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April 26, Day #117 – Including God in Our Decisions

After the humiliating defeat by Ai as a result of Achan’s sin (cf., Joshua 7), Joshua probably had good reason to be discouraged, but in Joshua 8:1, we read, “the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged … for I have delivered Ai into your hands …’” (verse 1). In Joshua 8:1-9:15, we see how God blessed Israel after its subsequent obedience in taking the city of Ai God’s way. This is what God wants for us all – to do things His way. Why? Because doing things His way brings Him glory, and it is good for us. Doing things God’s way, Joshua had no problem taking and destroying the city of Ai. Notice, by Joshua’s own mouth – “The LORD your God will give it into your hand” (verse 7). All Joshua had to do was “Hold out toward Ai the javelin that was in his hand” (verse 18), and in verse 26 – that’s all he did – “until he had destroyed all who lived in Ai.” God “delivered the city into his hands” (verse 7). Yesterday, in this book, we saw two of the three main enemies of the child of God: [1] the world – represented by the city of Jericho; [2] the flesh – represented by the city of Ai. Today, we meet the third enemy of the believer – [3] the devil – represented by the Gibeonites in their deception of the Israelites. The devil is a deceiver, and just like the devil, the people of Gibeon were deceivers. They were ready to do his bidding against the Israelites. This section is a serious warning for us. After Joshua’s great victory over Ai, the Israelites hardly investigated the Gibeonites, and they failed to seek the Lord’s wisdom or guidance about the Gibeonites' vague offer of a treaty; “we are from a distant place,” they say (verse 9). Also, moldy bread shows no evidence of coming from a far country – our bread can go moldy without ever leaving home! Sadly, whenever we experience the joy of success or a victory, we often make impulsive choices, too. God wants us to stop, thank Him, recognize the potential dangers along our path, and then include Him in our decisions before we make them – not after. Now, there will be lasting consequences for Israel.

Psalm 51:1-9 is a good example for us about how we should pray to confess our sins. God is merciful, and He simply wants us to do business with Him plainly. We are evil from our conception – “even in the womb” (verse 6), but God desires to “cleanse us” (verse 7), no matter how filthy we are. And He promises to cleanse us – if we will only recognize our sin and confess it before Him. Confession is nothing more than agreeing with God … “yes, Lord, I am a sinner, and I have sinned.” David had already experienced God’s forgiveness and knew that separation from God was horrible. This Psalm is his foreshadowing of God’s forgiveness and the covering over of all our sins - because of Jesus.

Luke 22:63-23:25 is fraught with sins committed against Jesus - practically every action is an awful sin - beating Jesus, falsely accusing Him, lying about Him, and wrongfully crucifying Him – and though we were not there – we deceive ourselves if we believe we wouldn’t have joined in with those who crucified Him. Don’t fall into that trap. Remember that we don’t know ourselves very well. But Jesus did not defend Himself. He bore all that mistreatment so that He might die in our places, for we are the ones who deserved His punishment. He became our sin and our substitute that we might receive His free gift of salvation from sin and of life everlasting. How wonderful it is that God has accomplished this for us.

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