SIGNS OF REPENTANCE

The dictionary says that to repent is to “feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.” In today’s society, repentance seems to be more sorrow for being caught doing something wrong.

In the eyes of God, repentance is essential for our salvation. It is not the only thing necessary for salvation, but without it we cannot be saved. In Acts 17:30, Luke records Paul’s statement to the people of Athens. Paul said, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

Repentance is a command. Acts 2:38 tells us “to repent and be baptized for the remission of our sins” (ESV). Luke 13:3 tells us that if we do not repent, we will perish.

So we have defined repentance, and we have proof from scripture that repentance is necessary for our salvation, but how do we know we have truly repented?

First, there has to be a willingness to accept the consequences of our actions. In Luke 15, we find the story of the Prodigal Son. This young man took his inheritance and left home for the big city life. There “…he squandered his property in reckless living” (Luke 15:13).

When he had spent all of his money, he found himself alone and without the means to support himself. He took a job feeding pigs, something totally repulsive to a Jew.

The 17th verse says that he came to himself. He realized the error of his ways, and decided to go home to his father. His words to his father were, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you. I am no more worthy to be called your son” (verse 21).

He went home. He acknowledged his actions. He asked forgiveness, and was ready and willing to accept whatever consequences would follow.

Second, there has to be shame for our sin. Peter had declared at the Passover Feast that he would not even be offended because of Jesus. Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before morning. In Mark 15:66-71, we find that Peter, true to the Lord’s prediction, vowed that he did not even know the Lord.

The book of Matthew gives us a description of the type of repentance we need to show when we sin. Matthew says, “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times’. And he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).

Peter was ashamed of his actions. He had deserted the Lord in His time of need, He experienced true sorrow for what he had done.

Third, we need to try to make amends for our actions. The story that comes to my mind is found in the book of Acts. Paul and Silas had been thrown in prison for healing a young woman possessed with an evil spirit. Those responsible for her sad state were upset because their source of income was now gone.

Her masters took Paul and Silas before the rulers of the city, who beat them and threw them in prison. In prison, these Christians prayed and sang. In other words, they worshipped God.

At midnight, there was an earthquake that opened the doors of the prison and loosened the prisoners’ chains. In verse 27, Luke says that the jailer woke up, saw that the prison doors were open, and pulled out his sword ready to take his own life.

Paul stopped the jailer from suicide by telling him that they were all still there, and there was no need to kill himself.

The story continues as Paul teaches this Philippian jailer the gospel. Before the jailer was baptized, the scripture says, “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds” (Acts 16:33).

Paul and Silas had been abused by soldiers, maybe even this soldier. They then taught him about repentance and obedience to the gospel of Christ. Knowing that he might be put to death for the prisoners being loosed from their chains and the prison doors being opened, he treated their wounds and obeyed the truth.

He was truly sorry for his actions, and he wanted to make amends for his participation in the physical harm that had come to these men.

Paul told the Romans, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (II Corinthians 7:10).

When we experience true sorrow for our sins, repent of those sins, and are obedient to God’s commands, we can experience God’s forgiveness just as each of these men did.

Sandra Oliver

THE WORK OF GOD—Part 8

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge” (Psa. 19:1-2).

If you have not had the opportunity to study these background articles, it might be a good time to do that now.  They are short reads—each one being only one page long.

HAVE MIRACLES CEASED?

WHAT DOES GOD CALL A MIRACLE?

Already our study has brought us to part 8 of this series, and now we need to consider similar examples in the book of Judges.

Judges 2:16-19 and Acts 13:20 speak of a time when the land of Israel was ruled by judges.  It was also a time when every man ignored what the Law of Moses said, and did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25). Over and over again the cycle of sin, punishment and deliverance is seen under each man.

WHY DID GOD CHOOSE A WOMAN?

Judges 4:4 says God chose a woman to be judge in Israel. Why? Throughout the period right after the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan, almost all judges were men. Why would God choose a woman to do such a difficult job?

God took action when his people turned away from him (Judges 4:2). He does the same thing in the New Testament church (1 Cor. 11:28-32). Consider the symptom of the disease in Israel; their physical freedom was taken away. The first step should have been to recognize the symptoms and turn back to the Lord (Judges 4:3). Israel was miserable and oppressed physically and knew there was something wrong, but, unfortunately, they did not recognize the reason for the disease (Rev. 3:17).

Notice also that Barak’s faith was in God’s prophetess, not in the words God spoke (Judges 4:8). How many women have been asked to go into battle with the comander of the army?  Barak had been chosen by God to lead Israel, and he should have known God would go with him.  When he did not have faith in the promise of God, he was told the victory would not be for his honor, but God would deliver them from their enemies.

The prophet Isaiah understood that God hides his work from the eyes of men. “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour” (Isaiah 45:15).  God had promised to draw Sisera to the river Kishon (Judges 4:7) and to deliver the armies into the Israelites hand.  The Lord is the one who discomfited Sisera and slew his army (Judges 4:15).  It is true he used Israel’s sword, and blessed them greatly in the battle.  In Judges, chapter 5, Deborah and Barak praise the Lord for going before them to the battle (Judges 5:1-5), and the Lord takes the credit for the victory over their enemies (Judges 4:23).

Who saw God working that day?  Men imagine that during the Old Testament period, there were miracles happening all around Israel all of the time.  A chart in the Dickson Bible lists the miracles in the Old Testament period, and there were only forty-six throughout the entire 4,000 years. The translation of Enoch was included, which likely nobody saw and therefore would not truly be a miracle (Heb. 2:3-4).  The Dickson calculation turns out to be only one miracle every eighty-seven years. The majority of ways God worked were not listed because no one could see what happened (Judges 7:22).  God caused many things to happen “naturally” that gave a decisive victory (Exo. 23:27, 28).

Why did the Lord choose Deborah? She believed that God would reward her if she sought him (Heb. 11:6).  Barak’s faith was that God would reward Deborah but not him. Deborah did not have confidence in herself; she believed God, when he said that Israel would win the victory (Judges 4:9). Even though she was a woman, she was not afraid to go with the army. Deborah also believed that God would deliver the captain of the enemy into the hand of a woman (Judges 4:9). Deborah believed that the Lord had gone out before Barak to fight his battles (Judges 4:14).  This was when Sisera’s nine hundred chariots of iron were still intact (Judges 4:13). For 20 years Sisera had won every battle with Israel, but Deborah had faith in God’s promise that Israel would prevail (Judges 4:3).

The Lord caused Sisera to leave his chariot and run away on his feet (Judges 4:15).  Seldom was there a battle that killed literally every single soldier in an army (Judges 4:16). God gave the victory to a woman who was not even an Israelitess (Judges 4:17) but a descendent of Moses’ father-in-law (Judges 4:11). Jael invited Sisera into her tent and killed him (Judges 4:18-21). We don’t need to think that it was a simple action (Judges 5:24-27), but after Jael killed him, she then cut off his head (Judges 5:26).

God took full credit for the victory that day (Judges 4:23). The Lord also blessed the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali for offering themselves willingly (Judges 5:2, 9). God expected every man to take his part of the responsibility (Judges 5:23).

God blessed Deborah, not a man, because of her faith in him (Judges 5:31).  Deborah herself did not lift a sword. Deborah did not kill Sisera with the tent peg and hammer, but Deborah was faithful to stand up for the promises and commands of God (Matt. 5:19). No matter our gender, our Lord ordains that all who teach and do the commands of God are great in his sight.

–Beth Johnson

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Confidence in My Lord

In my mind’s eye, I picture David watching over his father’s flock, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide his thoughts as he wrote songs and sang to the lambs. Psalm twenty six has such powerful words. At the beginning he reflected on his spiritual life, …vindicate me…examine me…prove me…try my heart. It takes courage to ask God to test one’s heart.

David was able to ask God to examine him because he had confidence in his obedience, I have walked in my integrity…I also trusted in the Lord…walked in Your truth…have not sat with idolatrous mortals…have hated the assembly of evildoers…have loved the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells.

The young shepherd was confident about God’s daily provision, Your lovingkindness is before my eyes…My foot stands in an even place.

David was confident in God’s protection, Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands is a sinister scheme, and whose right hand is full
of bribes.

Finally, the singer expressed confidence about his spiritual future, I shall not slip…I will not go in with hypocrites…will not sit with the wicked…I will wash my hands in the temple…will tell of all Your wondrous works…will go about your altar…proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving…will walk in my integrity…I will bless the Lord.

David was reflective about his spiritual life, confident in his past obedience, confident in God’s present provisions and protection, and confident about his future walk with the Lord.

My prayer for you and me is that we would be able to write a song or speak to God with the same great assurance about our daily walk with the Lord!

Today’s Verse: In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26).

By Teresa Hampton

Audios available at http://christianwomanaudiodevotionals.abiblecommentary.com

PASSING THE BUCK

Harry Truman once said “The buck stops here.”  A famous quotation which teaches us not to blame the other guy when things go wrong which are of our own making.

Another proverbial statement which is very humorous, but still used today is attributed to children, “The dog ate my homework.”

In more recent times General Colin Powell framed the same meaning in a different way.

“When things go wrong in your command, start wading for the reason in increasingly larger concentric circles around your own desk.”

It’s called taking responsibility for our own actions and stop blaming others for our personal failures.

“For every man shall bear his own burden.”     (Galatians 6:5)

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

(II Corinthians 5:10)

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper:  but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”    (Proverbs 28:13)

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:  but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”    (I Corinthians 13:11)

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die.  The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son:  the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”      (Ezekiel 18:20)

“The reason Jerusalem was in decay and disarray was because the buck had been passed too long.  Now Nehemiah was willing to accept the buck and rebuild the city.

Will Rogers, one of America’s favorite humorists, stated that there have been three periods in American history:   Passing the Indian, Passing the Buffalo, and Passing of the Buck.

Why the passing of the Buck?

  1. I won’t have to assume the responsibility.
  2. I won’t have to be a target for criticism.
  3. If it fails, I won’t be blamed.
  4. Instead, I can blame the other fellow.
  5. If it fails, I can be a post-mortem expert.

Let’s give the buck-passer his due; he is especially talented and quick in the utterance of two sets of four words: “Let George do it”, and if it fails, “It is George’s fault.”

When the buck is passed to George, of course he sometimes fails.  But George gets the recognition, the honor, the role of leadership, the thrill that comes from challenge, the victory over boredom, and the joy of the struggle.

The greatest reason for any person’s tackling the job that falls his lot to perform is that he is a man, which demands responsibility and performance.  He cannot live like a cow or horse that is content to whisk away the flies and eat the grass around the hoofs.”     ~ Leroy Brownlow

“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”   (Romans 14:11-12)

Eileen Light

 

 

Sometimes in our rush to make the “big pitch” the smaller opportunities pass us by.

We rush through our days seeking big opportunities to teach the Gospel and miss many small opportunities along the way.  Daily, I come across opportunities to teach, even while I am working.  Many occasions arise during the day that are teachable if we seize the moment and have the heart to listen as we work.

We teach by the words we say and the deeds that we do.  We don’t know what goes on in the hearts of others.  They may have a secular job, but it doesn’t mean their problems, hurts, disappointments don’t travel with them too.  I have had co-workers break down and cry over various problems in their lives.  At times a hug and telling them you understand is all that is needed.  At times a word of encouragement, drying the tear of a child, helping others with their work, a smile, encourages them.  Our Master Teacher taught us the same.  He always had time for people and used those opportunities to teach.  Sometimes in our rush to make the “big pitch” the smaller opportunities pass us by.

“And after the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying.  Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.  Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.”    Acts 13:15-16

A story is told of William Jennings Bryan, one of the greatest orators that ever graced a platform.  It was in this speech Bryan was nominated presidential nominee for the Democratic Party in 1896.

“You shall not not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns.  You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

A friend said, “Mr. Bryan, I suppose many times before you had made just as able a speech as that, and it was never heard of.”

“Yes, “he replied, “I suppose so.  But that convention was my opportunity, and I made the most of it.”  Then after a moment of silence he said, “And that’s about all we do in this world – lose or use our opportunity.”

Grabbed opportunity is the key that opens the door of success.  Seized occasion is the ladder by which men and women climb to usefulness and achievement.  The answered call is the victory over slumber.  He who seizes the right moment becomes the man of the hour.

So – “strike while the iron is hot.”  This is what the apostle Paul did when he went into the synagogue.”

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”      Galatians 6:10

“Don’t say, “There’s still time.”   Or “Maybe next time.”  Because there’s also the concept of “It’s too late.”

“Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.”     ~ Fitzgerald

Eileen Light

WHERE HAVE ALL THE CHILDREN GONE? – Deeper Insights

WHERE HAVE ALL THE CHILDREN GONE?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone” is a modern folk-style song done by Peter, Paul and Mary. Pete Seeger wrote the melody and the first three verses in 1955, while Joe Hickerson added additional verses and turned it into a circular song in May 1960. Its rhetorical “where?” and its meditation on death place the song in the ubi sunt tradition.

Ubi sunt (literally “where are… [They]”) is a phrase taken from the Latin Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt?, meaning, “Where are those who were before us?” Ubi nunc…? (“Where now?”) is a common variant.

Memento mori is also a Latin phrase for “remember that you have to die.” The phrase embodied the theory and practice of reflection on mortality, and was especially considered to be a means of pondering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. The philosophy was a means of perfecting the character by turning the attention towards the immortality of the soul and the afterlife.

Based on these thoughts, one should ask the question: Where have all our children gone? Reading the news today is such a depressing exercise.  Day after day accounts of missing, exploited or murdered teens fill the pages of our media. Yet it seems parents can do nothing to stop the trend—not even microchip them for locating their dead bodies.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I determined never to allow our sons or daughters to sleep away from home as they were growing up. The whole world was starting to turn to wickedness in so many areas.  A recent news article, “The Exploitation of America’s Children,” proves that our concerns were not unfounded.  Even the formerly respected National Geographic magazine has joined the ranks of those who would steal kids’ bodies and souls.

I’m not surprised at what is happening to our nation’s young people, or at the evil permeating high places. Because of pedophilia, lots of money exchanges hands.  Back in the 1980’s the NAMBLA said they were coming after America’s children, and they have continued their agenda with fervor.

I had not heard of this group until recently, but by reading the above article I can feel the militancy of their sinister plan. About the same time period a Harvard Professor reportedly said, “Children can and do give consent; therefore, the adults who seduce them should not be punished.”

Sickening deluded souls! There is the ever-present conspiracy of silence in so many areas now. While the world seems to be looking the other way, pretending not to notice, the evil forces lure our children toward hell.

Who would doubt that some online games are also part of the takeover of our children?  W.H.O. SEEKS TO CLASSIFY GAMING DISORDER AS MENTAL ILLNESS.  And if no other evil outcome surfaced because of unlimited games, what character traits are being instilled in the compulsive gamers? Children count on “unconditional love” making it impossible for parents to tell them no as new games go on sale. Where does this entitlement come from except the very Internet they have been allowed to use free of charge every day?

Who would ever imagine that online gambling would be aimed at children? There is even a NYC School Program for addicted student gamblers. One Psychiatrist Journal claims there is an epidemic of child and teen gambling. Video Game Addiction and Other Internet Compulsive Disorders Mask Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disabilities.

Why do youngsters today have so much interest in their peers and so little interest in family life, domestic duties or church? Many parents offer electronic devices as constant entertainment for their children. This inadvertently lends itself to danger from online predators, pornography and cyber bullying. Is it any wonder so many young people are committing suicide in this generation?

Dr. Jim Taylor of Huffington Post points out, “Because children lack experience and perspective, they tend to make decisions that are rash, egocentric and short-sighted. This absence of forethought can cause children to overlook the consequences of their decisions and to ignore their long-term ramifications.”

Kristen Gerencher of Jewish Word Review, talked about brain growth associated with maturity and decision-making being behind the physical body growth during adolescence. The conclusion we may draw from this is that the judgment of younger people is not as advanced as their physical maturity—a fact that agrees with the Lord’s declaration that children under twenty-one are not able to make the best decisions. Ms Gerencher may be right about the change in physical aspects of the brain, which could make it hard to control. At the same time, she may not be right about the ‘control factor,’ and that conclusion could direct us away from what is truly and really happening in every public schoolroom every hour of every day—intentional destruction of Christian-Judo values.

In Scripture, we read that anyone under twenty-one was not responsible for rejecting the Lord’s command to go into Canaan and thus were not cursed (Num. 14:28-29).  A lesson on that might just take some of the starch out of some folk’s absolute self-confidence (if they believe the Creator’s words), and who should know better than the one who created us all?

Where have all the children gone?  Many children have been sacrificed to the parents’ god of success. Others have been sacrificed to worldliness or just plain old permissiveness. Even some conservative home school parents have fallen into the secular mold of educating in worldly pursuits, enjoyment and benefits.  Do they even notice when the moralizing marketers aim to teach humanistic values to their children?

Where is the innocence that should be in our children? Sure, we have protected them from work by our labor laws, but do we send them to socialist schools for eight to ten hours every day and require they join some sport or extracurricular activity to finish out more than a forty-hour work-week?

In many cases, where both parents work outside the home, by the time babies are six weeks old, working mothers are forced to leave them with less than qualified babysitters, nannies or at a daycare.

Liberal atheistic teachers browbeat kids into thinking there is nothing wrong with sexual promiscuity or alternate lifestyles.  By the time they get to high school, long before they are mature enough to care about reputation, morals or disease, they look forward to drowning themselves in pleasure during the spring break at the beach.

Is it any wonder college and university campuses must constantly deal with the rape epidemic?  If liquor is accepted as the norm, how could there be any other outcome?  Will there be, can there be, Christian mates somewhere for our children?

Where have all the children gone?  Long time passing

Where have all the children gone?  Long time ago

Where have all the children gone?  Gone for Baal every one

Oh when will they ever learn?

Oh when will they ever learn?

Ecclesiastes 8:5-6—Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. 6 Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.

Ecclesiastes 11:9—Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

May our prayer ever be, Father, Help us Raise our Children.

–Beth Johnson

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WALKING THROUGH THE FIRE

There is a sad story in the book of II Kings. It is the end of over one-half of the kingdom of the Israelite nation.

If you are a student of the Old Testament, you will recall that God had divided the twelve tribes because of their disobedience. Rehoboam became the king over two tribes, and Jeroboam became king over ten tribes.

King after king had ruled in both kingdoms. There were a few in the kingdom of Judah that remained faithful to God, but there were no kings in the kingdom of Israel that followed God.

Prophet after prophet had warned the people, but their hearts were set on mischief. Enemy after enemy fought and overcame the people, killed their soldiers, took their wives and children as slaves, and still they refused to obey God.

Hoshea had been anointed king of Israel. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, rose up against Hoshea, defeated him, and made him his servant. In the ninth year of Hoshea’s reign, Shalmaneser took Israel away after besieging them for three years. This is what the scripture says about the reason this happened:

“And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced” (II Kings 17:7-8 ESV).

The following verses describe the kinds of things they did that made God angry with them. They made offerings to strange gods. They did wicked things that provoked God to anger. They served idols. They despised God’s laws and the covenant He had made with them. They followed the nations around them. Then we have this statement,

“And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; …and worshipped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger” (II Kings 17:16-17).

This is such a sad story! These were the people of God, chosen by Him, loved and protected by Him. But here they are, offering their own children to idols by burning them on an altar.

God had begged them for generations to return to Him, but they drifted farther and farther away into idolatry. Finally, verse 20 says that He rejected them, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hands of their enemies.

Things are the same for us today. John 14:1-6 tells us that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. The way to inherit that place is to be obedient to the words of our Lord. If we are not obedient, God will not find our names in the Book of Life. If our names are not in the Book of Life, we will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 22:15).

With us, it is not about following the Old Law, with its feast days and sacrifices. It is about being obedient to the plan of salvation and in the treatment of our fellowman.

Remember the story Jesus told of the rich farmer in Luke 12. The man had so many crops that he had no place to put them. His solution was not to share with those in need but rather to demolish his barns and build bigger ones. Jesus said, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

We find a similar situation in Luke 16 with the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus simply wanted a few crumbs from the rich man, but the rich man paid no attention to him. Both men died. The rich man suffered in torment, and Lazarus was comforted in Abraham’s bosom. Abraham made it clear that there was no possibility of a change of residence for the rich man. His punishment was to be eternal.

So where will you be? Where will I be? Just as the fate of the nation of Israel rested in their obedience to God, or lack of it, so will ours be.

Sandra Oliver

THE WORK OF GOD—Part 7

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33).

Joshua, the servant of the Most High God was rewarded for his courage and fidelity when he gave a good report of the Land of Canaan (Num. 14:6-10).  He was commissioned, ordained, and charged with the responsibilities of Moses’ office (Num. 27:18-23, Deut. 1:38, Deut. 3:28, Deut. 31:3, Deut. 31:7, Deut. 31:23, Deut. 34:9). He also was divinely inspired (Num. 27:18, Deut. 34:9).

Joshua successfully led the people into the land of Canaan (Joshua 1:1-18, Joshua 2:1-24, Joshua 3:1-17, Joshua 4:1-24, Acts 7:45, Heb. 4:8).  He renewed circumcision for the children of Israel, re-established the Passover, and met the captain of the host of God and worshipped him (Joshua 5:1-15).

Joshua besieged and captured Jericho (Joshua, chapter 6), then Ai (Joshua, chapter 7 & 8) and made a treaty with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:3-27).  It is at this point that our account of the Israelites’ battles with the kings of the cities of Canaan opens in Joshua 10:1-42.

With the exception of the Gibeonites, not one nation in Canaan made peace with the Israelites (Joshua 11:19).  The nations of Canaan’s refusal to make peace with Israel was caused by the Lord hardening their hearts, because he ordained that all of the inhabitants would be destroyed (Joshua 11:20) or driven out of the land (Deut. 7:20; Joshua 24:12).

Why did the Lord not harden the Gibeonites’ hearts?  The Gibeonites were given understanding of God’s prophecy that he would destroy all the nations in Canaan, and so they feared the Lord (Joshua 9:24).  The Lord made them serve the Israelite and to serve God’s altar (Joshua 9:27).  Later, king Saul determined to destroy them, but God took up for the Gibeonites against king Saul (2 Samuel 21:1-4).

Notice how that in the following events, no man saw God’s work, but God fully controlled everything that happened.  Israel was plagued because of sin in the camp. Achan had stolen the cursed thing (a wedge or idol of gold). When one man in Israel did not keep his part of the covenant, there was sin in the camp, which caused God not to fight for them (Joshua 7:11-13).

However, once the sin was purged and the Israelites determined to obey, Joshua and the armies of God were soon able to conquer the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon in one day (Joshua 10:7-15).

And the Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. 11 And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. 12 Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. 14 And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel.

Did anyone see the hand of the Lord working that day?  They obviously saw what happened, but what evidence was provided to show what caused it to happen? God prophesied through Moses that he would be the one to make it happen, though his hand was hidden (Isaiah 45:15).

And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; 4 For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you (Deuteronomy 20:3-4).

For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee (Deuteronomy 23:14).

Should we acknowledge that God truly is working all things together after the counsel of his own will (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:12)?

Two Christian hymns apply to today’s study: Onward Christian Soldiers and Be Strong and Courageous (a medley of encouragement for Christians to fight the good fight—1 Tim. 6:12).

–Beth Johnson

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“Fear thou not; for I Am with thee: be not dismayed

Troubles come to each of us, and when they do our hearts become fearful and apprehensive.  If you are as I, your stomach begins to churn, you don’t feel like eating for there is too much on your mind.  ….and we stew over all that could possibly go wrong.  It is not the case that we should not be concerned with our troubles and search for a solution to them, but the fear paralyzes us…..and it shouldn’t.  Faithful Christians can go to their Father for help, for guidance and for comfort.  It is there at His throne we can lay aside our worries and rest in the full assurance that He will walk with us during the storms of life.  God is interested in everything about His child.  He wants to hear from you and He is only a prayer away.

“Fear thou not; for I Am with thee:  be not dismayed;  for I Am thy God:  I will strengthen thee;  yea, I will help thee;  yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.”      Isaiah 41:10

“And the Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee:  fear not, neither be dismayed.”     Deuteronomy 31:8

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.”   I Peter 5:7  “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”    Romans 8:38-39

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:  because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”     I John 4:1

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?  and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”    Matthew10:29-30

“Pray Often

Work Hard

Trust God?

“There never has been a more assuring statement uttered by mortal man than this:  The Lord is on my side.  And He was.  For God is no passive spectator of struggles between a child of His and Satan.  He does not sit on the sidelines of neutrality. watching to see who wins before He does anything.  He is involved with us in our fighting.

The psalmist declared, “The Lord taketh my part with them that help me” (verse7)  Indeed, he had friends that aided him;  but God was working with them, making their gestures and labors productive in the poet’s behalf.

With God on his side, he fearlessly asked.  “What can man do unto me?”  For if God is for us, who can be against us?

Now concerning sides, two cannot be on the side of the third without all three being on the same side.  So if we were all on the side of God, all would be on the same side; and God would be on the side of all. Hence it is appropriate that we ask, “Who is on the Lord side?”      Exodus 32:26

Eileen Light