Saturday, June 27, 2015

Joshua 18 - Delegating Responsibility

Joshua demonstrates his powerful leadership in the way he delegates the responsibility to accomplish the task of dividing the land. There are some principles I think we can apply to our own situations. 

There are also applications beyond leadership into estate planning. Often family divisions can arise when it comes to dividing inheritance.  Many hurt feelings could be avoided with proper planning and communication. 

1. Appoint 3 men from every tribe (v. 4):  Joshua wanted to be sure there was no bias in the division, that every tribe had an opportunity to be a part of the decision. Each tribe also appointed their representative. Joshua didn't merely select those who thought like himself. A good leader is fair and unbiased. 

2. Survey boundaries and write a description (v. 4): Joshua gave clear expectations about what the men were to do. He communicated his end desire so that the men knew how to perform those task. A good leader communicates clear expectations. 

3.  Divide the land into seven parts (v. 5): with the representatives of each tribe assuring fairness, they were to divide the land into seven parts. Some tribes had already received a portion, but after the uproar among the tribes of Joseph in the prior chapter there should be nothing left to chance and no cause for grumbling. A good leader seeks out independent and objective support. 

4.  The Levites do not get a portion (v. 7):  as important as positive expectations are, cautions are also important. Not only do the men establish boundaries, but each tribe has a clear expectation for the distribution. Joshua reminds the people that the Lord established the prohibition of the Levites inheriting the land. The Levites have a special inheritance. A good leader reminds those governed of established mandates and prior obligations. 

Whether we are leading a group of individuals or planning for the distribution of our own property there are good principles we can take from this chapter. Putting good practices in place to keep wealth from becoming a point of division and to assure that all have their voices heard and are fairly treated. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Joshua 17 - Self-inflicted Problems

There is a lot of meat to this chapter so I hope you will read it for yourself. There we find the daughters of Zelophehad who were promised inheritance in Numbers 27 now come for its distribution. I considered making commentary on the worth of women promoted in scripture, but there is a topic addressed in this chapter that I have not seen in my study thus far so I want to take time to review. What happens when we are the source of our own distress?  What is our Christian response to those who create their own chaos and look to someone else for support?  

The chapter begins with the boundaries of the territory for Manasseh (1/2 tribe son of Joseph). In chapter 16 we learned that Manasseh did not evict the Canaanites in their land, but allowed them to remain. Now in chapter 17:12 we learn that the people of Manasseh were not able to occupy the land given them because the Canaanites were still in the land. While the Israelites were stronger and able to drive out the people, they chose to allow them to remain. 

Rather than solving the problem for themselves and being contented with their allotment, instead they approached Joshua and wanted to know why they only had one allotment between the tribes of ephrial and Manasseh. They had grown and become numerous. 

Just to show how God was on their side of the argument they referenced how much God has blessed them in growing their numbers. Josh 17:14. Joshua surely wouldn't turn them down seeing that God had demonstrated his favor. So it is with discontentment and greed. Often the person makes excuses and brings extenuating circumstances into their arguments suggesting that they deserve more because of these "special" conditions. 

Joshua suggests that if their allotment is too small, they should look to the forest land of the Perizzites and Rephites and clear some of their land and defend it. The people of Joseph also contended that the Canaanites in the land they were given were strong and kept them from taking the land. 

In reality, these tribes didn't want to do the hard work of defending their lands and as a result allowed the pagans of the land to continue living there.  They didn't want to engage in the work and conflict that might result.  Joshua was not dissuaded with their arguments, he restated that they could take additional land and encouraged th to drive out the people from the lands they were given. 

I have compassion for those who suffer with not having the basics of life. We all need a place to rest and food to sustain us. The Bible instructs us to be generous to the poor. We should also be discerning when it comes to people who are able but not willing to work or people who have perpetual chaos in their lives requiring intervention from the kind hearted who are not willing to address the root of their problems. They live in need but refuse to do what they can to mitigate their circumstances. Far too many people live beyond the means they are given and find themselves overwhelmed with debt and financially stressed. Our bankruptcy rates are an indication of those who look to external solutions when their choices result in discomfort. Not all bankruptcies and financial stress is self inflicted, but there is enough that we should take notice. 

We also need to guard our own hearts against the greed that lives within us. Though saved and living with the Holy Spirit given to us. we also have the old sin nature that battles for control and looks for us to give in to our old ways and old habits. Our greed tells us that our circumstances are not good enough and that we deserve more than we are currently receiving. The truth is that our circumstances come filtered through the hand of God and are used to help us address our sin nature and to live in fellowship with the Spirit He placed within us. When we give in to our bitterness, greed and discontentment we grieve the Spirit and find ourselves out of fellowship because we cannot embrace sin and find harmony with our Lord. 

Joshua issued a wake up call to his fellow Israelites and in love we should help others who are struggling with discontentment and actively carve it out of it own lives and guard against this wicked thoughts that show our dissatisfaction with God's good provision in our lives. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him

Friday, June 19, 2015

Joshua 16 - Temptation to Compromise

In this chapter, the half tribe of Ephraim receives its allotment of the promised land. The very last verse however shows that they were not willing to obey God when He commanded them to destroy the people of the land. They didn't even drive them away. They allowed the Cannaanites to remain in the land contrary to God's command. God saw fit to include this compromise in scripture. 

This compromise might be overlooked because God did not immediately address the failure of his people. But make no mistake, those compromises are not overlooked and the betrayal to their Lord is indeed sin. Consider the lasting consequences of living side by side with this heathen nation. As much as they might have wanted to avoid the influence of their culture, it was within their land. Even more temptation to compromise occurs when we align ourselves too closely with those who have rejected God and live for other gods  or for their own pleasures. 

Little compromises confront us every day. Will I choose to connect to my Lord in prayer as I begin my day, or will I excuse myself from devotions because of the busyness of life. Will I put off the right thing in favor of the easy thing?  Will I stand for faith when the stand is not popular?  Will I spend my time growing my knowledge of and faith in the Lord or will I wile away hours in entertainment or leisure?

Oh how many times I have taken the easy way and not stood up for right. As I look back on my own life I see the little compromises the times I had an opportunity to be bold in my faith but chose to go the way of the world or quietly keep my faith hidden from the souls around me who were perishing for lack of knowledge. I really identify with this chapter because I see that I have the same temptations to compromise my faith. 

If my compromises were written for the world to see, no one would ever listen to my witness. No one would ever look at me with respect again. In fact, I believe if your compromises were exposed, you might be in the same state. The truth is that God knows each failure. Each sin is fully known by God the only one worthy to judge. 

The compromises are sin in my life and they must be confessed before God. I must agree with God about that my conduct does not agree with His standard. I must agree with God that this is sin and must turn from the continued compromise and trust in His offer of forgiveness even though I know I am completely unworthy. No other offer is so one sided, so loving and so compassionate toward the sinner as that offer of forgiveness that Jesus made possible. 

Our responsibility is to agree with God that we have sinned, commit with Gods help to turn from future acts of compromise and accept the forgiveness Jesus offers and walk in the righteous covering he gives to his people. We all have sinned and fall end short of Gods holy standard. Our failure might have lasting consequences but God's mercies are new every morning and we can find peace with agog if we will trust in His offer of grace. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Joshua 15 - A Woman Honored

This chapter is unique in that right in the middle of land distribution to the tribe of Judah we have a story of Caleb and his daughter sandwiched in (Josh 15:14-19). Caleb you remember was one of the spies who went into the promised land and saw the potential for the nation of Israel and believed that God is more than powerful enough to overcome the mighty warriors of the land. Joshua then gives him the territory of Hebron. In conquering the territory Caleb issues a challenge to anyone who will conquer Kiriath Sebir - his daughter's hand in marriage. Caleb's daughter would be given in marriage to the man who would risk his life for her and would do battle for her. Caleb wanted a man of valor for his daughter. Caleb must have loved his daughter very much. Because after she is given in marriage, she boldly asks for springs of water and Caleb grants her request. 

Likewise we have been betrothed to our Lord Jesus, the one valiant perfect man who gave himself totally for the bride. He paid the price of our sin and overcame death so that we could be together forever with him and enjoy His rich inheritance. Our life is bonded to our Savior, the valiant one who loves us so that he would come and redeem is for Himself. 

Not only that, but the Father who arranged this marriage continues to hear the prayers of his children and grants their petitions according to His vast riches. We are doubly loved as was Acsah, Calebs daughter. Both Father and our Betrothed love us so that they continually provide for our needs. We can trust them and have no fear of asking for the things we desire. 

Our one common need is for love and we are loved with an everlasting love. It is vast and sees directly into our hearts and knows our deepest longings. We can trust the Father and the Son for the good things. When we arrive at our conquered abode, we will find that it has all we could ever hope for. Our home is not here but with our Lord and it has been being built for over 2000 years. Can you imagine what He has in store for us?  The inheritance that awaits us is so much more than we could ever hope for here. keep your gaze Heavenward and place your life in the Lord's capable hands. 

May God richly bless you as you seek H and as you serve Him.