Joshua was born into slavery in Egypt. He watched Israel being tormented by the Egyptian slave masters who made their lives bitter, with harsh labor, beneath harsher whips. He watched Moses bring hope to his broken people and witnessed the plagues tear apart Egypt. He watched the Red sea part for the children of God, only to drown the Pharaoh and His army. He watched Manna fall from the sky and water pour out from a rock.
He was walking the desert with lakhs of people who witnessed the same things he did. Yet unlike him, they got discouraged and rebellious. When Joshua was sent to Canaan with the other spies, only he and Caleb were able to see beyond the might of the giant Canaanites and be confident of their victory through the Almighty God of Israel.
He saw the power and will of God, shepherding Israel to the Promised Land and he was able to believe God to deliver on His promise. But because the rest of Israel doubted, complained and grumbled, Joshua had to watch everyone he crossed the red sea with, perish and die in the wilderness. Forty years later, Joshua was still in the desert, still burying his people. The last one he lost was his beloved, revered leader- Moses.
God chose Joshua to be the leader of the remainder of Israel. So he supernaturally overcame the might of Jordan only to face the mighty walls of Jericho. Where others saw a dead end, Joshua saw the captain of God’s army with a drawn sword (Joshua 5:13,14). After seven days of uncompromising obedience, Joshua watched the walls fall down.
The obstacles Joshua faced were great and mighty. From Pharaoh, the red sea, the merciless desert, and the giant Canaanites to the walls of Jericho, God’s strength proved mightier still. What he witnessed, gave him boldness to order the sun and the moon to stand still and they obeyed him. The bible records it thus “There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.” (Joshua10:14)
Our life may be full of ups and downs, threats and obstacles, glory and humiliation. If we look at our circumstances, our challenges and our oppressors with the Joshua View, all we will see is the Sovereign God who is on our side. What is before our eyes may be unfavorable, impossible or unimaginably painful yet if we turn our eyes and look at the cross we will surely only see victory through Jesus.
Dearly beloved, when you look ahead, if you heed God’s voice, He will surely heed yours and fight your battles for you, grant you days where even the sun and the moon follow your schedule. The Joshua view is not mere optimism. It is a savage old way to see the world through the unshakable knowledge of the greatness of God. If you watch for the greatness of God, surely you will see the goodness of God.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).
Christ commanded us to love one another. Gospels and epistles have the theme of great love reinforced over and over again. Love is central to the Christian faith and the Christian way of life. We have to love the brothers, we have to love the sisters and love everyone in between. We are called to love beyond words and speech but with actions and in truth (1 John3:18).
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4:12).
But what does this command demand of us? The clearest model of what love demands is shown by Jesus Christ. True love lays itself down and gives until all is given away for the sake of the object on whom the love is bestowed. Love isn’t love, without sacrifice.
People are different, vibrant and unique. Christians are often a bunch of misfits figuring out how to fit into one body. We have each got our own personal struggles, our own daily dose of troubles and our own accounts and affairs that demand our attention. Yet we are called to uphold others around us, to meet the needs of those who are needy, lacking or weakening. We can’t answer this calling without love.
Let’s be real. Life gets complex and sometimes it gets stuck. It is a labour of love to accept each other and to roll with the punches we get dealt with. Especially when the punches are delivered by someone we are called to love. When people fail us, hurt us, harm us or even disappoint us, how do we respond?
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
The Bible calls us to love. Love costs sacrifice. Brothers and sisters aren’t perfect. Yet we are called to love them so we do. Hurt is inevitable. Yet, when we get hurt, we can’t respond in violence to hurt them back. Therein lies the wonder.
Love always leads to forgiveness and reconciliation. The reason we are forgiven is, because of God’s love. No matter what we did, The Holy God Almighty, the Ancient of days, the Great I am, loved us (liars, murderers, thieves and cheats) so much so that, this great love compelled Him to sacrifice everything till we were pardoned. In the same way, as we live among our brethren, our families, our spouses, children or parents, issues, insults, hurts and problems will crop up. But if we truly love them, our actions will always lead us into forgiveness and reconciliation.
When forgiveness has been doled out instead of punishment, when blessing has been uttered in response to curses, it also pays to remember that love is neither self-seeking nor does it keep track of wrongs done. This gentle reminder is a powerful wonder making tool that will help families to grow strong bonds, marriages to flourish, churches to stay united and for people to thrive. The message here can be summed up simply as “Love leads to forgiveness and forgiveness leads to blessing.”
Is there any among the sons of Adam or the daughters of Eve who have been free of deep-rooted problems? Pain, shame, fear, hurt or rejection, are part and parcel of the human condition. Thousands of psychologists battle each day trying to get to the root of the symptoms such as anxiety, fear, pathological lying, infidelity, criminal behavior, recklessness or anger and try to help people overcome whatever debilitating issues they are facing or creating.
Our Lord, the Good Physician has a diagnosis for the state of man. ”For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.”
Many Christians, who try and grow out of the ‘old man’ fail to do so despite their best attempts. Most of these attempts are centered around their willpower, taming their thoughts, trying to gain knowledge (biblical, psychological or 10 easy steps to uprooting everything that’s wrong with you) using temporary fixes like faking holiness, outright hypocrisy and denial of the problem.
In Jeremiah 8:22,23 We see the prophet cry out in dismay about Israel.
“Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of the daughter of my people
not been restored?”
The prophet knew that even in the Old Testament, God healed those who went to Him. But Jeremiah laments because the people did not go to God with their wounds and scars which ultimately consumed them and their nation.
How much worse is it if we fail to go to Christ our Healer, who bore in His body the stripes for our healing?
There is no point in tearing our hair out by wondering why we repeat certain behaviors or patterns of chronic foolishness. True and complete healing is only possible through the total and complete uprooting of our maladies. Uprooting has to begin with acknowledging that we are heartsick and going to the creator of our heart, with our sickness. We need to allow the compassion of Christ to reach us, invade our hearts and to make right what sin broke.
Do not reject healing by wallowing in shame or the pain-pleasure of punishing yourself. Get it to God today. Don’t waste a minute. Get over it. Humbly and gratefully receive the help given to you and move on. Once a heart receives the balm of Gilead it will automatically begin to pour out the same healing it received. Healing like most things that flow out of God’s goodness creates a ripple effect. One healed heart can help nations be reconciled with God because we are all needy, wounded and hurting. We just need the light of the world to show us the way.
We use social media to connect. We connect with friends and dear ones and we get updated on the progression of their lives. We click like when we see our friends and acquaintances get new jobs, start new lives, move to a new city or try a new cake. The point of social media was to stay in touch with our world.
Yet when our Facebook page gets flooded with reports of children torn apart, fathers murdered and guilty men defended, we realize we can barely recognize our world. Beyond the newspaper reports, flash news and moral dialogue on social media platforms, we sense a world drenched in so much darkness that brutish men become beasts without ever knowing what it is they have become.
Just like you, I recoiled when this dark world brushed against my awareness. I lamented and despaired. I prayed for my nation and its social consciousness and I felt powerless as the darkness that seemed to press down, trying to invade our daily lives. As I desperately clung to my prayer, I was reminded of a song I’d heard by Steffany Gretzinger. She sings
Light of the world
It’s the name we were given
Can’t get away from the vision
We are cities on a hill.
These lyrics brought me back to the truth and ripped apart the fear that was clawing at me. Mathew 5:14-16 says “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”
Dearly, beloved, we have a glorious calling and purpose. We who carry Christ have a light that shines from within that the world can’t put out because we don’t illuminate by our own strength but by the grace of our Lord. The light is in you. But is it on a candlestick illuminating within your family? Your community? Your place of work? Or is your light hindered by bushels? Has your schedule, insecurity, feelings of unworthiness or inadequacies dimmed the light in you?
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The good works mentioned here is not merely handing out tracts or tithing or charity or other “works” that Christians are associated with. The good works originate from what we have received from Christ. In the eyes of the Lord, good works are the fruit of what salvation in Christ has done to us.
Good works are a result of our renewed minds and not a religious activity. The good works are a result of the light that is in us and it is a witness that brings many others to glory. Let nothing hinder you or keep you from shining bright in a world that’s desperately looking for sons and daughters of God to reveal themselves.
When Jonah the prophet was ordained by God to speak to Nineveh (the capital city of Assyria, an enemy of Israel) about impending doom due to their sin, he ran away to Tarshish. Jonah knew God to be gracious, merciful, loving and kind. Being a patriotic Israelite, he wanted nothing to do with Nineveh and had much less interest in being instrumental in saving it from destruction. He preferred to die rather than save the people of the city so he allowed himself to be flung overboard into a violent sea.
But know-it-all-Jonah had no idea God could be so dramatic as to let him get up close and personal with the insides of a sea creature just so he learns a lesson. Finally, Jonah was ready to obey the Lord. People of Nineveh heard this suicidal, resentful prophet from Israel and everything that had breath fasted, the people and the King repented and God relented from consuming the city in His wrath.
Jonah who just saved a whole city got resentful and angry and cried out to God “I told you so!”, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
You can have revelation and wisdom. You can be bold enough to face death with a sneer like Jonah. You can know the kindness, mercy, love and other attributes of God and live your life in this absolute knowledge. You can go through the most supernatural experience and come out alive by the hand of God. Everywhere you go people may turn to God and be saved. Kings may repent at your words. You can do all this and yet miss the point.
You may have heard the gospel but decided you don’t need such good news. You may have grown up in a Christian home since day one, just going with the flow. You may be someone who met Christ halfway through your life but you are watching the first love ebb away. You may be someone who has been fairly stable all your life and yet that’s all you are. You may be someone who knows much about God and His ways but you still find yourself in experiences like Jonah in the belly of a fish.
Whoever you are or whatever your story is, God is always trying to make you understand what your life and purpose is about. Don’t miss the point. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The whole reason why there is still breath in you is so that you can be saved or you can save someone else.
Jonah was a prophet, he understood more about God than many in his generation. Yet he missed the point that he had a mission. Just like Jonah, Jesus had the ministry of reconciliation. Today that ministry rests on us. Dear brothers and sisters, we have been ordained by God Almighty with a task to go out and preach the gospel. May God find you and me, obedient to His will and word.
If we can look at ourselves and others through the eyes of Christ, our jaws would drop. The bible can help open our eyes to the viewpoint of God. He calls David who was an adulterous murderer “A man after His own heart.” He calls Abraham “Strong in faith” even though his faith failed him long enough to birth Ishmael out of impatience. He calls Noah “the most righteous in His generation” even though He got blackout drunk and stripped. Gideon, the guy who told the Angel of God to “send someone else” was called a mighty warrior. When Judas was busy betraying Jesus with a kiss, Jesus called him “Friend”.
“And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. You did not greet Me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing My feet since I arrived.” (Luke 7:44,45) Looking at the sinful woman all Jesus chose to see was her love and devotion to Him. Looking at Simon the Pharisee, all Jesus could see was a lack of love for God. Jesus tells him, “He who has been forgiven little, loveth little.”
Our eyes of flesh can often see only the sin in the sinner. Sometimes like Gideon we can see only our weaknesses and limitations. Sometimes we lose our focus on loving God and shift it toward what God can do for us or worse, what we have been doing for God. But God calls us to see differently.
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your vision is clear, your whole body also is full of light. But when it is poor, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” (Luke 11:34-35) The whole point of the lamp is to dispel darkness. When His eyes of fire (Revelation 19:12) saw the sinful woman, the light in Him dispelled her darkness.
What is the light our eyes carry as we live in this fallen world? Do our eyes help bring a change in the lives of the broken and needy? Does our lamp guide people closer to God pulling them away from the darkness of addictions, despair, and fear? God calls us the “light of the world”. Do we live up to the name He calls us? Do you want the ability to love more, accept more and give more? Do you want to be able to see yourself like Christ sees you? Do you want the light that is in Christ to burn in you?
The bible holds a promise for you. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”