Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 16: Joshua 13 – 14; Psalm 85; Proverbs 13:7-8; Luke 18:1-17


            Joshua: Joshua was getting old and the Lord told him so. He also told Joshua that there were still large areas of the land that still hadn’t been conquered. He said he would drive them out but Joshua had to divide the land as he had commanded.
            Each tribe’s inheritance in the land is described including cities and boundaries. The listings start with the land east of the Jordan for the half tribe of Manasseh, Reuben, and Gad.
            An explanation is given how the tribes will be given an inheritance by lot for the nine and one half of the tribes. The Levites get cities and pastureland but no other land. Joseph is counted as two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim.
            Caleb went to Joshua along with the tribe of Judah. Caleb reminded Joshua how he had been faithful to the Lord while spying out the land. He was promised the land where he had set foot. He explained he was still as strong as he was forty-five years earlier when he was forty years old. So he asked for the hill country of Hebron and Joshua gave it to him.
            Psalm: The sons of Korah remind the Lord that in the past, he forgave and restored Israel. They ask again for restoration and salvation. They ask if he will be angry forever. They want to be revived and have joy in the Lord again. They want to hear from the Lord and not return to their folly for salvation is near to those who fear the Lord.
            Their salvation is expressed in the land being able to produce because of God’s faithfulness and righteousness coming together and making a way.
            Proverbs: Pretending to be rich gains nothing especially if he is kidnapped for his supposed wealth. Pretending to be poor when rich may keep away threats.
            Luke: Jesus tells a parable about a judge who doesn’t fear God but finally give justice to a widow because she pesters him. Jesus uses this to show that persistence in pray is effective with God because God is ready and willing to give justice to his elected ones. However, when Jesus comes, will he find faith on the earth?
            Jesus told a parable because the Pharisees were self-righteous and looked down on others. In the parable, a Pharisee and a tax collector went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee told God all about how good he was and not like the tax collector. The tax collector asked for mercy. Jesus says the tax collector was justified because he knew he was a sinner. The Pharisee was not justified. People who exalt themselves will be humbled and people who humble themselves will be exalted.
            Some people brought infants so Jesus could touch them. The disciples rebuked them but Jesus told the disciples not to hinder the children from coming to him. The kingdom of God belongs to them. People need to receive the kingdom of God like little children.

What Stood Out

            Joshua: “Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said” (Josh 14:12).
            Psalm: “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly” (Ps 85:8).
            Proverbs: “A poor man hears no threat” (Prov 13:8).
            Luke: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).


            Joshua: Caleb was eighty-five years old and was still fit as a fiddle. His legacy was in great contrast to the other men of Israel. Other than he and Joshua, all the men of Israel who were forty years and older when they came out of Egypt died in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land. His strength didn’t depend on eating right and exercise, though he was probably doing both for those forty years. His strength depended on his attitude toward God.
            The people had feared the Anakim and felt like grasshoppers in their sight. Forty-five years later, Caleb is looking at these same people and he is determined to drive them out of the land with the Lord’s help. He left this legacy for both Israel and for us.
            We can do the Lord’s will because he is with us. When we are obedient to his command, we can be assured we will be able to do what he commands us. When we say we can’t witness to someone because we are afraid, the Lord tells us not to be afraid because he is with us (Jer 1:7-8). His power by the Holy Spirit enables us to be good witnesses (Acts 1:8). We don’t need to fear any circumstances in our lives as long as they aren’t caused by our sins. Even when we do sin and repent, we can be assured that he will work out things for good (Rom 8:28). There is no reason to fear the giants.
            Psalm: The sons of Korah are looking to God for salvation of the land and restoring the nation. They admit that without hearing from the Lord, they would turn back to folly. This is the problem with everyone, even Christians. When we don’t hear from the Lord, we inevitably turn to folly. Unless they are reading, studying, and meditation on God’s Word from the Bible, we are often led into folly because we are ignoring what God has plainly said. Instead, folly comes because we are depending on prophets, healing, and other outward evidences that God has spoken to us. We often throw out a “fleece” to see if we should do something or not when a careful examination of the Word and our circumstances would reveal that it is folly.
            A good example is when the people came to Jeremiah and asked for the Lord’s council whether to move to Egypt or stay in Judah after Babylon had burned Jerusalem and the temple. God told them not to go to Egypt. They responded by saying they had plenty when they made offering to the queen of heaven so they were going to ignore the Word spoken by Jeremiah, go to Egypt, and continue to serve the queen of heaven. See Jeremiah 44. We often do what we want and fall into folly when we ignore what the Lord says.
            Proverbs: Pretending to be poor to keep from being mugged or kidnapped seems to be the outward message of these proverbs. However, pretending to be something that we aren’t, especially because of fear, is no way to live. While it is no problem to live a frugal life when rich, we have to be careful of what we do with those riches. Is it to use the wealth for God’s glory or is it to escape perceived threats such as burglaries? If it is the latter, then that doesn’t bring glory to God.
            Pretending to be rich when we aren’t is even worse. Not only do we draw the attention of thieves, but bankruptcy will catch up with us. This is absolutely no option for people who want to glorify God in their lives.
            Luke: Jesus teaching about persevering in pray is followed by a rather cryptic comment. Will Jesus find faith on the earth? Was he talking about the current state of affairs because he was there, or is talking about his return? It may be both and even right now. The subject is persevering in prayer. He also follows up with a story about Pharisees and their self-righteousness. There may be a connection to both.
            Jesus is asking us if we will still be praying faithfully when we hit hard times and don’t see an answer. Will we become discouraged and stop praying? He is asking if we will be faithful to pray appropriately or will our prayers become like the Pharisee who thought he was doing everything he needed to be saved. Will we be like the tax collector whose prayer was simple, to the point, and reflected self-awareness of his position before God? Jesus may have been asking if we would be like those who pray and ask God for direction when the Word has already told them the way to go. Will our prayers be for justice or our convenience? These are a lot of questions but I can only answer them for myself.


            I need to examine my prayers to see how and why I’m praying. Do I have faith like Caleb to accomplish God’s will? Do I ask only for things that make my life easier when I should be asking for things that may make it harder? How do I view other in my prayers, as better than them or as sinners in need of mercy just like me?

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