Bible Devotions

Active Faith

Read Joshua 14

Caleb was one of the spies Moses sent 45 years earlier.  He was one who gave an honest report that they could overtake the city with God’s help.  Caleb puts it this way, “Nevertheless, my brethren who went with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God.”

He goes on to cite examples of his faith:

  • The Lord has kept me alive, as He said.
  • I am as strong this day as on the day Moses sent me.
  • The Lord will be with me.
  • I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.

Caleb constantly gives God the glory.  He knows he’s still alive 45 years later by God’s grace.  Not just alive, but just as strong now as he was in his youth.  The Lord gets the credit.  Caleb is confident in the Lord.  He knows what God says He does.  He boldly asks for land where the giants lived, fully aware God is with him to enable him to drive them out.

What a picture of active faith.  He was bold.  He was victorious.  He got what he desired because he wholly followed the Lord his God.

Are you wholly following the Lord your God?  When others look at your life, do they see your faith in action?

Don’t be discouraged if you answer no or you’re not sure.  Sometimes we can’t see the impact we have.  Let me explain.  My friend has a passionate desire to minister to others God’s grace and love.  She and her husband have many medical conditions that prevent them from getting involved outside their home.  Yet, my friend yearns to reach others for Christ.  She thinks she isn’t going out.  But I say she has a ministry via the various doctor’s appointments, procedures, physical therapy sessions, etc.  For every time she speaks of her encounters with medical staff, she is praising God, giving Him glory and blessing those who are working with her.

Lord, thank you for giving us a ministry to others, even when it’s not what we might think it should be.  Help us to live our life for you.  Let your light shine brightly in each of us, so you get the glory and others may come to believe in you.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

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©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Our Choice or God’s

Read Joshua 13

Instructions were given to Joshua on how to divide the remaining land to the children of Israel as an inheritance.  Only nine and half tribes were mentioned. That’s because Reuben, Gad and half tribe of Manasseh received their inheritance earlier than the rest of the tribes.

Have you ever made a decision you later regretted? I have.  I wonder if the tribes of Rueben, Gad and half tribe of Manasseh had any regrets. Having gone with all the tribes to help them conquer the land, I wonder if this land appeared more attractive than the land they had on the other side of the Jordan. They chose their land as inheritance rather than waiting for the Lord to give them the land God wanted to give them.

Do you ever decide, “This is good enough?”  I wonder about what God thought about their decision.  It seems like they went so far and said this is good enough for us.  While we don’t know exactly how God felt about that decision, we do know God honored it.

Even in our own poor decisions, God honors our decisions.  He knows we will come to understand God’s way is better in the proper time. For how would we know His way is better if we didn’t try our own way first?  It seems we need to experience failure before tasting success.

Lord, thank you for knowing what’s best for us.  Help us to trust your way over our own.  Lead us to your promised land and don’t let us settle for good enough.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

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©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.


Power on Our Side

Read Joshua 10

Five different kings all formed an alliance against the children of Israel.  The Lord tells Joshua, “Do not fear them for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.”  Talk about encouragement.  God basically says don’t worry about how many come against you, I’ve got it covered.

Joshua and the mighty men marched all night to get to the battle.  Can you imagine how tired they would have been?  They didn’t sleep, but marched all night!  However, the Lord was working on their behalf. As the children of Israel marched, the Lord routed the enemy before them.  He killed them, chased them, and struck them down.  Some tried to flee but the Lord cast down large hail stones so much that more died from the hail than by the sword.

So as Joshua prepares for battle, he asks God not to let the sun do gown until they get their revenge.  What happens? The sun stood still about a day, that meant Joshua and his men had two days of daylight to battle.  The result, Joshua and his men were able to capture Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Geqer, Eglon, Hebron and Debir in only two days time!  The Bible doesn’t tell us how many people were in those seven cities, but we can assume there were many.  For Joshua and team to take that many cities in only two days would have been quite a feat. God showed Himself mighty before Joshua and his men had to fight. It’s as if God says “remember what I can do.  All this power is on your side.”

When was the last time you felt surrounded by enemies?  Do not fear, but draw close to God.  He will direct your path and show you the way out. Our God is mighty and can do whatever it takes to deliver you.  Rely on Him and you can’t go wrong.

Lord Jesus, you are the way, the truth and the life.  Thank you for saving us and putting our feet on solid foundation.  Your righteous right hand will uphold us.  Help us to remember you are with us and will deliver us as we continue to be steadfast in You. In your name we pray. Amen.

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©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Wise or Foolish

Read Joshua 9

After victory by God’s hand at Ai, Joshua and men of Israel are faced with Gibeon and the Hivites who heard of Israel’s destruction at Ai. These people pretended to be ambassadors from a far away country to save their lives.  It worked too, because Joshua and men of Israel did not consult the Lord.

Remember in Chapter 7, Joshua didn’t consult the Lord but listened to the spies’ advice instead.  They were defeated.  After seeking God he discovers the people sinned and only after dealing with the sin were they able to take Ai.

Have you ever been taken in or deceived by someone claiming to be Christian? Just because someone uses the Lord’s name doesn’t mean they can be trusted.  We still need to consult the Lord on the matter, else we wind up deceived and possibly derailed from God’s plan.

We were deceived by a so-called Christian.  She was a single mother with a teenage son, who apparently went to our church.  Wanting to help, we rented our condo to her.  But like Joshua, we didn’t consult the Lord first.  Instead we allowed our heart-strings to be manipulated into making an unwise decision. After dealing with many late payments and repairs, it was clear to us we made a mistake.  It took almost two years to evict her and the damage left behind was more than we thought possible.

God calls us to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.  We can’t be wise if we don’t seek the Wise One, who knows everything from beginning to end.

In the second part of the story Joshua makes a foolish oath.  He enters into a peace treaty with those who deceived him.  And since he had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel they couldn’t touch them once they found out who they really were.

God’s original plan was extermination of those people, so Israel could take the land.  Now, His own people were fooled and made an oath not to harm the ones they should have destroyed.  Rather than break their oath, they allowed these people to become servants.  Israel failed to carry out God’s plan and substituted their own plan instead.  God never wanted these people alive, let alone living close to His chosen people. Israel upheld a foolish oath made under false pretense rather than carrying out God’s plan.

Do you see how they made matters worse?  Those who deceived would live closely, only to be a constant temptation to be deceived again. One wrong choice leads to another.  We shall see what other consequences Israel had to live with as we read on.

What poor choices have you made? What consequences are you living with because of the poor choice?

Has it taught you to seek the Lord the next time?

Lord, you alone are wise.  Help us to seek you in all things and not depend on our own understanding. May we make godly decisions aligned with your will. Thank you for your mercy and forgiveness to free us from our past mistakes. We are eternally grateful.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Repeated Pattern

Read Joshua 8

To fully appreciate what’s happening in chapter 8 you might need to revisit chapters 6 and 7.  Here’s a quick recap.

Chapter 6 – The children of Israel took Jericho following God’s strange instructions.  Everything was to be burned except the silver, gold and iron items were for the Lord’s treasury.  But one man kept some beautiful garments, silver and gold for himself.

Chapter 7 – The children of Israel came to Ai and decided to spy it out like they did in the past.  The spies said it would be easy and only needed a few men to take the city.  Joshua listened to men, without consulting the Lord. They were defeated.  Joshua cries out to the Lord.  But God says get up the people sinned. Sanctify them.  So they had to deal with the sin by putting to death those that sinned.

Chapter 8 – The Lord gives Joshua the plan.  They get to keep the spoil this time.  The Lord is with Joshua every step of the way.  Following God’s instructions they take Ai and the booty.  Joshua builds an alter to the Lord and writes God’s Law on the stones.  He also reads the whole law to the people.

As you read these chapters over several days, and reread them, you might discover as I did a process emerge.  Obedience, false confidence, failure, obedience pattern is repeated through out the Bible.  It’s not just these three chapters.  Take David for example he’s known as a man after God’s own heart, yet he committed murder and adultery.  Take Peter, so sure he was ready to die for the Lord, yet moments later he finds himself denying the Lord three times.  Take Saul as another example, he was overly zealous as a Pharisee that he persecuted Jesus’ followers, until he was knocked off his horse by the Lord.  We see it again and again.

Have you noticed this pattern happens in your own life? We can become secure and confident in our relationship with the Lord, we may start to think we know the way.  We slowly start doing things on our power rather than consulting the Lord.  Sadly, that leads us back into bondage of sin and failure.

How do we break that pattern?  By remembering who we are and what Jesus Christ has done for us.  We need to examine our thoughts and motives and make them obedient to Christ.  If you’re not able to spot sin in your life, it might be time to ask the Lord to help you see the truth.  For if we say we are without sin, we make God out to be a liar.  For the Good Word tells us “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Lord Jesus, thank you for saving us from our sin and paying the penalty for us.  Help us to stay on track with you and accept your truth. You are faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sins to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Hidden Sin

Read Joshua 7

The children of Israel had just taken Jericho by the mighty hand of God.  They were not supposed to take anything for themselves.  All the gold, silver and iron things would be put into the Lord’s treasury.  Everything else was to be burned.  However, one man decided to take some beautiful garments, gold and silver for himself.  He didn’t think anyone would notice.  He was wrong.  God saw.

Fast forward, the children of Israel come to the next city they were to take.  Joshua does what he did before; he sent spies into the city.  The spies returned saying it would be easy the enemy has few men.  So they sent only a few of their own men to take over, but they were defeated.

Joshua cries out to the Lord, but God tells him “Why do you cry out?  Get up! The people have sinned against me.”   The Bible tells us all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  A little leaven, affects the whole lump (Galatians 5:9). Sin must be dealt with promptly or it will affect everyone.

After the victory of Jericho, Joshua became complacent.  He knew the Lord was with him.  When he came to the next city to overthrow, he thought about what he had done in a previous situation.  He approached this new situation using tools from a previous situation.  In other words, he thought he knew how to handle this one in his own power.  The Bible doesn’t say whether Joshua consulted the Lord on how to take this city.  It only mentions, they sent spies, and Joshua listened to the spies’ advice.

The Lord handles each situation uniquely.  While two situations may seem like they could be handled the same way, the details show otherwise.  Joshua assumed they would victorious by repeating what worked before.  However, something was different.  Israel sinned.  They transgressed the Lord’s covenant.  As a result, they were defeated shamefully.  Until sin is dealt with, no success will follow.

We, too, can get out of sync with the Lord by trying what we’ve done before.  What are you trying to handle on your own apart from God?  What sin is still in your life that you haven’t given up to the Lord?  The Bible tells us “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).

Lord, thank you for being faithful and just to forgive our sin when we confess it.  Open our eyes to places in our hearts, our attitudes and our behavior that are displeasing to you, that we may confess them and forsake them.  Give us the courage to deal with our sin that we may be forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness.  In Jesus’ precious name we come. Amen.

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©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Strange Directions

Read Joshua 6

Joshua had been visited by the Commander of the Lord’s army who gave him some pretty ridiculous sounding directions for taking the city of Jericho.  But Joshua did not laugh at the instructions.  Instead he followed them exactly.

You probably heard this story before.  Joshua was told to take seven priests blowing trumpets, the Ark of the Covenant and all the children of Israel and march around the city once on the first day.  They were to do that for six days straight.  On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times, shout a loud shout at the sound of one long blast from the trumpets.  Then the walls of Jericho would fall.  Sounds silly doesn’t it?

God gave these instructions to Joshua.  He could have said, “No way, that’s ridiculous”, but he didn’t.  He obeyed the strange instructions, gathering the people and gave them the message from the Lord.  Joshua also made sure the people followed the instructions as well.  He led them.  They followed him.  In this the people were obedient.

We can trust God too.  When He says He will do something, you can rest assured He will do it.  Joshua understood this.  When the Lord says all you have to do is march around the city and the walls will fall, it happened just as He said it would.  God enables us to do what He desires, but we still have to choose to follow Him.  Like the people choose to follow Joshua.

Joshua saw what God could do.  He heard what God would do.  He aligned his will to God’s plan.  He acted on it.  God showed up in a mighty way.

What has God done for you already? What has God spoken to you? What have you put off that you know God told you to do?

Nothing is impossible with God.  All things are possible with God.  God has a plan.  We are part of it if we choose to be.  God speaks to His children, if they choose to hear Him.  God moves in His children’s lives if they choose to let Him.

Lord, thank you for being a God of your Word.  You are trustworthy.  Thank you for showing up and doing exactly what you said you would do.  Help us to trust you more with each day.  Enable us to align our will with your plan.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

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©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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