Day 120, April 30, 2021
Scriptures: Ruth 1-2, Psalm 129, Proverbs 30
Ruth Bible Project Video
As we begin a new book today, we cling to the previous words of Joshua, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
It is echoed today, in similar form, here in the book of Ruth.
Following a string of terrible circumstances, Naomi is without husband, sons and is vulnerable in in the land of Moab.
Naomi says to her daughter-in-laws, “Go get remarried, and leave me. I'm heading back home to Israel."
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
Ruth saw something within the faith of the family that she had married. Despite all of the hurt and suffering, or maybe perhaps in light of the suffering, she clung to Naomi. She was drawn to the God of Naomi. She would have no part of leaving her.
This will become a great blessing for Ruth. Out of tragedy will come blessing.
Let's cling to the Lord!
Day 119, April 29, 2021
Scriptures: Joshua 23-24, Psalm 115, Proverbs 29
Joshua 24:14–16 (TNIV) — 14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” 16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods!
Today, we get to read one of the best passages in all of the Bible. You perhaps have the scripture “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” on the wall of your home.
Joshua tells the story of the faithfulness of God and he gives the Israelites the option of serving the Lord or the gods of the surrounding nations. Will you serve the surrounding gods? Or will they serve Yahweh? Will they serve the One who rescued them from Israel and gave them the Promised Land, or will they serve the surrounding gods?
Psalm 115 offers a careful analysis of the option. You can choose the gods who don’t have a voice, they can’t speak, and they can’t talk, they can’t hear. They have lips, and eyes and ears, but they don’t work! Contrast that with the Lord, and he is the one who has delivered them, hears their cries, he is the one who knows all and sees all.
Joshua presents the option to the people, and he tells them the answer for he and his household. “We will serve the Lord.”
Far be it from us to forsake the Lord and serve anyone else, but the Lord Jesus Christ.
Declare today your service to Jesus our Lord,
Day 118 – April 28, 2021
Scriptures: Joshua 21-22, Proverbs 28
Proverbs 28:14 (TNIV) — 14 Blessed are those who always tremble before God, but those who harden their hearts fall into trouble.
Joshua 22:15–16 (TNIV) — 15 When they went to Gilead—to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh—they said to them: 16 “The whole assembly of the Lord says: ‘How could you break faith with the God of Israel like this? How could you turn away from the Lord and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now?
Joshua 22:18 (TNIV) — 18 And are you now turning away from the Lord? “ ‘If you rebel against the Lord today, tomorrow he will be angry with the whole community of Israel.
Those who harden their hearts, fall into trouble.
As we continue in the story of the Israelites, we will be reminded over and over again of their failure and their eventual return to faith.
There is something comforting in the story, that despite their failures and faithlessness, God will still accomplish his purposes.
Today, I pray that I would have a healthy fear and reverence for God. I pray that my heart would not be hardened to the good news, the love of God and all that he is doing in the world. It is easy for us to lose sight of God’s faithfulness. We must continue in our devotion to the Lord, our reverence for him. We revere God, in part, by giving proper credit to God, his faithfulness and love.
Have a great day!
Day 117, April 27, 2021
Scriptures: Joshua 19-20, Proverbs 27
Proverbs 27:12 - The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
At the end of our Joshua reading today, the Israelites appoint cities of refuge. This was a part of Levitical code, to establish cities of refuge for the sake of justice.
In the case of accidental death, there was an opportunity for the criminal to be fairly adjudicated. So often when someone is hurt, there is a quick retaliation. Often, the retaliation is worse than the crime. God cares for creation and humanity in his law for the Israelites, he instructs, “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.” This was a great way to keep from the escalation of violence.
The cities of refuge were similar in function. One more way to ensure the fair trial and treatment of people, and keep from the escalation of violence.
We are wise to take refuge in the midst of danger.
God offers for those in the midst of danger, a city of refuge.
God will become our refuge, he invites us into his home, as children of God through Jesus Christ.
Find refuge in Him.
Day 116, April 26, 2021
Scriptures: Joshua 16-18, Proverbs 26
Proverbs 26:20–21 - Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. 21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
As Joshua presses forward in dividing up the land, let’s talk about what divides churches and communities – That’s my awkward transition to express the wisdom of Proverbs 26:20.
To be clear, what God is doing in dividing up the land is a good thing. It was anticipated that God would apportion the land, and care for his people in this way.
Now to my point and concern. I’ve been a part of a community long enough to see the danger of gossip. Gossip is dangerous to the life of a community and prevents it from thriving. The avenues to share our gossip are more plentiful than ever before. It’s beyond the telephone and coffee shop. Gossip is ignited on social media and it gains so much traction within moments of whatever is posted online.
I say this because recently in our small community a terrible tragedy from a house fire turned into an even worse tragedy that sought to divide the community even more. God showed up at a community event though, and he broke down dividing walls of hostility. Truth helped the situation and fears subsided.
If we will move forward together as the church in today’s world, we will be wise to withhold fuel to the fires of division. There is enough conflict in the world right now, we don’t need to fuel it with gossip and slander.
We speak the Truth.
Day 115, April 25, 2021
Scriptures: Joshua 15, Proverbs 25
Proverbs 25:16–17 - If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit. 17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house— too much of you, and you will be hated.
Joshua 15 reads like a phone book from another country, and it is hard to know what exactly we are reading with a list of unfamiliar names. Simply, what is happening is the regions of the inheritance for the Israelites are being divided among the tribes of Israel.
I’ve chosen Proverbs 25:16-17 as a connecting point. God apportions the land among the Israelites. He knows what is good for them, and what wouldn’t be. So as God apportions the land for the Israelites, we are wise to trust in the grace of God’s provisions for us.
When we get off track is when we go too far. Similar to, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28)
There is a need for self-control. Too much of something good can corrupt.
As Joshua progresses and the people of God live in the land, pay attention to how well it works out when they go beyond what God apportions.
Trust in the Lord and His provisions,
Day 114, April 24, 2021
Scriptures: Joshua 13-14, Proverbs 24
Proverbs 24:13–14 “My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. 14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, you will find a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Joshua recounts what the Lord said to him when he gave the report on the land. He and Caleb were there, and gave a positive review and displayed trust in God to deliver the Israelites into the Promised Land safely.
Joshua recounts the story, proclaims the faithfulness of God, and receives the land God promised him 45 years earlier.
In a simple connection to Proverbs, I like to think that Joshua’s hope was not cut off. He had a greater wisdom than the other spies. He found his future. His hope was not cut off.
As we go about our day today, our wisdom for the day concerns itself with the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The troubles that we face may be great and many, but our Lord is with us. We have a future with Him, and our hope is not cut off.
Day 113, April 23, 2021
Scriptures: Joshua 11-12, Psalm 149, Proverbs 23
“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.” Proverbs 23:17
Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches. – Psalm 149:5
God is binding up the kings in Joshua 11-12, and opening the way for the Israelites to reside in the Promised land, free of foreign nations. Psalm 149 has a connection because it speaks of God binding up the kings, “to bind their kings with fetters and their nobles with chains of iron” (149:8).
It all is leading to exulting the Lord, celebrating him. We are all invited to live our lives zealously for the Lord, in reverence of Him.
I am reminded of Philippians 2, “Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess Christ as Lord.”
All of our the kings will be bound up and recognize the true Lordship of Jesus.
Day 112, April 22, 2021
Scriptures: Joshua 9-10, Proverbs 22
“The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.” (Joshua 9:14)
The Israelites sampled the provisions and bought into the ruse. The Gibeonites had tricked the Israelites into believing they were from a distant country. This failure to seek the Lord, will provide problems in the near future.
We often find ourselves in difficult situations because we do just what the Israelites did, they did not inquire of the Lord.
A whole book is written on the wisdom of seeking the Lord. In our Proverbs reading today, “Proverbs 22:17–19 “The words of the wise: Incline your ear and hear my words, and apply your mind to my teaching; 18 for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. 19 So that your trust may be in the Lord, I have made them known to you today—yes, to you.”
Seek the Lord, seek His wisdom and truth!
Day 111, April 21, 2021
Scriptures: Joshua 8, Proverbs 21, Psalm 33
Proverbs 21:30 No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel, can avail against the Lord.
As we read in Joshua, no armies will avail against the Lord, either.
We have entered into what will be a difficult several weeks of reading because of the violence that permeates the text of Joshua and Judges.
Entire cities will be ransacked, and people killed at the hand of the Israelites. We contrast the destruction of Ai, the impaling of its king with Psalm 33 “May your unfailing Love be with us Lord.”
We can wrestle with the violence of the Old Testament. How do we reconcile the God of love found in the New Testament, and the Old Testament’s usage of violence to accomplish God’s purposes?
It’s difficult and my short thought on it won’t properly do justice for the volumes of books that have been written on the matter of understanding God in light of the OT and NT.
Here’s my take on the violence of the Old Testament. The purging of evil came at great sacrifice of people. The Israelites wouldn’t have been able to live in the Promised Land safely had the corrupt people not be ousted from the land. God knew the hearts of the people would be easily persuaded away from Him if they did not purge the land of evil. They fall short of this endeavor, and evil will get the better of the Israelites. Trouble will come.
But there is a greater sacrifice to rid the world of evil. It comes not at the sacrifice of people and violence. God takes the violence of the world upon himself. God exhaust the darkness of its power. God takes on death, hatred, anger, violence, and frees us by the destruction of death’s power.
It doesn’t end the conversation. As we read this, we keep Christ in focus. God is opposed to violence. So opposed to it, he will lay his life down to empty it of its power. Christ will be the sacrifice to end all sacrifice. He will take the violence of the world upon his shoulders, that violence would no longer be the way in which his purposes are accomplished.
We can join with the Israelites what they sensed to know about God, what the Spirit revealed to them: “A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. 17 The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save. 18 Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, 19 to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield. 21 Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” (Psalm 33:16-22)
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.