon as Satan utters his last word, Jesus agrees.

“Yeah, I know that Jake has said these things, thought these thoughts and done these things. I know that no matter how much I forgive him, he’s still going to sin. However, when I died on the cross I died to cover such sin. An injustice took place, I agree. However, I died for that, it’s paid for.”

Imagine the scene.

Talk about not deserving something.

Now, Romans 6 is very clear in talking about how we shouldn’t abuse grace or continuing to sin thinking that it’s okay because we will always be forgiven. However, we always have someone who will fight for us even when we don’t deserve it.

Jesus fights for you. How are you going to fight for others?

Who in your life needs to be fought for? Who do you need to forgive? Who is discouraged that needs to know someone’s in their corner?

I challenge you to take a moment to think of someone (or multiple people) who you are going to commit to fight for.

Who are we if we know Christ fights for us and don’t return to favor to other people?

Jake Lawson

April 6 – Jesse Tree – Joshua

Read Joshua 1:1-116:1-16,20-21a

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous…do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

God works in mysterious ways and this is one of those times.   Can you imagine what was going through the minds of the Hebrews when they first heard what the plan was for them to take down the walls of Jericho.  “We are supposed to do ….What?”

How about the conversations from inside the walls of the city?

Day 1….”Here they come…Get ready… What are they doing?… There they go! …What was that all about?”

Day 2 … “Here they come again….  Hey, George, you have gotta’ see this… There they go again…What is up with these crazy people?”

What about the conversations around the dinner table at night….”You wouldn’t believe what happened today!”

Day 3,4,5,6 the crowds would be getting bigger and bigger on the walls as their curiosity must have been getting the better of them.  Then, on that final day, there might have been everyone from the whole city standing on that wall.  Maybe they were even shouting down jeers and insults.

But the Hebrews, with the ark in front of them, did as they were commanded .  They marched around the city again and again in silence until they were told to shout!  Once again, God showed His people that He was with them and, with Him, all things, even ones that seem totally impossible, are possible.

March 3 – Do Not Fear – Where Our Fear Belongs

Read Joshua 6:1-21

Joshua and the Israelites had just crossed the raging Jordan River, at flood stage. So here they camped, poised and ready to conquer the Land of Promise in the name of the One Who had led them to right here. Almighty God.

Still, Joshua had a lot to fear. Jericho was a walled city. Fortified and strong. And Joshua had led the Israelites through exactly zero conquests. Yes, he had all kinds of need for unafraid if he was to lead them into the land God promised generations earlier.

The last time Joshua was mentioned in this story, he lay facedown in the presence of Holy God. (See Joshua 5:13-16.)  It was the perfect place to begin a conquest. The only place to find true unafraid.

If we study the book of Joshua, we find him keeping this stance straight through every battle. Poised at the feet of God Almighty. It was the Israelites’ and his only chance for real life. The kind with victory and vitality and abundance. His only shot at conquest, Joshua knew that there was no way to conquer the land of Canaan but by God’s hand.  His plan.  His way.

So Joshua took every ounce of fear he had, and he placed it in Almighty God. And when he did, he heard God’s objective in one fell swoop of a word.

See… (Joshua 6:2)

God called Joshua to keep his fear in Him alone. He challenged him to live unafraid based on what only God could see.

We are called to the same objective. When we take our fear and place it on the only One Who stands worthy, we can know every battle has already been won. Because we know God, and we trust what He sees.

When we take our fear-filled focus and filter it through faith in God, our unafraid rises, and we find all we need to actually live like He’s called us to.

Facing the everyday calling to share His truth. Trusting His hand when the phone rings with news we dread. Walking through the fear we’ve known for far too long.

Before one toe touched ground on that just-outside-Jericho dirt, Joshua had to see what God considered already done.

See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands . . . (Joshua 6:2)

By God’s standards, the battle was over.  Jericho had already fallen.  And Joshua had every reason to enter the battle completely unafraid.

Bria Wasson

March 1 – Do Not Fear – A Challenge to Live Unafraid

Read Joshua 1:1-9

I read somewhere that the words do not be afraid can be found 365 times in the Bible. That’s one for every day of the year. I actually read somewhere else that it’s 366 — so even Leap Year is covered.

I’ve been thinking about that, and I started wondering what might happen if I started to sort of put one on every morning when I get dressed. What if I took that truth and dressed my mind with it as routinely as I dress my body with my pants? Everyday.

What if every single morning after I get out of the shower, I read one of those do not be afraid’s and ask God to help me wear it well that day? What if every time I put it on, I think through the fabric with which it was made? The fabric of God’s absolute goodness, His Sovereign trustworthiness. And what if as I wear it all day, I consciously choose to pay special attention to that piece of clothing so that, no matter what, I will live? Unafraid.

I think that’s why God said it to Joshua so many times when he took the reigns of leadership over the Israelites. So he wouldn’t forget. So Joshua would wear well the truth of God’s Almighty I-will-never-leave-you grace that always takes care of him. So that he would do what God called him to do, even when the scary got really big.

Joshua had to wear it all the time if he was going to actually lead the Israelites into the land of God’s abundant promise. So should we. Because the life Jesus came to give us is a lot like that Promised Land. Full of His abundant blessings and promise and more life than we can imagine.

So, my friends, I offer up a challenge to you. For the next 14 days here, we’re going to look at what Life Unafraid might look like. What if for the next two weeks, we treat the do-not-be-afraid’s like actual pieces of clothing? And what if we start today. Right here with Joshua. Then tomorrow we’ll get another one and put it on. And we’ll keep on going until God grows our faith into an unshaken kind of unafraid such as cannot be thwarted by any scary. Ever.

Bria Wasson

November 28 – Life Verses – Joshua 1:8

Read Joshua 1:8

Remember the first time you ever jumped into the deep end of the pool? Maybe it took a whole summer of coaxing before you tried it.

You might not remember the exact day, but you might remember the feeling that combined mind-numbing fear with exhilaration.

I wonder if that’s what the Israelites felt as they stood on the brink of the Promised Land 3500 years ago. God had promised them a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8; Numbers 13:27). But the Israelites initially succumbed to fear because of a bad report given by scouts who had checked out the land.  Their focus was only on the opposition that might be encountered.

Now after 40 years of wandering in the desert because of their disobedience and lack of faith, the Israelites were back to that critical moment again. Would they “jump in the pool” and experience the blessings of the Promised Land or not?

At this crucial juncture, God spoke to Joshua the new leader of His people who had recently replaced Moses. The Lord urged His servant to be strong and courageous. Then God gave Joshua this challenge: “Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8 – NIV).

God was saying: “Joshua, this is your key to success in your new responsibility. Don’t succumb to fear. Don’t recoil when the opposition seems overwhelming. Lean all of your weight on the revealed Word of God. Focus on its truths. And I promise you will be successful.”

I love this verse! It has been my life verse. I have found no greater security in times of uncertainty, fear and confusion than the promises God has revealed in His Word.

Now there’s a three-step process to follow if we are going to benefit from the practice outlined in this verse:

  1. Memorize – We have to commit to memory the actual words in the text of Scripture.  This takes effort.
  2. Meditate – This word means to think about something over and over like a cow chews its cud.  This takes time.
  3. Master – Then we look for ways to apply the principles and promises of God‘s Word to the experiences we face in life.  This takes practice.

Only when I follow these guidelines, does God promise His blessing in my life. It’s a sure-fire formula for “success,” whatever you may encounter in life.   It’s worked in my life!

Bob Fetterhoff

July 16 – His story : Man’s rescue – Conquest

Read Joshua 1:1-2:24

She isn’t exactly the kind of person you would expect to play a key role in HIS story or in man’s rescue, but she certainly did!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Forty years had passed since yesterday’s reading. The Israelites had experienced many highs and lows. All those who had been over twenty years old had died in the wilderness wandering. Even Moses had only looked across the river to the Promised Land. He died without entering it. Joshua, Moses’ right hand man, was the new leader. He had been appointed by God and approved by His people. An overwhelming task stood before him. Under his leadership, they were to conquer those inhabiting the land God had promised His people. Like you and me in the challenges we face, he would need instruction from the word of God…and courage to do it. If he put together those two ingredients, God guaranteed success.

Like forty years before, spies were sent. But this time was different. Though the later spies also saw a fortressed city filled opponents, unlike the majority of their earlier counterparts, they returned with confident faith that God would allow them to conquer the opponent while delivering them safely. And this unlikely woman would play a key role. God used her…even though her past was tainted by the immoral vocation she had chosen. She protected the spies and refused to tell the city officials. As a result, God conquered the city while rescuing her and the Israelites. Hebrews 11:31 tells us that she responded in faith. Something caused her to turn from her past and trust God.

But God’s work through her did not stop after her deliverance from Jericho. Genealogies…yes, those less read portions of the Bible…indicate that she later married a man by the name of Salmon. Together, the two of them stand as important pillars in the lineage of Christ! That’s right, she was the great, great, great, great (not sure how many “greats” to include here)…grandma of Jesus! God used this woman with a questionable past to rescue the spies, the Israelite nation, and all who place personal faith in Christ.

Do you have a past that isn’t particularly stellar? All of us do.  God can use you too!

Steve Kern

December 21 – Behind the Christmas Card – Miscommunication

Read Joshua 22:1-34

As someone who loves the art of communication, I am often quite surprised by how much I apologize for miscommunicating. Honestly, it must happen on a weekly basis! You are almost guaranteed to hear me saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean it that way!” or “Oh shucks, that’s not what I meant to say!” or my personal favorite, “I think I created a misunderstanding here.” – aka- I really goofed this one up.

I am reminded of just last week when I was talking with a friend about potentially grabbing lunch later in the week, and then him texting me on Friday, asking where I was. Well… I was about three hours away at a conference! Therefore, the words I used in the moment had indicated something to him that I really did not intend to communicate.

After looking at our reading today, you can see miscommunication is not something new to the world. Even if you feel like you are the only one on earth who miscommunicates, rest assured, you are not. People have struggled with communication since the beginning of creation (lest we forget Adam and Eve?).

Today’s story is one big pile of miscommunication and misinterpretation. The heads of the clans of Israel were quick to judge the work of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Without even asking the group what their intentions were, they quickly jumped down their throats, rebuking them for idolizing false gods. Whereas, on the other hand, Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh might not have done the best job communicating to the heads of Israel what their true intentions were, leaving room for speculation and doubt.

I wonder if you take a look inside today, which of these two groups are you more like? Are you like the heads of the clans of Israel who were quick to judge without first trying to understand? Or are you more like  Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh who did not communicate their intentions and were possibly vague in their descriptions?

The fact of the matter is miscommunication happens all around us, and, because of our human nature, it is bound to happen even this holiday season. However, recognizing where our flaws might be enables us to minimize the impact of communicative transgressions, and, in many ways, helps us love people better. Your words matter and so do the intentions of your conversation. What better time to be thinking about how we communicate than right before the holidays! Spend some time in prayer this morning asking the Lord to help guide you to be a more loving communicator.

Taylor Bennington

December 7 – Covenantal Caution

Read Joshua 9:1-27

Not every covenant recorded in the Scriptures is one made by God or one sanctioned by God.  This one you just read in Joshua 9 between the Israelites and the Gibeonites is a good example.  The Israelites had been instructed by God to take possession of the land God had promised them.  In order to guard against the influence of pagan worship of the current inhabitants, God told descendants of Jacob to conquer, destroy, and drive out the pagan people.

And the Israelite victory over Jericho intimidated the residents.  Many of the people groups came together to join forces in hopes of defeating the people of God (vv. 1, 2).  But not the Gibeonites.  No, they had a different plan.  Pretending to be God-fearing people who had come from a great distance, they promised to serve the Israelites in exchange for being permitted to live.  They asked God’s people to make a covenant with them.

Their arm twisting worked.  Joshua and the people of God made a covenant with them.  The men of Israel took some of their possessions and let them live.  They had given their word and had obligated themselves with a covenantal agreement.

But it only took three days.  After three days, they learned that these men and women were their neighbors.  Joshua and the leaders had been deceived by their costumes, their script, and their acting.  Still, regretfully, they had made a covenant.  It was an agreement that would impact their dealings with them immediately and for generations to come.

All of that disappointment could have been avoided.  Verse 14 gives us the key:  “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.”  They did not go to God asking, “What do You think?”  They failed to seek His will but followed their own inclinations.  They did not follow the instruction that James would later make clear in James 1:5, 6:  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

Seek God before you make a commitment!

sbk

November 4 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Joshua

Read Joshua 10:1-15

“Where were you when the sun stood still?”

Can you imagine being there on the day that such a prayer was answered?

When reading Joshua 10:1-15, it might be easy to process these verses as if it was just a story, not a historical, real-life event. Read it once more, if you need to, and really picture it as fact, not fiction! There really was a battle. There really was a prayer that “Joshua spoke to the LORD in the presence of Israel. (v. 12) ” The sun really did stand still… “stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed its setting almost a full day.” (v. 13) Can you imagine?

Even in our own lives there have been events that will perhaps be told in history books. And, when we tell our children about these times, we will tell them of these real-life events… how it impacted us and the people around us. We will speak of how God showed up during these moments. And, WOW, how God truly did show up as the Israelites battled FIVE Amorite kings!

Did you catch verse 14?

“There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord listened to the voice of a man, because the Lord fought for Israel.”

BECAUSE the Lord fought for Israel. Notice the points in the story where it speaks of how the Lord fought for Israel. How powerful is our God! And, keep in mind. that this “peace agreement” between Israel and Gibeon, mentioned in verse 1, was not even an agreement that God had wanted the Israelites to make. How gracious is our God! Yet, let us also keep in mind that Joshua prayed this prayer in the context of having obeyed God by going into battle in the first place, as we see in verse 8. It was God who fought for the Israelites.

And so it is with us. Though our enemy, the devil, may rally against us, it is in the strength of the LORD that we stand! (Ephesians 6:10) It is on His name we call! Today, remember the strength of the Lord. How can you ask Him to fight for you today?

Beth Starkey

21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE

For the full challenge, go here!

Day 15: Pray for our friends

Read Proverbs 27:5-6 and John 15:12-15. Jesus tells us to love our friends as He has loved us. The most loving thing we can do when we’re worried about friends is to pray for them. Send an encouraging message to someone you prayed for and let them know they’re in your prayers!