Sunday, 31 January 2016

Not a word failed

The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass. – Joshua 21.44-45

As we approach the end of Joshua the conquest is finished. The land is at peace. And as Joshua is getting ready to wrap things up we read that ‘not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken.’

God did everything He said because His word is always true. It will not fail. It cannot fail.

Jesus told us in Matthew that ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.’

Isaiah says ‘The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever’ and ‘So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.’

God’s word did not fail for Joshua. God’s word has not failed the saints through the ages. God’s word does not fail us today. And God’s word will not fail us in eternity. 

Saturday, 30 January 2016

An old man's plans

So Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.' And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said." – Joshua 14.9-12

We are not quite done with Caleb yet. The land was being divided up for settlement. Finally we get to Caleb’s family.

He was no longer the young fella who took part in the survey of Canaan. A certain land caught his eye. It was not the nice smooth plain with no opposition. He liked the mountain where the ‘giants’ lived. I am not sure about the story of the giants, but we do know they were a mighty force to be reckoned with. The mountain was not the easy way out.

So here we have Caleb, an 85 year old man, who says he is just as strong as he was 40+ years ago when they started the wilderness journey. He is not willing to take the easy way out. He wants that mountain and he is willing to deal with the giants in the land.

Caleb is a great example for those of us who are starting to get a little long in the tooth. I am still 25 years from 85 but there are times when I have to admit when the easy way out is looking pretty good. There are times when ‘I want that easy chair’ is a lot more appealing than ‘I want that mountain. If God is with my I can handle all the difficulties. Nothing can stop me.

Caleb is a great challenge. As the years go by we need to remember that our time for service in getting shorter and shorter. We don’t have time to loll about in the pasture – we need to go after those mountains. 

Friday, 29 January 2016

Nothing undone

As the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses. – Joshua 11.15

God told Moses what to do. Moses told Joshua what to do. And Joshua did all of it.

Joshua did his job. He did it all. Not all of his men followed through, but he did all he was told to do. He didn’t stop halfway. He needed encouraged a few times but he stuck with it.

At the end of the day what he did is all that any of us can do – stick with the job until it is done.

The New Testament is full of examples of the importance of staying with a task and doing all that God wants us to do.

Seeing that we have this ministry we do not quit.
Don’t be weary in well-doing.
Be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in God’s work.
Pay attention to the ministry God has given you and fulfil it.

Like Joshua we need to just do it and leave nothing undone. 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

They didn't ask God

Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD. – Joshua 9.14

Crossing the Jordan did not end Israel’s problems that they kept bring on themselves. They may have been out of the wilderness, but they were not out of ignorance.

When they settled they were told to defeat all the peoples of the land. The Gibeonites heard about it and hatched a plan to trick Israel. The approached the leaders, but they had dressed themselves in worn out clothes, patched theory wine skins, wore works out shoes, and carried stale bread. They told the leaders of Israel that they were not local, but have travelled from a distance and were surrendering to serve Israel.

And because they didn’t ask God for direction they had constant problems with the Gibeonites.

We do the same kind of thing all the time – or at least I do. I get in a rush and can rush ahead and never stop to ask God or consider what He wants.

And when I do that I get in trouble as well. The problem is that my way is not going to compare to His. I’m just Roger – He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It only makes sense that his way is the best way and my best bet it to ask Him what to do.

This doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation actually. It only makes sense to seek advice before we act and God’s counsel is the counsel that will never fail. We ignore it our own peril. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Not a word

There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them. – Joshua 8.35

Every word of God is important. I don’t always understand that when I am reading through census reports and genealogies, but trust that one day I will. Every word of God is right and pure and holy and from Him. Some parts are obviously more applicable to our current time and place, but every word is His.

So when Joshua read and taught the law to the people he knew he had a truly awesome responsibility. Not ‘awesome’ as in ‘really cool’ but awesome as is a task that was based on the awe of God and who He was.

Iy is really a pretty simple lesson for us today. All of God’s word is worthy of our attention. Although I am not sure that we need to preach through the census reports or genealogies I am sure that all of the thing that were written down in the word of God are written for our learning.

Maybe this is a good reason for us to have a read through the Bible programme. I have often found hidden gems in those genealogies and census reports and property lists.

Read the word. And while we are doing it, read the words.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Three steps down to sin

And Achan answered Joshua and said, "Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it." – Joshua 7.20-21

As bad as not checking with God was, Israel had a much bigger problem. Joshua was really bothered about the defeat at Ai. He did the right thing by talking to God about it, but as you read his prayer he almost sounds like he is blaming God for the defeat.

So when God answers Joshua God points out that the problem is that there is sin in the camp of Israel. Someone had sinned and that sin affected the entire nation.

So Joshua began searching to find the guilty party. It took a while, but eventually it comes down to a man named Achan. It doesn’t take long for Achan to concede his guilt and tell how it happened.

What happened to Achan is a good picture of what we need to be aware of when we are tempted to sin. Achan put it pretty simply:

I saw
I coveted
I took

Somewhere in the ruins of Jericho Achan saw a beautiful robe and other treasures. He knew he should not take them but whenthey caught his eye he stopped and had another look. The longer he looked the more he wanted them. Eventually his lust won out and he took the robe and the rest and hid them away. For that hidden sin Achan, his family, and all the nation suffered defeat.

So how does this apply to us?

Those three little things are pretty much what happens every time we see. We see something that catches our eye. It may start as a quick look. There is nothing working when we see something. We can’t avoid what we happen to see.

The problem happens when we don’t stop there. The problem is that if we keep looking at some shiny bauble of sin we increase the chance that we are going to want it. But it is still not too late to stop the sin choice.

But then Achan took the last step. He took the garment. Then, in his guilt, he had to hide it in shame.

Isn’t that just like us when we sin? We see something, tangible or intangible, that draws our attention. We have a good hard look and then we want it. They we take it and then we hide our sin because we are ashamed of it.

We ought always to be on guard to the three steps to sin and by the grace of God cut it off with the seeing.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Making a mess of it

Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. – Joshua 7.11-13

Israel made a proper mess of things of things in the next battle at a city called Ai. After Jericho they must have been excited about what had happened. They did what God said and God gave them victory.

So they came to Ai and surveyed the city. They decided it wouldn’t take the whole army but just a small portion of it. We never read where they prayed or asked God or sought the Lord or anything of the sort – they would just take a small part of the army and go take care of Ai.

But that wasn’t God’s plan. Not only did they not with to see what God wanted them to do, but they exacerbated the problem with something we will look at tomorrow.

Ai is an example of what can happen when we don’t look for God’s way. God knows best – He is after all the All-Wise God. We ought to seek Him before we act.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The walls came tumbling down

So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. – Joshua 6.20

This is one of those Bible stories that has made it’s way into popular culture even though people may not know all of the details. The walls of Jericho falling down is a well known concept and has been used in all kinds of stories and movies and about ever way that tales can be told.

The story is basically this. Jericho was the first city to be conquered in Canaan. It is recognised as one of the oldest cities in the world and it would not seem like a likely target. It was huge and had high thick walls. It would have seemed undefeatable. Even the strongest armies would have had second thoughts about such an attack.

But God gave them battle plans.

For six days everyone go walk around the city.
On the seventh day walk around the city seven times.
The first six times just walk.
On the seventh day, when you have completed the circuit, everyone shout and beat your drums and blow your horns.
When you do the walls will collapse.

So they obeyed – and it worked.

I am the first to admit that I do not understand all of the workings of God.

But I do know this – even when it seems like there is no way through a battle God can show us a way. If we trust Him and obey Him and follow His directions there is nothing that He can't do for us. I have seen God do things for us that, in their own way, seem even more impossible than shaking the walls of a city.

I am so glad that we serve the God of the impossible and that no walls are too tall or too wide or too strong for Him. 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Captain, my Captain

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. – Joshua 5.13-15

Bible scholars differ about physical appearances of Christ in the Old Testament. These are called Theophanies or Christophanies. Of Christ existed for all eternity so I have no problem with the idea that He could have visited earth before His incarnation as a baby in Bethlehem.

Here is one of those incidents.

Joshua was on a mission to see what was ahead. While there, near Jericho, he met a man and of course he was curious who it was. He was even more curious because they man had a sword. So Joshua asked him ‘are you for us or against us.’

Now, we know from the end of the verse that this was something special because the man says ‘take off your shoes because this is holy ground’ but Joshua didn’t know that yet.

The man introduces Himself as 'Captain of the Lord of Hosts.' Jesus promised that he would captain them in their conquest. He would lead them and show them the way.

Later on Jesus is referred to as the ‘Captain of our Salvation.’ As our captain He will lead many sons to glory and show us the way.

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. – Hebrews 2.10

In the classic Walt Whitman poem we read of a deep devotion for a very influential person in the poets life. Sadly, at the end, we read that the captain ‘lies fallen cold and dead.’ In the poem the writer calls out for his captain to ‘rise up’ but of course he cannot.

Praise God that the Captain of our Salvation did rise from the dead and will lead us into eternity. 

Friday, 22 January 2016


So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. – Joshua 5.8-9

Rolled away, rolled away, rolled away. Every burden of my heart rolled away.

Those are the opening words of yet another great old kid’s chorus. One of the many blessings of working with children is that we get to learn all kinds of great little songs and we have sung them so often that they stick on our heads and jump back out at the strangest times.

I looked up the word Gilgal when I saw why God gave this place that appellation – ‘...I have rolled back the reproach of Egypt…’ The word means just that – ‘rolled away.’ So of course I thought of this old song.

At Gilgal God gave the people a fresh start and a new life. It was the closing chapter of the slavery in Egypt and the beginning of a new life in Canaan. God rolled away all of problems that Egypt had brought and gave them new life.

I came to Gilgal on the 12th February 1974. When I put my faith in Christ He rolled away all the sins and reproaches that had condemned me and He gave me new life in Christ.

Have you been to Gilgal? Has God’s rolled away your own sin through the blood of Christ?

Rolled away, rolled away, rolled away
Every burden of my heart rolled away

All my sins had to go ‘neath the crimson snow – hallelujah

Thursday, 21 January 2016


So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel. – Joshua 5.1

38 years ago today, on a snowy mountaintop, in a small rural church called Jump Off Baptist Church, my heart melted as I saw my beautiful bride walk down the aisle. 38 years later the sight of her still causes my heart to melt in love.

Oh wait, that’s NOT what this passage talks about.

This passage talks about another kind of heartmelt. In this heartmelt the people of Canaan lost their courage when they saw the successes of Israel. They were terrified when the saw the power of God.

How different things are today. There has been a time for the last 300 years or so when there has least been a general respect for the things of God. There was a certain ‘fear of God’ even in the general culture. There was a sense of right and wrong and that sense of right and wrong generally came from principles found on the word of God.

But those days are gone.

Now we are the ones whose hearts are melting in fear. We are the ones cowering in the face of a changing world which has less and less regard or respect for God. We are the ones experiencing heartmelt.

Instead of the enemies of God seeing power of God and losing heart the people of God see the power of the enemies of God and lose heart today. We need not lose heart though no matter what we may see or sense around us. The same God who parted the Jordan River is our God and today and we can be assured that greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.

It is way past time for us to realise that the victory is ours and stop being cowed by the things we can see. Instead, let us be emboldened by the things we cannot see.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016


Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever." And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day. – Joshua 4.7-9

Crossing the Jordan was a major event. It was one of those times that even people who don’t put stuff on Facebook would have put on Facebook, maybe even with a selfie. It’s the kind of thing that they would have wanted a record of to look back at in the future.

People do that with all kinds of silly stuff – but it is more important to remember the important stuff instead. All over the world and for a long, long time people have been building monuments or statues or buildings or shrines to remember important people of important events in their history.

 Israel was no different. God wanted His people to remember what He had done for them in the Wilderness and in parting the Jordan River. He told them to make a memorial of what He had done. When their children asked what the stones were there for they could tell them about the great work God had done.

I think memorials are a good idea for us as well. We need to remember the great things God does for us and even record them so that we can look back and remember them during the trials. It might be photos or journal entries or videos or even Facebook posts when God does great things for us. Our memories are short so it is good to do something to help us remember the good when the bad comes. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Step into the water

Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap." – Joshua 3.12-13

A long, long time ago I went to a gospel concert at the old, old Madison County Coliseum in Huntsville, Alabama. I believe we heard the Cathedrals that night singing a song called ‘Step Into the Water.’ All these years on I still remember that song every time I read this passage. I am not sure if it was based on this passage, but it fits in my mind.

Here is the setting. Israel was prepared to enter the Promised Land. But there was a problem in the way – the Jordan River. Only Caleb and Joshua had seen God part the Red Sea so to the others this was a real dilemma. But God was about to sole that. He was going to part the river. (As a good Bible trivia question can you name the four times the Bible describes waters being parted?)

Here the test was interesting. Everyone was to line up ready to cross the river with the priests at the front, but God says the waters will not part until ‘the soles of the feet of the priests…shall rest in the waters.’

So God was not going to remove the obstacle until the nation acted.

There are times when God gives us our own Jordan River experience and we need to step out in faith before He even works. True faith is trusting and depending on what we can’t see. True faith is stepping out into the water before it parts.

Do we have that kind of ‘step into the water faith?’ God we act and trust God for the next step?

Monday, 18 January 2016

Set yourselves apart

And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” – Joshua 3.5

I love studying the topic of sanctification, or setting apart. About 12 years ago I did an extensive study of the topic in work towards my master’s thesis. I have a whole library of books on the topic – I know, my slave driving wife just had me redoing the library in my office (please read humour into this post). I remember coming across this verse while working in the paper and it still sticks in my mind.

‘Sanctify yourselves’ God says ‘because tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.’

So here’s what is happening. God had already set His people apart from the rest of the world. They were His chosen people. He sanctified them as His own.

But now He tells the nation to sanctify themselves in preparation to enter the Promised Land.

Sanctification is a two part process. God sets us apart at salvation. He makes us His. Immediately our salvation is secure because He sets us apart from the world. That is His work.

But we have a part in our day to day setting apart from the world. ‘Don’t be conformed to the world’ Paul writes in Roman, but be transformed by a renewed mind.’ But before that he says the same thing Joshua says in slightly different words – ‘present your bodies a living sacrifice.’

When we set ourselves apart to Him we see God do great wonders in our midst. We are already His, nothing can change that. But as we sanctify ourselves we get to see all the great things He can do in our lives. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

You've never been this way before

So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” – Joshua 3.2-4

Life is full of new experiences. In a way that is life, isn’t it. The first day of school is always an adventure. I remember my first day of junior high school (way back in 1966) sitting on the bleachers at Stone Junior High and feeling totally at a loss. Remember getting married? Remember anticipating your first child? Remember moving to a new city or state (or country)?

All of theses can make us a little anxious or fretful or nervous because we have ‘never been this was before.’ It is the great fear of the unknown. We don’t really know the way so we need help, whether we realise it or not.

Israel was in a situation like that. There were preparing to cross the Jordan and enter Canaan. I am sure that stories and legends and myths had developed about the giants in the land that had scared their parents off forty years before.

But God told them to stay back a ways from the priests so that they would know which way to go. The priests carried the ark of God which was the symbol of God’s presence. God would lead them if they would follow.

We need not fear our own ‘never been this was before’ moments. God will lead us into the unknown if we step back long enough to follow Him.

Our Lord knows the way in the wilderness and the way into new experiences – all we have to do is follow.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

By faith Rahab

Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: "I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.  – Joshua 2.8-9

God seems to use those who are the most unusable in our eyes. We are shocked sometimes when God uses people that He could not or should not use.

Rahab is just one of those people. Rahab lived in Jericho. Jericho was to be the site of Israel’s first battle in Canaan. She was a prostitute – not exactly the kind of person that most people or cultures would deem worthy of being used by God to carry out His plan.

The city was doomed, but there was a chance for deliverance. Rahab had heard of the power of Israel’s God. She knew that her only hope was to trust him. In that she exercised faith. But didn’t only say she had faith – she acted on her faith because true faith, real faith, living faith always works. It can always be seen. Faith, if not accompanied by works, is just dead faith.

Rahab knew that she was in trouble. She trust that Jehovah was her only hope. That faith was great. She proved her faith by helping God’s men. And when the city fell she alone was delivered.

None of the wise or powerful or great men of the city were delivered. The only one saved was a prostitute who had faith and acted on her faith.

God can and will use anyone who turns to Him in faith.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Just like you followed Moses?!?

So they answered Joshua, saying, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses. – Joshua 1.16-17

I only include this because it is one of favourite incidents of the Bible that we skip over far too quickly.

Remember that Joshua had been along since the very beginning of the wanderings in the wilderness. He had seen everything that had happened. He had seen how Moses led and how the people had followed.

So when the people said ‘we will obeyed Moses we are going to obey you.’

If I were Joshua I would have been less than excited. Just like they obeyed Moses?!? The had griped and complained and whined and rebelled. How was that supposed to encourage the new leader?

Anyway, I chuckle every time I see that.

But they did get one thing right – only the Lord your God be with you like he was with Moses.

Men change. They are not always reliable. They let us down.

But ‘God with us’ never fails.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Remember the word

“Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.’ – Joshua 1.13

I am getting pretty amazed by the number of times the word of God appears in the Old Testament accounts. I tend to think all about the history and the Law and all the exciting events and I can forget about the simple timeless truths that are as applicable to us as they were to those folks.

In there is a simple instruction as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. God says to Joshua ‘remember the word that Moses gave you when he said ‘God will give you rest and He will give you this land.’’

These were precious promises of God and Joshua and the people would need them when they faced the battles that were to come. When things got dark they would need to hear ‘remember the word.’

We have that same need. All of us, no matter how secure we think we are, face uncertain futures. None of us know what tomorrow might bring. But we do have the word of God to remind us of His promises.

And lo, I am with you always
I will never leave you or forsake you
The Lord knows what you need
My God shall supply all your needs
Don’t be afraid, don’t be dismayed, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go

Remember the word today.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016


Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1.6-9

What does it mean to be prosperous and successful? I’d wager to say that if we were to go out on the street we would get a wide range of opinions. For some it would be wealth and riches. For some it would be a secure job. For some I am sure it would be to have a good family and friends.

All of these things are decent ideas of prosperity and success. There are some out there who claim that financial prosperity is part of the gospel. They would tell us that we we don’t have money and financial blessings it is because we don’t have enough faith.

The Bible never speaks of this as being the kind of prosperity or success. When God speaks of such things He speaks so eternal prosperity and the kind of success that counts for eternity.

That means that real prosperity and real success comes as we strive for Christ-likeness. It comes as we seek to glorify God.

Keep God’s word. Obey His word. Keep our thoughts on His word. Speak His word. And then we will have the kind of prosperity that lasts forever.

This book

Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1.6-9

God’s people have always been people of the book. I think we have talked bout before how important it is for us to have God’s work written down. That of course goes way, way back.

As Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land Joshua knew that there were going to be many battles. He knew that when the going got tough the people would be tempted to be distracted by the troubles and the opposition. Joshua wanted to be sure that they thought about all the right things.

So he gave them a better plan. Don’t let the words of this book depart from your mouths. Always be speaking about the word of God. Meditate on it day and night. Keep your thoughts there. Do what it says – be doers of the word and not just hearers.

Like them we too have our share of battles. If we forget about the word of God we are going to be in big trouble. God’s word must go with us everyday and wherever we go. We can’t just talk about it and think about it we also must do it. Tomorrow we will see what happens if we do it.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Don't be afraid

Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1.6-9

Moses is dead. Joshua has taken over and he has a massive task ahead of him. It must have been a terrifying thought. All of a sudden it was all on Joshua’s shoulders.

What was he going to do?

How often have we been in situations like that? How often have we faced an uncertain future with unknown battles and scary situations and just not known how we we're going  to handle it.

I remember sitting with Matt when Michelle’s leukaemia was first detected. I remember wondering with him haw we were going to get through all this. I remember last summer when they told me that I had heart problems that were going to require triple bypass surgery. I remember the night they loaded me in the ambulance to take me to the other hospital and saying to Mary ‘I’m scared.’

We all face those kinds of scary situations all have some kind of inkling about how Joshua must have felt.

But God was with Joshua and we can rest assured that God is with us as well. ‘Be strong and be courageous. Don’t be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’

God went with Joshua into Canaan. He goes with us through financial challenges and sickness and operations and deaths and distresses and accidents and storms and whatever we care going to face and whatever is on our plates to face this week.

To each of these situations God says ‘don’t be afraid – I am with you.’ Can we trust Him as Joshua was called to do?

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Set your heart on the words

and he said to them: “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess. – Deuteronomy 32.46-47

I have been a bit surprised by how often the words of God are referred to in the book of Deuteronomy and about how applicable there are for the day. A lot of the things said here could very well be said in the church age. The age of Law, despite its firm set of rules and regulations still said a lot about the heart and about the word of God.

‘Set your hearts on all the words I testify…’ It wasn't good enough to just keep the letter of the Law – obedience had to come from the heart.

Setting our hearts is a choice we ought to make when we are first believers, but it is a choice we need to make every single day and indeed many times a day.

Part of the problem is that there are plenty of places to set our hearts today. There is politics or sports or family or all kinds of things that are not, by nature, bad things. The are also evil things that draw our hearts’ attention. We need to decide what we are going to pay heed to.

This verse reminds me of the verse in Colossians that says ‘if you are risen with Christ set you affection on things above…’

I also like the reason for this – ‘this is not a futile thing – this is your life – and in it you will prosper.’ Everything else is comparatively futile, vain, and empty.

Take heed to the word of God. It is our life. 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Their rock is not like our Rock

Their rock is not our Rock

For their rock is not like our Rock, Even our enemies themselves being judges. – Deuteronomy 32.31

Whenever I think about something built or based on a rock my mind goes back to Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. A rock pictures strength and stability and sturdiness and unmoveableness.

So the rock illustration is a great one and one that makes up a big part of our faith and even our culture as believers. We refer to our rock over and over in our songs and hymns.

On Christ the solid rock I stand
This Rock in Jesus, yes He’s the One (from 1 Corinthians 10.4)
The wise man built his house upon the rock
And so on and so on

I'm not sure, but I think this may be where it all started. Israel survived their forty years of wandering because, as it says here, ‘their rock is not like our Rock.’

What a perfect statement of our faith. What we set our foundation is not what everyone sets their foundation. Our Rock is the rock that is the only sure foundation. Everything else is going to crumble into dust and. I now it is not a perfect illustration, but when I look at Edinburgh Castle and see how it was cut into that solid bedrock all of those hundreds of years ago it is easy to see how it is still there.

And our Rock is even more secure. Our Rock is not like the others. He will never been broken up and we can depend on Him just like Israel did in the wilderness.

So what is your and my rock today? Is it family or friends or possessions or our job or our bank account?

Or is it the only Rock that will stand forever – Jesus Christ? 

Friday, 8 January 2016

The Lord alone led him

He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; - Deuteronomy 32.10-13

What is the answer to all of the problems we face? How do we get through all the struggles?

Israel surely must have asked the same question in the howling wilderness. How are we going to survive 40 years of this. They were tempted, and sometimes gave in to the idea that they could do it themselves, but they could never do it.

These wilderness wanderings a are a real picture of living a normal life full of victories and defeats and joys and sorrows and good and bad and right choices and poor choices. As we live our lives we face situations and decisions just like they did.

The Israelites made it, despite their difficulties, only made it because the Lord alone led them. As we live our Christian lives we too need to make sure that we have the right leadership. The only way to live a successful Christian life is by following the Lord’s leadership alone.

If I follow my flesh I will fail. If I follow the world’s ever changing counsel it will fail. If I follow worldly wisdom it will fail. If I follow any other false gods in my life they will fail.

The Lord alone is my only source of leadership that is going to carry me though. May it be said of me at the end of my days – ‘the Lord alone led Roger, and there was no strange God with him.’ 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Ascribe greatness

Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. – Deuteronomy 32.1-4

Ascribe greatness to our God the Rock
His work is perfect
All His ways are just
He is a God truth
In His is no sin
He is always just
He is always right


There is more there that we can hope to cover in one little blog post – but I like looking at the whole package and all of these descriptions packed together give us a wonderful way to see our God.

I think the focus here is simply the greatness of God and the call is for His people to acknowledge His greatness. There are plenty of reasons here to accept that God is great but sometimes I just need to recognise that He is great. He is greater than any of my problems. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. He is greater than my own sinful flesh. He is greater than my fears about the future. He is greater than my meagre bank account. He is greater than my even more meagre strengths and abilities.

Nothing is greater than He is. Nothing can disrupt His perfect plan. His greatness is always perfect and just and truth and sin free and right.

We all need to acknowledge the greatness of our God as we go through each day. Ascribe to Him the greatness He is due.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Till the were ended

And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.  – Deuteronomy 31.30

Moses was nothing if not faithful. God had given Moses a song which we get to see in chapter 32. I like how Moses carried out his task to speak the words of the song to the very end.

Now this may just be a statement of fact, but I think it is important to note that Moses did not stop half way. He taught the entire song and did not quit until he had it all done.

This reminds me of the New Testament injunction to preach the full counsel of God. We can’t pick and choose what we like and what we don’t like. Moses was faithful to proclaim all that God had said. He stayed at it until it was all done.

I guess the key lesson here for me is the simple lesson to stick with it, don’t quit when it comes to sharing the word of God.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

That they may hear

When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. – Deuteronomy 31.11-13

In preparation for handing over the reins of power to Joshua he gave him instructions for leading the people.

One of the most important things Joshua had to do was to take over the role of teaching the people. He was a good one to do it because only he and Caleb had seen the workings of God since the very beginning of the exodus from Egypt. He himself had been a witness to all the good and bad in the wilderness. He had watched God meet needs and shows mercy and dispenses righteous judgement so now he could bear witness to the rest of the people.

Teach the people the word of God so that they will hear it and know it and teach it to their children so that they may all learn to fear the Lord.

The purpose of Bible teaching hasn’t changed a whole lot since Joshua’s time. We should all desire to hear the word of God to learn how to live for God and what it means to fear Him.

We don’t have to be a pastor or Sunday School teacher or church leader in order to teach others. As God teaches us lessons we all ought to be witnesses of what He has taught us. 

Monday, 4 January 2016

God will not fail

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” - Deuteronomy 31:6-8

“Be strong and courageous’ are words that we read often in God’s word. Why does God say these things? The answer is right here.

The Lord God will go with you
The Lord God will not fail you
The Lord God will not forsake you

And because of all these words that Moses told Joshua he could say ‘don’t be afraid or dismayed.’

We are still looking at a fresh new year. Who knows what 2016 is going to bring? There is a lot of scary news out there. World politics and the world economy look unstable. Terror attacks are on the rise. Violence and wickedness are rampant. How bad can it get?

In a broken world full of broken people we are going to have plenty of trouble. Bu we also have the words that Moses gave Joshua and they speak of the character of God. God will be with us in 2016. He is not going to forsake. And He will not fail us.

I have been a Christian for almost 42 years. God is with me as much as He was the day He saved me. He has never failed me. And I can be confident that He is not going to fail me in 2016.

Who knows where we will be when 2017 arrives? Nobody knows what will happen between now and then – but we can know that God will still be with us and that 2016 is not the year He will fail us. That year will never come.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

God is your life

That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.  – Deuteronomy 30.20

Today’s thought ties into yesterday’s challenge to choose life because now we find out exactly what life is. Moses says ‘cleave to Him, because He is your life.’ This is not just an Old Testament principle of the Law –‘When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.’ (Colossians 3.4)

But as we look at this we need to ask ourselves ‘what is our life?’ Everyone could look at the lives and have a variety of answers to answer ‘what is my life?’ Some might answer ‘my kids are my life’ or ‘my work in my life’ or ‘rugby is my life’ or 'my spouse is my life’ or ‘my career is my life’ or whatever.

There is nothing wrong with those things  - but not as our life. Our life is whatever we give our all to, and only One is worthy of that kind of attention.

God is our life. Full stop.

Since, not if, God is our life He is worthy of our focus. He is worth following. He is worth obeying. He worth our time and effort. He is worth our prioritising.

Is Christ really my life as I start 2016? Have I determined to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified?

What is my life today?

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Choose life

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: - Deuteronomy 30.19

There are not many things more diametrically opposed as death and life. You cannot be both dead and alive at the same time. The applies to physical life and death and spiritual life and death.

Moses told the people they had a choice between life and death. God paid it out there and told then to choose life so that they and their people could continue on.

In a similar way we too have the choice of life and death. First we have the choice of life or death when it comes to salvation. That's a clear cut choice. God offers eternal life through the gift of Jesus on the cross. Accept that gift and choose eternal life or reject the gift and choose eternal death.

But every day we have a choice. We face decisions every day where we choose the way of life in Christ or we choose the way of the world’s death. The choice makes all the difference in the world because by our choices we point others to life or death.

Many of us have already chose eternal life, now may our daily choices reflect that choice. May we choose the way of life in all our decisions.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Secret things

The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. – Deuteronomy 29.29

We love to know, don’t we? As we enter a fresh new year wouldn’t it be great to have it all sussed and to know exactly what was going to happen? Would’t it be great to not be caught of guard and be able to prepare for whatever is coming? Would it be wonderful to know why stuff happens?

I am not so sure. If I had known what last July was going to bring it would have made for a pretty miserable first half of the year. I am glad God doesn’t let us know everything.

The same truth applies to spiritual things. There are things, the secret things of God, that we are not going to know and God is wise enough to not let us know what we don’t need to know.

The wonderful thing is that we don’t have to know everything because God gives us all we need in order to obey His word. God gives us His word and His word is ours forever. We can trust Him to take care of everything else.

God is not going to reveal it all to us, we couldn’t handle it if He did. But He does reveal all we need to do His words in 2016. Let’s just do it.