April 4

April 4.

Joshua & the Commander — The commander of the Lord appears, & Jesus is worthy of worship.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Joshua 5

Reading 2: Exodus 23:20-23

Reading 3: Revelation 22:8-9

Breakthrough leads to worship and purity, frightens the enemy, and invites God’s presence. After the breakthrough of the Jordan crossing, Joshua and the Israelites start preparing to worship God by observing the Passover, and to do so they have to circumcise all the men who have grown up in the wilderness years without being circumcised. (There is some disagreement among scholars about the correct translation of that verse – whether it means none of the men were circumcised, which seems highly unlikely, or whether it means that all of the men who were previously uncircumcised were now circumcised). Either meaning would bring an increase of ceremonial purity to the nation, and that came as a result of the miraculous crossing of the Jordan. In the same way, breakthroughs in our lives can lead us to seasons where purity and holiness are more prominent in our experience.

The enemies in the cities of the land quickly hear about God’s miraculous presence with the Israelites, and they are filled with fear. But the Israelites do not fall prey to presumption on this occasion, perhaps because they are delayed by the healing process after the purification. And the Angel of the Lord, whom God had promised would accompany them on the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, appears to Joshua in human form. Joshua (good commander that he is) thinks in military terms: “friend or foe?” but receives the reply “Neither” because God’s army is commanded at God’s instruction and for God’s purposes. Whether His warriors are friend or foe depends on our perspective on God’s instructions. If we put God first, His instructions are welcome and His armies are friendly. If we choose the opposite path, putting our own agenda before God’s, we might just find we have made a new enemy!

Living as a friend of God today, you will find that He has already provided all you need, just as He did for Israel as soon as they set foot in the Land.

Have a great day!

Mark.

April 2

April 2.

Joshua & Crossing the Jordan — Joshua’s miracle & the memorial stones.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Joshua 3

Reading 2: Joshua 4

Reading 3: Psalm 114

Yesterday we studied the faith of Rahab, expressed in obedience to God’s plans. Today we see Joshua demonstrating great faith by following the instructions of God to bring the nation of Israel into the Promised Land across the River Jordan.

Imagine the Mississippi River in spring, flooding the lands all around, and there are no bridges or ferries to cross. Instead the priests carrying the Ark of God’s Covenant walk up to the floods and as soon as their feet get wet, the water stops flowing upstream, and the remaining water flows away to the Dead Sea, leaving dry land for them to cross.

The people are amazed at the way their new leader continues in the same anointing and authority as Moses. They are delighted to follow him because they see the fruit of his obedience in the supernatural acts of God.

By honoring God’s presence (symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant) Joshua led the nation into a season of supernatural breakthrough. The episode was a reminder, and a reflection, of the Exodus, when God brought them out of slavery through the Red Sea. Now a second miracle takes them from the wilderness into the Promised Land. There is a fight ahead, but God is with them.

And if you are facing a battle in the near future, remember that God is with you too. Obedience releases miracles.

Have a great day!

Mark.

April 1

April 1.

Rahab & the Spies — Rahab’s faith at work & inclusion in the genealogy of Christ.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Joshua 2

Reading 2: James 2:25-26

Reading 3: Matthew 1:1-5

Faith is an action word – it is not just an attitude but a step of obedience along the path of destiny. Rahab was living in the land God had given to Israel, but unlike the other inhabitants (who were under God’s judgment) she feared God and wanted to cooperate with God’s plans. She hid the spies, lied to the King, and asked for her family to be saved when the city fell to the Israelite invasion.

It was a case of actions showing character: James tells us that this showed Rahab was right with God. And God clearly agreed, because we later find that she is the mother of Boaz (who we will meet later through his part in the story of Ruth) and is thus named in the genealogy of Jesus!

Has God ever asked you to obey Him in a way which sets you apart from those around you? To obey God is the highest form of submission to authority, and the consequences can be literally life-changing.

Today, let’s thank Him for the life we now enjoy because Rahab put her faith into action, and trust Him to help us do the same when He asks us.

Have a great day!

Mark.

March 31

March 31.

Joshua & His Charge — Being strong & courageous to keep the Word.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Joshua 1

Reading 2: Deuteronomy 5:28-33

Reading 3: Psalm 27

It is a hard act to follow when your mentor is the most humble man in the world, the finest prophet ever, and the one who led the nation out of slavery. But Joshua is commanded by God to be strong and courageous, and the promise is “I will be with you wherever you go.”

With that kind of backing, Joshua is prepared to lead his people to victory. He surely recalled the promise from Deuteronomy 5: “Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.”

We, too, are called by God to follow closely, obey His voice, be strong and courageous, and fulfill our destiny in Him. Just as David reflected in Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid?” and “I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the LordBe brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”

Let’s say “yes” to our callings today, and move forward, with Joshua, to obediently follow God!

Have a great day!

Mark.

March 30

March 30.

Moses’ Death — Moses’ death, his dead body, & discussion with Jesus about the cross.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Deuteronomy 34

Reading 2: Luke 9:27-36

Reading 3: Jude 9

So we reach the end of the book of Deuteronomy, and with it the end of the life of Moses. This completes the five books of Moses in the Old Testament (called the Pentateuch).

Moses was still fit at 120 years old; the greatest prophet ever, who saw God face to face and faithfully passed on God’s instructions to the people.

When Moses died, God buried him, and no-one is sure where the grave site is. In similar manner, Jesus has no grave site, and it may have been this similarity that He discussed with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration in Luke 9. Just as Moses was whisked away by God, so Jesus was suddenly removed after His death and resurrection.

This unique characteristic of both sets them apart from their peers, and underscores the authority and power of God to direct our lives as He wishes. Michael the archangel also respects that authority in his battle with satan, saying “The Lord rebuke you” rather than attacking in his own might. We do well to follow His example and trust God to direct our lives as He sees fit. It is as though God was speaking to each of us, as well as to the disciples, when He said “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.”

Have a great day, listening and obeying!

Mark.

March 29

March 29.

Joshua’s Calling — God calls Joshua to lead & promises to never leave him.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Deuteronomy 31

Reading 2: Deuteronomy 32

Reading 3: Hebrews 13:5-6

At the end of Moses’ life, he hands the leadership of Israel to Joshua, as instructed by God. He does not argue with God’s decision that he (like Aaron) will not see the Promised Land because they disobeyed God at Meribah when Moses struck the rock rather than speaking to it as God had commanded.

Instead we see Moses faithfully completing his course and handing on leadership to the man he had trained for many years.

Joshua’s call was not Moses’ call. Moses was the one who led God’s people out of slavery, Joshua would be the one to lead them into their inheritance.

Yet there is also plenty of honesty in Moses’ description of the future – that Israel will continue to rebel against God in many ways. Joshua is going to rely on God’s promise that He will be present and guide Joshua’s leadership. He is taking on the leadership of a rebellious people (just like us)!

There is always hope in God’s promises. If God would inspire Moses to write a song full of honesty about the rebellion of God’s chosen people, and promise Joshua that he would lead them into the Promised Land, then there is hope too for all us rebellious followers of Jesus – God has plans for us too!

Have a great day!

Mark.

March 28

March 28.

The Story of their Rebellions — Reviewing Israel’s rebellions & God’s redemption.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Deuteronomy 9

Reading 2: Deuteronomy 10

Reading 3: Psalm 78:40-59

We know how rebellious we are – it is always easier to go away from God than toward Him, and when we read the accounts of Israel’s rebellions we do well to remind ourselves that there, but for the grace of God, we go too!

Moses (and Asaph in Psalm 78) document the repeated departures of God’s people from God’s instructions. They are many, frequent, and catastrophic, yet God continues to faithfully reach out to them and seek to lead them in His ways.

God’s redemption (at Easter) demonstrates His faithfulness, just as our rebellions demonstrate our sinfulness. Thank God that now there is a way to overcome sin, through Jesus, and we (who deserve to be dead for our sins) are now alive in Him.

Have a great day!

Mark.

March 26

March 26.

How to Raise Children — Parents should obey the Word & teach the Word.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Deuteronomy 6:6-25

Reading 2: Deuteronomy 11

Reading 3: 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Today we see the connection between God’s Word and our relationship with Him. He is like a parent, who gives His Word to help his children obey Him, and live according to His values and priorities. In this way they are kept safe from the perils of sin and disobedience.

Those of us who are parents are to do the same – obey God’s Word ourselves and teach our children to follow His instruction. There are blessings ahead of us if we do so, and droughts if we do not. The same is true for our children. In this way God can ensure continuity of blessing through the generations. He described Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (in other words the God of each successive generation). God’s Word is the means by which blessing flows from generation to generation. And it is the responsibility of each successive generation to keep the instructions given and to pass them on to their children.

Already Moses is speaking to Israelites who have not seen the mighty things God did from the Exodus to the Promised Land; those who do remember have a duty to pass on the record of God’s faithfulness and power to those who come after them. Then those descendants will likewise follow God.

Every one of us is a child to someone, so God’s instruction applies to us – read the Word and remember His goodness. And for those of us still raising children, we are to teach them to do the same. Many of us have done this, and now our children are adults. It is tempting to fret over whether they are following God’s instructions, but that is to step into their boundaries. The most effective way to ensure our children follow God is to follow Him wholeheartedly ourselves (and to tell our children of His faithfulness as we do)!

Have a great day!

Mark.

March 25

March 25.

The Shema & the First Commandment — God is one, love God, & keep God’s commandments.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Deuteronomy 6:1-5

Reading 2: Mark 12:28-34

Reading 3: John 14:21-24

Moses continues his summary of the teaching God has given Israel through him, and today we see the foundational statement of the Jewish faith – the Shema.

“Shema Israel, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echad.”

Literally: “Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”

Interestingly, the word echad means unity in diversity, leaving room for “three in one” as revealed by Jesus on several occasions in the gospels. There is a different word for “uniquely singular” in Hebrew – yachid.

You can read more at this website.

At the Last Supper, Jesus refers to His Father and to the Holy Spirit when He tells His disciples that love is the foundational principle of the Godhead, and of relationship with God. And love is expressed in action – lived out in obedience – just as Moses said when he compiled the teaching God had revealed to him to guide the Israelite nation.

As you love God with all your heart, you will find yourself obeying Him more fully and more freely. May that be so today.

Have a great day!

Mark.

March 24

March 24.

The Story of their Wandering — Reviewing Israel’s history & the Word of God.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Deuteronomy 1

Reading 2: Deuteronomy 2

Reading 3: Deuteronomy 4:1-14

Today’s reading draws together many of the stories we have studied in recent weeks. It is Moses’ summary of the journey from Exodus to Promised Land. It makes encouraging reading if you trace the journey of obedience, and sobering reading if you follow the results of disobedience!

Notice how Moses leads, giving absolute priority to God’s instruction, gathering the wisdom and teaching God has given and presenting it to the people. They have a choice – to embrace the wisdom of God or to follow their own instincts. Remember sin will always lead us away from God, but God created us to be drawn TO Him.

Today’s reading is also an opportunity to reiterate that God is a loving God. Although there is much violence and judgment in the history of Israel to date, it is in response to sin, and for the purpose of rooting it out. Just as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery are violent and harmful, yet can be life-giving to those fighting cancer.

God is a covenant God – choosing to bless, and longing for those who will love Him and enter into relationship with Him. Let’s be those people today!

Have a great day!

Mark.