"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 7, 2013
After the death of Moses, the Lord's first words to the new leader of Israel, Joshua, was, "Moses my servant is dead."
God was telling Joshua, "You can't depend on the wisdom and leadership of Moses anymore; he's gone. It's now your time to step up and fulfill your calling." Joshua had been anointed as the next leader of the Israelites, but up to this point had worked alongside Moses. But the time had now come when he had to step up and take hold of the reigns of leadership. Moses had been a respected and trusted leader of Israel since their flight from Egypt. The ones who had been babies and toddlers when they left Egypt, were now in their forties. The only leader they had ever known was now gone. What a daunting task this must have been for Joshua.
God realized that Joshua was going to need courage to lead the Israelites into Canaan. (Joshua chapter 1) The Lord tells Joshua "I promise you what I promised Moses: 'Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you'." "I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail or abandon you." Then the Lord tells Joshua to "be strong and courageous." In the next verse He once again says to "be strong and very courageous." Then a third time God reaffirms these words to Joshua: "This is my command -- be strong and courageous."
When a church has had a beloved pastor for many, many years and he either resigns or retires, it is often very difficult for the pastor who next takes the leadership position at the church. Many will compare everything he does to the former pastor; from how he preaches, to how he leads the services, to how he dresses, to how he socializes.... on down the list to how his wife and family also differ from what they were used to. And many are very open in their opinions and comparisons and have little tact in telling him how he is unlike their last esteemed minister.
People seldom like change, and many times do not handle it well. They like a routine that is steady and safe, and get upset when someone comes along and wants to change how they are accustomed to doing things. It doesn't matter that it may be better or may be what is needed at that time, people enjoy knowing what to expect and don't like to deal with having to learn something new or adapting to a new way of doing something. And at times it's difficult to accept new people into our lives, because they want to do things differently or upset the little comfortable rut we're in.
It takes a special group of individuals who are willing to adapt and follow a new leader; giving them their trust and respect. Joshua had such a group of men who were in leadership positions under his command.
After giving them instructions, their response to Joshua was, "We will do whatever you command us, and we will go wherever you send us. We will obey you just as we obeyed Moses. And may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your orders and does not obey your words and everything you command will be put to death. So be strong and courageous!"
Joshua didn't command the people as Moses had and did things differently, but they were in new territory and had never passed that way before. It didn't mean that one was a better leader than the other, but God used their unique talents and abilities in very different ways; yet they both were respected and honored men of God. And God gave both men specific instructions on how to lead the people.
The first major act that Joshua did as leader was march against Jericho. The Lord told him exactly what to do in order for the city to be destroyed. They were to march around the town once a day for six days. On the seventh day they were to march around the walls of Jericho seven times. The seventh time around, as the priests sounded a long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, "Shout! For the Lord has given you the town!" When the people obeyed, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the city and captured it.
In Joshua 4:14 it says that "The Lord made Joshua a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites, and for the rest of his life they revered him as much as they had revered Moses."
In Joshua 6:27 the scripture says, "The Lord was with Joshua, and his reputation spread throughout the land."
Knowing human nature, I'm sure that when Joshua gave the instructions to the people, regarding Jericho, there were those who thought, "What good is marching around the city walls going to do? We've never done anything like this before. Moses would have done it differently if he were still here."
When God speaks to us to do something that may be contrary to how things have been done before, or when He leads us down a path that we've never traveled before, it takes a lot of faith. We may have to change our thinking from what it has been in the past. We may have to do things differently than we've ever done them before. We are in uncharted territory and traveling a path that we've never gone down before; and it can be scary at times.
But just as God gave assurance to Joshua when he took over the leadership position after the death of Moses, He gives us those same promises and assurances today. "I will be with you." "I will not fail you or abandon you." "Be strong and courageous." "Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
I'm working on a big project at work now that is a much expanded and enhanced version of a test system our customer already has. I've already been warned that there are several people who won't like it. It will be much easier to use, much easier to set up, and look better for their customers. But it's different.
Some people are also scared to get married for the same reason. It's a big change. Sure, it's great, and much better than single life. But it's different. The transition from single to married might be difficult.
Some people also seem to be scared of Heaven. We don't really know what it will be like, but it's definitely different. And the transition from here to there will probably be difficult.
I'm usually apprehensive about going on trips. They are usually good. But I hate the travel. I hate the crowds, planes, booking the rooms and flights, and the whole ordeal. But it's great to see someplace beautiful and new, even if it is different. I'm usually glad to get home, though.
Transition can be difficult. But God will help you through each one. And the reward is usually great.
Oreo Cookie Dessert
1 pkg. Oreo cookies
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
2 sticks butter
1 pkg. chocolate chips
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Mash Oreo cookies in a ziplock bag. Melt 1 stick butter and mix with the crushed Oreo's and pat into a 9x13 cake pan; cool in refrigerator for 1 hour. In a small saucepan put chocolate chips, 1 stick butter, and evaporated milk; cook until chips are melted. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Scoop ice cream 1/2 to 1-inch thick and spread over Oreo crust. Pour fudge sauce over ice cream and sprinkle with nuts, if desired. Put in freezer until ready to serve.
A gospel singing group had just returned home from being on the road for a couple weeks. One of the members owned a funeral home and often sang at memorial services. Early the next morning, he was looking forward to spending some time relaxing and being at home, when the phone rang. A woman from the community was on the other end and informed him that her husband had passed away and his service was that afternoon; and she requested that he sang. He was her husband's favorite singer and she said that it would be a great tribute if he could be there, and would mean a lot to the family.
He told her that he would be glad to do whatever was needed and asked which songs she would like him to sing. She named off Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross, then said..... "And there was one more song that was always my husband's favorite song; I'd love it if you'd sing Jingle Bells. He just loved that song"
Somewhat taken aback, he informed her that he had never sang Jingle Bells at a funeral and asked if she was sure that she wanted that song. She was adamant and told him, "You've just got to sing Jingle Bells!"
Time for the service came and when it was his turn to get up and sing, he gave it everything he had as he whole-heartedly sang Jingle Bells.
Afterwards, he went up to the widow and told her that he would be praying for her and hoped that the family were pleased with his singing. The woman was very distraught and said, "I don't know what in the world I was thinking this morning!" "What do you mean you don't know what you were thinking?" "Well, I've had so much family in and out, and so much going on the past few days, I just wasn't clear-headed when I called you this morning. I didn't mean Jingle Bells, I mean When They Ring Those Golden Bells!"
We are silent at the beginning of the day because God should have the first word, and we are silent before going to sleep because the last word also belongs to God. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We love you!
Loretta & Jon