ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 32

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Joshua 16:10 – En-Slave-Ment

Joshua 3

 

Joshua 16:10  And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute.

 

The expression “serve under tribute” in the King James translation means to keep in bondage so as to work under a heavy burden; in other words, slavery.

It is interesting to me that the nation of Israel, having just thrown off the shackles of slavery, would enslave another nation. It does not seem okay to me but since God did not complain, I guess it must have been okay to Him.

Right there is my first lesson; my sense of right and wrong may not always align with God’s. I might think something is not fair but that might just be exactly what the all-knowing all-seeing God wants to be done. The converse is also true; some things I consider absolutely right might not be what He wants done. The will of God is not always made obvious by my sense of morality.

A beautiful example from the scriptures is found in the life of the apostle Paul. In Acts 16:6-7, Paul, on two occasions, wanted to enter into some place to preach the gospel of Jesus to lost souls and God said no. Looking at the situation, it would have seemed somehow for Paul to say to his partners, “God has forbidden us from preaching the Gospel here” after all, God wants everyone to be saved. What does He have against these people? Well, it turns out God had nothing against them because much later in his life, Paul got to preach the gospel in those places evidently at the instance of the Lord. The issue was not the preaching but the congregation. God wanted them in Macedonia at that particular time.

I have a couple of contemporary testimonies in the same light but I’ll tell one. A well-known minister of a well-known church ministry received a seed in the form of a truck load of tiles for his church. Which pastor would not rejoice over that? But here comes the minister and said that God does not want him to receive the seed? Is he serious? As the “seed” was being taken away, a bomb was discovered hidden among the tiles.

Lesson? What is good and what is bad is determined by God and I should pay attention to him always. I can’t see which of the sheep are wolves in sheep’s clothing but God has X-Ray vision, He can’t be fooled.

Now to the issue of forced labour or slave labour. I observe that there is nothing a slave can be asked to do that a regular employee can’t be asked to do. Slaves are not slaves because of their job description but because of the job conditions. And the conditions are not really the lack of pay as much as it is the burden of doing the job against their own will. It’s a job they can do but do not want to do. Does that not describe a lot of us today? We stay on the job though we don’t want to do it simply because the employer holds the whip of a salary over our heads. Oh well.

I know someone who changed his working conditions and though he was acquired as a slave, he changed his portfolio and became a major benefit to his employer. His name was Joseph. Joseph’s power to effect a prison break was not in escaping his work schedule but in changing the mentality under which he carried out his duties. He went over and above his work load because he didn’t consider the slavery aspect of his portfolio. He focused on the big picture God had painted for him and so he saw himself working with God to effect the saving of many lives. So when the Bible says God was with Joseph, it wasn’t a figure of speech. And Potiphar saw it.

I challenge you to do the same; rather than complain about your working conditions and your lean pay-cheque, find the big picture of your life and focus on it. Consider how your present job fits into God’s master plan for your life and you would quickly notice how much energy you bring to work every single day and how quickly you can finish your work quota. You will find that you have more free time at work and if you do the godly thing, you would assist someone else on the team to get something done. In no time, the bosses would notice your efficiency and high morale and might think of upgrading your pay or promoting you to management level. I am quite sure that was what happened in Joseph’s case (Genesis 39:3-4)

Many of us pray for promotion on the job forgetting that God would only gives us favour before our superiors but we have to take it through diligence at work and that when the promotion does come, it means more work for us.

As a man thinks in his heart, so he is. To be a slave, you have to remain in a slave’s mentality (En-Slave-Ment). Don’t think like a slave.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 31

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Joshua 15:13-17 – Shifting Confrontation

Joshua 3

 

 

Caleb conquered Hebron, chasing out the giants (the sons of Anak) there. The giants ran away from Hebron and settled in Debir. Then he put forth a challenge for someone to conquer Debir and Othniel, his nephew did.

 

I see a few lessons in this portion of scripture:

  1. The giants have always been a major issue for Israel. Forty five years before this account, Israel cowered before the giants and failed to lay claim to the Promised Land. And now they are back and the giants are still there. Kicking out the giants must have been a major morale booster and Caleb provided it. And he did it so well that Othniel, who probably had never seen a giant before this time, was convinced that he too could sack the giants were he ever to face them. And when the chance came, he rose to the challenge and defeated the giants in Debir and possessed the place.

 

Many times, those of us who lead others make edicts, decrees, laws, rules, guidelines or policies, whatever we call them, for our followers to abide by but we do not submit ourselves to the same. Our examples become a source of difficulty in ensuring compliance amongst those who are looking up to us.

 

Let us precede motivational speeches with motivational actions. That’s what Jesus did (Acts 1:1). His words were powerful but so were his actions.

It is interesting to me that, after the death of Joshua, the first person to rise up to deliver Israel from oppression of their enemies was Othniel, as recorded in the book of Judges.

 

You never can tell how far your example would go. The value of inspiring people to greatness by the examples we set with our own lives can, therefore, never be truly quantified.

 

  1. Israel saw the giants forty-five years before and ran away. Then Caleb came and drove them away but the giants simply moved to another part of the land and resettled until Othniel faced them again. The bible doesn’t say he killed them so I doubt he did, he too must have driven them out to claim the land.

 

Many times we face some difficulty or other in our lives, some we tackle, others we ignore or avoid. Most times, we deal with problems that relate to our jobs or businesses but we avoid the ones that arise in our relationships with people. Rather than resolve the issue that’s creating tension between us, we avoid the person. Even amongst us Christians, we resort to discussing the other person with someone else with no intention of resolving the situation, and so the tension spreads and in a matter of time, we have two factions in church fighting each other over a personal problem that has “gone viral” (Proverbs 26:20, James 3:16). The situation is the same amongst friends and spouses. Jesus told us how to resolve brotherly conflicts, we should take to his instructions just as much as we take to his promises.

 

Matthew 18:15 – 17  Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

 

Problems don’t go away until they are solved, they simply relocate.

 

  1. For those of us who are young and upcoming leaders, the next time your boss gives you a “giant” assignment, do it, even if all it does is make him look good, because one day soon the experience will come in handy when you’re set for your next phase of leadership. Othniel rose to the challenge that Caleb set before him and that was just it, he kept rising.

 

  1. Caleb drove out the giants from Hebron and didn’t go after them himself when they resurfaced somewhere else. He asked someone else to go. He had shown them that the giants could be subdued and how they can be subdued, it was an opportunity for them to practice what they had learnt and this was necessary because “Caleb, the giant slayer” would not be around forever.

 

Being a good role model is one good way to raise future leaders; delegation is another.

ISRAEL : SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 29

LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF JOSHUA

Joshua 14:13 – Friends in High Places.

 Joshua 3

Joshua 14:13  And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.

… And Joshua blessed Caleb.

You know I actually laughed when I saw this just now (Thursday 5th June 2014, 7:17 am). I laughed because when I tried to apply the setting to our current practices of Christianity and church stuff, I don’t see it happening much.

It would have been easier if it had read “Moses blessed Caleb”. Moses was the mighty man of God, much older than Caleb and He was the one who prophesied over Caleb the pleasure of the Lord over the state of His heart after they spied out the land. In a sense, it was Moses who ordained Caleb “into the ministry”. It would have been so much easier but it says Joshua blessed Caleb.

To bless someone and actually have that blessing rest practically, one would need to have a certain divine authority to do so, a power over and above the blessed. The Bible says “without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Romans 7:7). Also, to receive a blessing, the blessed would of a necessity, recognize and submit to the authority of the blesser. It is so much easier to do when the blesser is a senior believer and minister for Jesus.

But Joshua and Caleb were colleagues. Although Joshua was “in the ministry” before Caleb, Caleb was the pioneer of the “good report” that earned both of them the commendation of God and the blessing of living long and physically entering into the promised land; Joshua joined him later (Numbers 13:30; 14:6-9). So Caleb had some right to think that he and Joshua were at the same level in the ministry. To add credence to such an idea, many years later, only Joshua and Caleb were left alive from their generation of Israelites. I guess they must have been seen together often, inseparable pals, the two senior elders in the “Church of Israel, Desert Headquaters”. What Joshua knew, Caleb knew; they were the only two who had certain information so in a way, Caleb could stand in for Joshua at any meeting. It must have been easy to see them as equal.

The only two spectacularly supernatural things in Joshua’s diary of exploits was the parting of the River Jordan and the leveling of Jericho’s walls. That would have impressed the young generation of Israelites but remember, Caleb saw the plagues that leveled Egypt, walked across the bed of the vast Red Sea, and a host of other jaw dropping stuff that the last administration had on file. So Caleb could have easily said, “yeah, big deal, Joshua. You’ll have to do better to impress me”.
But Caleb did not make that mistake which many of us make today. He recognized Joshua as the head of the “ministry”, bore in mind that God had Moses lay hands on him to transfer the spirit to Joshua by which Joshua led the nation. And when it was time to claim his portion of the promised land, Caleb did not make a demand of his friend who happened to be the president, nor did he just walk in to take the land, he appealed to the nation’s leader, God’s appointed man over Israel, including himself, to let him have that land.

Think about this, when your buddy was appointed the leader of your department, did you submit to him in everything? When he gave a directive, did you respond as quickly as you did with the previous boss or did you wait till the last minute because you know he can’t fire you because of your friendship? When your friend was appointed a Pastor and he was declaring a blessing over the congregation, did you submit to him to receive that blessing or did you have to wait for the Senior Pastor before your faith was stirred. Possibly, the conflicting relationship is between you and your husband. When he is blessing his family during devotion time, do you say amen on behalf of your entire family, yourself inclusive, or just the children?

It’s my experience that a lot of people in leadership have to sacrifice their relationships and friendships in order to be able to do their jobs righteously, without fear or favour. It’s my experience that many of us turn against our friends when he starts acting like he is “one big oga (boss)”. We call it “see finish” others say ‘familiarity breeds contempt”.

If you have been guilty, you can repent. You can walk up to that friend of yours and offer your support and submit yourself to his authority, publicly and in the privacy of your heart. Believe me, you’ll be the better for it because it makes his job of being a blessing to you a lot easier.

Hebrews 13:17  Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Matthew 10:40-41  He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.

The flip side of the coin is those of us who have been appointed to serve in leadership positions, whether in secular settings or church settings; we should ensure we do what we have been assigned to do – bless the people. It’s still quite tough for me as a person, but the truth is this, “I have received a commandment to bless” so I should not refrain from declaring the blessing over God’s people. I have been appointed to lead so I should; else I am failing in my duties.

I used to refrain from “acting” like I have any authority over people just so I would not be seen as being pompous on account of my new found authority and power but over time, I have found that I was not helping the people I was put in the position to help either. And the first day I stood in my office and declared stuff over people because that was what they needed, their lives changed and they blessed God.

If your friend is your reason for “falling God’s hand” in your place of assignment, call that friend and discuss as friends. Remind him of your commitment to him as a friend and then ask for his permission to be a blessing to him as you should because the fact is, your friend is one of the reasons God put you in that place; he needs to be blessed too. God chose you to be the channel of blessing to him, he needs to accept you otherwise the intended blessing will not reach him. And when your friend is in pain because he didn’t receive from you, it won’t be easy on you either.

Mark 6:4-6  But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.  And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

Romans 3:3-4  For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar

Hebrews 3:19  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

One of my leaders (I call him elder JP) said to me back in 1995, “It takes a special anointing to be your Pastor’s friend”. I agree; I’ve seen it. It’s not easy to maintain close friendship with your leader and still be his committed follower but it is possible; David and Jonathan did it, Joshua and Caleb did it, so can we.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 28

LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF JOSHUA

Joshua 3

Joshua 14:12, Numbers 14:8 – Walking in Love

 

Caleb made the delight of God in him, the love God has for him, the basis of his confidence to claim the portion of land destined to be his as God had spoken many years before. Even at the initial event, just after he and eleven others had scouted the land and were being debriefed, the basis of Caleb’s confidence to take the land was not his youthful strength nor the vast numbers of his people, Israel, it was based on the fact that God loved His people. Israel had the numbers, Caleb was probably a skilled warrior and he was one of two remaining who had extensive experience on their sides but Caleb’s faith was not strong because of any of these.

And walking with the same God for another forty-five years since that fateful day, I believe his confidence in God and His love for Israel had grown with his increasing age. He had seen that God’s love for His people was what drove God to do the things He did and this is one of the reasons he could declare that he was as strong as he had been forty-five years before. His faith was still as strong.

God has not changed; it’s still love that drives Him. Our covenant with Him is a product of His love for us; we didn’t make the first move, He did (Romans 5:8). We shouldn’t base our faith in Him on what church we attend, how much of the bible we know or how well we can pray, as critical as they may be, but on His love for us. While all these other things may change with time, God’s love never changes and that’s the very quality that makes it an excellent foundation for our faith.

1John 4:16-18  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

​Treasure Hunting

Matthew 2:1-2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

The Magi, in searching for a King went to the place everyone would expect a king to be – Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel. Whereas there was a star that led them from the East until they got into Israel, they ignored the star once they got the the city where the great and mighty men of timber and calibre who are the movers and shakers should be.

It was AFTER they left Jerusalem that they saw the star again. Even without the directions supplied by cunning Herod and the scribes, the star would have led them all the way to where Jesus was.

Mostly, we look for what we want where we think it should be found and nor where it actually is. We follow statistics and trends. We follow history and patterns. We often forget the light of the Lord by His Spirit in our hearts, leading and guiding us.

Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of man [is] the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

Furthermore, quite often, we take a look at someone and conclude that he couldn’t possibly be or have what we we’re interested in. Honestly, I’ll be the first to tell you that packaging is important but I’ll never tell you to judge a book only by its cover either. No matter how nice the container of a product is, we do not purchase anything because of the container but because of the content.

People in Jesus’ day were expecting the Messiah to be and look like something else, based perhaps on the need that was on ground at that time, but the Messiah was sent based on the timeless plans of the eternal God and so He was styled in the fashion of the Lamb of God and not the King of kings.

2Corinthians 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more.

Isaiah 11:3b … and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.

Let us learn to seek the Lord’s evaluation of people and circumstances around us and then follow his leading in pursuit of whatever treasure we are after.

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Take your eyes of the human based parameters you have depended on to guide you and you should find that star once again.

Go with God.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 27

LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF JOSHUA

Joshua 14:8b … The Heart of The Matter

Joshua 3

Joshua 14:8b, Numbers 14:8, 24 – The Heart of The Matter

Caleb is described and commended as one who had a different spirit because he followed the Lord, his God, wholly, with all of his heart.

Of course, God knew Caleb had a different spirit all along but nobody else did. So nobody else would have understood why he was going against the crowd, swimming upstream and sticking out like a sore thumb “clearly” trying to put everyone else in danger by insisting they go and get slaughtered by the giants in the land and so it seemed appropriate to try to kill him.

However, it was this very life threatening situation that showed to all else around that Caleb was different on the inside and when God commended him, everyone knew why but that’s not where it ended; all the people who tried to kill Caleb died off and the rest of the community watched as Caleb, and Joshua, kept growing older and older. Some probably expected them to die “any day now” but they didn’t.

By the way, doing what seems godly on the outside, without being godly on the inside, only leads to sorrow in the end. And it wasn’t just because Caleb was standing against the crowd that made him special either. Lots of people decide to be the odd one out today just to be non-conformists. That is not what Caleb did.

As seen in the story, when the rest of the people realized that they had offended God by doubting Him at the edge of the promised land and God had decreed that they would return into the desert to be wasted, they banded up and decided to do “the right thing” or “the will of God” by going up into the land to take it. There was no spirit connection to get that done anymore because God had already turned back toward the desert and when they went to do what God had asked of them in the first place, they were destroyed. Their mistake was that they thought it was Caleb’s outward actions that won him the commendation.

We have many today who are doing the godly thing or the right thing but the results are death and destruction. Maybe, they are not doing it with all their hearts.

Jesus did say, by their fruits you shall know them. That means, the fruits that identify us are the ones we bear or give birth to, not the ones we pluck off other trees and tie on to our branches; the fruit must be ours.

I’m sure you’ve heard someone, perhaps yourself, say, “I’ve prayed, I’ve sown seed, I’ve tithed, I’ve gone for evangelism, I’ve fasted, I joined several service units in church, but still …”

Check your heart. Perhaps you have not connected to God on a heart to heart level, perhaps you don’t really believe all this “God said to do this and that” stuff.

Point? You are not following God wholly until your spirit, or heart, is involved. The outward manifestations must be born out of a spirit connection.

 

Check your heart.

2 Chronicles 25:1-2, Ephesians 6:5-7.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 26

LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF JOSHUA

Joshua 3

Joshua 14:6, 9, 12, 14 – Spoken Word

It is critical to bear in mind the words that God has spoken concerning us because when the time comes for the delivery, what has been spoken is all that will matter because that is what will come to pass.

Open a journal; write down the things you believe God has told you about your life. Leave enough space for notes of confirmation from the mouth of two or three God-sent witnesses. Review this book from time to time to keep the encounter fresh and encourage yourself by it. That way, when you say you have a future that’s better than your today, it would not be mere talk, it would be a declaration of what God has already told you.

Luke 1:45  And blessed [is] she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.