“Joshua Study – How to Avoid the Devastation of Assumptions”

After the Israelites had successfully crossed the Jordan River and entered into the land of Canaan, they encountered their first stronghold (the city of Jericho). Joshua, who was a brilliant military strategist, knew that the only way God’s promise of occupying the land could come to fruition was if they trusted God. He knew that a divine promise required divine intervention.

As Joshua sought Him, God was extremely faithful to provide Joshua with instructions for military success. For seven days, the Israelites marched until dusk around the city’s fortified gates, blowing their trumpets and praising God. On the seventh day, the city’s walls collapsed and the Israelites conquered the land. No one could deny that God was with them. What lesson can we derive from their time at Jericho? 

God granted Joshua and the Israelites success because they faithfully sought His instruction and then obeyed it. And God will do the same for you and me as we seek and obey Him. We must remember that obedience to God is always a prelude to success. 

On the other hand, the Israelites’ attempt to conquer the city of Ai was disastrous. After Joshua asked his warriors to assess Ai and determine a military strategy, they reported back with the following (paraphrased) statement: “We can handle them. Just take 3,000 soldiers and the city will be ours.” Joshua sent his warriors and they suffered a humiliating defeat. Why? Because Joshua did not include God. Instead he chose to trust his own ideas, and the Israelites suffered because of it. Joshua made the assumption that God would simply provide success as He had done before regardless of whether he sought the Lord or not.

Assumptions are dangerous, especially when we attempt to manufacture what we think God will say or do without actually seeking His instruction. When we become over-confident in our own abilities, experiences, and talents, we can be easily deceived into thinking that God will take the passenger seat while we charge ahead. 

What leads us as humans to make assumptions?

1) We like to be in control, and with pride and arrogance we take charge and follow our own agenda. 

2) We think that we know what God will do. He did something one way in the past, so of course He will provide in that same way again. 

How can we avoid making assumptions?

1) Avoid pride and pray for humility. 
2) Ask questions. Don’t assume you know what others think or what God thinks without first asking them. 
3) Recognize that God knows all, and including Him in our choices is extremely wise. 

Day By Day By Grace e-Sword Study Bible

December 12
Courageous, Selfless Ministry by the Grace of God
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Act_20:24)
Paul was given ministry by the grace of God. “I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me” (Eph_3:7). To put it another way, he received his ministry from the Lord: “the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus.” Paul’s bountiful ministry was developed by the grace of God. “I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1Co_15:10). Also, his ministry was to declare God’s grace: “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul’s life demonstrates that such “grace saturated” service leads to courageous, selfless ministry.
Paul’s ministry was courageous. “But none of these things move me.” The things that Paul faced were formidable. “The Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me” (Act_20:23). Down through the centuries, matters less substantial than these have moved many a professing Christian from completing his calling. Yet, by leaning upon the sustaining grace of God, Paul courageously endured great hardship and danger in the service of the gospel of grace. “But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings” (2Co_6:4-5).
Related to this courageous service was Paul’s selflessness: “nor do I count my life dear to myself.” Soon, he would encounter another sober warning. It was given from a prophet of the Lord, who took Paul’s belt and bound his own hands and feet. “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles” (Act_21:11). Those standing by, who loved Paul deeply, urged him not to proceed. Nevertheless, Paul confessed his willingness to even lose his life for the gospel, if necessary. “Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus’ ” (Act_21:13). Such renouncing of self allowed Paul to “finish [his] race with joy.” Thus his final testimony would become, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2Ti_4:7).
Jesus, my Lord and Master, You know the things that threaten to move me away from Your calling for me. You know the times I am tempted to hold my life dear, wanting to shrink back in a self-serving manner. Please saturate my life with Your grace that I might serve courageously and selflessly, Amen.

Our Daily Walk e-Sword Study Bible

December 12
“In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.” — Gen_1:1.
“In the beginning was the Word… all things were made by Him.” — Joh_1:1-3.
GENESIS MEANS Beginning. Here we discover the source of many streams, some crystal, some turbid, which are still flowing through the world. It tells us of the beginning of the heavens and the earth; of the human race; of sin and redemption; of marriage and the institution of the home; of the sciences and arts that have built up the fabric of our civilisation; of the existence of the Hebrew race, and of the division of the human family into the various nationalities of the world. All of these cannot be attributed to the originating of God, for with regard to the sin and pain and sorrow of the world, it must be conceded that “an enemy hath done this.”
In Hebrew the word for God is plural, the verb conjoined to it is singular, indicating that God is One, but the noun is plural, indicating the mystery of the Holy Trinity. In His earthly life, our Lord asked the Father to glorify Him with the glory that they had together before the world was.
Let us make God in Christ our beginning, the beginning of the book of our life, of our heaven, with its prayer, meditation, and devotion; of our earth, with its practical daily business; of our marriage and home; of our interests and pleasures. Here is the chief corner-stone in which alone the whole building of life can be fitly framed together. Here is the chord of harmony, with which the subsequent oratorio must be consistent. Here is the perfect circle of happiness, in which all that is fairest, sweetest, and strongest must be found.
God is a Faithful Creator. What He begins He finishes. He fainteth not, neither is weary. You may exhaust the dearest human love, but you can never wear out God. If you have never entered on the Divine life, begin with putting God in His right place, as Alpha, the First. If we cry, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” He will answer, “Behold I make all things new.” Listen to the Divine assurance: “I am Alpha and Omega… the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. He that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely.”
O God, my Father supremely Good. Beauty of all things beautiful. To Thee will I intrust whatsoever I have received from Thee, so shall I lose nothing. Thou madest me for Thyself, and my heart is restless until it repose in Thee. AMEN.


December 12
The Great Christmas Auction (Part 2 of 2)
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom_8:32)
As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man’s son, which the soldier had painted. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man’s face in striking detail.
Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above the fireplace. A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars of paintings. And then the man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given.
The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in high anticipation! According to the will of the old man, all of the art would be auctioned on Christmas day, the day he had received his greatest gift.
The day soon arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled this day; greatness would be achieved as many would claim “I have the greatest collection.” The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum’s list. It was the painting of the man’s son.
The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent. “Who will open the bidding with $100?” he asked. Minutes passed. No one spoke. From the back of the room came, “Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son. Let’s forget it and go on to the truly valuable items.”
More voices echoed in agreement.
“No, we have to sell this one first,” replied the auctioneer. “Now, who will take the son?”
Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. “Will you take fifty dollars for the painting? That’s all I have. I knew the boy, so I’d like to have it.
“I have a bid of fifty dollars,” called the auctioneer. “Will anyone go higher?”
After more silence, the auctioneer said, “Going once, going twice. Gone.”
The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, “Now we can get on with it and we can bid on these great treasures!” The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced that the auction was over.
Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, “What do you mean it’s over? What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars of art here! We demand that you explain what’s going on!”
“It’s very simple,” the auctioneer replied. “According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son . . . gets it all.”
The Bible says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom_8:32). Receive Jesus into your life, and you get everything that God has to give!
Take the Son, and get it all!

Morning & Evening

December 12
“His ways are everlasting.” — Hab_3:6
What he hath done at one time, he will do yet again. Man’s ways are variable, but God’s ways are everlasting. There are many reasons for this most comforting truth: among them are the following-the Lord’s ways are the result of wise deliberation; he ordereth all things according to the counsel of his own will. Human action is frequently the hasty result of passion, or fear, and is followed by regret and alteration; but nothing can take the Almighty by surprise, or happen otherwise than he has foreseen. His ways are the outgrowth of an immutable character, and in them the fixed and settled attributes of God are clearly to be seen. Unless the Eternal One himself can undergo change, his ways, which are himself in action, must remain for ever the same. Is he eternally just, gracious, faithful, wise, tender?-then his ways must ever be distinguished for the same excellences. Beings act according to their nature: when those natures change, their conduct varies also; but since God cannot know the shadow of a turning, his ways will abide everlastingly the same. Moreover there is no reason from without which could reverse the divine ways, since they are the embodiment of irresistible might. The earth is said, by the prophet, to be cleft with rivers, mountains tremble, the deep lifts up its hands, and sun and moon stand still, when Jehovah marches forth for the salvation of his people. Who can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? But it is not might alone which gives stability; God’s ways are the manifestation of the eternal principles of right, and therefore can never pass away. Wrong breeds decay and involves ruin, but the true and the good have about them a vitality which ages cannot diminish.
This morning let us go to our heavenly Father with confidence, remembering that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and in him the Lord is ever gracious to his people.
“They have dealt treacherously against the Lord.” — Hos_5:7
Believer, here is a sorrowful truth! Thou art the beloved of the Lord, redeemed by blood, called by grace, preserved in Christ Jesus, accepted in the Beloved, on thy way to heaven, and yet, “thou hast dealt treacherously” with God, thy best friend; treacherously with Jesus, whose thou art; treacherously with the Holy Spirit, by whom thou hast been quickened unto life eternal! How treacherous you have been in the matter of vows and promises. Do you remember the love of your espousals, that happy time-the springtime of your spiritual life? Oh, how closely did you cling to your Master then! saying, “He shall never charge me with indifference; my feet shall never grow slow in the way of his service; I will not suffer my heart to wander after other loves; in him is every store of sweetness ineffable. I give all up for my Lord Jesus’ sake.” Has it been so? Alas! if conscience speak, it will say, “He who promised so well has performed most ill. Prayer has oftentimes been slurred-it has been short, but not sweet; brief, but not fervent. Communion with Christ has been forgotten. Instead of a heavenly mind, there have been carnal cares, worldly vanities and thoughts of evil. Instead of service, there has been disobedience; instead of fervency, lukewarmness; instead of patience, petulance; instead of faith, confidence in an arm of flesh; and as a soldier of the cross there has been cowardice, disobedience, and desertion, to a very shameful degree.” “Thou hast dealt treacherously.” Treachery to Jesus! what words shall be used in denouncing it? Words little avail: let our penitent thoughts execrate the sin which is so surely in us. Treacherous to thy wounds, O Jesus! Forgive us, and let us not sin again! How shameful to be treacherous to him who never forgets us, but who this day stands with our names engraven on his breastplate before the eternal throne.

Integrity – Day 13

Today’s reading is drawn from 1 Timothy 4:15-16.

It’s self-evident that a hypocrite is unqualified to guide others toward attaining higher character. No one respects someone who talks a good game but fails to play by the rules. What a leader does will have a greater impact on those he or she wishes to lead than what the leader says. A person may forget ninety percent of what a leader says, but he or she will never forget how the leader lives.

Bill Hendricks encountered an illustration of this principle during the days of the flourishing real estate market of the 1980s. He met a developer who claimed to have woven what he called “Biblical principles of business” into his deals. But when the market went south, he skipped town and left his investors to pick up the pieces—and the debts.

Another of Bill’s friends stands in sharp contrast to the first. He too was a land developer. He too talked of integrating Biblical principles into his business. And when the market crashed, so did his empire. But unlike the man who ran away, this land developer, as a matter of conscience, worked out a plan to pay back his investors.*

Which of these two would you rather follow in terms of integrity? There is simply no substitute for a man or woman of consistent Christlike character.

That doesn’t imply that any of us will be perfect. In fact, the New Testament doesn’t call for perfect leaders; it calls for those who are models of progress in their faith. Paul instructed Timothy to be diligent in following godly teachings. “Give yourself wholly to them,” he wrote, “so that everyone may see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15). That’s sound advice for us today, as well.

*Hendricks and Hendricks, As Iron Sharpens Iron, 67–69

Bible Gateway

Bible Gateway