Truth..

Most people that I encounter want to know the truth. They don’t want lies, half-truths, imaginations or guesswork. However, I find more and more that people’s expectations are that they won’t be told the truth and they expect lies. If you did a poll I think the majority would now say that they do not believe what is printed in mainstream newspapers, or on social media or even what is said by our own politicians. “Fake” news and “political agendas” is big business.

A more worrying trend though is that people now apparently have their own version of the truth. It’s “their” truth rather than “the truth”. If their understanding or interpretation is wrong then it doesn’t matter because it’s “their truth”. If you challenge “their” truth because it’s different to “the” truth then you are an “ist” of some kind..labelled for having a different perspective.

As Christians today we are contenders for the truth and testifiers of the truth. That is our testimony. We can confidently declare the truth because the Truth is Jesus and truth comes from Jesus. We can be confident that Jesus told us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Not only that, but Jesus also sent the Spirit of Truth who is the Holy Spirit to be with us, live in us and to teach us and lead us in Truth. Our confidence has to be rooted in Jesus.

As we approach this Advent, let us as believers be confident of the announcement and proclamation that the Truth came into the world and revealed God to us. Let us be bold to declare that Jesus is the truth. I encourage you this Advent to read again from the gospels the words and teachings of Jesus himself. I am reading John’s gospel this December and the opening verses have been my inspiration today.

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” John.1.17-18 NKJV

Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

Shout for Joy

This is my shout for Joy this Marvellous Monday.

God is good, worthy of all praise and glory. He has taken me who was destined for death and judgement because of my sin and has redeemed, restored and given me the greatest treasure…Jesus and eternal life. He has totally transformed me by His awesome power. I am a new me.

I am no longer dead spiritually but am alive in Christ Jesus, my Lord. I am lifted high through Him who loves Me and who has demonstrated already His great love for me by giving Himself totally for me. He died and rose again from death that I too might live, but not only that He has give me, His Holy Spirit.

His Spirit lives in me and empowers me.

When I fall, Jesus picks me up. He tends my wounds and heals me. He encourages me to endure and persevere. Jesus is in my corner. I am not alone.

He teaches me to be an overcomer of the works of the evil one and to laugh with joy at the works of God.

God’s handiwork of creation is bold and beautiful and reminds me daily how awesome my Father God is.

How wonderful, how amazing that I am now counted His child.

Adopted into the family of the most loving, merciful, gracious, trustworthy, good and powerful Father there ever is and who is for everlasting to everlasting. Praise His glorious name.

Join me in giving a Shout of Joy today for our most marvellous God and His son, Jesus.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Praying for others..

Recently, the Lord has encouraged me to pray this prayer, which is in Colossians chapter One verses 9-14. The Word of God is powerful and if you are interceding for others then this prayer could be a good starting point for you too.

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Amen

May God make His face to shine upon you today and grant you His favour. Bless you.

Do not be afraid of the dark..

I felt prompted to re-post this today about the darkness. I pray the Lord will speak to your heart. Be encouraged and God bless you my friends.

We don’t often as Christians talk much about darkness and the nighttime but recently I’ve been thinking about darkness in a new light 😊 excuse the pun but I couldn’t resist it x

When I was a child I was, probably like most children, frightened of the dark and the nighttime. I used to let my imagination run wild about things that were living in that dark time of night. I would hide myself under my bed clothes and make myself invisible. I was hidden so in my childish thinking if I couldn’t see anything then nothing could see me.

The bible encourages us to put away childish thinking and so I’ve been trying to understand darkness/nighttime from God’s viewpoint and think differently about it. It started with a prayer vigil that we held recently from midnight until 3 a.m. In preparing for that I discovered that the bible teaches us a lot about darkness and especially the midnight hour.

First off, I am reminded from Genesis Chapter 1 that God created the day and the night. If God created it then it is his and just as the sun, moon and stars belong to Him then so does the night – it belongs to God. The darkness and the night belong to God and not the enemy.

It seems to me that the enemy has exploited our fear and twisted our thinking about the hours of dark and the nighttime. I have heard it called the “witching hour” and the enemy has used this time to his advantage and for his wicked purposes for far too long but he doesn’t have control of the night. God does. It belongs to God and as children of God and light it can belong to us as our inheritance in Christ.

I believe it’s time for us as believers in Christ to rise up and to reclaim the darkness and the night times.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
Isaiah 60:1-3

The bible teaches us that God does great and miraculous things in the night and especially in the midnight hour. God is working in those hours of darkness on our behalf and bringing freedom and deliverance to His people in the night time. He answers prayers in the night. He brings us dreams and revelation in the night.

Here are just a few examples of the amazing and miraculous things which I am reminded of which God has done in the night:

1. At midnight the angel of the Lord went through Egypt and God led the Israelites out of hundreds of years of captivity into freedom just after the midnight hour;

2. God sent an angel to free Paul and Silas from the prison at midnight. Salvation then came to the jailor and his family;

3. God also sent an angel at night to free Peter from the prison as the guards slept and whilst the believers were gathered to pray for him;

3. God made His covenant with Abraham at night;

4. God showed Jacob in a dream the angels ascending and descending to the earth from heaven and also wrestled with Jacob in the night;

5. God gave Daniel revelation in dreams;

6. God gave Pharaoh a dream which enabled Joseph to prepare for a famine.

These are just a few amazing stories of God working at night to bring freedom and salvation to His people.

I am also reminded of the greatest story ever told. When Jesus was dying on the cross and just before he died as part of God’s amazing plan for our salvation and redemption, God caused there to be darkness over the land for 3 hours from noon until 3 in the afternoon. Jesus then died.

Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb, in a place of darkness, but a miracle was taking place during that time and on the third day His glorious resurrection took place.

Jesus the true Light of the world was then revealed and He had triumphed over death and hell and Satan.

Day always follows the night and light always breaks into the darkness.

Miracles can still take place in the darkest of times. God can be working for you and answering your prayer in this place of darkness that you may find yourself in right now.

Please do not give up hope. He is working on your behalf. He is working in our darkness.

Do not be afraid of the dark..God is there with you.

Blessings to you all this day and night in Jesus precious name.

Thanks to Andy Holmes @andyjh07 for making this photo of the beautiful night sky available freely on Unsplash 🎁

Seeking the outcast..

Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. John 9:35 -38

These verses from John’s gospel tell the story of the man who had been blind from birth but was miraculously healed by Jesus. This poor man who had lived his life until this moment in complete darkness, not able to see anything of the world around him, was given the gift of sight.

This is the miracle that this man could probably never have imagined being possible. It was unthinkable, he received his sight. Not his sight back as he had never seen before, but the ability to see what was previously hidden from him.

The greatest and happiest day of his life then becomes one of rejection.

The religious leaders of the day who are offended by his healing on a Sabbath question him about Jesus. When he does not answer in the way they want then they cruelly excommunicate him from the temple. This is a terrible thing to do in the Jewish society of the day. He is now an outcast.

This story of rejection after encountering Jesus may be one that is familiar to you from your own experiences. If so, then I hope these verses bring encouragement and hope to you.

This man’s story doesn’t end in rejection as we see from the verses. Jesus hears what has happened and actively seeks him out until He finds Him. Jesus shows such compassion and concern for this man that He actively looks for him until He finds him. Jesus does not reject him. This is such a beautiful picture to me. Jesus cares.

Jesus came to seek the lost and this is what He does for this man. This man had regained his physical sight but then lost His place to worship God in the Synagogue. Jesus comes and seeks him out to now give Him spiritual sight and show the truth about who Jesus is. Jesus reveals Himself..the Son of God.

Physical blindness must be terrible but spiritual blindness is even worse. Jesus wants this man to see the truth about who He is. Jesus introduces this man to the Son of God. He gives this man the opportunity to believe in Him. This man wants to believe and confesses his faith in Jesus. He then worships Jesus as God as he is now able to worship God in Spirit and in truth because of Christ.

This man was given his physical sight but then was given His spiritual sight which is the most precious gift of all. The tragedy is that those in the temple who had cast him out were still spiritually blind to the truth. They did not see Jesus for who He truly was. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Our prayer today: from Ephesians 1 that we may know Christ and our understanding of Him is enlightened.

“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in”

Deception – The Gibeonites Story

It’s #ThrowbackThursday and so I thought today I would publish one of my most regularly viewed posts which just so happens to be (to my pleasant surprise) this story from the Old Testament. If you have not heard of the Gibeonites before then please read on…

The bible story of the Gibeonites and how they tricked Joshua & the Israelites (which you can read in the book of Joshua Chapter 9) is a fascinating bible story which has a lot to teach us about deception.

What is Deception

It is a deliberate attempt to make you believe something which is not true – there is an intention to mislead – something is hidden, concealed, there is an ulterior motive.    Deception presents facts in a way that you think they are the truth.    It will usually contain a mixture of truth, half-truths & lies – it distorts the truth.    Deception is usually very close to the truth otherwise it would be easily spotted.  Craftiness, & Cunning are usually involved. 

Deception can also arise from giving or allowing a false impression to be made by manipulating information, exaggerating or leaving truth or some truth out – lying by omission.  If you let someone believe something untrue about you – the person has a wrong impression and instead of correcting them you let them believe it – that’s also deception.  That is such a subtle trap we can all fall into – allowing someone to believe an image of ourselves that we project which is not reality- even as believers.

A lie will usually lead to another lie. Eventually you are so far away from the truth you no longer recognise the truth.   That is why deception is so dangerous –it’s very subtle. We start to believe the lie is actually truth because we have a wrong reference point or foundation for what we believe.   We receive information through a distorted lens of deception and don’t realise it is not truth. We then think others are deceived!

We see elements of this in the plan of the Gibeonites.  It was very cleverly thought out – they went to great efforts to paint a picture and give the impression they had travelled from a long long way away and were not in fact neighbours of the Israelites.    Their bread was mouldy, their wine was gone, their clothes & sandals were worn out and tattered etc.   Those facts were true but the reason they gave was not true.   That was the deception.

There is always a motive for deception– sometimes it is just as important discerning the motive behind the deception.  The reason why someone wants to deceive us or why we deceive ourselves (self-deception) or others. It can be for a whole host of reasons – dishonest gain (greed), self preservation, fear etc. to name just a few.  

In this story, the Gibeonites had heard what had happened to the cities of Jericho & AI (the Israelites had wiped them out) and they feared for their lives – they didn’t want to die. It was all about self-preservation – that can be a very strong motive for deception– we lie or cover things up because we don’t want someone to know the truth about us – preserving ourselves. Fear about what people would think if they know the truth –we become trapped in this false picture we have created.

The Gibeonites wanted a peace treaty with the Israelites– that was what they told Joshua & that was true (v2/3).    It doesn’t seem like they were planning a Trojan horse – enemy infiltration– and kill the Israelites afterwards – we’re not told that.    The Gibeonites had various options to achieve their aim.  We know from verse 1 that they could have joined forces with the other neighbouring Kings in the area who planned to attack the Israelites.     That was a genuine option.  The Gibeonites were not a weak people or small in number– In Joshua 10 we find out that Gibeon was a might city – bigger than Ai & full of mighty men.  They could have fought.

However, they discounted that option – the Gibeonites were wise enough to realise that they had no chance of getting what they wanted by force because God was on the side of Israel. If someone can’t beat you at something or take something by force then beware that they don’t cheat you out of it instead.

Their other option would have been to throw themselves on the mercy of the Israelites & God – been honest from the very beginning – there was an option to do the right thing – but they resorted to obtaining what they wanted by deception.  

This is still true today of how the enemy, Satan, will use deception against us.  It is one of his greatest strategies – his motive is to “rob, steal and destroy” – he wants to ruin the fullness & joy of a life of freedom & redemption that Christ has given us & all that God has for us.  Satan wants to stop you growing and maturing and being an effective disciple of Jesus.

If Satan cannot frighten us or overcome us by a direct attack then he will seek to deceive us in some way either by what we believe about our faith in God and salvation in Jesus or what we believe about ourselves.   We need to be able to identify and discern those lies.   Otherwise there will be consequences of us believing the lie – strongholds will develop in our thinking or behaviours which are not Godly and we won’t be mature and develop in our faith with a firm foundation of truth.    

In these days with so much access to information from so many various sources we really need to be able to discern false teachings, false doctrine, false prophecies etc- That is why we need the tools which God has given us to discern deception.

The motives for deception can look “good” to us too -just as the Gibeonites thought and this is part of the trap with “self-deception” – we can do what we think is good rather than what is Godly.   We can convince ourselves that the only way out of a situation is to “bend the truth” for a good cause. What a trap. 

Where does Deception come from?

Deception originated from Satan – Jesus said satan is the “father of lies” John 8:44 – “He (satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies”.  

We see satan’s nature as the liar and deceiver in the garden of Eden.  Satan deceives Eve into eating the forbidden fruit which introduced sin & death into creation. 

Deception is sin –a half truth which misleads – is sin – self-deception is sin.

Deception introduces DOUBT  –  Deception can mean you start to doubt the “truth” – you doubt your ability to know the “truth”.     You start to doubt your own faith – “Are you really a Christian”?   Satan introduced doubt when he said to Eve ”   Did God really say”?  You can start to doubt you have heard God correctly.     

Watch out for doubt in your thoughts– where is it coming from?  Doubt and Discernment are different things coming from different sources. Doubt does not come from the Holy Spirit. Discernment is the Holy Spirit working in and through us to reveal truth.

We can deceive ourselves – self- deception – it can be in our own hearts.   The bible says that “the heart is deceitful above all things” Jeremiah 17:9 – It is so important to ask God to search our hearts and ask Him to reveal if there is any sin in us.    Are we deceiving ourselves in areas of our lives, in our behaviours or attitudes.

So we see that from that very first act of deception in the Garden of Eden there are then stories of deception throughout the bible. Jacob deceives his father Isaac to steal the birth right from his brother Esau, Laban then deceives Jacob into marrying Leah, Joseph’s brothers deceive their father Jacob and pretend Joseph is dead.

The Pharisees tried to deceive Jesus, Ananias & Saphira tried to deceive Peter and Simon the Sorcerer tried to deceive Paul.

There is a pattern of deception and deception is still at work today.  Jesus warns his followers not to be deceived.

Matthew 24;24   “For False Messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Paul warned the early churches – 2 Corinthians 11:3 – “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”.

Acts 20:30 “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them”.

Let us heed these warnings and be on our guard as believers against deception.

Discovering Deception

The good news is that this story of the Gibeonites tells us very clearly how to avoid deception –in two words – Ask God.

I love the fact that there is no mystery here, it’s clear -In one sentence we are told exactly why the Israelites were deceived by the Gibeonites– they didn’t ask God but relied instead on the evidence of their own eyes & ears.

Self-Reliance & not God Reliance.

Can we rely on God – The answer is Yes.  

Firstly God knows all things (He is omniscient) – nothing is hidden from his view. God cannot therefore ever be deceived.   The bible says in Hebrews that no creature is hidden from His sight but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

God forbids deception so it is not part of His character– Leviticus 19: 11 “Do not lie.  Do not deceive one another”.    Proverbs 12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips but he delights in people who are trustworthy”.

We can also trust Jesus – The bible teaches us that there was no deceit in Jesus –  Isaiah 53: 9 “nor was any deceit in his mouth”.  

Jesus is The way, The truth & The lifeJesus does not deceive us or lie to us.

Jesus has also sent us the Holy Spirit – as believers we have the Spirit of Truth– living within us.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit is our counsellor and will “lead us into truth”. John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  He will not speak on his own, he will speak only what he hears (from God) and he will tell you what is to come”.

God promises us guidance when we seek Him. There are lots of promises in scripture that when we seek God He will lead & guide us and that we can trust in Him.   In Psalm 5 – we are encouraged to take our requests to God each day in prayer and look up (wait for the answer).

God has provided us with His written word – Holy Scripture– His words of truth.   God’s Word is the plumb line.  If you want to check something is truth – first check what the bible says about it. Go to the source first.   

Hebrews 4 says  “ For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness for he is a babe but solid food belongs to those who are of full age – that is who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good or evil.”

We need to study and get into the bible ourselves and then practice and test whether the things we hear, read etc. are good (of God) or evil.   We have to know these things for ourselves and so mature in our faith.  We also need to live out our faith in doing good.   James says that we deceive ourselves if we don’t act out our faith as doers of the word and not just hearers.

Ephesians 4;14  “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”

The symbolism of the mouldy bread and wine that has run out also speaks to me in this story.      As believers we also need fresh bread from heaven – Jesus is our daily bread. He is the living water which never runs out. Reading the bible, Prayer, worship & praise- these are all ways that we daily eat & drink and build ourselves up in Christ.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirt is Discernment.  I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of discernment.   Through the exercise of that gift we can discern between good & evil and truth & lies. The Holy Spirit reveals hidden things and what would not be possible to know by our human understanding – it is a divine revelation from God.  

Jesus exercised discernment– Jesus discerned the hearts & motives of the Pharisees when they were trying to trick him –  “you hypocrites he said– why are you trying to trap me”.    Peter discerned through the Holy Spirit that Ananias & Saphira were lying to him and lying to the Holy Spirit.  The impure motives of Simon’s heart in seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit were also discerned.

Why did the Israelites not ask God about the Gibeonites?   We are not told why – just that they didn’t.   This is really interesting because the Israelites had a recent testimony of God revealing deceit in a miraculous way. They discovered why the battle of “Ai” was lost by God revealing deception by one of their own people who had stolen and hidden spoil from the battle which had been forbidden.  They could have easily asked God about the Gibeonites.   Was it over-confidence or mis-placed confidence in their own abilities – they asked a few questions of the Gibeonites, tested the food etc. but ultimately they relied on themselves and not God. There is a warning in this to us.

The Gibeonites were also pressurising the Israelites to make a peace treaty and to act quickly. That can be a sign of deception – being pressurised into making a quick decision. We need to make time to seek God and ask Him for guidance before making a decision especially if that decision will have big consequences. Don’t be rushed.

There were also signs of deception – – warning bells were there – The Gibeonites flattered the Israelites. Perhaps Joshua & the people were flattered to hear that their exploits in battle had reached so far and wide. Perhaps some pride crept in which made them vulnerable. So the lesson for us it to beware the flatters.

Romans 16:18 “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ but their own appetites.   By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.”

Ephesians 5 v 6 “Let no-one deceive you with empty words”.

Seeing is not always believing

We are warned not to believe everything we see especially when it comes to signs & wonders.    If people are just looking for signs & wonders as evidence of truth or God – the miraculous – then there is a great danger of being deceived.  

Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2 9-10 “the coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works.  He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie – and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing.   They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”  

Appearances can be deceptive. The appearance of the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites. They believed what they saw with their eyes.

The good news is that Truth will eventually out. One day the truth will be revealed. The things that are hidden will be revealed by God.

In this story it was only 3 days – a very short time -before the Israelites discovered the truth.

Dealing with Deception

This is a really important part of the story. There are lessons we can learn. 

Imagine how Joshua & the Israelites felt when they realised they had been deceived – angry, upset, vengeful, stupid, shamed, guilty, disappointed, betrayed –perhaps they looked for others to blame, fearful that they had disobeyed God. 

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and imagine – How would you have felt & how do you think you would have reacted.  

You may have even experienced deception and can identify with those feelings. – I know I have – twice that I know I have been in fellowships which have been deceived by trusted people– a huge amount of money was stolen from one church and in another there was a sexual predator pretending to be a believer.    It can cause a lot of pain & hurt –especially if you have been deceived by someone close to you – but the fallout from how we react can be even worse than the effects of the deception itself.  It can cause division, disunity, bitterness, recriminations & unforgiveness even pride – blame those who have been deceived and act as though it wouldn’t have happened to you.   “How could they have let this happen”?    Relationships are really tested and sometimes don’t survive.   We need to guard our hearts in these incredibly difficult circumstances.

In this story we read that the Israelites were not happy at all with Joshua & the leaders when they found out they had been deceived – they started to complain.  There was the potential here for there to be a rebellion against the leaders.    The people wanted revenge and to kill the Gibeonites and when that wasn’t possible then have them severely punished and to be their slaves.   That would have been a terrible life of slavery & drudgery.   Open to future abuse as well by their masters.    The Israelites had been slaves in the past and now they had the chance to be the masters – to make someone else pay.   There was the potential that the Israelites would even deceive themselves into justifying their own bad behaviour or mistreatment of the Gibeonites.   They deserved it by deceiving them and had brought this on themselves.

The Gibeonites had obtained the covenant of the peace treaty with the Israelites by deception. It might seem justifiable to us for the Israelites to have broken the covenant they had made as it had been obtained by fraud. As a lawyer, I know that the law today enables parties to terminate a contract if there has been fraud or misrepresentation.   It is seen as the fair thing to do.

However, the Israelites had made this vow & covenant in God’s name and the leaders were concerned about bringing dishonour to God’s name and also fearful about what God might do to them if they didn’t honour the covenant.

That decision was Godly Wisdom indeed because later in the bible we find out that Saul does break that covenant.   The result is that God is really displeased and there is a famine as a result which is only brought to an end when 7 of Saul’s sons are killed (crucified) as a substitution to make right the wrong that has been done to the Gibeonites.

This reminds me that through Christ’s death on the Cross and His Resurrection Power we are given the ability in Jesus to overcome our natural desires of our flesh for revenge, anger etc when deceived and to forgive the deceiver and release them to God.

What did Joshua do in this story?

Joshua doesn’t attack the Gibeonites when he discovers the truth.    He confronts their lie in the right way.    He wants to discover the truth – why did they lie.  

That is important for us – we may need, in some circumstances and however, difficult and upsetting to confront the deceiver. In the right way- in a Christ like way- just like Joshua did.     Jesus did the same with the people who tried to deceive him – He called it out.   “Why are you trying to trick me

The Gibeonites take the opportunity and tell Joshua the truth.  It’s like a confession of their sins. They confess the lie.

They are under a curse because of the lie but Joshua also shows them Mercy – v 27 – He doesn’t make them the slaves for everyone – imagine what a life of hell that would have been -but he makes them woodcutters & watercarriers for the house of God.   This would still been a hard & demanding work but not the punishment that the people wanted and perhaps arguably that the Gibeonites deserved.  

By making them the woodcutters and watercarriers for the house of God Joshua actually brings them close to God.     This reminds us that God is truly merciful to everyone and He has made a way through Christ for everyone to come into His family.

So I would say -Put those who have wronged you into the hands of God.   Let Him deal with them for you.   If we have done wrong let’s confess our sins and God will forgive us.

It doesn’t say in the story that Joshua explicitly forgave the Gibeonites but this is something which we are required to do as believers.  Forgive those who trespass against us.   Jesus tells us to forgive – it is a requirement of living out a life of faith.  It is not easy.   I didn’t realise for a long time that I even had any unforgiveness in my heart still towards the person who had hurt me through their deception.    It wasn’t obvious – I didn’t think about them or wish bad things on them.   I thought I had dealt with it but I had deceived myself by burying the hurt & fear deep inside me.  

God showed me the effect of that buried unforgiveness in my life was like those little foxes which ruin the vineyard.   It was ruining my fruitfulness in certain areas of my Christian walk.  God really opened my eyes to the things I had deceived myself about by not dealing properly with those things– lies that I had started to believe – that I couldn’t really trust God to protect me or those close to me, that there was hatred buried deep in my heart towards this person.   I learnt to forgive by God’s grace.

Defeating Deception

When we deal with deception in the right way I believe that we defeat it’s power in our lives.     In Joshua chapter 10 the Gibeonites are under attack from the other Kings and they ask Joshua for help.

This was the test.   Joshua does not refuse them help. He helps his one-time enemies who had deceived him.  Joshua is faithful to his promise and because of this and the way he acts, we read in Chapter 10 that God gives the Israelites their biggest victory in battle so far – there are miracles and God enables them to defeat all of the 5 Kings who had plotted against the Israelites at the start of chapter 9 at once.   God says “Do not fear them for I have delivered them into your hand”.

If you are obedient to God then he will give you the victory over your enemy and you will overcome.

God can do the miraculous in your circumstances – in v11 of the chapter we read how God came to their aid and cast down great hailstones from heaven – a demonstration of His great power.   

Even the sun stood still v 12 and v 14 – The Lord fought for Israel.  He didn’t just fight for the Israelites though (His people) – He also fought for the Gibeonites – it was their city that was being attacked.   God was now protecting those who were serving in His house and part of His house.   We are also under God’s protection now having been brought into His family through Jesus the Son.    We are under God’s loving care.    God surrounds us with His favour.

I don’t think that Joshua & the Israelites would have had such a victory if they had not honoured the peace covenant made with the Gibeonites. God honoured Joshua and gave him a mighty victory.

Bless you my friends.

Then…

A repost today dear friends on the power of a very small word. Since last Thursday and the death of our Queen Elizabeth II, we as a nation under God are in a “Then” moment. We are in times of huge change that require prayer before God that His will for our nation and our new King Charles III come into alignment. Let us join our prayers brothers and sisters in Christ with our nation at this key time of transition and change.

Then is such a little word but it is can be so powerful. It’s a word which speaks of change. There is a before and THEN something happens which changes the story.

In Genesis, we read the story of Noah. The flood has come upon the earth and Noah, his family and the animals are in the ark. They obeyed God’s instructions and went into the Ark and then God shut the door.

“So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.”
Genesis 7:16 NKJV

It was after obedience that the THEN came and God shut the door. Sometimes, we are waiting for God to act and the THEN to happen but we maybe haven’t done our part to enable the THEN. Something at our end needs to change.

Dear brother Alan posted the other day about prayer warriors still being required. You can read that post here which I recommend if you have not yet read it. https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2021/12/31/2022-prayer-warriors-still-required.

There is an often quoted portion of scripture which contains one of the most powerful THENs in the bible.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

Prayer changes things and brings about the THEN. If we want to see change then let us seek God’s Will and act on it. Let us be Prayer Warriors for change.

Bless you my friends.

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Credibility

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye witnesses and servants of the word so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
Luke.1-4

This is the opening statement in the gospel of Luke. It’s a bold statement and sets out the confidence that the writer, Luke has in the account he is writing of Jesus because he has carefully investigated everything.

He has tested the first hand accounts of the stories of Jesus from those who were eye witnesses of what happened. Luke acknowledges that many others have sought to share and record what Jesus did because it is such a marvellous truth. People who knew Jesus wanted to share the good news with others just as Jesus commanded them to do.

Luke does not want the truth about Jesus and what Jesus has accomplished to be lost, so in order to preserve the truth for Theophilus he has decided to write a full and orderly account. I wonder if Luke had any idea that his words would be preserved, read and studied by millions of followers of Jesus today still.

As we know there is much taught, discussed and written about Jesus today. You can access so much on the Web. Just as Luke was diligent to test the source of his information so that it was credible, it is so important that we test what we hear, are being taught and read about Jesus. It must line up with the Jesus who is revealed to us in the Bible. The Son of God. Any purported new truth, teaching or revelation of Jesus which is not in the Bible is a false teaching and a false gospel.

Paul commended the Bereans for diligently searching the scriptures to test the message that he brought to them about Jesus. The Bereans wanted to know the truth. I wrote a post called Being Open-Minded which you can read on the link. Alarm bells should definitely ring if someone doesn’t want or like their teachings about Jesus to be tested and expects you to blindly accept everything they tell or teach you.

I’m inspired to read the gospel of Luke again and I hope today’s post has blessed and encouraged you.

#TestimonyTuesday – Life Verses

This week at church we did something different. Our Pastor asked us to share our “life verses” or some people call them their “north star verses”. They are verses from the Bible that have guided, helped, encouraged and shaped your walk with the Lord. They can be bible verses that have been lifelines in times of trouble.

Our Pastor invited people forward and there was soon a queue of people eager to share. They read their bible verses and shared why those bible verses were so important to them. Some were able to recite long passages of Scripture which they had memorised.

It was so inspiring and touching to hear these verses and the testimonies. Do you have a life verse? If so, I would love to hear it and why it’s important to you. Please share in the comments section below.

My life verses are from Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight.”

These verses give me confidence in God, who cares for me and guides me in the right way. When I am unsure then I remember these verses and declare my trust in Him and submit the circumstances or decision to the Lord.

I took the opportunity on Sunday to share my Dad’s life verses which he shared frequently with us. They had a profound influence on me because they taught me the importance of worship and the intimacy of relationship that the Lord desires with each of us.

My Dad’s life verse was from Psalm 84 verse 10. He recited this passage of Scripture often especially when he had his first stroke and was so ill.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked

In sharing with others our life verses then we also help disciple others by showing the importance of God’s Word in our lives and how it shapes us. We show that God’s Word is living, active and powerful.

I look forward to reading the comments and your life verses.

Have a blessed day my friends.

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In Green Pastures

I was searching on my bookcase yesterday for a book by C S Lewis. I know I have it but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I have probably either lent it to someone or put it elsewhere. I easily lose track of my books and am also a bit of a magpie. I did find several books lent to me though which I’ve yet to return. Whoops and apologies to those who thought they’d lost them.

My searching wasn’t fruitless though because I came across this tiny little book called “In Green Pastures” by J R Miller. He is not an author I had heard of before but he is credited in this book as being the author of another book called “ Come ye apart”. That sounds like a book worth reading doesn’t it..Come ye apart.

The title of the book had caught my eye as we have recently studied Psalm 23 in church and I thought the book was on that theme. However, it’s actually a Daily Devotional. It’s been clearly written in another generation, which you can tell from the language used, but there is no date of publication inside.

A quick search on Amazon though revealed it was first published in 1904 and you can still buy this book. That’s longevity. Dr. James Russell Miller was born in 1840 in Frankfort Springs Pennsylvania and died on 2 July 1912. He wrote quite a number of Christian books which are available still. He may be more familiar to my fellow American blogging friends? I’d be interested to hear.

The book was given to my late mother in law, Clare, by a friend who had written these words on the first page:

To Clare, in remembrance of many happy days, with love and all good wishes…”Hold fast that which thou hast”. Revelation 3:11

What a lovely inscription. I am sure each time our dear Clare picked up this little book, she thought of her friend and those words encouraged her. I love the exhortation to hold fast that which you have. Our faith and trust in Jesus is so precious. The most precious thing we have and not to be taken lightly or for granted. Let us be encouraged today to hold fast what we have been given through the grace and mercy of God.

Clare must have valued this little book because she had kept it all her life. We found it amongst her possessions when she died. It was precious to her so we didn’t want to part with it either. It has sat on the bookshelf though unread. Who knows what little treasures I will now find within.

Anyway, I am digressing, but if you are looking for another daily devotional then perhaps you could consider this little book. Even though it is written over a hundred years ago, God’s truths are constant. Culture may change around us, blown by winds of change, but God’s Word stands firm like a beacon in the darkness. I thought I would share today’s devotional on the Sin of Thoughtlessness below:

Lord please forgive me my thoughtlessness and for causing hurt to others even unintentionally. Help me through your Holy Spirit to be kind, gentle, loving, thoughtful and considerate particularly today and in the weeks ahead. I pray for a gentle heart. Amen 🙏