May 2020 Archives

His

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Today's reading: Psalm 100:3-5

Psalm 100:3 is one of my favorite verses in the psalms because of the message it conveys. And having grown up in a rural farming community (and living in the country now), I'm drawn to the visual this verse provides as well—especially the last few words that reference God's "pasture."

Right down the road from my current home are several pastures full of cattle I walk by frequently. I always take note of the pasture because it is so rich and lush with food and water. And I typically stop for a few minutes to watch the animals, who are satisfied and content. So when I read passages like Psalm 100:3 that tell us we are the "sheep of his pasture," it is comforting and pleasant to me.

"Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture" (vs. 3).

What does Psalm 100 convey about God's character? What does verse 3 reveal about God's love and care for you? Tami

Your Serve

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Today's reading: Psalm 100:1-2

At the beginning of Psalm 100, we're issued the call to "serve the LORD with gladness" with examples of making a joyful noise and singing (vs. 1). If you take a look at the word gladness in a thesaurus, you'll see descriptions like joy, delight, contentment, and cheerfulness. So while this psalm specifically mentions joyful noise and singing, serving with gladness can be demonstrated in other ways as well. A few things that come to my mind are having a grateful heart, demonstrating a loving attitude, helping others, and speaking encouraging words. But I'm certain there are many more ways to serve well with gladness.

On a typical day, what does serving the Lord with gladness look like for you? In other words, how would you describe the way you serve? What's one thing you can and will do this week to step up your gladness serving? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 17:1-6

After allotting land to the people of Ephraim (Joshua 16), Joshua turns to the people of Manasseh. As he is assigning and distributing portions, the daughters of Zelophehad come forward to assert a claim for their deceased father's portion of the land, which Moses had promised to them years earlier. Joshua acknowledges and accepts the petition and gives a portion of land to Zelophehad's daughters.

One of the things I like about this passage is how it demonstrates God's love, concern, care, and provision for women. In this time and culture, women didn't have many rights, and yet God took note of these women's circumstances and gave Moses special instructions to ensure for their care.

I also like the example of how the daughters approached an awkward and difficult situation. For whatever reason, they hadn't received the allotment God had promised them through Moses. So they come forward, united as a group, to respectfully remind Joshua of what had been promised to them and, in so doing, assert their claim for land.

How have you experienced God's love, concern, care, and provision (as a man or as a woman)? When you don't receive something you've been promised, how do you tend to respond? Why is keeping calm and being respectful so important when we find ourselves in a situation that calls for confrontation or where there is ongoing conflict? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 16:1–17:18

Chapters 16 and 17 of Joshua deal with the allotment of land to the line of Joseph through the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Like we've seen in earlier passages, certain tribes fail to drive out the inhabitants, who are enemies to the Israelites, and completely take over the land.

"However, [the Ephraimites] did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer" (Joshua 16:10).

"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).

Despite God's clear instructions to drive out all the inhabitants of the land He had given to Israel, it didn't happen. Instead, some of the groups responded in partial or incomplete obedience. Although it may have seemed like an easier solution and an insignificant deviation from God's instruction, this choice would result in far-reaching consequences for the nation of Israel for years to come.

Why is partial or incomplete obedience so tempting? How is it harmful to us spiritually? How does or has regularly taking in God's Word helped you make good choices when it comes to obeying God and living fully for Him? Tami

Fierce and Fair

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Today's reading: Joshua 15:13-19

Just a few days ago I wrote about how I loved Caleb's example of serving the Lord, and I have to reiterate that today with what we see in Joshua 15:13-19. After receiving the land promised him, Caleb takes action just as he indicated to Joshua: "So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the 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" (Joshua 14:12).

Joshua 15:14 tells us that Caleb drives out the sons of Anak, and verse 15 that he overtakes Debir. He then gives his daughter, Achsah, to Othniel (who will later be Israel's first judge; see Judges 3:7-11) to fulfill his pledge to whomever captures Kiriath-sepher. And then we see something out of the ordinary—Caleb honors his daughter by giving her land and then, at the request of his daughter, adds the very valuable gift of the upper and lower springs of the Negeb (vs. 19).

Everything we know about Caleb is noteworthy. There's no doubt he was wholeheartedly committed to serving God. And what I particularly like about his example from today's verses is his fierceness in continuing to follow after God and the fairness he demonstrates in honoring his word to Othniel, followed by how he lovingly and caringly provides for his daughter. All that to say, you and I would do well to make it our goal to serve God like Caleb.

What are some words you would use to describe your day-to-day living for and/or serving God? Would you include words like fierce and fair? What stood out or encouraged you from Caleb's example today, and why? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 15:13-63

Today is the second part of Joshua 15, which continues detailing the allotment of the land to the tribes of Israel. As I wrote yesterday, the content of these types of passages can feel a bit tedious. Nonetheless, they are an important part of Biblical history.

From time to time, there are what I like to call little nuggets of storyline tucked within the details. That's certainly the case with today's passage, where Caleb appears again and we get to see a bit more of his life story. So enjoy your reading, and like yesterday, ask God to reveal what He has for you from this passage, particularly the portion dealing with Caleb.

What does Joshua 15 reveal about God's faithfulness in fulfilling His promises to the Israelites? What does that suggest about God keeping His promises to us? What stood out to you from the continuation of Caleb's life story today, and why? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 15:1-12

Joshua 15 (as well as some of the chapters after it) details the allotment of the land to the different tribes of Israel. I have to be honest that I don't find these types of passages as engaging to read as the action-filled narratives of the previous chapters. (In fact, as I turned to chapter 15 this morning, I let out a resigned sigh before starting my reading.)

However, everything we're reading today (and in later chapters) is an important part of Biblical history. These chapters record and lay out exactly what took place with the Israelites, which was a necessary part of record keeping for Israel. These historical records are also important for us today in that they provide us with a picture of what was taking place and help us understand other scriptures.

So as you read chapter 15 today and then finish it tomorrow, ask God to reveal something to you from each passage. That was my prayer as I began reading this morning, and what God impressed on my heart was the importance of details and specific boundaries. With my legal education and background, the descriptions reminded me of modern-day property records (but minus all the degrees and measurements since surveying equipment hadn't been yet invented). God is certainly not vague with His instructions to us.

One more thing: as you read, remember that these records are part of God's Word. That means they are important to God. Therefore, they should be important to us as well.

What's one thing God showed you or impressed on your heart from this passage? What does the detailed information given here in Joshua 15 suggest about God's interest in the details of our lives? Tami

Holy

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Today's reading: Psalm 99:1-9

We're told three times in the nine short verses of Psalm 99 that God is holy—pure, righteous, and set apart from any evil. Accompanying this declaration is the command to praise His name, (vs. 3), exalt Him and worship at His footstool (vs. 5), and worship at His holy mountain (vs. 9).

Why is it important to know that God is holy? How can/will you put into practice the recurring instructions to exalt the Lord and worship Him this weekend and beyond? Tami

A Joyful Noise

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Today's reading: Psalm 98:1-9

The instruction to sing joyous songs and praises to the Lord is a clear one in Psalm 98. But in this particular song, the psalmist also includes an unusual description of nature praising God: "Let the sea roar. . . Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together" (vs. 7-8).

These verses reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago where I most definitely witnessed nature praising God firsthand. My sister and I were in Seattle, Washington, to attend a conference, and while we were there, we took a few hours to drive out to Snoqualmie Falls. It was magnificent! Before we could even see the falls, we could hear and feel it. Immediately after stepping out of our car, we could hear the rumbling of the water surging over the rocky cliff and pounding into river basin below even though we were over half a mile away. And as we walked through the forest to the lookout point, a heavy mist from the waterfall was falling over our heads like rain. After viewing the falls from the lookout point, we then hiked down the mountainside to the river basin. As we trekked down the winding trail, the sounds of birds, bugs, and other animals gloriously permeated the air.

We indeed experienced the rivers clapping their hands and the hills singing for joy together, and oh how beautiful it was! All that to say, if the rivers and hills can praise God that exuberantly, how much more can and should we—God's children—give God glory and make a joyful noise to Him?

When you think about making a joyful noise to the Lord, what comes to mind? What would it look like for you to "make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD" with abandon (vs. 6)? Tami

P.S. Here's a short video of Snoqualmie Falls I took with my phone. Take a look so you can have a little taste of the rivers clapping their hands.

Today's reading: Joshua 14:6-12

I LOVE Caleb because of what he shows us about serving the Lord. You'd never know that he was eighty-five years old from his attitude and actions, and his example is one that I want to follow. The older I get—and particularly now that I'm in my fifties—it's all too easy to buy into the message of the masses that once you hit a certain age (whatever that age is), you're outdated or not as desirable as you once were on a number of fronts. It's not true, and it's especially false when it comes to our spiritual life. As long as we're still drawing breath, God has a purpose for us.

Caleb knew this and he lived it—from a young age all the way to eighty-five and beyond! He was spunky, energetic, and full of enthusiasm for wholeheartedly living out his life in service to the Lord. Thank you, God, for giving us Caleb's example to encourage and inspire us. Help us be modern day Calebs.

What does Caleb's example show about serving the Lord no matter our age? How did Caleb's trust in God impact his attitude and actions—as a forty-year-old man spying out the land, and as an eighty-five-year-old asking for his inheritance? What does following the Lord "wholeheartedly" mean for you personally? What about Caleb (his actions, words, attitude, beliefs, etc.) stood out to you most from this passage, and why? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 14:1–15:63; Numbers 13:25–14:30

The Israelites continue to follow God's instructions as they divide the land God has given them west of the Jordan River. It's at this point that scripture once again mentions Caleb, who was one of the spies Moses initially sent into the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14). Caleb was the only returning spy to recommend that the Israelites proceed to take the land. The Israelites didn't listen because the other spies, who were afraid, had recommended not proceeding according to God's direction. Here are Caleb's words found in Numbers 14:7-9:

"The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them."

Unfortunately, Caleb's words went unheeded. God judged the Israelites as a result, not allowing any living at the time to enter the Promised Land, except for Caleb.

In Joshua 14, it is now forty-five years later. Caleb reminds Joshua of his faithfulness and asks for the promised inheritance given to him by God and Moses in Numbers 14. At the age of eighty-five, Caleb is still dedicated and faithful to God and tells Joshua that he is still strong and ready to drive the people out of the land before him. Caleb was truly a man following God.

What was the most important thing you learned from Caleb's actions and words in Numbers and Joshua? What does his example show us about serving the Lord as we grow older? Tami

Steady God

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Today's reading: Joshua 13:1–14:5

Even after many battles and defeating many kings, there is still a large portion of the Promised Land to be taken and possessed. With Joshua now an old man, the Lord speaks with him about his age and the remaining untaken regions. God tells Joshua that He will drive out the inhabitants of the mountain regions and then gives Joshua direction about allocating the mountain areas as an inheritance.

What does God's interaction with Joshua show about His continued faithfulness to Joshua and the Israelites? What does it reveal about God being aware of our life details and having a master plan to take care of and provide for His children? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 12:1-23

The process of the Israelites taking over the Promised Land was not a quick or easy one. Joshua 12 gives us a historical summary of the Israelites' battles under Moses and Joshua, along with the corresponding kings and lands that were overtaken and defeated.

What do the details we're given in Joshua 12 tell us about what we should expect as we navigate and move forward in life? How does reading a historical summary of the many battles required of Israel impact your perspective about life challenges and encountering difficulties as you serve and work for God? Tami

Solid Promises

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Today's reading: Joshua 11:1-23

I gave the following disclaimer a few days ago, but I am including it again today because of what we read in Joshua 11.

NOTE: The details of the battles Israel engages in as they move into the Promised Land are violent and brutal. They are difficult to read, and honestly, they don't always make sense to us. That being the case, as we read we need to keep in mind that this was a different time in history with a very different culture and that God's ways are not like ours.

Upon Israel's defeat of the southern kings and armies, the northern kings rally together to fight the Israelites. Their combined armies are massive in number and in strength: "And they came out. . . in number like the sand that is on the seashore" (vs. 4). But the Lord speaks to Joshua and tells him, "Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel" (vs. 6). With their focus fully on following God, the Israelites engage in brutal warfare with these armies. God fulfills His promise to Joshua, giving Israel victory over the entire northern region.

When you encounter a situation that looks insurmountable (financial problems, relationship struggles, health concerns, emotional problems, work conditions, etc.), how easy or difficult do you find it to trust God? Based on what we've read thus far in Joshua, how should we respond? When you read the Bible, do you believe and then stand on the promises you read in God's Word? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 97:1-12

Woven throughout Psalm 97 are a number of references to God being righteous. Verse 2 tells us that "righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne," and then in verse 6 we see "the heavens proclaim his righteousness." What a comfort to know that God's foundation—His core and substance—is good, upright, and just.

What encouragement or comfort did you draw from Psalm 97? What do verses 2 and 6 reveal about how God views and values doing what is right? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 97:1-12

The incredible power, strength, and might of God immediately came across to me as I began reading Psalm 97. Literally every verse contained at least one description or piece of information about God, and it all served to focus my attention on God's greatness. I definitely came away from my reading with a more complete picture of the incredible God we serve.

Take a couple of minutes and list out what you learned about God from Psalm 97. Other than great and mighty, what are some words you would use to describe God based on this psalm? Tami

Praying Boldly

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Today's reading: Joshua 10:12-14

The fact that Joshua was a bold person of prayer is evidenced by his conversation with God as the Israelites battle the kings of the Amorites who had gathered to attack the Gibeonites.

"At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD. . . in the sight of Israel, 'Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.' And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies" (vs. 12-13).

Joshua's prayer brought to mind a Bible study group I was involved in a few years back. This group used two of Mark Batterson's books, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge and The Circle Maker, both of which encourage readers to have a larger view of God and as a result be bold in how they pray. On Day 13 of the forty day prayer challenge, Mark Batterson writes: "The size of your prayers depends on the size of your God. If your god is small, you'll pray man-sized prayers. But if your God knows no limits, then neither will your prayers. The God we pray to exists outside the four space-time dimensions He created, and maybe we should pray that way" (Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, pg. 82).

I believe Joshua's example models the quote from Mark Batterson above. His prayer in the middle of this intense battle probably struck some of those who heard it as crazy, illogical, or even absurd. But Joshua knew just how BIG God is. And so he didn't hold back, not even one tiny bit, as he put his bold request before God—and God honored it.

Take some time today to reflect about your view of God, your prayers, and prayer life. When you talk with God and make requests to Him, what does it sound like? Would you describe your prayers as being more "man-sized" or leaning toward crazy bold? Will you join me in asking God to help us see Him as the all-powerful God that He is and pray with boldness and expectation? Tami

P.S. If you are looking for a study that will encourage and strengthen your prayer life, I absolutely suggest Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge. This study changed my perspective on prayer, and I continue to draw from it today. You can work through it alone or with a group.

Today's reading: Joshua 10:1-43

Joshua's hasty and careless decision to make a treaty with the people of Gibeon now puts the Israelites in the difficult position of being called on to defend Gibeon from a massive attack by the kings of the surrounding areas. However, the Lord tells Joshua, "Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you" (vs. 8).

Trusting God, Joshua marches all night to engage in battle. As the Israelites arrive at Gibeon, God intervenes, causing panic among the opposing warriors and hurling down large hailstones from heaven. Needing more time to defeat the opposing armies, Joshua prays to God in front of all of Israel, "Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the valley of Aijalon" (vs. 12). The Lord answers Joshua's prayer. The sun stays in the sky for an entire day, "for the LORD fought for Israel" (vs. 14).

NOTE: The details of the battles Israel engages in as they move into the Promised Land are violent and brutal. They are difficult to read, and honestly, they don't always make sense to us. That being the case, as we read we need to keep in mind that this was a different time in history with a very different culture and that God's ways are not like ours.

What's one example of how being careless with a decision (not seeking God but relying on your own feelings and understanding) ended up being a detriment to you at a later date? What does the treaty with the Gibeonites reveal about how seemingly small compromises can have BIG consequences? When has God fought for you? Do you pray for miraculous things? Why or why not? Is there an area in which you need to pray for a miracle today? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 9:16-27

After learning of the deception of the Gibeonites, the Israelites travel to the cities of Gibeon to confront their neighbors. The people of Israel are disgruntled about the treaty, but Joshua and his leadership team make the decision to honor the oath they had taken in front of the Lord. So rather than attacking, they meet face-to-face with the Gibeonite leaders, and Joshua imposes on the Gibeonites the task of being servants to the Israelites as cutters of wood and drawers of water.

When someone wrongs or takes advantage of you, how do you tend to respond? Is it your practice to address the offender? What does choosing to honor our word or uphold the terms of a contract or agreement (even if we've received the short end of the deal) convey to others about us as followers of Christ? Based on this passage, what value would you say God places on promises and oaths, and what does God expect of us when we choose to enter into a covenant? Tami

Consulting God

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Today's reading: Joshua 9:1-17

After Israel's victory over Ai, the kings of the surrounding areas are filled with fear and draw together in preparation for war. But the people of Gibeon choose a different approach. Instead of joining with the group and readying themselves to fight, they turn to deception as a means of protection. Purposefully armed with worn-out clothing and supplies and old, dry food, ambassadors from Gibeon travel to Gilgal where they lie to Joshua about who they are and where they have come from. They then ask for a peace treaty with Israel.

What you would expect and hope to see next is Joshua and his team of leaders consulting God about how they should proceed in this important situation. Instead we see the opposite. Verses 14-15 tell us:

"So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them" (emphasis mine).

Without consulting the Lord, Joshua makes a treaty only to discover three days later that he had made a covenant with the very people God had instructed the Israelites to drive out from the land. This failure to seek God's direction will bring consequences for the Israelites for years and years to come.

When or in what type of situation are you most tempted to take action without consulting God? What does Joshua's example show about the dangers of developing an over-confident attitude, becoming prideful and/or losing focus after a victory or high point? Based on this account, why is it important for us to do homework (verify details, check into someone's story, secure references, etc.) when we're making a decision about partnering with another person either informally or formally, like when we sign a contract or enter into a business arrangement? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 8:30-35

After securing victory over Ai, Joshua builds an alter for a peace and burnt offering where the Israelites renew their commitment to God. Joshua then reads out loud to the entire assembly—Israelites of all ages as well as those who had joined them along their journey—every single word of God's commandments that had been given to them through Moses.

Why is it important to renew our commitment to God from time to time? Based on this account, how essential is it for us to know and understand God's instructions to us in the Bible and to regularly spend time with God in His Word? How does reading scripture out loud benefit or impact us? Tami

Bust Your Ruts

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Today's reading: Psalm 96:1-13

The very first verse of Psalm 96 urges us to sing a "new" song to the Lord. What a great reminder that our relationship with God is an active and growing one. Not only do have the freedom to be creative and spontaneous with God, but God also enjoys it when are.

For the most part, we're creatures of habit, which means it's not too difficult for us to fall into a spiritual rut. Our praise, worship, and interactions with God become routine, even mundane. We do and say the same things because it's what we know and what feels comfortable to us. So I invite you to join me in embracing this call to try something new as you interact with God in the coming week.

What might singing a "new" song to the Lord mean for you personally? What's one thing you can do to interact with God in a fresh way this week (pray in a different spot, add some new worship songs to your playlist, talk out loud with God, change up what you're doing as you spending time in God's Word, etc.)? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 96:1-13

"Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!" (vs. 7-8)

I'm a verbal person, so I'm drawn to the message running throughout Psalm 96 to verbally attribute and give glory to God.

  • Verse 1: "Sing to the LORD.
  • Verse 2: "Sing to the LORD" and "tell of his salvation from day to day."
  • Verse 3: "Declare his glory among the nations."
  • Verse 10: "Say among the nations, 'The LORD reigns!'"

Is it your practice to verbally ascribe and give glory to the Lord? Why is this important? Take a couple of minutes to think about how you can up your game in this area. How and to whom can/will you give God credit and glory this weekend? Tami

Round Two

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Today's reading: Joshua 8:1-29

Round two with the city of Ai brings a very different outcome than the first time the Israelites attacked. With God now at the helm and Israel's focus completely on Him, Ai is thoroughly defeated. And not only are the Israelites victorious, but God also gives them the livestock and spoils of the city as plunder for themselves (vs. 2). What a contrast between this attack—with God directing and leading—and the first attack where Joshua and the people moved without seeking God's direction and relied on their own strength.

What does the second attack of Ai show about God's forgiving nature, His great love for us as His children, and His incredible provision when we choose to follow Him wholeheartedly? What impact does having a "clean slate" with God (no unconfessed sin) have on our attitude, motivation, and service? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 7:1-26

Despite Joshua's explicit command to "keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction" (Joshua 6:18), certain people violate his directive. Unaware of this disobedience, Joshua sends men to Ai to spy out the land. The men return to report that only a few thousand men are needed to take the city, so Joshua deploys 3,000 warriors—without consulting God. But instead of victory, Israel suffers an embarrassing defeat. The Israelites were chased before the gate and struck down, and their hearts "melted and became as water" (vs. 7:5). A distressed and doubting Joshua complains to God only to discover that the defeat was the result of sin connected with Jericho. God then commands Joshua to resolve the situation in a manner that seems harsh to us as we read this passage with our grace-filled understanding of today.

What does this passage reveal about the temptation money and possessions present? What are some ways we can guard against and combat the powerful pull of money? Is it your habit to consult God before making important decisions? When or in what type of situations are you most likely to take action without inquiring of God? What does this account show about God's desire for us to be fully committed to Him, living rightly and with a pure heart? What does it show about consequences when we sin? How does consistently being in God's Word help us keep our focus on God and proper living? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 6:1-27

Yesterday I wrote about how God's plan for the Israelite's overtaking Jericho was unconventional. I continued to think about this story and its details throughout the day, and as my head hit the pillow last night, the fact that God's timing was also unconventional was at the forefront of my mind.

God didn't need seven days to topple Jericho. He could have done that in an instant. So why did God choose this seven-day battle plan? And what application did it have for my journey right now?

Here's where I landed. As I prayed in preparation for sleep, God impressed on my heart that His timing is perfect, both for the battle of Jericho and for me right now—no shortcuts or running ahead needed. That stung a bit. You see, while I absolutely know that whatever timing God chooses is the best, I struggle with the wait. And this present shutdown of most things in our world because of the coronavirus has me restless and wanting to take action in a number of areas (and I'm guessing I'm not alone).

But if I look back at my history, every time I had that restless feeling, once I got through the wait, I could then see how this period helped me grow in areas like trust, submission, patience, and obedience. No doubt the Israelites also grew in these areas as they followed God's plan for overtaking Jericho.

How willing are you to wait on God's timing? Think of a time when you chose to be patient and wait on God. What was the outcome? How did you see God move and provide? Do you find it difficult to take action when God's plan doesn't seem to make sense to you? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 6:1-27

The Israelites are now camped just outside of Jericho, and they know that in short order a battle for the city is going to take place. But the battle plan God gives them is nothing like any battle plan they've seen before, nor is it one they would have imagined. It is truly unconventional. Rather than building a siege ramp up to and over the city walls or sending in waves of men to climb into the city, God's plan consists of marching around the city, blowing trumpets, and shouting. I'm sure when Joshua and the Israelites heard the plan they must have been thinking "What?!"

But they trusted God and followed His instructions to the letter, and God did exactly as He promised—He gave Jericho into their hands by crumbling the walls surrounding the city when all the people shouted on the seventh time around the city on the seventh day.

As I thought about this account, Jesus's words to the disciples that "with God all things are possible" came to mind (Matthew 19:26). God's unconventional battle plan was perfect. It provided the Israelites with yet another extraordinary demonstration of His sovereignty, control, and might.

Do you find it difficult to take action when God's plan doesn't seem to make sense to you? How does knowing that God often works in unconventional ways encourage you today? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 5:13-15

Although I had intended to move on to Joshua 6 today, I was drawn back to the last couple of verses of chapter 5 again this morning because of Joshua's example. Despite being a "newbie" in the head leadership role for the Israelites, Joshua's response to encountering the "commander of the army of the LORD" reveals much about the strength of his leadership (vs. 14). It contains some good lessons for us about facing, encountering, and responding to unexpected and/or difficult situations.

Joshua wasn't expecting to meet this man and had no idea who he was. As such, the encounter had to have been startling as well as potentially dangerous, especially since the man was armed with a drawn sword. Yet Joshua handles the situation well and wisely. Here are some of the things I noticed:

  • He stays calm.
  • He stands his ground instead of turning and fleeing.
  • He doesn't jump to any conclusions about the man.
  • He investigates the situation, seeking truth by asking direct questions.
  • He listens to the man's responses.
  • He's discerning about what he hears and takes action accordingly.

Unexpected circumstances crop up all the time. The good ones aren't typically a problem, but when the unexpected comes in the form of a difficulty—job loss, bad health report, death of a family member or friend, unplanned repair bills—being able to respond well on the front end can make a huge, positive difference down the road.

Joshua's example in this less than optimal situation was good, and what stood out most prominently to me was how he stayed calm and didn't jump to any conclusions. Speaking from experience, so often when the unexpected happens, our emotions kick in and we start to panic. Once that happens, our minds race to all the "what if" situations, and more often than not, things typically go downhill quickly from there.

Did you notice anything from Joshua's example that I didn't list above? What stood out to you most from Joshua's example, and why? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 95:1-11

The message that God takes pleasure in our praising, worshipping, and seeking after Him comes across clearly in Psalm 95. I not only like that message but also enjoy the imagery of the "all in" praising it portrays. Whenever I read it, my spirits are lifted.

How often do you think about your praise and worship being something that pleases God? How are you going to please God with your praise and worship this weekend (outside of church, since most of us are still sheltering in place)? Tami

Just God

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Today's reading: Psalm 94:1-23

The words being lifted to God by the psalmist in Psalm 94 spoke to my heart. The psalmist is troubled by the sinful behaviors he is observing and experiencing. So he cries out to God, pointing out the injustices taking place. He next offers a warning message to those around him, reminding them about who God is. Finally, he concludes with a personal recognizing and praising of God for being his strength during these difficult times as he waits for God to move.

Is your heart grieved when you see people rejecting God and turning away from His instruction? Does what you see in the world around you motivate you to tell others about Christ? How is God your help and stronghold as you live in a world that isn't devoted to following God? Tami

Today's reading: Joshua 5:13-15

As Joshua is preparing to take possession of the city of Jericho, he encounters a man who identifies himself as the commander of the Lord's army. This man gives Joshua the same command God gave Moses at the burning bush (see Exodus 3)—to take off his sandals because the ground on which he is standing is holy. I can only imagine the encouragement these words provided, reaffirming to Joshua that he was God's chosen leader, that God was with the Israelites, and that He would guide and protect them as they pressed into the Promised Land by taking action against Jericho.

This passage prompted me to think about how God has provided confirmation and encouragement to me many times in the past through people, circumstances, or a particular Bible passage He directed me to. One recent example from my life has to do with my new cookie business.

For quite a few years I have felt that God has been telling me to start my own business. That message has since focused and told me to start a baking business, cookies to more specific. But starting a business takes money, which I didn't have a lot of. Nonetheless, almost two years ago now, I decided to take a step forward. I incorporated and got a business structure in place.

Then last spring I decided it was time to start baking part-time from my home. While I was excited about my new venture, I found myself struggling with feelings of uncertainty and doubt. My husband and I were fairly new to our community, so no one really knew about me or my business. One Sunday night as I went to bed, I poured my heart out (even more than normal) to God about this business—my fears, concerns, questions, you name it—and asked Him to please confirm if this desire was truly from Him or if I was mistaken and just pursuing something I wanted.

Less than twelve hours after that prayer, as I was working on writing for Powered by 4, my phone rang. It was the local newspaper calling to see if I would be amenable to them doing an article on my business, Crave Cookie Company. I was surprised—shocked, actually—but of course I agreed. As I hung up the phone, I started to cry, because I knew God had sent confirmation to me that, yes, Crave Cookie Company was a desire He had placed on my heart.

But the confirmation didn't stop there. The following week a young lady came to the house to interview me and take pictures. I thought I was getting a mention in the daily newspaper, which was wonderful. But that didn't happen. Instead, a few weeks later I discovered that the article was for a bimonthly magazine that is distributed to our entire county and that I had been featured in that magazine with a lengthy, multipage article with lots of full color photos. How awesome is that? When I saw the article, I cried—hard. God is so good and faithful, even when I am not. And not surprisingly, the timing of the article publication was perfect for when I needed another dose of confirmation.

What's one example of when God provided confirmation to you in the past? How did He give you that confirmation? How did you respond? Tami

About Me

Hi, my name is Tami Weissert, the P4 facilitator and the "voice" behind the blogs. I'm passionate about helping people grow spiritually and actively encourage Bible engagement through conference speaking and writing. I also served as co-host of the Back to the Bible radio program for over 8 years. A little about me. I'm married to Jeff, and we love scuba diving, playing with our 3 dachshunds and going to Husker football games. I also love growing orchids, singing and Diet Pepsi. I hope you'll join in the conversation as we read the Bible and grow together.

About My Blog

I'm passionate about engaging God's Word! And my blog is about just that--giving you opportunities to receive, reflect on and respond to Scripture. Each day you'll find a short passage as well as thoughts, challenges and application questions for you to think about and respond to. I look forward to interacting with you and learning together, so post comments as often as you'd like. You can even sign up to get the blogs delivered to your inbox each day!

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