Thursday, March 31, 2011

Joshua 5

Okay, so this is an interesting chapter, especially for a girl to write about but here goes. The chapter starts with how the Amorite kings and the Canaanite kings heard about how God stopped the Jordan River and the Israelites had crossed over. It says their hearts sank and they were drained of courage just thinking about the People of God.

First, that is how our enemies, demons, should feel about the People of God today. They should lose heart and realize that the power of God is in us and they will be defeated. I think ultimately, deep down in their devil hearts they know they are defeated. BUT the People of God don't act like it so why should they? I know that I have spent more time cowering from the enemy then standing in the strength of the Lord and declaring His victory over them. The interesting thing is the Israelites didn't really do anything that should make the enemy fear them. What they did do was listen and obey. Yup, that simple! Oh, if I could just do that I know the enemy would lose heart and be drained of courage.

Second, is the bizarre timing of the circumcision. That is the best part to me, not the circumcision, but the timing. They cross over into enemy territory and God says circumcise everyone. Not sure if Joshua raised an eyebrow or not because the Bible just says that he did it. I would have, no I take that back I have. God leads me into the Promised Land, the enemy is disheartened to know I'm there because of the power of God, and He decides now is the time to circumcise something from my life. But God that leaves me defenseless!

Remember how Jacob's sons trick the guy who raped their sister, into getting circumcised? Then they went in while he and his men were healing and they killed them? Exactly! If the Ammorites and Canaanites knew that was the condition of the Israelites they could have wiped them out! When God decides to circumcise things from my life I am left vulnerable, but the enemy doesn't attack. But that doesn't seem to be how God works. He knows I am completely vulnerable. He knows an assault will likely take me out. But once I have healed from His cutting that thing out on my life then I am stronger in Him. Then the assault may come but God has prepared me for it.

Well, the Ammorites and Canaanites didn't attack. They were either too scared of God or didn't know about theIsraelites' condition. I doubt they didn't know about it. I mean how did they know about the Jordan River? Someone told them. Someone is watching the Israelites, maybe lots of someones. I am sure there were someones who lived in Gilgal who had fled from the Israelites. I'm sure the land there was good for camping. It obviously had a good food source since they started eating the food of the land and God no longer provided the manna. I'm sure they knew, so that means they didn't attack because of their fear of the God of the Israelites. The same God who won't let the enemy attack us except in His perfect timing.

So I must be willing to listen, obey, cross into the Promised Land, and obey when God says to cut something out of my life. He has already prepared the way and He knows the enemy will not be able to attack. I just have to trust Him.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Joshua 4

As I began to read this chapter the message of it was obvious to me, but that obvious doesn't always mean that I do it. The Lord told Joshua to send 12 men, one from each tribe, to go to the middle of the river and bring a stone with them to be set up as a memorial. I guess the new thing that I saw this time was that the stones came from the middle.

Right in the middle, not that I know exactly where that is most of the time, I am to carry out "stones" as a memorial. Heart lessons, journal entries, letters, photographs, whatever I can to be set up as a memorial to God's faithfulness. I find it interesting that these were not just itty bitty stones. They were huge stones. They were told to carry them on their shoulder. They had to be big in order to create the memorial that would stand for all the years that it stood. Sometimes the things I have to carry out of the middle of our Jordan aren't easy to carry. They may hurt my heart to carry them. They may be seen by others as nothing but an ugly rock. But I am to carry them. I am to set them up not as reminders of what a hard time I experienced, but as reminder of God's strength.

"This was so that everybody on earth would recognize how strong God's rescuing hand is and so that you would hold God in solemn reverence always." Joshua 4:24. Everybody! Even those that don't believe in Him. These people will recognize the strength of God's hand. I think about Garren and how much God's hand is at work in the middle of his Jordan. Garren will carry out his stones and set them up so everyone will see how God saved him. I believe that and it makes me cry with sadness that he is in his Jordan and with joy that God is rescuing and His hand will be seen.

The stones are not just for everyone else to see God's hand, but for me to hold God in solemn reverence. For me to realize my limits and His unlimited grace, mercy, strength, etc. I truly could go on and on. How sad to have gone through the Jordan, been brought out with dry feet on the other side and not to put God in the proper place in my life, revered above all else.

So I thought this chapter's message was obvious and the blog would be very brief. Funny how as I began to write God taught me more. This is one thing I love about God. When I think I know, He reveals how much I don't.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Joshua 3

The Jordan River. Joshua leads the people to the river, a river that is overflowing because of the harvest season. Joshua tells the people to make sure they follow the Chest of God and that they will see clearly. He tells them that this is a road that they have never taken. Interesting statement considering all of them knew they had never been there before.

God is leading me to places that I have never been. I have to follow the Lord and keep my eyes on Him. If I take my eyes off of Him I won't know where to go. I might turn to the left or to the right. Remember God warned Joshua not to turn either left or right. He told him to take the Law with him and meditate on it day and night. God is still calling us to take the Word with us, to meditate on it day and night. In the last few months I have been drawn to God's Word more than I ever have in my whole life. Is it because He is taken me to one of those new places? I think so. It is a place I long to go to.

Joshua orders the priests to step into that overflowing river. He tells the people that when they do it, that the flow of the river will stop and it will heap up in a pile. And it even heaped up a far way off. I can't even imagine what that looks like. Now I've seen The Ten Commandments and The Prince of Egypt, but I don't think these movies do justice to what it must have looked like. (I know that was the Red Sea in those movies too.)

What I think is the most amazing thing is that they did it. They stepped into the river. The Bible doesn't say they looked cross-eyed at Joshua. It doesn't say that they asked, "are you sure?". I think I would have, um I take that back I have done just that with God. The Bible says that the people left their tents, followed the priests, and crossed over, and not one foot got wet. Not one foot. Not even the priests who stepped into the water? Did they put their feet into the water and even before it hit the sand underneath it was dry? I never thought about that before, but it says it. It says not one wet foot.

I guess the one things that really strikes me is that the Bible says that they crossed facing Jericho. The challenge they had to face was directly in front of them. I know I am suppose to keep my eyes on God. I am suppose to step into the water when He tells me to. It will either dry up like in did for Joshua and the Israelites or maybe I'll be able to walk on it like Peter. But even as I do all that, I need to realize that the challenge, the walled city is still there. The strongholds He tells me to go up against are waiting on the other side.

I would like to think that if I had the faith to step into the Jordan then the Jericho on the other side would just be gone. I tend to think if I obey, then God might take away the Jericho that He has called me to face. He can, He might even.  He has asked me to cross the Jordan facing the Jericho and it will still be there when I get across. It's not a "see, I did it! So the impenetrable city can go away now, God." He is asking me to not only trust Him with the crossing of the Jordan, but to trust Him that the walls will be coming down.

So I think God is calling me to be putting my feet into some water, but they will be dry once on the other side.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Joshua 2

Joshua sends spies into the land, secretly. Secretly. I think about the fact that Joshua was one of the original spies that Moses sent into Canaan. He saw the giants and he said that they could take them. Now it's his turn to be the leader and he sends in spies. Secretly.

I wonder two different things about the secret spies. First, I wonder if he sent them secretly because he didn't want the people to know the information that they would bring back. I imagine back when Moses sent the spies everyone knew about it. Everyone waited for their return and what they would say. I wonder if Joshua sent them secretly to avoid the same thing happening again.

Secondly, I wonder if he's a lot like me. I wonder if he heard God's promises, starting over-thinking, and set out feelers to see what would happen. So guilty of that! I mean, he had been in the land. Yes, it was 40 years ago, but he had been the one who said "let's roll!" Was this a lack of faith moment for Joshua?

Like I said, I think a thing to death! I know God has spoken to me and initially I am gunho. Then I start to think. I start to play out scenarios in my mind. I start deciding what they other person/people are thinking. I start planning their responses and mine. I get it so twisted and then the fear sets in and I don't move. I don't move! I sit along the Jordan, watching my promise land and wishing I was in it.

Yesterday I put words to something I thought God was asking me to do. I told someone else. She listened and didn't respond with, "are you nuts! You are so not able to do that." Today, sick at home with a stomach bug (ohs for me are allowed), I have had plenty of time to think. I am have almost talked myself back out of it. Then I decided to stop listening to me and focus on God. I talked to Him instead.

Then I started telling Him about a few other faith steps that I want to make and how I need to hear Him instead of my thoughts or the devils words. I have been sitting looking at those promise lands for awhile now. That made a huge difference. Putting the focus off of me and onto Him always does. Then I opened up my Bible and read Joshua 2. I thought what will I blog about. I planned to mention the spies and talk about Rahab, but I guess I needed to focus on the spies.

The funny things about Joshua's secret spies, is they came back and said, "the land is ours!"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Joshua 1

I was taking a walk with my Riley Girl and wondering what I would read next. I don't have any new books or anything old that jumps out at me. Then I thought about Joshua and how much I love this book of the Bible. I like history and I like reading about it. I love the man Joshua. His unhesitant faith amazes me. I am reading through the New Testament in my morning reading and listening to the Daily Audio Bible in the evenings. I am so not auditory so listening to it is good for me because I have to pay attention or I will miss something. Honestly, I have to replay almost daily. Now I am taking on Joshua as well. I am no Bible scholar and may get things wrong along the way, but I'm going to give Joshua a try.

Joshua 1. The Message
The first thing that strikes me is God tells Joshua that Moses is dead and to get moving! One I think Joshua knew Moses was dead, but I don't think that is the point. Sometimes things we love die, good things, and we just kind of sit and sorrow over it. There is a time to sorrow, but we have to get going afterwards. My mom told me to let the death, sadness, dissappointment, whatever last 3 days and on the third day rise up like Jesus did. I almost laugh everytime this happens. I let myself have my "Friday" and "Saturday" but by "Sunday" I am able to rise up and move on. I think God was doing this with Joshua.

The next thing He says after telling him Moses is dead is "get going!" God had a plan, a job, a mission for Joshua and he needed to be at it. He had people to lead, rivers to cross, walls to walk around, giants to conquer.  God reminds him of the promise of the land, tells him everywhere his feet go is theirs!

Next God tells him that He will be with him. He won't give up on him. God knows that Joshua will make mistakes. One mistake I think God knows Joshua can make is being afraid, feeling weak, losing courage. He tells him to be strong and courageous. I know for me the areas I have trouble in, being still, having fear, God speaks to me about often. He tells me to be still to have no fear. He knows what I need to hear, the areas I have weakness in and He reminds me He is with me always.

God also tells him to take the commands with him that Moses wrote down. To stay on track, not to look left or right. To mediate on them, day and night, to put them into practice. Then you'll get where you are going, then you will succeed. It is easy to hear the promises of God and start running toward them without a second thought, but when  the struggles come and they will it is hard to keep on if I haven't spend time with God, in His word. I need to read, ponder, pray, and listen in order to move forward. Often I read some thing, and think "what did I just read?" I need to reread, to spend some time thinking deeply, giving it my full attention. I need to do that with the Word. Then I will get where God has told me to go; then I will succeed at what He has for me.

Once again God tells Joshua to be strong and have courage. Don't be timid! Seriously, that is not a word I would use to describe Joshua, me? yes, Joshau? no. But God told him to not be timid, so I guess he was. Once again God reassures him that He is with him every step of the way.

Joshua then goes to the men of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh and tells them to go with them across the river and to help their brothers to possess the land. I never really thought much about this, but he tells them to lead the others. He tells them to help their brothers until they find their place of rest and then they can go back to their land. Those who go before us, who have received God's promises have a job still to do. They are meant to lead those who are still on their promise land journey. They are meant to help them, stay with them until they have found their place of rest. Then they may go back and enjoy what God has given them.

In some ways I am expected to lead others who are on the path behind me. Now I have not reached my promised land so I also need to follow others, accept their help, look for them and to them. They aren't God, so I'm not replacing Him or saying that all I need to do is blindly follow, but I need to follow the ones God has put in my path.

These men responded to Joshua and said they would follow every command he gave, they even promised death to the one who wouldn't. Then they told Joshua to be strong and courageous. These men knew the man they were following. They knew he was obedient to God. I am sure they heard all about him and how he and Caleb believed when the other spies didn't. They knew he would be faithful to God, but they also knew he needed their encoragement.

I want to be more like Joshua. I want to hear God and obey, without hestitation. I want to lsisten when God promises to be with me and know it in my very being. I want to know I have week areas, but to know God knows them too and he will keep strengthing me to get going inspite of them. I want to lead who God tells me to and listen as they encourage me.

I am excited to read this book of the Bible and mediate on it and write about it. I pray the Holy Spirit will reveal more truth to me then I have ever seen before. I pray that I will be open and honest and share it. I want to be a "Yes, Lord" woman who walks in faith!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Every Promise Fufilled

Last chapter of the book. :C Kind a sad. I always hate to see a book end. Well actually, I usually hate seeing fiction books end. I want the sequel to the book, even if it is the last book in series. I don't usually feel the same way at the end of a nonfiction book, but this one is different. Maybe it's the fact that I blogged about it, my first book to blog about. Maybe it's because I learned so much from this book. Maybe it's because it ended with me wanting to be more like Joshua and not so much like Moses.

Lysa writes about the differences between how Moses and Joshua handled the promises of the Promised Land. Like Lysa, I have always admired Joshua. I love the book of Joshua. I love that he just heard from God and did it. He did it! That is what I want. I want to just do it! I want to walk up those giants in my life and defeat them. I want to take possession of the promises God has made to me. To live in the inheritance God has for me. To hear from God and obey. I hear from Him clearly because I live in Him.

Okay, the differences between Moses and Joshua. Moses told God why he wasn't the one to do the work. Joshua just did it. Moses looked at his faults. Joshua looked at the faithfulness of God. Moses cried out to God at the Red Sea and God told him to cross over on dry land. Joshua was instructed by God to have the priests step into the Jordan and it dried up. Moses needed to see the dry land. Joshua wasn't afraid to step into the impossibleness of a running river becoming dry land. Moses heard about the giants in the land from the spies and focused on the reaction of the people and Joshua, who saw the giants, said "let's go! We can take them!". And of course, Moses didn't get to go into the land and Joshua not only went in, kicked the giants around, and possessed the land.

Oh, I see too much of Moses in me. Even right now as I think about going in like Joshua and taking the land of the promise of God my mind is racing with why nots.

Lysa mentions that word possess means (1) to have as belonging to one, to own; (2) to have as an attribute, quality; (3) to gain control over. (From Webster's New World Dictionary). Then she wrote how we go through these as steps. First we must learn to take hold of the promises of God. Then we must let God shape us, our character, too be redefined. Last we give God control over our lives. I hope that as I move through the steps of faith I get to the point where I give God complete control of my life.

So, I am thinking that I need to quiet myself and listen to God, like Joshua clearly did, and then move and take possession of my Promised Land!

Now to decided what to read an blog about next. Any ideas?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

God Brings Dreams to Life

I have kind of put off reading the last two chapters of this. I have enjoyed it and don't want it to be done. I also wonder what I will read next and if it'll be as good as this book has been. I am sure that book will be as good, but I wonder if what I have to say about it will be anything worth writing. Another reason is because once it is done I have no excuse not to put it into action. That makes me weak in the knees. Anyway on to the chapter.

This was a short chapter and the same thing ran through it. It's not about the journey, the phases, or even reaching the promise land. It's about experiencing and growing in Go along the way. When I finished reading this chapter I had to pray and thank God that I have experienced Him. I thanked Him that I have grown because of Him. I think of things that caused such fear in me just a few years ago and now I can do them.

I am an introvert. Going some place on my own is scary, especially if I won't know anyone when I get there. Now I have not become and extrovert but I can go on my own. I don't necessarily like it, but I can do it. That is all God!

I used to be scared of having emotions. I didn't like feeling, especially the sad and angry feelings, but now I can at least have them without feeling like they are bad. I also am learning to not rely on them. There is nothing wrong with having emotions, God made them, but they can't control me. I think that is part of the reason why I didn't like feeling them, because I didn't want to be controlled by them.

Lysa also mentions that she has run ahead of God, made suggestions to Him, manipulated situations, and got upset when the shortcuts didn't work. How often have I done that? I am sure more times than I have even realized. The best thing about realizing that I've tried a shortcut around God is that I can come to Him and ask for His forgiveness and He gives it! Also, I hope that I've learned from when I did try shortcuts and I can see them for what they are before I let them take over. I wish that happened every time, but I have learned from some of the times that I have.

Lysa also reminds us that the Hebrews 11 people of faith are not listed there because they lead perfect lives, but because they believed God and who He said He is. They trusted in Him. I know I may never be listed in any great people of faith list, but I hope that I will be a woman who believes God and who He says He is and trust in Him.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Promise Made is a Promise Kept

The title of this chapter made me smile. God keeps His promises.

I didn't highlight much this chapter, only because Lysa wrote a lot about another child that she tried to adopted. Actual at the time of the book they were still in the process. They had adopted their two boys from Liberia and were trying to adopt one from Belarus as well. The book was published 6 years ago and I do not believe they adopted Sergei since.

She wrote about how when she started praying for this boy she had "a resurrection of meaning and purpose and desire". I read that and said to myself that was what I wanted. Regardless of what dream I may have along my journey I want to have a meaning, a purpose, and desire in my life. I know that all that comes from God. When I focus on Him and strive to spend more time with Him I think those things come with the package.

I teach! It is a worthy and important purpose. I love being a teacher. I have always believed that my classroom is my mission field. I have 10 months to be Jesus to my children. I hope that I have succeeded at that more than I have failed. I know I failed. But lately I long for more, more of a purpose, more of a meaning, and for more desire.

Lysa writes, "He is looking for the souls who are willing to press close to His heart and hear the cries of the forgotten. He wants us to do great things with Him to reach "the least of these". I want that! I want Him more. I pray for that almost each night. I ask God to stir the desire within my for more of Him. I want to know that purpose, my meaning, is found in Him. I want to do the great things He has planned for me to do with Him. I am not outspoken. I am not an extrovert. I am okay with the behind the scenes. I just want Him!

Like I said, I don't think Lysa ever adopted Sergei but she writes about what if God answer is no concerning him. She also writes about how living a faith journey doesn't mean "happily ever after". I think about Abraham and how God promised him he'd be the father of many nations. I think about how he never saw that fulfilled. Even though Abraham didn't see it God's promise was fulfilled. I don't know when the promises God made to me will be fulfilled, or even if it would be the way I think it will be, but I do know He keeps His promises.

Numbers 23:19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change his mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot change it."

He will resurrect a closer relationship with him, a deeper trust of him, if I let Him rule over all of my life.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

God's Dream, God's Way

I practically wore out my highlighter in this chapter! This is the first chapter in the resurrection phase. I have been so excited to reach this phase. I mean in the book, but of course in my journey as well.

Lysa writes that we must go through the death first in order to find rejoicing in the resurrection. When I think about all the tears cried and all the prayers prayed and all the waiting resulted in some of the other rresurrections in my life this makes perfect sense. It makes all the stuff from before seem worth it. In those times I learned to recognize God and I drew closer to Him. The dreams, wants, came too, and they were good, but the increase desire for God was the true gift.

Here's one thing I love that she wrote, "remembering the death phase keeps us humble and keenly aware that the resurrection has nothing to do with us. Our talents, our creativity, our manipulating, our arranging, our being in the right place at the right time - none of it brought about the good that is dawning. God's dream planted in us is brought about by His hand alone."

I love that because I can't make it happen! Yes, there are steps that God asks me to take, things that He wants me to be obedient to, but it is still Him even when I am obedient. I also love the thought that I can't mess it up either. Sure, I make mistakes. I try to make things happen; I whine and complain, but He brings it all to pass.

But I do need to be ready. God wouldn't bring about the resurrection until I am ready. He is waiting for me to be ready. Along the way I have thought I was ready, only to realize that I wasn't. I want to be! I want to walk out of the death phase into the resurrection. I want to have the faith to be in that place. I want to hear that it is time to pack up the camp, head for the Jordan, and see the miracle that brings me into the Promised Land.

I need to learn to be content where He has me right now, even if it's the famine phase or the death phase. I need to remember that He is my portion for each and every day. The Israelites didn't trust Him to be their portion. They were so close to the Promised Land, their resurrection, and they ended up missing it. I do not want to repeat their experience. I want to wait on the Lord and trust in His faithfulness.

"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!" Isaiah 30:18