Friday, March 28, 2008


Never forget the example of Achen! Joshua 7:1-26 gives the background necessary to understand the severity of his error, a little secret he kept which ended up costing him everything. Joshua had sent out a a small number of men on a minor mission, fully expecting God's blessing, and yet they came back totally defeated. When Joshua inquired of God as to why his men were not successful, God replied:
Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep . . . they have stolen, they have lied . . . That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. (Joshua 7:10-12)
Sure enough, it came to light that on a previous mission a certain man named Achen had reserved for himself just a few of the things that were supposed to have been "utterly destroyed" in the conquest. He hid the booty, thinking he could get by with holding onto just a few of the spoils of war. Boy, did he pay! He and his sons and daughters - his whole family - paid with their lives for that little judgment call, which must have seemed harmless enough at the time.

There is a lesson in this. If things are not going the way I think they should, if I am not able to stand up against my spiritual enemies (which are not people, but old patterns of behavior), perhaps there is a principle at work which I should heed. I need to make sure I am not guarding things that are "devoted to destruction." Those things may not be material objects, but are more likely old ways of doing things, out of habit or fear.

As a Christian I may not be likely fall into the obvious traps of stealing or lying outright, but there are a lot of gray areas where I might justify less than exemplary behavior. In those gray areas, do I hold my thoughts and decisions up to the light of God's instruction book, or am I guarding things in my heart and mind that don't pertain to a Christ-follower? Have I truly learned in life that it is not only easier, but absolutely necessary to do things God's way?

I hope to learn this quickly and well! Let me hold my thinking up to the light of God's word so that I will not be caught with "booty" that doesn't belong to me. There may be a path before me that seems right, but ends in destruction (see Prov. 14:12). I can't trust my natural patterns of thinking, but instead I must hold every thought up to the light of God's word to be examined for flawed motives.

I pray God will give me courage to throw out any stolen booty, and I pray a blessing on you as well. May our Father in heaven give you the power of the risen Christ to walk each day according to this directive, so that you will benefit from its promise:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you
which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

*Today's Reading:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


God's people were given a generous inheritance in the land of Canaan. The map was drawn, the cities listed, the territories assigned. The only little problem was the requirement to actively take possession of what was rightfully theirs. To do that, the people of God had to drive out the pagans who occupied the land. A theme emerges in today's Old Testament reading (Joshua 16-18), in which God's people failed to take action. Although they received the deed to their allotted portion of land, they failed to march in and claim it.

The tribe of Ephraim " . . . did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor . . ." (Joshua 16:10). The tribe of Manassah, too, found that they could not really own what was rightfully theirs. "Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out." (Joshua 17:12-13)

There is a good lesson in this. Think of all God would give us, if we are bold enough to claim it! What am I entitled to claim? Do I have a habit to break? Are there patterns in my relationships which God would have me to change? Do I feel trapped, when in reality I'm free to move out of my self-imposed prison? I can think of at least two occasions within the past week when God had written my name on a specific victory, but I simply failed to step forward and claim what was mine. I am sorry I didn't grab what God has given me the right to possess.

May the Lord help us to be bold and brave when it is our right and obligation to put on battle gear and go on the war path. Help us to claim what is ours, and relentlessly drive out the enemy. Help us to set boundaries, marking off the territory God has given us. When (and not if) we find a pagan presence within our boundaries, may God's presence and power make us fearless to call out our enemies by name, and to utterly and completely drive them out by the power of God's word. We can depend upon our God to make it so, for we ask in Jesus' name!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I was reading from Luke chapter 1 today, from the Bible calendar I mentioned yesterday. What struck me was the part where Mary says "okay" to God's plan for her. Pretty simple and transparent, profound in its simplicity, as a fact. Later Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth, a mature woman of God. Here's Elizabeth's statement:

"Blessed is she

who has believed

that what the Lord has said to her

will be accomplished!"

Luke 1:45

Okay, I may be oversimplifying here. I tend to do that a lot, but still, the blessing received was a direct result of simply taking God at his word. Mary had doubts and misgivings ("How can this be, since I am a virgin?"), thus proving that she was not mentally deficient in any way. It was a stretch for her, but in the end she believed the message spoken over her life.

What message is God speaking over you? Do you know? The answer is revealed in his word! Get into it on a daily basis -- even before reading what I have to say. Although I would love it if you have time to read my thoughts, I know my insight is diluted compared to what God offers from the source. Find out for yourself what promises to claim, what truths to apply, what actions to take. Even (especially) your prayers will be shaped in a powerful way. Are you willing? I'm praying for you!

Monday, March 17, 2008


You know, some of our loved ones feel as if they are going into battle on a daily basis, and they are not alone. I often face conflict, and I know you do, too. After visiting at length with our Catholic sister from Spain, one thing really stays on my heart: the people of her church all over the world are on the same page of the Old Testament, New Testament (gospels), and Psalms every week in church services. For praying Christians, this is impressive, since our prayers are informed by our reading and interpretation of God's word - AKA the sword of the Spirit, our ONLY weapon of offense in our daily battles.

What will happen when groups of praying Christians are all using not only the same weapon, but aiming it in the same direction and advancing together on the spiritual front? I think evil will have to give way! As of yesterday, I am reading from GospelCom's "Through the Bible in a Year,"* so now you know what page I'm on in a literal and figurative sense. Why not join me on this reading calendar, so that as we read and pray over scripture, our hearts can be as one? Your brother & his precious loved one have this plan as well. Today's reading includes an appropriate reminder regarding God's word. Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and his words speak to my heart as well:
[It] . . . is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?" Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?" But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. - from Deuteronomy 30:11-14

The bad news is it is difficult for me to keep God's word in my mouth and in my heart if I do not expose myself to it on a regular basis (preferably every day). But what a blessing, God's word is near, right at my fingertips online or in book form. All I have to do is reach out and grab it! In addition to giving structure to my prayers, a daily dose from the Bible can give me the exact information I need in those daily relationship emergencies known as conversations or confrontations.

Sometimes the appropriate response or reaction, the thing God would have me to do or say, is so instant that I don't have time to search my memory for what is indicated in the instruction book, yet those split-second decisions are where spiritual battles are won or lost! What is huge, astounding, and wonderful is that if I have a passage of scripture fresh on my mind, it will often be just what I need for the situation at hand.

I never cease to be amazed at how scripture lives up to its claim to be "living and active, and sharper than a two-edged sword." As an individual Christian, I hate to go into a day without being armed and dangerous, and I am now seeing how effective we can be in prayer together if we are focusing our minds on the same reading (remember Jesus' promise in Matt. 18:18-20,

Let's do try to read together, and allow the day's reading to speak into our prayer life as well as our daily decision-making. We won't be alone and defenseless for even a moment, but instead we'll be armed, dangerous, and standing shoulder to shoulder together on the spiritual battlefront. Let's do it, what do you say? LOVE.

*GospelCom Calendar - Click on & save it in your favorites, or use the link at the bottom of the page to set up an RSS feed. I'm doing the same, and even if I miss a day or two, I will skip ahead to the reading for the current calendar day, so that you'll always know on what page to find me reading.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Hey, where's my Moses? I kind-of wish I had that efficient and effective go-between the people of Israel had, always telling them exactly what to do and how to do it. They always knew God's will. They knew when to move out and what direction to go because . . . well, Moses told 'em, that's all!

It is not that way for you and me today, and that's a fact. There is nobody standing in front of us with a robe and a stick, pointing the way. Regarding that fact, there's bad news and there's good news. The bad news is we don't have a Moses, but the good news makes up for that, and changes everything. We have JESUS!

We also have the word of God. While we don't have the guy with the robe and stick, we do have the example of Moses. We have the principles illustrated through his leadership. As Moses led the people of Israel out of captivity, they began to live in fear on their very first day of freedom. When they were surrounded by their enemies, Moses told them:

"The Lord will fight for you,
and you have only to be silent.”

Exodus 14:14

Moses quieted the people's mouths, and he stilled the fears of their hearts. Then, in the very next verse, we see how their quietness of heart and expectant trust allowed God to work on their behalf.

The Lord said to Moses,
“ . . . Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”

Exodus 14:15

I wish it were as simple as doing what we're told. Sometimes we have difficult decisions to make, important choices which will affect the rest of our lives, and will change the lives of others, too. We do have marching orders, though. We have God's instructions to quiet ourselves and acknowledge our trust in Him, and we have the very Spirit of the Lord Jesus to guide us (remember the promise of Isaiah 30:21).

Today I pray that your fears will be stilled, that your heart will be able to trust, and also that when the Spirit of the Lord within you says, "Move forward," you will go ahead without the slightest doubt or hesitation. You have a presence so much larger than a guy with a robe and a stick! You have the very Spirit of God, and his immediate and sure hand of direction when you trust Him. LOVE!