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February 27, Sunday———————-ACCOUNTABILITY REMINDER
My Words in His Mouth — God’s prophet is one to whom God speaks in order to tell others: “I will put my words in his mouth” (v. 18). That was the primary means God used in the Old Testament times to communicate to His people. There was a potential problem, however, because anyone might say that God told him to say a certain thing. How would the listener discern who was true and who was false? That was the dilemma the people raised before Moses: “How may we know…?” (v. 21). God told them that the test was in the fulfillment. Does the prediction of the “prophet” come true? God’s true prophet has to be correct 100% of the time. A false prophet may be right occasionally through coincidence, but a true prophet is always right. That means that God’s prophet must not insert his own predictions to jeopardize his track record and his status. He must relate only what God tells him to say. Jesus was that final expected prophet like Moses, as Peter suggested in his early sermon (Acts 3:22-24). For our day, God has put His words in His book, the Bible, which is our prophet-source today. We can trust it because it is God’s Word and it is true.
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February 28, Monday———————ACCOUNTABILITY DEADLINE
Conditional Blessings — Nine times in this passage, God said He would “bless” His people in many ways. Great promises! However, those blessings were conditional, depending on their obedience. Five times, He tagged on the conditional expression, “…if you…” God’s blessings depended on the people’s obedience. This shows God’s goodness and love. He desires to give good things to us, but He demands obedience. Why thwart His desires? Why miss out on His blessings? If it is our heart’s desire to please God, His desire is to please us. Our motive for obeying should not be the blessings, but we should see the blessings as the natural consequence of our genuine obedience.
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March 1 , Tuesday
These are the final words of Moses, given the same day that God told him to climb Mount Nebo where he would view the Promised Land and then die (32:48-50). This is the Song of Moses that was given to the people to warn them about falling away from serving Yahweh alone in order to avoid suffering the punishing consequences. It is a long song but we will look at only the first few verses to see something it teaches us about God.
The Rock — This passage is filled with statements regarding the character of God, but one that stands out is that, for the first of 36 times in the Bible, God is referred to as “the Rock” (v. 4). In fact, God is referred to as a rock four times in this chapter (cf. vv. 15, 18, 30-31). A rock is symbolic of stability and permanency, like the Rock of Gibraltar. God is called “an everlasting rock” in Ps. 26:4. A rock is also a symbol of protection. Ten times in Scripture, God is referred to as a “rock of refuge” or a “fortress” (e.g., Ps. 71:3). Walls of rock surrounded ancient cities, protecting them. Four times in the Bible, the rock is used in a spiritual sense, seeing God as “the Rock of [my/our] salvation” (e.g., Ps. 89:26). That is also a picture of our protection—spiritual protection—as chosen and loved children of God. Like a rock, God is permanent and protective. He cannot be damaged, moved, or out-lasted. God is also rock-solid in the sense of quality. Ps. 92:15 says that “the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” That is like a diamond rock—pure, unblemished, valuable.
March 2, Wednesday
Conditions of Protection — God is referred to in this psalm in several ways that we have already seen and discussed: “the Most High … the Almighty … the LORD [Yahweh]” (vv. 1, 9). A newer one for us here is, “My refuge and my fortress” (v. 2). It is a picture of safety, but this protection has some conditions. One is that we must make an effort to come to the shelter of God to be protected: “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place” (v. 9). Our protection is in our surrender to God; we must take refuge. Another condition is that of trust: “…my God, in whom I trust” (v. 2). That is a step of faith. He promised to be our refuge and fortress; will we trust Him to do that? The last condition mentioned here involves relationship: “Because he holds fast to me in love … because he knows my name” (v. 14). God protects us because we are part of His family. Let us come, trust, and love this Refuge and Fortress!
March 3, Thursday
More Than Omnipresence — We have already considered the omnipresence of God, that He is everywhere present. That understanding dawned upon Jacob after his dream about the angels going up and down the ladder to heaven; he exclaimed, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it” (Gen. 28:17). It is true that God is everywhere, but in our passage for today, God suggested to Joshua that there is an even greater idea: “I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (v. 5), and “…the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (v. 9). Those statements are closely connected with three challenges to “be strong and courageous” (vv. 5, 7, 9). How are they connected? It is not only God’s presence that is being emphasized here, but also His power. Joshua was to be “strong and courageous” because God was going to do things through his leadership that were way beyond his own ability. It was a call to faith: Step out so that God can use you supernaturally! It was more than “I’ve got your back!”; it was, “You’ve got my power!” Would you face this day, this week, and this new month with that in mind? God is with you, not only in presence, but also in power. Trust Him to do through you that which you cannot do by yourself! He will.
Meditation: It is a great opportunity to use this meditation to consider meditating! During the first year after I turned my life over to Christ, I memorized this verse: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful 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” (v. 8). Notice that it was God’s “Law” on which Joshua was to meditate. Wouldn’t it seem much nicer to meditate on God’s promises? Why God’s laws? The verse gives the answer: “…so that you may be careful to do…” Think about God’s requirements in order to think about your responsibilities! If we don’t know what is right, we won’t do what is right. The opening of the book of Psalms describes the similar attitude of one who is blessed: “…his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2).
March 4, Friday
As Moses had led the people of Israel through the parting of the Red Sea to escape from Egypt, so Joshua led them through the parted Jordan River to escape the wilderness and enter the Promised Land. Joshua was the new, God-appointed leader of His people.
More Than an Angel — Earlier, God had promised Israel: “I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice … for my name is in him” (Ex. 23:20-21). He shows up in our passage for today, but he appears to be more than an angel. He didn’t have wings but looked like an ordinary soldier to Joshua. This visitor indicated that he was that promised angel by saying, “Now I have come,” calling himself “the commander of the army of the LORD” (v. 14). Joshua recognized the fulfillment of God’s promise and “fell on his face … and worshiped” (v. 14). This angel did not object, but when the Apostle John saw an angel in his vision and fell down to worship him, the angel said, “You must not do that! … Worship God” (Rev. 22:9). Joshua worshiped this “commander” as divine. He then showed his willingness to obey him when he asked, “What does my lord say to his servant?” (v. 14). His answer must have surprised Joshua because it was the same command God gave to Moses from the burning bush, “Take off your sandals because this is holy ground!” In both cases, God’s presence made the ground holy. This angel was really an appearance of God in a human form. He had come to demonstrate His protection of His people.
March 5, Saturday
After marching around Jericho seven times in one day, the walls fell down and Israel took the city. God had instructed them, however, that “all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD” (Joshua 6:19).
Sin in the Camp — It seems that Israel became overconfident in their ability to take over the land of Canaan. Jericho was easy and they probably thought that the city of Ai (meaning “ruin”) should be even easier. Joshua apparently didn’t even ask God about attacking Ai next. The spies advised him not to bother with the whole army. What they would learn is that nothing is easy unless God is in it. One man’s sin ruined it for two million Israelites. Thirty-six men died because of Achan, but he would also pay with his life, along with his family, who likely knew about his thieving sin and watched him dig the hole inside his tent. Of course, God knew who had sinned, but He made a public display of selecting the guilty party by tribe, then clan, then household, then man. Why? It was a lesson that the whole nation needed to learn: God demands purity and obedience among His people. One man’s sin was obstructing the direction of a whole nation. Will your sin affect the growth of your church? Probably. We are the people of God and we have a responsibility for purity and obedience just like Achan did.