Take the Lead: Titanium Promises

“I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west.” (Joshua 1:3-4)

Sometimes God gives us impossible missions. That is, He gives us missions that would be impossible to complete on our own. God doesn’t scour to the earth to find the most capable people and give them the toughest jobs. Instead, he takes the people most ready to trust Him and He does the impossible through them.

boat_350To reassure Joshua — a man with the impossible mission of leading a single nation into a hostile territory to conquer and occupy it — God personally gave Joshua the promises He’d previously given to Moses and Israel. And when God gives a promise, it’s an absolute guarantee. All that’s left is to believe it and take the next step.

Your impossible mission as a Christian is to live on earth in the power of God — and to escape “the corruption of the world caused by evil desires.” How? Peter said we can accomplish this because God has also given us “his very great and precious promises.” With God’s personal guarantee of success, what can’t you accomplish for Him?

Think: Do you tend to think of promises as “maybe’s” or “definitely’s”? How often do people keep their promises to you? How often does God?

Pray: Ask God for the courage to take Him at His Word; ask Him to help you believe His promises this week.

Do: Make a short list of five of God’s promises to you in the Bible. (There are lots to choose from.)

Take the Lead: Prepared to Obey?

“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.’ ” (Joshua 1:1-2)

This week, we’re going to read about Joshua and talk about what it means to be a leader. It’s hard to imagine a more intimidating job than his. How do you “take over” for Moses? God handpicked Moses to lead His people out of captivity in Egypt. God showed Himself to Moses and delivered to him the Ten Commandments and the Law. God inspired Moses to write the first five books of the Bible. Moses had been the top guy in Israel for 40 years!

boat_350If I’d been Joshua — about to lead Israel into the Promised Land after Moses’ death — I would have been scared. For 40 years, the people of Israel had been waiting for this very day. And now their leader Moses was gone. How was Joshua going to pull this off?

God’s first words to him: “Get ready to go.” Joshua is about to learn that even when God is the one taking care of everything, good leaders must prepare to do what God tells us. We can’t just wait for all the details to fall into place on their own. Part of obeying God is getting ourselves (and those under our influence) ready to obey God.

Think: How do you prepare to obey God’s instructions to you? What do you do to get yourself ready to honor your parents or love your neighbor, to remain sexually pure, to keep yourself from telling lies? Is anyone following your example?

Pray: Ask God for new insight from Joshua’s life about how you can get yourself ready to obey whatever He asks you to do.

Do: Make a short list of a few people in your life under your influence, anyone who might follow your example one way or another.

Money Matters: Enough Trouble

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

Jesus’ final word in this passage on the issue of money and worry and worrying about money is refreshingly realistic. He has been telling us, “Don’t worry; your Father cares for you.” But He has NOT been saying, “Since your Father cares about you, you’ll never have a day of trouble in your life.”

money_350In today’s verse, He practically promises that you and I will have trouble “tomorrow.” Trouble comes built in to every day on this side of heaven. It’s a fact of life in a fallen world. People who make a goal of not having any trouble will spend their lives feeling sad, angry, frustrated — and worried.

Instead, Jesus says, “Trust your Father to take care of you today and leave tomorrow to itself.” Does that mean we don’t make plans or preparations for tomorrow or next month or next year? Of course we do. But Jesus tells us not to invest the emotional energy in worrying about how those plans and preparations will turn out. Always worrying about the next day leads to a life of endless worry. Focusing on today — and how God provides in it — leads to a life of endless gratitude.

Think: Are you surprised Jesus would admit that trouble comes built into this life? Do you expect there to be trouble or are you surprised when things don’t go according to your plans?

Pray: Ask God for the courage and self-control not to worry about tomorrow. Thank Him for how He has provided for you today.

Do: Make a quick list of ways that God has provided for you today.

Money Matters: First, Look

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

What’s the difference between a child of God and a pagan (someone who does not serve the one true God)? One difference, according to Jesus in this passage, is that pagans are consumed with worry about what they will eat, drink, and wear. God’s kids, on the other hand, assume that because He loves them and is powerful enough to care for them He will provide what they need when they need it.

money_350What practical difference would that make? For one thing, it should free up God’s kids to do other things with their mental and emotional energy — like spending their inner lives in a continual treasure hunt for evidence of God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

According to Jesus, God’s only birth Son, all of us who make our first job in life to discover the realm and rightness of our Father will see Him provide for all of our needs time after time after time. In other words, while we’re always on the lookout for what He’s doing in our world, He never loses track of what we need.

Think: What do you do in your life to actively “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness”?

Pray: Ask God to help you to never make your to-do list more important than seeking Him.

Do: Tell someone this week about one way in which God has provided for your most basic needs.

Money Matters: Dress Like Flowers

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)

Here’s Jesus’ logic when it comes to worrying about not being able to buy clothes for yourself or your family: God clothes the flowers. They look nice. God likes you more than flowers. God will clothe you. Trust God.

money_350The logic is air tight. The problem in our culture is that very few of us are worried we might get so poor we’ll have to walk around naked. Some of the first hearers of Jesus’ words did worry about that. We’re more likely to worry that we might be so poor, we’ll have to walk around looking like we’re poor. We might not be able to buy the “right” shoes, shirts, pants, etc.

Two things about that: A) God does care about how we look. He created the beauty of lillies. He’s got good taste. B) However, God cares a lot more about our gratitude for and contentment with what He provides for us today — even if it’s not the clothes we wish we could buy — than He cares about us looking good in our own eyes. If you’re not grateful for what you have now, you’re not likely to be grateful for long when you get what you think you really want.

Think: Do you ever worry about money for clothes? Do you believe God cares that you worry about that? Why or why not?

Pray: Thank God for all the clothes you have right now. Ask Him to help you learn to be content with what He provides for you.

Do: Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

Money Matters: Worry Doesn’t Work

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:26-27)

When talking about money, Jesus is both spiritual and practical here. Don’t worry about money, He said, because your Father is the God of the universe and He likes you. Then the practical: Worry doesn’t work. It’s not an effective response to being broke. It’s wasted effort.

money_350So why do we still worry? Partly because we want control. Worry becomes an idol we serve instead of giving up our illusion of running our own life. So we trade peace of mind for a worthless effort to “do” something by feeling bad about what we cannot change. We sabotage the day in front of us rather than surrender our circumstances to God.

Corrie ten Boom, the Nazi concentration camp survivor and a Christian, put it this way: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of it’s strength.”

Think: Do you ever think of worry as a lack of faith in your Father? As serving a false god instead of letting go of what we can’t control? As a waste of time?

Pray: Ask God to help you to let go of worrying today, especially about money.

Do: Make a quick list of five things you might be tempted to worry about this week. Write in big letters at the top of the list, “God likes me.”

Money Matters: No Worries

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

People become preoccupied with money in two different directions. Jesus already addressed the first — our want for more money, our desire to store up treasures for ourselves, to get all we can out of life. Now he deals with the other.

money_350Sometimes, people can’t stop thinking about money because they don’t have any. At all. They don’t know what they’ll eat tomorrow. They don’t know how they’ll replace their kids’ clothes that are two sizes too small. They don’t know how long they’ll make it.

Jesus wants them — us — not to worry. What? When would be a better time to worry? We’ll see that Jesus’ point is that money doesn’t provide for us. God does. The Father that created life and made our bodies still loves us. Money can only buy food and clothes. The Father takes care of His kids.

Think: Are you tempted to think it’s realistic for Jesus to tell people not to worry about money? Do you ever think of your need for money as on opportunity to trust your Father more?

Pray: Ask God to help you to trust Him enough not to worry about money.

Do: Know anyone in financial trouble who might be worrying about where they’ll get money for food and clothes? Ask God to provide for them — and to help them not to worry.