Devotional

“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.