Joshua 12-19 – Is Close Enough Enough?

In Joshua chapters 12-19, you see two different standards on display…

  •  “Close enough for government work.”
  • “A job worth doing is worth doing right.”

In these chapters, you read how the Children of Israel took over and divided the land God had promised to them. Yet, at least four times you read something like: “but they did not drive out the (fill in the blank) from the land.” They almost finished the work, but they left a group of people, who continued to live among them and cause them problems. In other words, the Israelites settled for “close enough for government work.”

But God, through people like Joshua and Caleb, was urging the people toward the other standard: “A job worth doing is worth doing right.”

  • Caleb completely conquered his section of territory, because he followed the Lord completely and wholeheartedly. (Joshua 14:8,9,14.)
  • Joshua cheered on the tribes of Ephriam and Manasseh, telling them they could drive out the Canaanites even though the Canaanites were strong and had iron chariots. (Joshua 17:18.)
  • Joshua asked seven of the tribes how long they were going to wait before taking possession of what God had already given them. (Joshua 18:3.)

In light of all of this, here are some questions we need to ask ourselves…

  • When it comes to the things to which God has called me, do I have an attitude of “close enough for government work,” or an attitude of complete, wholehearted obedience?
  • Do I partially do what God has called me to do, or do I see it as a job worth doing and doing well?
  • Are some of my current problems the result of a lack of complete obedience?
  • How long will I wait before taking full possession of what God has already given me?

If you wonder what God desires from you, check out 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17. Give yourself completely to that which God is calling you. Take every bit of that land!

Joshua 6 – Walls

Walls. They prop up our structures. They give us protection, privacy, and a sense of security. Walls can also isolate us, impeded us, and entrap us. All these functions can be good or bad, depending on our motivation.

But any wall that stands between you and what God wants for you needs to come down.

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Joshua 5 – Little Things

“Little things are important.” “It’s the little things that mean the most.” These are sayings most of us have heard all our lives. The reason little things are important and matter so much is that big things are made up of little things. Little things require a lot of thought, discipline, commitment, and sacrifice. That means that little things are actually “big things.”

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Deuteronomy 29 – Trusting “Because I Said So.”

When children become pre-teens and teens, they think more abstractly and become more self-focused. When this happens, they want to know “why” before they carry out instructions. If they’re not told “why,” or if it makes no sense to them, they often resist the request or directive.

At times, parents need to take more time to explain the reasoning behind their directives. But, because of their age and experience, parents know and foresee things their children are unable to. So there are times when a child needs to trust their parent’s wisdom, intentions, and love…even though the child doesn’t have the information they desire.

Read moreDeuteronomy 29 – Trusting “Because I Said So.”

Deuteronomy 17 – No One is Above the Law

“No one is above the law.” This statement is cliché and almost laughable in this day and age. High officials regularly navigate around the law, gang members seem to do whatever they choose, ministers sexually abuse women and children…the list goes on and on. Some are caught and tried, but a large majority of people will continue to violate the law, seemingly undetected.

Deuteronomy chapter 17 stresses the importance of careful and complete adherence to God’s law; whether you’re a lowly citizen or a high official.

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Deuteronomy 12 – Be Specific

Have you ever noticed that when it comes to details, there are people who are more specific in nature and people who are more general in nature.

Specific people meticulously read the instructions before starting. General people just jump in, occasionally glancing over the instructions…if they look at them at all.

Specific people will sit at a red light for five minutes waiting for the light to change…even when no one else is at the intersection. General people will stop at the red light, but if no one else is there, and they’re already been waiting longer than they think they should, they will drive on.

Specific people see a rule as something to be followed. General people see a rule as something to be considered.

When it comes to worship, are you more general or specific?

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Deuteronomy 10 – The importance of Being Persistent and Consistent.

When I was younger, I used to think that success was dependent upon talent, or skill, or wealth, or connectedness. I thought those who were successful merely had the right stuff and/or were in the right place at the right time.

There’s no doubt that these things are helpful, but the older I get, the more I’ve come to believe that success is much more about being persistent and consistent. Persistence and consistency are the two inseparable keys to success…both temporally and spiritually. In his book by the same name, Eugene Peterson called it “a long obedience in the same direction.”

Read moreDeuteronomy 10 – The importance of Being Persistent and Consistent.

Deuteronomy 5 – Awe and Obedience

Remember when you were a kid and the sight of fireflies, shooting stars, and rainbows would cause you to stop in awe? Remember when your parents seemed so big and powerful that the sound of their voice would quickly snap you into obedience?

As we grow up, we tend to lose our child-like sense of awe, as well as our desire and willingness to obey authority.

We can also lose our sense of awe and obedience when it comes to our relationship with God. We lose our awe of God when we become too familiar with Him or too indifferent to Him. We lose our willingness to obey God when our self-motivated desires dampen our desire for prompt and complete obedience to Him.

In Deuteronomy chapter 5, Moses reminds the children of Israel that the key to their relationship with God, as well as their success in the world, would come from maintaining their awe of Him and their obedience to Him.

Awe and obedience should still be the core of our life and relationship with God. Without them, our life will lack power, passion, and production for God. Perhaps that’s why Jesus put such an emphasis on becoming child-like…as opposed to childish. (Matt. 18:3) (1 Cor. 13:11)

Our lives need to be based in awe over God’s indescribable greatness and obedience to His perfect Word. And one will prompt the other. If we reclaim our awe of God, it will renew our obedience to Him. If we improve our obedience to God, it will increase our awe of Him.

Have you lost your awe over the greatness of God? Do you find yourself treating obedience to God more as an option than a mandate? Pick one to focus on and the other will not be far behind.

Deuteronomy 1 – Go and Occupy

Some people make things harder than they have to be. These people complicate things by ignoring suggestions and instructions. They like doing things their own way. They open the box and begin putting pieces together, without reading the instructions.

In Deuteronomy chapter 1, Moses begins a speech to the Israelites who are preparing to cross over into the Promised Land. In the speech, Moses reminds them that the generations before them had made things harder than they needed to be. They had turned an eleven day trip into a forty year trip, because they chose to do things their own way, rather than follow God’s lead.

God had their blessing in hand and was holding it out to them. He promised to pave the way and handle the difficulties they would face. All they had to do was go and occupy.

But their fear and discouragement led them to doubt God. They refuse His direction…and thus His blessing. So the previous generation spent forty years wandering in the wilderness, never receiving what God longed to give them.

I have a feeling I would be shocked and dismayed at how much un-necessary wandering I’ve done, simply because I was afraid to go and occupy. How many times during a single day does God hold some blessing out before me and longs for me to make it my own, only to see me wander and stumble trying to do things my own way.

God, help us to hear the words “Go and occupy” at every turn, and to respond without hesitation.

What is it that God is calling you to do that you’re hesitating to do? Spend this week asking God to give you the courage to step out in faith.

Numbers 31 – What’s Cooking?

As any cook knows, it takes a variety of ingredients to make a great dish. Yes, some cooks make incredible dishes by somewhat randomly throwing a variety of things into a pot, but most tend to follow a recipe…whether it’s in their head or on a piece of paper.

Numbers chapter 31 is a recipe of sorts. It’s a chapter that covers a variety of ingredients for a well lived life. Many of these ingredients are so simple and common we tend to overlook them, if not reminded once in a while.

Read moreNumbers 31 – What’s Cooking?