Avenues of Grace

Seeking the Lord with Eyes Wide Open

Archive for the category “Tuesday History”

Choosing Your Side of the Wall: Joshua 6-10

You can download Tuesday’s reading HERE.

I’ll be honest. I’ve been stewing on this post for days. I wish I could tell you that what stood out most was Joshua and his men defeating all of their enemies and being victorious.  I wish my thoughts were that encouraging.  I wish that I didn’t read these chapters and cringe at the bloodshed within the pages, at the thought of countless men, women, and children dying. But that’s what stood out. That’s what seems to be imprinted on my memory– a very bleak picture of bloodshed and death.

And then comes the question that I have to admit to asking…why Lord?  Why did they ALL have to die?

It’s the same question that I remember facing in college.  I was working on my Master’s Degree, and I had a very, well, difficult professor. He deemed himself the “Fallen Priest” because he not only had a double doctorate in literature/history but also had a Master’s Degree in seminary, one that he obtained in his pursuit to prove the Bible wrong. Each time we had class, he would make sure to incorporate some remark, some way to scoff at Christians.  One day, I had enough and said something back to him.  He proceeded to tear me to shreds in front of the class and leave me speechless, not because I was at a loss for words, but because it became clear very quickly that his seminary education as an atheist proved to be more than I could compete with. I went home crying because I couldn’t believe that an atheist knew more about the Bible than me. But God allows everything for a reason, and amidst my tears of frustration, the Lord created in me a passion to immerse myself in His Word, a pursuit that will take the rest of my life.

So back to the question.  It’s an honest one, especially in our society where everyone wins, everyone gets a trophy, and everyone is accepted no matter what. So before I dive into this, I want to be clear: I am NOT an ear tickler.  This is not one of those warm, fuzzy-feeling kind of posts, so if that’s what you’re looking for, I’d suggest that you stop reading now.

I’ll start with this: We are NOT all God’s children.  There, I said it. I can feel your eyeballs bulging out of your head.  We hear that statement so often, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  The truth is that prior to salvation, we are enemies of God.  Yep, that’s right. Enemies.

  • Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Psalms 51:5
  • and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest… Ephesians 2:3
  • For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  Romans 5:10
  • And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— Colossians 1:21-22

There we have it. NOT all God’s children…God’s enemies. In fact, Romans 8:8 tells us that “those who are in the flesh CANNOT please God.”

Tough words, I know.  But the story doesn’t end there.  God has given us free will; He has sent us His Son; and He offers salvation to ALL who believe (Romans 1:16).

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were [i]born, not of [j]blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.   

John 1:12-13

In this world we have two types of people: enemies of God and children of God.  We are not entitled to the Kingdom of God simply because He created us.  The absolute ONLY way that we can become a child of God is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6, Galatians 3:26).

So now let’s apply this concept to Joshua’s conquest. Joshua and his people served the One True God.  None of the other people groups did.

But they were massacred! God didn’t even give them a chance! (You know the thought crossed your mind, too.)

Here is where we let Scripture speak for Scripture.  Is God good? Yes. Is He sovereign? Yes. Is His desire to save the world? Yes. Would He just randomly decide to kill “innocent” people? NO.

  • Let’s take Sodom and Gomorrah for example.  Their sin was so great that the Lord chose to completely destroy the cities.  One could argue the same about the men, women, and children being destroyed there.  Abraham, terrified that the angels were going to destroy the cities, seemed to have the same question.  He asks the angels whether or not they will destroy the cities if there are any righteous people in them.  They promise to not destroy the cities if they can even find just TEN righteous people.  But they couldn’t. So Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed. (Genesis 18)
  • Rahab likewise was from the town of Jericho, yet she wasn’t destroyed.  Her treason is not what saved her life.  Her belief and admission that the Israelites served the true God did, and it saved her family, too.

So why were those towns destroyed?  Because there was not one single person who would have chosen God, and in His sovereignty, He knew that.  He chose to destroy them because of their unbelief and also to fulfill his promise of giving the Israelites the Promised Land.

In the end, God’s people inherited a kingdom, and the enemies of God burned.  The same holds true for us today.  Joshua’s conquest is a picture of hope and a picture of destruction, but either way, it’s not a picture that we can ignore.  You see, the same principle applies for all of us: we will either choose Christ and have eternal life, or we will remain an enemy of God and sentence ourselves to destruction.  The walls of our lives will most certainly come down one day, but we get to make the choice of which side of the wall we will be on when it happens.

Trust and Vulnerability: Joshua 1-5

You can download today’s reading HERE.

This morning I sent my husband a text and told him that I needed to get my passport.  He immediately asked why, and I could sense the grin on his face. I replied, “Haiti.”

This past summer, he and some of the guys from my church went on a vision trip to a different area of Haiti than our previous involvements.  The place he went to was not even on the map, and he had to take a “puddle-jumper” (small airplane) to get there.  The trip coming up is a chance to train teachers and share the Gospel– two of my favorite things to do…but then there’s the airplane issue.  I absolutely, positively HATE to fly, so the thought of boarding a tiny plane with a gravel runway and flying to a place that isn’t on the map just doesn’t sound that appealing to me.  Except that I can’t stop thinking about it.  I wake up and think about it. I go to sleep and think about it.  And I know that God is telling me to go…and I have been running from that calling.  Why? Because I’m afraid… I don’t even ride the Ferris wheel!! Go ahead and laugh.

Then today I began reading Joshua.  I heard God whisper to him, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  And there it was: the final confirmation. Joshua had the reassurance that God would be with him, but he still had to choose to put one foot in front of the other as he commanded his people to cross the Jordan.  To add icing to the cake, God then commanded him to circumcise all of his warriors!  Now I don’t know about you, but crossing into enemy territory alone would be scary enough…let alone incapacitating my entire group of warriors for several days on the plain of the enemy.  I can just imagine the wide eyes, gritted teeth, and doubt that they had as they took this order.

But this is how God works.  At no point could the men rely on anyone or anything but GOD in their predicament. They had to wait, vulnerably, until they healed. In the meantime, rather than wallowing in self-pity, they rejoiced and took time to remember God’s blessings during the Passover.  In the end of chapter 5, we see something so much greater than Joshua could’ve ever imagined: God sends the Captain of the Host of the Lord to him.  On top of that, we later find out that Rahab, the prostitute from Jericho that hid Joshua’s men, is mentioned in the lineage of Christ Himself.

Can you imagine?

God has such HUGE plans for our lives and for His kingdom, but sometimes our involvement in His work requires us to take a leap of faith.  Are we missing out on His blessings because of fear? Are we running from what He is calling us to do?

Today I pray that we all put aside our fears and listen to the voice of our Shepherd. I pray that our faith will be strengthened by His might and that His Kingdom will be advanced through our obedience.

So I’m going to Haiti…and I might puke in the plane. Perhaps ya’ll can start praying for me now? 🙂

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