Readings

God speaks to us through Scripture. When we are lost, we know that we can look to His Word for guidance. We invite you to join us in daily reading as we go through the Bible together and learn as a family.

No better example of this scripture can be found than in the story of the little maiden named Mary. Though she was young and from a lowly town in Galilee called Nazareth, Mary believed God. Because of her belief, all generations have called her blessed.

The examples from the Bible are many of those whom God exalted. As a nation, Israel was blessed and exalted. When Balak tried to curse God’s people, God told him, “You are not to curse these people, for I have blessed them!” (Numbers 22:12). Yet another example of the exalting of the Lord is found in the life of David, who was taken from the field while tending a few sheep and exalted to be king of Israel. Joseph, who was languishing in an Egyptian prison, also witnessed the blessing of the Lord that brought him to Pharaoh’s right hand in exaltation.

We must value the blessing of the Lord upon our lives because it exalts us before the heathen and brings great glory to God. May the blessing bestowed upon a simple virgin of Nazareth remind us of one eternal truth: God’s “mighty arm does tremendous things! How he scatters the proud and haughty ones! He has taken princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly” (Luke 1:51-52).

Be blessed . . . then exalted!

The tongue is the center of sin in the body. In James 3:6 it is described as a “flame of fire,” capable of causing much wickedness. How important it is, therefore, that the tongue be used for the purposes of God!

In Numbers 22 we see an astounding miracle of speech rendered by God. Balaam’s donkey obviously could not speak, but it was given words to rebuke Balaam in his madness (v. 28). If God could open the mouth of a donkey, how much more can He open our mouths for His glory! Further along in the story, Balaam, being unable to curse Israel with his mouth, could only speak a blessing over the nation.

In the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, God struck Zechariah dumb for nine months because he had used his tongue to voice unbelief. Then God healed him supernaturally and filled his mouth with a blessing for Israel (Luke 1:67). Zechariah absolutely overflowed with praise to the God of Israel who was showing them mercy, rescuing them from their enemies, and granting them salvation.

Before we met Christ, we used our mouths to curse, defile, and destroy others. Now that Christ lives in us, we can yield our speech to the Holy Spirit so we may instruct, correct, and encourage others. Offer your tongue to God as “the pen of a skillful poet” (Psalm 45:1). He will fill your mouth with praise and prophecy that will bring glory to God and bind the powers of darkness.

We call the leading character in a movie, a play, or an athletic event the star. God has a Star and desires that every eye be upon Him!

In his final prophecies, Balaam saw a vision of a star rising out of Jacob. In the distance beyond the camp of Israel, Balaam could see Israel’s supreme Leader who would crush Moab. When the devil looks out over the Church, he is blinded by the light of our Bright and Morning Star, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus rises above all our enemies in His glory.

The shepherds saw the Star of all history face-to-face the night He was born in a manger (Luke 2:16). Tradition says the star Balaam saw was the same one the wise men followed from the East to find Christ. Moved by the Spirit, Simeon entered the temple and held in his arms the “light to reveal God to the nations” (Luke 2:32).

May we never move our eyes away from the Centerpiece of God’s universe: Jesus, the Star of Jacob.

God is a God of victory. The Church is not on the defensive, but displays a banner of victory. We see this banner as David went into battle, for he reminded himself of God’s overwhelming strength against the enemy. We see this banner in Romans 8:31, where Paul wrote, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”

The nations of the world do not belong to the devil, but to God. His Church is the means by which the nations will be conquered. The first part of Psalm 60:8 declares, “Moab will become my lowly servant,” meaning that the nations will serve the Church. The second part of that verse says, “Over Edom will I cast out my shoe” (KJV), indicating ownership. (In biblical times, ownership was marked by a person’s taking off his shoe and throwing it down upon his inheritance.)

How many nations are waiting to be claimed by the Body of Christ? Let’s “take our shoes off”and begin in prayer to “throw them down” upon our inheritance. Let’s lift high the banner of the cross of Christ, valiantly defying the claim of the enemy over our God-given heritage. May we never forget that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37 KJV).

Your spiritual inheritance is the most important thing you possess. The daughters of Zelophehad knew that and thus demanded their inheritance (Numbers 27:4). They refused to let any factor stand in their way of possessing what their father had left to them, and consequently, God honored their faith.

Your spiritual inheritance may be the transfer of someone else’s anointing to you before that person’s death. Moses transferred his anointing to Joshua by the laying on of hands (Numbers 27:23). Jesus received His inheritance when He went into the Jordan and was baptized by John (Luke 3:21-22). Elisha appropriated his inheritance when he saw Elijah go up in a whirlwind and drop his mantle from the chariot (2 Kings 2:11-13).

God has given you a mantle of inheritance—some ministry, some mission, some calling—that belongs to you alone. Will you be like Esau who despised his inheritance and birthright and sold it all for a little bowl of soup? Never forfeit or throw your heritage away as though it were worthless. Instead, seize it, claim it, and believe that God will use it to glorify His name.

Faith is trust, and trust is faith. When a deposit is placed in a trust account, we can be confident that it is safe. Do we trust God like that? It is easy to trust Him when we are in control, but what about when the situation moves outside our control? Can we trust Him at all times? David went through perilous times, but in each situation he would pour out his heart to God (v. 8) as his chief Confidant and Refuge.

Everyone trusts someone or something, and with many, it is their money. “Don’t try to get rich by extortion or robbery. And if your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life” (Psalm 62:10). Paul told Timothy to “tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). 

We must unplug our trust from anything in this world: our money, the promises of others, even ourselves. We must then transfer our total trust to God and relax, knowing that our deposit is safe!

Jesus spent His first forty days after baptism in the wilderness east of Jerusalem. Far from the distractions of life, He passed through the fires of temptation and learned total dependence upon God.

Moses said to Israel, “Anything made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, or lead—that is, metals that do not burn—must be passed through fire in order to be made ceremonially pure” (Numbers 31:22-23). Nothing is acceptable to God unless it has been passed through the fire. Temptation proves the quality of your “metal.” Though Jesus was severely tempted three times by the devil, He came forth as purest gold.

While Jesus was passing through the temptation, a second dynamic was taking place in His life: He was drawing into close communion with the Father. His soul and His body, though fasting, were satisfied with “more than the richest of foods” (Psalm 63:5) as He learned to cling to God (v. 8) in close communion.

These two lessons are our greatest challenges: “Resist the Devil” and “draw close to God” (James 4:7-8). Are you ready for the lessons of the wilderness?

Israel realized that the gods of Egypt that had held them captive for so long were defeated through the ten plagues. For example, the “god of the Nile” was defeated when the mighty river was turned to blood (Exodus 7:20-21), and the “sun god” was defeated by the darkness that fell upon the land (Exodus 10:21-23). After the final plague concerning the firstborn, the Israelites were free to go. Triumphantly they left the land of their captivity. They did not slither out of town or run for their lives in the night. Instead, they “left defiantly, in full view of all the Egyptians” (Numbers 33:3).

As New Testament believers, we have the same privilege of boldness as did the Israelites. Jesus has conquered our enemies: “The time of judgment for the world has come, when the prince of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31). Therefore, we should exhibit the same boldness against the devil as did Jesus when He openly ordered the demon to “be silent” (Luke 4:35). Jesus saw sickness and demonic possession as an unfair encroachment of the enemy, and so should we.

Rise up today and boldly break free from Satan’s chains and bondage. The price has been paid for your freedom. Purpose to serve Pharaoh no more!

Forgiveness and mercy are the highest items on God’s agenda. The city of refuge was a designated place of grace where someone who had made a mistake could run for shelter and protection from revenge. When the high priest died, the person who had been spared from judgment was also restored to a normal life.

The man let down through the roof into Jesus’ presence heard Jesus tell him, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20). That one statement encompassed both his forgiveness and his healing. When your sins are forgiven, healing is easy!

Jesus, our High Priest, died in our place. Now we are free to live as forgiven, restored sinners. When we were overcome by our sins, Jesus forgave our transgressions (Psalm 65:3). Though we cannot see sin, it is an overwhelming enemy. It afflicts us, crushes the life out of us, and can take us to hell forever.

Run to the city of refuge! Run to the mercy seat! You are forgiven through the blood of Christ, and now, like the paralytic, you can “stand up, take your mat, and go on home” (Luke 5:24).

Three powerful verses in Proverbs 11 remind us of the ageless principles of giving. First, you cannot outgive God. Proverbs 11:24 says, “It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything.” Giving is the secret to abundance and increase.

Second, if you purpose in life to “refresh others” (Proverbs 11:25) and not just be concerned for yourself, God will be sure to supply your own needs as well. You must make it your goal in life to bring joy and happiness to others through generously giving to them. You will be personally refreshed from watching their joy, and God will make certain that someone comes along occasionally to refresh you!

Finally, if you hoard what you have been given instead of sharing it, you will be cursed instead of blessed (Proverbs 11:26). Because giving is so much a part of God’s nature, your gift brings you into His heavenly economy. Even though you may have a need, invest in others, and you will gain, prosper, and be crowned with blessing!

It is no accident that the word forgive comes from the word give. Jesus taught both principles in conjunction with each other. If you forgive, you will receive forgiveness.  If you give, others will also give to you. The spirits of forgiveness and giving are opposite from the spirits of the devil.

People in the world lash out at anyone who mistreats or abuses them. Jesus said, however,“God blesses you who are hated and excluded and mocked and cursed because you are identified with me, the Son of Man. When that happens, rejoice! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. . ..” (Luke 6:22-23). He also encouraged His disciples to love, do good, and pray for those who mistreated them (vv. 27-28). In the same passage He continued, saying, “Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back” (v. 30).

You are called to be God’s channel of mercy. He wants to use you to pour His grace and blessing upon the world. You must not block that flow through unforgiveness or stinginess. You must let forgiveness and giving flow. When you do, God will bless you, “full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over” (Luke 6:38). Give and forgive. “Then your reward from heaven will be very great….” (v. 35).

God is different from all other supposed gods in that He is invisible and His Word is His power. The idols of the earth are just senseless, speechless gods “that neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell” (v. 28). By contrast, our God is a “devouring fire, a jealous God” (v. 24). How important it is then for us to hear and heed His voice!

The centurion in the New Testament recognized the power of Jesus’ voice: “Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:7). Our faith, too, rests in the voice of our invisible God. When God speaks, it is with the voice of absolute authority. His Word contains the power of His ability!

Why do we look for tokens and trinkets of religion when we have His Word? Whether thundering and booming from Sinai or softly spoken from the pages of our Bible, His Word is the same. “The Lord announced the word, and great was the company of those who proclaimed it” (Psalm 68:11 NIV).

Loving the Lord your God with all your heart is the greatest commandment. It means you should love Him intimately—an action called worship. One who loves his beloved intimately is totally focused on that person, giving to him his heart, soul, and strength.

In heaven, the angels and saints spend eternity worshiping and loving God. Should it be odd for us to spend time with Him now, worshiping and loving the One who is the total focus of our lives?

The second great commandment says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). We call this action ministry. Jesus modeled this commandment when He met the funeral procession coming out of Nain. Luke records, “When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. ‘Don’t cry!’ he said” (Luke 7:13).

This is true ministry: loving people and their problems with all your heart, soul, and strength. Learn to make your worship to God and your ministry to people the two focal points of your life. This is love and the path to eternal joy.

The women who traveled with Jesus and His disciples were “contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples”

(Luke 8:3). Joanna was the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household. She obviously was a person of great means, and God used her as a channel to supply the needs of the Son of God here on earth.

What a privilege it must have been to give one’s personal wealth for Jesus’ daily provision of food, clothing, and shelter! While Jesus presented the life-giving Word to the cities and villages in the area, these generous and loving women kept the supply lines open to the battlefront.

Wealth is given by God to finance His purposes in redeeming humanity (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). He blessed His people in Palestine, “a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking” (v. 9). He still blesses His people with wealth today, not so they can hoard it and become proud, but as a means for world evangelism.

Claim your abundance, and then pour it upon the feet of Jesus (Luke 7:37-38). You will not lose your wealth, for in eternity you will find it again.

A proud, resistant heart pays no attention to the Word of God. Israel was stubborn, self-willed, disobedient, and hardhearted. How often have we followed suit and lived in habits and patterns that were obviously contrary to the Word of God? However, a tender heart that receives the Word of God and submits to it is precious to the Lord.

Jesus encouraged His disciples to be those of a noble and good heart, who heard the Word, retained it, and by persevering would “steadily produce a huge harvest” (Luke 8:15). The more tender our hearts and the more attentive our ears, the more revelation God will give us (v. 18). Jesus’ own mother and brothers did not qualify as much as those who heard God’s Word and put it into practice (v. 21).

When you read something in God’s Word, receive it with a tender, honest heart. Give it first place, apply it, and let it change you. As you do, you will cultivate the ground of your heart for a harvest—thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold!

On the other side of the Sea of Galilee, Satan was holding a choice prisoner. This man, totally bound by Satan, was naked and homeless. When Jesus arrived on the scene, the demons in the man violently protested. We need not think that we will invade darkened lands, cultures, and strongholds without experiencing resistance. Someone said, “If you never run into the devil, you must be going the same way!”

Satan hates our mission. We are traveling into his territory, invading the kingdom of darkness. The storms we encounter are diversions to discourage us from reaching those whom Satan considers his trophies. When Jesus set out to confront the demoniac, Satan tried to stop him. A storm “came down” (v. 23 NIV), but Jesus “got up”

The psalmist was concerned that he not be forsaken until God declared His power to the next generation. Every generation must know firsthand the power of God. It is not enough to hear about how God visited the previous generation in great power, wonders, and miracles. Our generation must see that power manifested. Without a true manifestation of the power of God, each generation grows progressively dubious of God’s reality.

“One day Jesus called together his twelve apostles and gave them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal all diseases” (Luke 9:1). This action was more than simple religious protocol—it was a transferal of Jesus’ power to the next generation. What would have happened to the world if Christ had departed without giving anyone the same power He had to help people?

The same power that flowed from Christ’s robes to heal the woman with the issue of blood is available today. From generation to generation, God’s power has been passed on. Now it is our turn to rise up and show God’s power to the next generation.

How important it is to have your own knowledge of the Word of God! What your parents or grandparents knew and taught you about the Word of God should not be your only source of revelation. Your own eyes must see God’s Word, and then you must hide it inside your heart.

If Solomon had obeyed Moses’ command to produce a handwritten copy of the law (Deuteronomy 17:14-20), he would have known for himself some important things. For example, he would have known not to acquire horses from Egypt, take multiple wives, or accumulate large amounts of silver and gold (vv. 16-17). Obedience to these three simple commands would have kept him from all his troubles. In fact, however, these were the very sins he committed (1 Kings 10:26-11:13). What a tragedy! If only Solomon had hidden God’s Word in his heart, he might not have sinned against God (Psalm 119:11). 

Your own personal, diligent, daily study of the Word will undoubtedly protect you from much deception and heartache. Moses passed down suitable guidelines for a king, instructing that he read them daily throughout his life. In the same way, if you read God’s Word every day and hide its truths in your heart, you will be equipped to live it.

Moses spoke of a prophet who would be raised up from among his own brothers. He would be so powerful that His word would be final. Anyone who did not listen to Him would have to give an account to God.

All Israel watched and waited for the special prophet. The priests and Levites asked John the Baptist if he were “that prophet” (John 1:21 KJV). On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted the verse from Deuteronomy 18 to show how the Lord Jesus Christ was the Prophet spoken of. As such, He was God’s ultimate mouthpiece and final authority. After years of looking for the prophet, Moses finally saw Him face-to-face on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31).

The nations of the world are looking for some sorcerer, diviner, teacher, or prophet who can tell them the mind of God. They need look no further! We have found “that Prophet” in Christ. Other prophets may prophesy, but if their words do not line up with the words of Jesus, they are false prophets. The true Prophet has come, and we must keep our eyes focused on Him alone.

Jesus set for His disciples the example of a resolute life. He was determined to accomplish His purpose for coming to this earth.  He tolerated no double-mindedness in His followers. He wanted them to be determined, resolved, bold, and steady. He challenged them to totally cast aside their comforts, worldly desires, and ties to family (both living and dead) in order to put their hands to the “gospel plow.”

In order to follow Him, His disciples needed to be like Him. In the final days of His life, He issued two simple commands to them: “come” and “go.” First, he commanded, “Come, be my disciple” (Luke 9:59), encouraging them to imitate His example of resolve.  Next, he challenged them, saying, “Go now, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). The disciples were given clear instruction to waste no time on greetings along the way or in lingering in towns that rejected the gospel message.

Time is of the essence when the harvest is ripe and a storm is approaching. Similarly, there is a spiritual harvest of souls waiting to be reaped. We must leave behind earthly distractions and work passionately for God, like Jesus did, recognizing that “there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end” (John 9:4).

The Law commanded, “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey harnessed together” (Deuteronomy 22:10). If you hook up to the gospel plow, don’t mix with the wrong company. Be single-minded and resolute, straining “to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven” (Philippians 3:14).

As used in this context, your neighbor means “someone near.” God has positioned near us all kinds of people with all kinds of needs. By showing love and generosity to such people, we are fulfilling one of the greatest commandments.

The children of Israel were told to treat a runaway slave as a neighbor and to give him refuge (Deuteronomy 23:15). They were also told not to barge into a neighbor’s house to take an article for collateral. They were to let the person bring it out to them, and if the neighbor was poor and had only a cloak for collateral, they could not keep it overnight. In addition, they were told to leave intentional harvests of wheat, olives, and grapes for the poor (Deuteronomy 24:10-13,19-21).

The generosity of the Good Samaritan to his “neighbor,” someone who was near, distinguished his true religion from the selfish religion of the Levite and priest (Luke 10:25-35). Likewise, Jesus’ commandment to us is “Now go and do the same” (v. 37).

We complicate our religion when we think of it as distant and difficult. In fact, it is near—as near as a neighbor in need. If we focus our love and generosity on neighbors in need, God will meet our own needs in return.

Love for a neighbor is always measured (as it was in the story of the Good Samaritan) in practical ways. Love for God, however, is often measured in impractical ways. In Martha’s opinion, Mary was wasting her time sitting at the Lord’s feet while the details in the kitchen required her attention (Luke 10:39-40). The woman who lavished her ointment on the head of Jesus was also accused of being impractical and of wasting money (Matthew 26:7-9).

We show our love for people by service. We show our love for God by worship. One who worships does not count the pennies or the hours but sees only the immense value of the Person he is worshiping. To the outside world, which measures everything by its efficiency, these dollars and hours seem wasteful. But to those who love God from their hearts, the money and time expended are only a trifling pittance.

When it comes to loving people, we must be very practical, but when it comes to worshiping God, we must lay aside our desire to be busy. In our love for God, let us detach ourselves from an earthly mentality. Even if our practical, reasoning side says, “You’re being wasteful,” let’s lavish our time and money upon the Lord in true worship.

Power over the enemy is a sign of God’s blessing upon a person’s life. In contrast, Jesus said that a man who had no blessing in his life would be attacked by seven other spirits more evil than the first spirit (Luke 11:26). In the absence of the blessing of God, demons rush in “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). In every area of life—financial, physical, mental, and marital—these demons will run roughshod and wreak havoc to their hearts’ content.

No blessing . . . no protection! Without God’s blessing, Israel could expect continual shortfalls, diseases, plagues, depression, anxiety, and broken families. However, with God’s blessing, no enemy could affect Israel and no lack could come near God’s people.

Because we are the blessed, let us march triumphantly against our enemies and watch them flee. “When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths” (Psalm 77:16). Demons always tremble when God begins to march! In seven directions they flee in terror; therefore, “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV).

The Pharisees were bitter men, envious of Jesus and angry about His pure, sweet teaching. A root of bitterness will corrupt many (Hebrews 12:15). A fountain cannot produce sweet and bitter water at the same time (James 3:11), and a person’s heart is the wellspring of his life.

The secret to life, prosperity, and blessing is a heart that is pure, sweet, and undefiled. How quickly the envy and greed of the world can turn someone’s heart bitter and sour toward individuals or races! Moses warned the Israelites that if they harbored poisonous roots of bitterness in their hearts toward God or one another, their land would become a burning waste of salt and sulfur. The Israelites failed to heed the warning, however, and for forty years were bitter at God, Moses, and one another. Consequently, one by one their corpses fell in the wilderness.

Bitterness is a taste in your mouth—a flavor that colors every experience and relationship. If any bitter roots are lodged in your heart today, ask the Holy Spirit to pull them out. In so doing, you are choosing life, “that you and your descendants might live!” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Moses’ song was intended to remind the Israelites that if they backslid, they would be neglecting the Rock who fathered them and the God who had given them birth (Deuteronomy 32:18). That Rock, who is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4), had followed them in the wilderness and provided drink for them for forty years. How could they ever have turned their backs on their Rock? Perhaps the Israelites took God for granted, thinking they could provide for and defend themselves without His help.

Our lives are confused and insecure when we leave our Rock in order to build our lives on shifting sand (Matthew 7:26-27). The rich fool thought he was secure in his barns and possessions, but he found out that his life was built on a false foundation (Luke 12:16-21). We can look high and low, trying to find security in money, positions, organizations, and even nations. Unfortunately, we will find that all these things will eventually crumble and turn to dust.

Although the world puts its trust in things and people that disappoint, decide today to seek the immovable Rock of the Kingdom of God. “He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Luke 12:31).

The Kingdom of God does not belong to the slothful and careless. Jesus taught that the person who is a “faithful, sensible servant” (Luke 12:42) will be amply rewarded for his diligence when the master returns.

All your time, money, talents, and influence have been given to you as tests of your faithfulness. You are tested on earth so your eternal position may be fairly and justly assigned. It really doesn’t matter how high or low your station in life or how much earthly wealth you attain. It matters only how faithful you are in that station and with the wealth you have been given.

Whatever your status, be diligent (hardworking, persevering, and careful in work), making the most with even a little. The more faithful you are with a little, the more God can entrust to you. Sometimes He is watching to see what you will do with a little before He gives you much.

“Laziness ends in slave labor” (Proverbs 12:24 NIV), but diligence brings reward. In eternity, your reward for diligence will be to rule over entire cities (Luke 19:17). So persevere! Be faithful in little and God will reward you with much!

Moses gave his final blessing upon God’s people, and we, the children of Abraham, can lay claim by faith to the rich pronouncements found in Deuteronomy 33.

First, God promised that His people would “dwell between His shoulders” in security (Deuteronomy 33:12 KJV). There is no greater security and protection than in riding on the back of the Lord!

Next, He said His children would enjoy “the best gifts of the earth and its fullness” (v. 16). Because God made the earth, He can certainly cause it to yield its best for His own.

In addition, He promised His people physical strength for their entire lives (v. 25). Jesus offered this same promise to another child of Abraham hundreds of years later: “Wasn’t it necessary for me, even on the Sabbath day, to free this dear woman from the bondage in which Satan has held her for eighteen years?” (Luke 13:16). Healing and strength are part of the blessing of the Lord.

Finally, He promised His children the peace and security of the everlasting arms underneath them (Deuteronomy 33:27). Security in an insecure world is priceless, and it belongs to us. Let’s lay claim to our blessings, for we are people saved by the Lord (Deuteronomy 33:29).

Fear and timidity cripple and paralyze. Three times the Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6-7, 9). Even Joshua’s own people echoed God’s encouragement to him (v. 18). God cannot use timid, fearful vessels to accomplish the mighty conquests He envisions for His people.

How helpful it would be if we could only see that our enemies are melting in fear because of us (2:9)! If we could take a peek at the enemy’s camp, we would see how fearful they are of those who are in Christ. Gideon was privileged to see this when he crept down to the enemy’s camp and found the soldiers so frightened that they were dreaming about Gideon’s might against them (Judges 7:13-14).

Satan always tries to intimidate before the battle begins. When the Pharisees tried to frighten Jesus regarding Herod, Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox that . . . I will accomplish my purpose” (Luke 13:32). Nothing could deter Him from His purpose because He knew the power resident in Him.

When the enemy threatens and intimidates, arise in courage and boldness and go forward. Remember: Satan knows what the Lord has planned for us. “I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Everywhere you go, you will be on land I have given you’ ” (Joshua 1:3). Be strong!

The most powerful illustration of God’s presence going before His people is that of the Israelites as they crossed the Jordan with the ark of the covenant leading them. The ark represented God’s throne, His power, and His might. It went ahead of Israel into the battle at Jericho and brought the Israelites victory. Indeed, if the ark had not gone before them, they would have been on their own.

Whatever impossible circumstance may stand before you will surely be defeated as God’s presence arrives in the battle. Joshua 3:13 says that when the feet of the priests who carried the ark touched the water, the flow of water was cut off upstream and the river piled up there in a heap.

As you come to your “Jordan,” set your foot into the water. How dare the proud waters defy God’s presence and power! The foot of faith carries the arm of omnipotence. One little step of faith releases all the power of God into your situation. Let God’s face shine against the darkness!

Paul’s teaching about sinners focuses on God’s real purpose in sending Jesus: to save those who are lost. Miserable, undone sinners are “the stuff” from which Jesus makes miracles. Often the lower a sinner sinks, the greater the glory God receives when the sinner repents.

Rahab, the prostitute in Jericho, was probably the lowest social outcast in the city (Joshua 6:17). However, God was willing to spare her and her entire family because she was repentant. In God’s sovereign choice to use her, Rahab first was spared from destruction. Then she actually became one of the four women mentioned in Matthew 1 as a direct ancestor of King David and Jesus Christ Himself (v. 5).

Can you see how God loves to take the “things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all . . . to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29)? He will run to meet any sinner who comes to his senses and returns to Him saying, “Father, I have sinned” (Luke 15:21). Let us rejoice with the angels today over even one sinner who repents!

Money tests our hearts, our motives, and our character. What we do with it will prove to God whether He can entrust us with the “true riches of heaven” spoken of in Luke 16:11. The spirit of covetousness ruled the Pharisees. The Lord warned them that they could not “serve both God and money” (v. 13), but verse 14 says they “dearly loved their money,” ignoring the Lord’s stern admonition to them.

The principle of covetousness is immortalized in the story of Achan in the Old Testament. God gave explicit instructions to Joshua that no one was to touch anything of value in Jericho. The entire city was God’s, dedicated to Him as the holy firstfruits of the Canaan conquest. Achan’s hand, however, could not resist grasping a bar of gold, coins of silver, and a beautiful Babylonian coat. His sin followed a familiar pattern: “I saw . . . I wanted . . . I took them . . . They are hidden” (Joshua 7:21).

Our eyes can look enviously on things that do not belong to us, and covetousness can lead us to “take” and “hide” that which is not ours. How much better to follow the wisdom of Luke 16:9: “I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.”

Use worldly wealth; don’t let it use you!