Work For It

Today’s Passage – Joshua 16-18; Proverbs 17

(Second Milers also read – Titus 1 – 3; Philemon; memorize 1 John 5:7)

“And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.” – (Joshua 17:15)

In Joshua chapter seventeen, we see the land of Israel being divided up among the twelve tribes. The two half tribes that belonged to the sons of Joseph were a little concerned because they felt that they needed more land than what was given to them. They reasoned that because they were a “great people”, one portion of land would not be sufficient for them. The leader of Israel, Joshua, basically tells them that there is plenty more land available, but they would have to work a little to get it. The land he offered them was very mountainous and wooded, and needed to be cleared; and it also contained some pretty heavily armed Canaanites that also needed to be removed. I think the tribe of Joseph really wanted to just move right into a place where they would not have to put forth too much effort.

I think there is a great lesson to be learned here for us today. We often have desires for great things in life, but we usually are reluctant to work for those things. I know a man who today is very wealthy. He and his family enjoy many material possessions, and are very well off. However, those things did not come easy to him. He worked very hard over the course of many years to accumulate the wealth that he enjoys today. In fact, I knew this man when he was a boy in school. He studied hard, and applied himself. He continued to work hard through college; and when he received his first employment opportunity, he applied himself diligently there as well. Nobody handed his wealth to him. He had to work for it. He is envied by many people today who want what he has, but most of those people would not want to pay the price that he paid in time and sweat in order to achieve what he has.

As Christians, we need to get away from this entitlement mentality that everything is owed to us. There are plenty of opportunities out there for us to take advantage of, but few of them will come without a sacrifice on our part. We can see this lazy attitude in the ministry today. Some preachers right out of Bible college want a large ministry handed to them. They look for the perfect opportunity. Yet, there are millions of people out there who need a preacher. I remember when I came to Jersey Shore. There was no parsonage. There was no salary. We did have a beautiful little building, and a good group of people gathered together, but there were few perks that would attract the average preacher today. I was just thrilled that somebody wanted me to be their preacher. The church has grown some since then. By God’s grace we have been able to add on to our building, purchase more land, and add new ministries. But it took work. We had to cut down the woods, and drive out some Canaanites. It wasn’t easy, but God has blessed us all through the process.

Don’t expect all of the good things in life to be handed to you. Our God is a wonderful, gracious, and very giving God; but aside from our salvation, He often doesn’t hand us things on a silver platter. What He does do, however, is offer us opportunities to fight and work for things. You want something more in life. Go get it. Work for it.

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Give Me This Mountain

Todays Passage – Joshua 13-15; Proverbs 16

(Second Milers also read 2 Timothy 1 – 4; memorize 1 John 5:7)

“Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.” – (Joshua 14:12)

One of my favorite men in the Bible is Caleb. He had an unshakable and an unwavering faith in the Lord. He wholly followed the Lord his God, and there was no obstacle that was too large, and no enemy that was too powerful, to keep Caleb from fulfilling God’s will for his life. You will remember that when the spies were sent in to check out the land of Canaan there were only two of them that came back with a positive report; only two that knew that God was much bigger than and giant Canaanite. One of those two men was Caleb. Ten of those spies came back and said, “It can’t be done; it’s too hard; we’re not ready yet. Not Caleb. He and Joshua were ready for a fight:

“And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.” – (Numbers 14:6-9)

In our passage today, it is now forty-five years after the spies came back, and Caleb is an old man; yet, he still has a lot of fight left in him. He is not thinking about retirement. He is still looking to conquer more giants for the Lord. We need more Calebs in the church today! Men and women who trust the Lord wholly to do “greater works than these”. We need people who are willing to fight for what is right; people who still see areas that need to be conquered for the Lord.

What does God want you to conquer for Him? What giant obstacle is in your path that God is waiting for you to trust Him to remove in His power? What neighborhood, or city remains unreached with the gospel? What are you afraid of. I know it’s not going to be easy. I know that there are giants trying to stop you, but your God is greater than any Giant. Trust Him and take the mountain!

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Redeeming the Time

Today’s Passage – Joshua 10-12; Proverbs 14

(Second Milers also read – 1 Timothy 1 – 6; memorize 1 John 5:7)

“And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.” – (Joshua 10:13-14)

In Joshua 10 – 12 we have the nation of Israel now inside of the Promised Land, and they are in the process of ridding the land of all of the unwanted tennants. After the Battles of Jerich and Ai; and after the treaty made with the people of Gideon, it became clear to the people of Canaan that Israel was a powerful force and a threat that needed to be taken seriously. The kings of the land joined forces together to fight against Israel. They probably should have just moved out of the area, but instead they come out together to do battle. God, however, is once again with Israel and he defeats these kingdoms easily; but as these people are retreating, Joshua is afraid that the sun would go down before he got to all of them, so he asks the Lord to stop the earth’s rotation; and the sun and moon stand still until all of the enemies are defeated. The Bible says that there has never been a day like this before or since.

Have you ever wished that God would stop time for you? I know there have been many times when I was in school that I have wished that God would speed time up. However, except for this one time in the history of the world, God keeps time clicking away very steadily. The seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, and millennia just seem to fly on by. And the funny thing about time is that once it is gone, you cannot get it back. As I write this devotion I am 47 years old. It seems like yesterday when I was just starting out with my wife and family. It seems like just a few days has gone by since God brought us to Galloway, NJ to be the pastor of Jersey Shore. Where does the time go? I had all kinds of dreams and visions about what I wanted to do, about where I wanted to be by now; but many of those things never came to pass. There is so much more that I would like to do before I die.

There is one thing that we can learn from this passage of Scripture. It is that time is very precious. It is probably the most valuable thing that we possess, and we really don’t know how much of it we really have. We need to make the most of the time that we have left on this earth. What do you have left to finish in your life. What battles are you in the middle of fighting for the Lord. Get busy! The sun is beginning to set on many of us.

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” – (Ephesians 5:16)

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” – (Colossians 4:5)

This evening, sometime around 6 PM, take a look outside, and you will see the dusky colors of a setting sun. Night will be right behind it, and soon the day will be over. This is a miniature picture of our lives. Soon, the sun will also set on our lives, and time will be up. What will you leave undone of your goals and dreams? More importantly, what will you have left unfinished of what God has called you to do?

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Moldy Bread, Broken Bottles, and Old Shoes

Today’s Reading Joshua 8, 9; Proverbs 14

(Second Milers also read – 2 Thessalonians 1 – 3; memorize 1 John 5:7)

“And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.” – (Joshua 9:14)

In Joshua chapter nine, we see the children of Israel after their second successful battle in the land of Canaan. They had just destroyed the cities of Jericho and Ai, and they were on their way to conquer all of the other cities of Canaan that were in their path. The inhabitants of the land realized that this new nation coming in could not be beaten in battle, so they resorted to trickery in order to save themselves. The Gibeonites that inhabited four cities nearby that would have soon been destroyed came to the Joshua and the princes of Israel and pretended to be from a very far country, presumably outside of the land of Canaan. They even brought props with them in order to convince the Israelites that what they were saying was true. They brought with them mouldy bread, old and worn out shoes, and broken wine bottles; all designed to convince the Israelites that had travelled from far away. They were very deceptive, yet very convincing. They desired that Israel would make a covenant of peace with them, and Israel does. Without consulting the Lord, Israel takes the victuals that these people offer them, and promise them that they will not be destroyed.

The part about this story that I have the toughest time with is that even though the people of Israel were deceived, God still expected them to honor their covenant with these Gibeonites. It would seem to me that because the Gibeonites had not been truthful about where they came from, God would not expect His people to live up to their end of the bargain. I have struggled with this passage of Scripture for years, but I think I have it figured out now. You see, the people did not consult God before they entered into this covenant. Had they talked to God about it, He would have told them not to believe the Gibeonites. As a result, Israel makes a tragic mistake, and God is going to make them live with their choice.

By the way, this is the second time that the Joshua Administration has acted without consulting God first. Remember when they went into the city of Ai the first time? They were defeated. Why? Because Achan stole the accursed thing back in the battle of Jericho. Again, it almost looked as if God was punishing the whole nation unfairly for the act of one man, which nobody else in Israel even knew about. But God knew, and God would have told Joshua, too, had Joshua only prayed before going into the battle with Ai. It seems that God’s people have this bad habit of praying after tragedy strikes, rather than doing a little preventive praying. Have you prayed today? What decisions are you about to make without a consultation with God; or perhaps at least a look into God’s principles found in His Word? What actions are you about to take? You had better take them to God first. You just may be on the verge of making a tragic mistake. God knows, and He can help you prevent it, but He wants you to come to Him first.

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