Promises, Promises

When I read the book of Joshua, I am overwhelmed with the patience and persistence of God to fulfill his promises to his people in spite of their unfaithfulness. Throughout the book we read about how the Israelites responded disobediently to the instructions of the Lord . . . taking things from the destruction of Jericho that had been set apart for the Lord (7:1), and building an altar for themselves to rebel against the Lord (22:16).  And what was God’s holy response to their acts of disobedience?  We find it in chapter 21, verse 45:

Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.

In fact, from chapter 6 all the way to chapter 23, we keep reading about the Lord and exactly how he fulfilled his promises.

Wow!  That just blows my mind.  When I think of the times that I have been disappointed by friends or family, it doesn’t come to my mind to fulfill all the promises I have made them.  I tend to lean toward unforgiveness, thinking of the unfairness against me, or even lashing out or getting even.  But not God . . . in His mercy He forgives my unfaithfulness.  In His grace he forgets my desire to build walls against Him or his loved ones. In His love He continues to fulfill all the promises He has made to me. Now, that is worth praising Him.  That is worth trusting Him.  That is worth serving Him.  That is worth loving Him.

As a matter of fact, when I read these verses, I want to be forgiving like God; I want to be faithful like God.  Instead of dwelling on the unfairness of life, or my own plans for improving my situation, I want to let Him continue to show me His character of faithfulness through these Bible truths, like he does in the book of Joshua.

He has such a long way to go with me, but I’m so very thankful he doesn’t give up. He just keeps on cranking out the lessons with His promised blessings attached.  And then I am reminded . . .  “Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.”

About the writer:
Pam is Director of Women to Women Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, and grateful to be included in this great team of Yada Yada bloggers.

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Do One Thing Every Day that Scares You

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

It’s interesting how we overlook things that are commonplace until they somehow collide with our experience.

One day, not too many years ago, I literally stumbled across this sign in a favorite shop in Savannah, Georgia. My heart was heavy, and more precisely, I was afraid. I found myself in a circumstance that threatened to overwhelm my ability to keep my emotions in check. During the daylight, I could derail the scary feelings, but at night, they would loom large in my dreams and thoughts. I knew that God was with me, that He loved me, and would give me only good things. Even if He allowed bad things to happen, I clung tightly to His promise that He would work even those for my good. (Romans 8:28) But I was still afraid. Never in my life had I known the sheer, white-hot panic that taunted my normally logical thoughts. Logic led my thoughts of the future to an even scarier place, and I prayed and cried and quoted Scripture and . . . . still the fear nibbled at the edges of my consciousness, taking larger bites of my confidence for a favorable resolution.

Meditating on Scripture, the very God-breathed Word that gives life and hope, helped to calm the biggest waves of anxiety. But still, those relentless poundings of “What if?” beat against the peace that just wouldn’t seem to stay. I sought counsel from people wiser than I, read stories about conquering impossible odds, and tried to practice everything I had encouraged others to do. I walked miles at the park, praying and begging God to deliver me from the fear that threatened my health.

Finally, in absolute desperation, I cried out loud, “Lord, what am I missing?!” “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10a NKJV) was the thought that came, straight from the Bible. “ I can be still, even if I can’t still my pounding heart or the anxious thoughts,” I told myself as I sat perfectly still. “Be not afraid,” was the next thought. (Isaiah 41:10)  – another Scripture I knew. “But HOW do I not be afraid, Lord, I don’t know how to DO it!” Joshua 1:9 began to part the mist of confusion: “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” At last the peace came as I reached like a drowning swimmer reaching for a life preserver. When you’re drowning, you simply take the preserver and put . . . it . . . on. The presence of the preserver is designed to rescue only when the perishing person simply rests inside the buoyancy provided by the preserver. The reality that God is with me reached from my head to my heart. The anxious feelings still came, but now they were met with faith in the presence of my Heavenly Father. I floated above the waves of fear, secure in the nearness of the everlasting arms.

About the Writer:
Nan is so grateful to belong to God’s people. She loves getting to know all kinds of people and enjoys discovering new places, which is a good thing since she’s moved twenty five times. She has been married to Jim, a pastor, for 34 years, and together they have four grown kids, a son in love, and three grand puppies.

 

Broken Promises

I have been married three times. Unfortunately, I know the deep pain of broken
promises and breaking promises. Broken vows come with devastating consequences. Some memories take years to heal, and I still occasionaly struggle with the tidal wave of grief and loss for those earthly relationships and covenants that were never created to be shattered.

God holds us accountable for our words. In Matthew 5:37, when talking about promises Jesus says, “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes ‘ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” In Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that men will give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” And finally, Matthew 15:11 “A man is not defiled by what enters his mouth, but by what comes out of it.”

 Jesus had much to say about words in general, but vows carry an even heavier weight. In the book of Joshua, chapter 9, there is an interesting account of the people of Gibeon. The Gibeonites deceived the leaders of Israel by creating a heart-tugging story that wasn’t true so that the people of Israel would not destroy them as they had all the neighboring tribes in their conquest to take the Promised Land the Lord had set apart for them. The Gibeonites convinced Joshua that they were foreigners and begged for peace between the two groups of people. Joshua and the leaders made an agreement with the Gibeonites without consulting the Lord. Within a few days the truth was discovered, but, alas, it was too late. The treaty was binding in the eyes of the Lord, and they dared not break it lest the Lord be angry with them for breaking their word—even though the Lord’s initial command had been to destroy all the nearby cities and peoples.

 But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, ‘We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.’ The leaders said to them, ‘Let them live.’ Joshua 9:19-21a

 Many of us have made promises or commitments only to talk ourselves out of them by our own logic. But for anyone who has done so or even just said a careless, hurtful word, there is hope: God sent His own Son Jesus Christ to suffer greatly, die, and conquer death and sin itself to remove that sinful stain from our hearts, minds, and spirits. In the process, God also teaches us to value our words and promises, even when doing so is uncomfortable or disquieting, as it was for Joshua and the Israelites. What a gracious God we serve to give us new opportunities to follow through on our promises.

 I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you. Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it! Isaiah 44:22-23a

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

The Harlot is Mine

joshua-rahabRahab, the harlot, you have heard of her right?  The harlot of Jericho who God gave divine wisdom, helped the Israelites scout out the city of Jericho, and was given protection when the city of Jericho fell. She now has the privilege of being in the ancestral line of Jesus (Joshua 2, Matthew 1:5).

Her story sings the beauty of grace no matter who you are or what you’ve done.  It’s a message we must always remember; not only for ourselves when we sin against God, but also for others when they assail us.

What does embracing the broken actually look like in a Christian’s life?  Or as a dear friend likes to say, “What does it look like on a Tuesday?”  On a Tuesday means showing grace and mercy to the person who has wounded you the most, extending mercy to the supposed friend who cut you down.  It means mercy to the parent who has failed, to the child who has deserted the way he should go, to the boss who is unjust, and certainly to the adulteress.

Biblical truth says you are no more worthy than any of the people who have wounded you.  You need grace; and as a Christian, you’ve received it.  Praise God!  In your great joy of salvation, see how God can use everyone.  God has said even the harlot can be used by me.

Hear me, loving someone who has deeply wounded you is impossible apart from Jesus Christ.  You have to be safe and secure in the greatest refuge before you can extend mercy to those who have trampled on you.  If you try to will yourself to unconditionally love apart from Jesus you will find the task unbearable.  However, if you instead put your total focus on Him, your weakness is perfected in His power (2 Corinthians 12:9).  He will show you the way to walk.

Seek Him today.  It is the way to freedom for all, even the harlot.

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  
I Timothy 2:3-4.

About the writer:
Caroline is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

Memorials for Generations to Come

I love being invited into my friends’ and family’s homes to see all the special decorations that they have displayed. Walking room to room alongside them, I’m given the opportunity to hear memories unfold behind each piece. As they continue to talk, bigger stories are unveiled about their lives: reflections of celebration and thanksgiving, lessons of hard work and hope.These memories come in many forms, like photographs, art, trinkets, books, or even jewelry. Each piece evokes fresh emotion in the voices of these dear ones, and I am inspired by their passions. In moments like this, when the past meets the present, I recall the stones of remembrance in the story of the Israelites’ escape from slavery.

In Joshua 4, God instructs Joshua to lead twelve members of the group to build a memorial from stones pulled from the middle of the Jordan river. In Joshua 4:6-7 he tells the men, “Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”

These stones served a purpose as a memorial for subsequent generations to see and recount the miracle that God performed that day. They represented God’s provision for His people and reminded them to focus on God’s immeasurable faithfulness, instead of their own wavering faith.

When I recall the many stories of God’s faithfulness in my own life, I am challenged to make these memories evident to my family. By telling our children about past experiences, we are teaching them that, in challenging times, we are not required to take a blind step of faith. We are instead able to place our trust in God’s promises for the future because of his demonstration of faithfulness in the past.

Through both good and bad times, our lives tell the story of God’s perfect plan to use all things for our good and for His glory. No obstacle is too large for Him.

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.