Joshua 1.9 – July 23, 2020

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9 , NIV)

Over and over again, Joshua and other great leaders of God’s people are reminded of these simple thoughts: Be strong and courageous.

Thought Questions:

In practical terms, how would being strong and courageous look in your life today? How are these attitudes connected to your faith?

Why does discouragement and fear so easily trip up our lives of faith?

How does the fact that the Lord is with you change your view on strength and courage?

Joshua 24.15-28 – July 22, 2020

Joshua 24:15–28

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”
19 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”
21 But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”
22 Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”
“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.
23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”
24 And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.”
25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. 26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord.
27 “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”
28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to their own inheritance.
 (Joshua 24:15–28 , NIV)

We looked at verse 15 just a couple of days ago, but we did not look at the people’s response. Notice the response and compare this to how the people actually did respond over time.

Thought Questions:

In what ways do you point to the powerful works of God as reason for you to follow him? What specific things would you mention from your own life?

Why do you think Joshua challenges the people, even going so far as to say that the people will not be able to serve the Lord?

What stones exist in your life–either physical or figurative–that remind you of the commitment you made to God?

Joshua 24.1-15 – July 18, 2020

Joshua 24:1–15

Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.
Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.
“ ‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen  as far as the Red Sea.  But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.
“ ‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
11 “ ‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” 
(Joshua 24:1–15 , NIV)

Many are familiar with Joshua 24.15, in fact, for many it is a favorite verse. It is important for us to remember that our choice to follow God is set within the context of knowing God has taken care of us, it is not just a matter of making a choice, but making the right choice.

Thought Questions:

When Joshua sets up his question for the people of Israel (Choose who you will serve…), he does so by rehearsing what God has done for them. What has God done for you? If Joshua were repeating this chapter today, what events would he point to for you to remember?

Notice that God is compared to the other gods, the gods of the foreigners. How have other “gods” failed you, that is, what have you placed your trust in that has shown to be worthless?

The choice for you is to serve “gods” that have no power, or to serve God who has proven himself faithful over and over. Who are you going to choose?

Joshua 24.15 – April 16, 2020

Joshua 24.15

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24.15, NIV)

The choice is yours. Who’s it going to be?

Thought Questions:

Can you think of any reason why serving the Lord would be undesirable? Why do you think Joshua felt the need to ask this of the people?

By the same token, why would serving other gods seem so desirable to these people?

In what ways is your choice to follow God demonstrated on a daily basis?

Joshua 1.1-18 – April 15, 2020

Joshua 1:1–18

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’ ”
12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!” 
(Joshua 1:1–18, NIV)

“The passage is uplifting and speaks about taking refuge in God when in fear.”

Thought Questions:

The Israelite people were about to move into the land that was promised to them by God, and although God was with them, they were entering a land that the people there didn’t really want to just give up. How do you think Joshua felt as he was tasked to lead these people?

Why is the instruction to be strong and courageous so important for people who follow God?

In what ways has following the laws of God helped you be a better leader to people around you?

Choose You This Day – April 22, 2019

Joshua 24.1-33; Luke 21.1-28; Psalm 89.38-52; Proverbs 13.20-23

For many of us, this question is very familiar. In fact, we may even have a plaque or picture with it on it hanging from a wall in our house. No matter how familiar we may be with the verse, we need to ask the question over and over again: Today, who are you going to choose to serve?

Questions:

Take a moment to recount your spiritual life–how you got to the place you are spiritually.

How do you give: A lot or all you have?

Who is the “you” in today’s psalm? Why do you think the author writes the things he does about this “you?”

With whom do you associate: the wise or fools?

Witness – April 21, 2019

Joshua 22.21-23.16; Luke 20.27-47; Psalm 89.14-37; Proverbs 13.17-19

Being separated from the people you love, the people who have shaped you, can lead to memory loss, at least that’s what the tribes on the eastern side of the Jordan River understand. They build an altar–not to sacrifice to a god of their creation–but to remind them and the people on the western side of the Jordan of their place in the tribes of Israel. It seems like a logical step, providing something that ties them back to their heritage. What do we have that reminds us of our own faith story and that of those who have brought us to this point?

Questions:

Joshua tells the people not to follow other gods. Based on what you know about their story, how well did they heed this advice? What could have helped them do this better?

How does your perception of God change when you recognize God is the God of the living, not of dead people and events of the past?

What does a life that has righteousness and justice as its foundation look like?

Hearing criticism is hard, but not doing so, the proverb writer says, leads to poverty and disgrace. How have you seen this to be true?

So You Had A Bad Day – April 20, 2019

Joshua 21.1-22.20; Luke 20.1-26; Psalm 89.1-13; Proverbs 13.15-16

How would you like to have been the teachers and leaders of the law for the Jewish people? Here Jesus comes into their city and their temple and makes a huge commotion, causing all of the people to be amazed by him. They try to trick him and not only does he not fall for it, he tells the people a story that is obviously about them and an unfavorable one at that. They want to arrest Jesus, but any attempt to do so would bring about a riot. Why did the Jewish leaders have such a difficult time “containing” Jesus?

Questions:

Why were the Levites offered a different type of portion of the land?

What were the Jewish leaders really asking when they asked Jesus about the authority by which he did all of his actions?

What aspects about God’s love would cause you to sing about them forever?

In what ways do you think before you act?

Peace – April 19, 2019

Joshua 19.1-20.9; Luke 19.28-48; Psalm 88.1-18; Proverbs 13.12-14

As Jesus approached Jerusalem for the final time, he began to weep. He said: I wish that you, of all people, would understand the way to peace. Jerusalem would have been the cultural, political, and most importantly, religious center of the Jewish people. Of course they should understand the way to peace, but they didn’t. Jesus’ reaction is understandable. When have you had a similar reaction lion and longed for someone to know peace, but they didn’t?

Questions:

What was the purpose of the refuge cities for the Israelites?

How often do you think people would have shouted for someone entering into Jerusalem? What does this tell you about Jesus’ entrance?

How does the psalmist appeal to God’s faithfulness for salvation?

What happens to those who ignore the instructions of the wise?

Wee Little Man – April 18, 2019

Joshua 16.1-18.28; Luke 19.1-27; Psalm 87.1-7; Proverbs 13.11

We may have sung in Bible class that Zacchaeus was a wee little man, but we could have also sung he was a tax-collector who typically stole from their fellow country men and Zacchaeus was very rich, so probably pretty good at it. This might also explain why everyone was so upset when Jesus went to his house for dinner, Zacchaeus being a “notorious sinner,” and all. But if you have been following the life of Jesus closely, these were the kinds of folk he loved to hang out with: he had come to save the lost. Who is it you hang out with?

Questions:

We often think of how cast to the side women were in Old Testament times, but in today’s story, women come and request land for their family and they get it. Why do you think this is the case and included in our story?

How well do you take care of the gifts you have already been given?

What do you think of when you hear all nations will become citizens of Jerusalem?

The Proverb writer says get-rich-quick schemes are too good to be true. Would you agree with him and why or why not?