Friday, July 13, 2012

I'm afraid of when I forget to talk with God.

Do you remember playing tag when you were little? There was always a home base. We would run, laugh, and scream until we needed a break and then we would touch base. This meant you were safe. So often we only touch base with God when things are going badly, when we need that break. Joshua reminded me we also need to do so when things are going good.

Joshua was a human just like the rest of us. He was thoroughly devoted to God and wanted to do a good job at leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. He had been prepared for this, and God had ordained him for the job. I can imagine the thrill of Jericho's defeat.

There have been times in my life I tasted victory. I have known a job done well. I have no doubt I will experience this again, for life is full of these moments. I also know there have been times I fell on my face right after such an uplifting time. While I cannot recall every moment to know for certain, I have to wonder if I didn't make the same mistake that Joshua did. On my victory high I kept moving forward without touching base with God.

It’s an easy mistake to make. We assume if something were wrong we would be alerted to it. Unfortunately life does not come with neon signs pointing out what needs to be fixed. We need to be in constant contact with God in order to know when something is hidden which needs to be taken care of.

I’ve also made the mistake of assuming what a circumstance means. Joshua did not do this. When they were first defeated at Ai he went to God to understand what was going on. How often have you faced defeat and assumed you were going the wrong direction? I admit I have changed my course of direction because I assumed God was trying to lead me with circumstances. What if I had been in better contact with Him and learned that something else needed to be taken care of before I would get victory? I lost opportunities because of my assumptions and lack of connection with God.

Whenever we played tag there always seemed to be at least one child who was never but a stone’s throw away from base. When I was “it” this child would always aggravate me. How would I ever tag him if he didn’t move further from the area he was safe? Now I believe he was much smarter than I was. If I am in constant contact with God, in good and bad situations, His direction will help keep me safe and directed correctly.

May we never be more than a stone’s throw away from our home base.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The fear after not consulting with God.

Joshua 8:1-2
Then the LORD said to Joshua,
“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai.
For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.
You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king,
except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves.
Set an ambush behind the city.”
 
Ai was the second city Joshua sent spies to within the Promised Land. After he sent the spies he followed their suggestion and lost in defeat. I don’t have to imagine Joshua’s confusion for it is {recorded within Joshua 7}. Joshua was so sure that everyone did as they were told at Jericho he forgot God said destruction would come on Israel if they didn’t.

Achen had taken some items which were meant to be handed over to God or destroyed. Joshua had to step up to his role of leadership and deal with Achen and his family as God decided. Once done God told Joshua not to be afraid. He told Joshua to attack Ai again, but this time God would go with them.

Many historians and commentaries point to Achen as the one who caused the downfall in this situation. While I do believe he brought the defeat with his rebellion, as God said would happen, I have to wonder what would have happened had Joshua consulted with God prior to attacking Ai the first time. I can imagine being on the high that comes with victory, and wanting to keep moving forward. The desire to keep winning would have been great. To do so without taking stock is assuming much.

Question 1: Have you ever been halted in your course of action in a way that you felt was defeating? Did it cause you to quit or to consult with God? No matter what we think we should do, quit or go on, we need to always remember to keep in contact with God on a regular basis. We never know when He is going to give us a course correction. Has it been too long since you touched base with God on your plans?

Question 2: Achen’s rebellion caused defeat for the entire nation of Israel. Are you aware how widespread the consequences of rebellion can be? It causes ripples that have to be dealt with. Do you have seeds of rebellion against God that you have allowed to grow for too long? Is it time to pull them out and remove them?


Dear Almighty God
The path you have set out for me is the one I desire
I want to be aware of course corrections before harm comes
Help me clear out the rebellion within my life
Help me stay close to you
I want only You hidden in my heart


Monday, July 9, 2012

Joshua's Fear

Joshua’s backstory to 8:1 is found in chapters 6-7. They have just crossed into the Promised Land, but that doesn’t mean all the lessons have been learned. After a defeat at Ai, Joshua had to chase rebellion out of the nation of Israel, and is now consulting with God.



Joshua contemplated everything which had occurred. Would the nation of Israel be allowed to move forward at this point, or were there more consequences which needed to be experienced? “Oh Lord, I didn’t ask your plan last time. We were defeated by Ai, and now the rest of the Canaanites think we are weak. They don’t see how we are led by you, because I didn’t follow.” Joshua knew in his heart the defeat wouldn’t have happened if he simply hadn’t assumed all was well. “ Where should we go from here? Can we move at all?”

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Joshua felt his heart skip a beat. Had he been putting his trust in himself because of the win at Jericho? He didn’t realize it, but maybe such was the case. Now he knew the only way to move forward was to follow the Lord Almighty.

“Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands, the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.”

Joshua remembered what the spies had said, how there were so few men and it wouldn’t take many to defeat Ai. He also remembered the 36 men they lost, and knew he needed to follow God’s word as he did in Jericho.

“You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves.”

Joshua thought of Achen immediately. If Achen had just waited. If he had followed the Lord’s command at Jericho then he and his family would have been able to reap the rewards in Ai. Joshua was sad to lose a family but understood God must be followed, just as they had followed the ark around Jericho. “Is that how we should treat Ai as well, then, Lord?”

“Set an ambush behind the city.”

Joshua got up and prepared his men for the attack God was planning on Ai.


Joshua 8:1

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.  You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”(NIV)  
God said to Joshua, "Don't be timid and don't so much as hesitate. Take all your soldiers with you and go back to Ai. I have turned the king of Ai over to you—his people, his city, and his land. "Do to Ai and its king what you did to Jericho and its king. Only this time you may plunder its stuff and cattle to your heart's content. Set an ambush behind the city." (The Message)  
And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.” (ESV)  
And Jehovah said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land; And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: set thee an ambush for the city behind it. (ASV)
Joshua 6-7 Backstory 

Believer's Bible Commentary:: The people didn't pray before going against Ai, nor did the Lord command them to go originally. Victory in the Christian life is not the absence of conflict but the presence of God in the midst of conflict.