John 19:1-22

“We have no king but Caesar” (v15).  Pilate put a sign over Jesus’ cross that read “King of the Jews,” though the religious leaders objected.  The fact was that Jesus’ rule threatened the authority of every other power on earth: the power of religious leaders, the government, the family, and the individual.  Jesus came to save us from our rebellion and to make a way for us to live as we were designed to live – free from sin’s bondage, citizens of His kingdom.

“You would have no authority at all unless it was given to you by above” (v11).  Jesus the King gave himself up to humiliation, suffering, and death, because He loves us.

Psalm 49

“For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others” (v10).  The psalmist declared that death is the great leveler; whether we are rich or poor, wise or stupid, we all end up in the grave.  Wealthy people seem powerful while they are alive, but they too are helpless against death.  It is “foolish confidence” to trust in earthly riches, because we can’t take anything into eternity (v6,13,17).

“But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol [death], for he will receive me” (v15).  Rather than trusting in ourselves or fearing death, we can have total confidence that God is our Redeemer, now and forever.

Joshua 24

“Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt …” (v6).  Joshua reviewed Israel’s history (v1-13): clearly God had chosen Abraham, gave him undeserved promises, and led his descendants through the centuries until they possessed their own land.  The Israelites had done very little except follow (sometimes reluctantly), yet God’s grace was abundant.  He gave them cities they “had not built” (v13) and protection on every side.  Now, said Joshua, “choose this day whom you will serve” (v15).

“It is the Lord our God who brought us … out of the house of slavery” (v17).  We choose to believe, follow and obey God because He has poured out grace.  He loved us first, and we respond in faith.

Joshua 23

 “Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses” (v6).  As he was dying, Joshua reminded the Israelites that their victories and possession of the land were the results of God fighting for them (v3).  Their continued prosperity was dependent on their faithfulness in walking with God and resisting the temptation to become sinful and idolatrous like their neighbors (v7).  Joshua urged them to “cling” to the Lord (v8) and not take His protection and care for granted.

“Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God” (v11).  Sincere love and trust helps us to obey God’s commands, and His commands are always for our blessing.  

Joshua 22

“Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you” (v26-27).  Three tribes had been given land east of the Jordan River, and they returned there after helping conquer the rest of Israel.  These eastern tribes (Reuben, Gad, and half-Manasseh) built an altar to “witness” that they belonged to greater Israel, but the western tribes misunderstood (v10-12).  Thinking the eastern tribes were building a rival worship center, they nearly went to war.  

“Today we know that the Lord is in our midst” (v31). Even the ancient Israelites knew that God’s people are not defined by geography or ethnicity but by worship of the Creator.  He is in our midst.

Joshua 21

“So by command of the LORD the people of Israel gave to the Levites the following cities and pasturelands out of their inheritance” (v3). The Levites were priests and temple workers who lacked their own territory within Israel. When they weren’t serving at the Temple, they lived in designated towns inside other tribal territories, so that all Israel had contact with priests and all Israel shared ownership of the Temple and its workers.  Without a king, Israel was unified by this dedication to the worship of God.

“And the Lord gave them rest on every side …” (v44). No other inheritance – houses or land or wealth – can compare to the security of a life centered on worshiping and obeying God. 

John 18:27-40

“My kingdom is not of this world.  If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting …” (v36).  Peter used his sword in the garden, and Jesus rebuked him (v10-11); this victory would not come by violence.  Jesus told Pilate that “for this purpose I was born … to bear witness to the truth” (v37).  The truth is that Jesus revealed God’s kingdom: powerful and gentle, humble and divine, holy and merciful.  Some rejoiced at this truth, others, like the religious authorities, rejected it (v19,20,28).

“Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (v37).  Jesus offers truth and life, but we must give up our worldly views of “kingdom” to hear his voice. 

John 18:1-27

“Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples” (v2).  The Kidron Valley garden was a place of fellowship and prayer for Jesus and his followers; now, Judas betrayed the Messiah there.  In his last hours, Jesus faced the pain of a friend handing him over to murderers, another denied their friendship (v17), and he was beaten like a criminal (v22).  We would have reacted in anger and defended ourselves (v11), but Jesus gave himself up.

“Whom do you seek?” (v4).  Jesus loved us so much that he refused to defend himself, protect himself, or fight for his rights.  Our Lord embraced humiliation and death so that we can live.

Psalm 48

“We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple” (v9).  In the psalms, “Mount Zion” refers to God’s city (v1), Jerusalem, where God chose to dwell among His people, especially in His temple.  Within this city, God proved His strength against His enemies, became a fortress of protection for His people (v3-5), and showed His steadfast love to generations.  Mount Zion symbolically is “the joy of all the earth” (v2) because the entire human race benefits when God comes down among us. 

“…the city of our God, which God will establish forever” (v8).  Hebrews 12:22 tells us that in Christ, we are citizens of Mount Zion, and our home will never be shaken.   

Joshua 20

“Appoint the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the manslayer who strikes any person without intent or unknowingly may flee there” (v2-3).  God gave Israel laws and procedures to protect them from their own human sinfulness.  In the ancient world, if someone accidentally killed someone else, a typical response was “vigilante justice,” in which a relative would immediately avenge the death.  Instead, God told Israel to set aside cities where the “manslayer” could find refuge and be given a fair hearing (v4).  

“They shall be for you a refuge” (v3).  Israel had external enemies, but like us, they also faced internal struggles.  God is our refuge even from the darkness of our own hearts.

Joshua 19

“When they had finished distributing the several territories of the land as inheritances, the people of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua” (v49).  Joshua, along with Caleb, were the only two of their generation to enter the Promised Land because they alone believed that God would conquer their enemies.  Joshua had taken over leadership when Moses died, and he led the tribes in battle and then encouraged them to move into their allotted territories.  Finally, Joshua received his own portion of land.

“And he rebuilt the city and settled in it” (v50).  The end of Joshua’s life required as much faith as the beginning; we never grow past needing to trust God for new endeavors.   

Joshua 18

“How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD … has given you?” (v3).  The land of Israel/Canaan was “subdued” (v2), but only a few tribes had begun to live in it.  Seven tribes were still waiting, apparently not too eager for the next step.  They had left the wilderness and defeated their enemies, but they were reluctant to claim their territories and to begin settling down.  Just as they needed faith to fight their enemies, they needed faith to live in peace.

“Go up and down in the land …” (v8). Beyond the crisis moment, we need faith to work, build relationships, witness, and steward what we have received.

Proverbs 10

“The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish” (v28).  The proverbs take the long view of life, connecting a person’s faith and daily commitment to God’s ways with the eventual result: satisfaction, peace, and joy.  The righteous will be “established forever” (v25), their “desire will be granted” (v24), and they “walk securely” (v9) because they consistently choose God’s path.  Those who speak destructively or slander others (v10,18,19) and those who take sin lightly (v23) create their own ruin (v25,29).

“The fear of the Lord prolongs life” (v27).  God is the creator of life, and when we trust Him, choosing His ways, our lives become shaped by His good and eternal kingdom. 

John 17:11-27

“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (v18).  As Jesus was nearing the end of his earthly life, he commissioned his followers to go “into the world” just as he did, witnessing to God’s truth and love.  He prayed for his disciples and all future believers that we would be protected from the evil one (v15), made holy by the truth (v17), and be unified with the Father and one another (v21).  Jesus also prayed that the love that flows between Father and Son would be in us also (v26).

“I am praying for them” (v9).  We don’t walk through life alone; Jesus is still praying for each one of us (Hebrews 7:25). 

John 17:1-10

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (v3).  The disciples already believed in God; the challenge was to believe that the One God had fully revealed Himself in Jesus (v7-8).  Jesus rejoiced that his disciples “had come to know in truth that I came from You” (v8); they had accepted that this homeless, humble, miracle-working teacher was in fact God’s anointed one, the Messiah. 

We don’t worship an unknown God of ideas or values, but instead we worship Jesus, who shared divine glory “before the world existed” (v4) yet loved us enough to take on our weak humanity, making a way for us to know him. 

Psalm 47

“For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!” (v7).  The ancient Israelites rejoiced that God had “subdued” their enemies and given them a wonderful heritage (v3-4).  But while national pride would normally stop there, the psalmist pointed toward God’s bigger plan: for “all the earth” to sing praises to the Creator King (v2,7).  One day, separation would be no more, because by faith people from every tribe would be included in God’s family through the Son. “The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham” (v9).

“God reigns over the nations” (v8).  True human unity is found when people from “every tribe and tongue” joyfully acknowledge Jesus as Lord. 

Joshua 17

“For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong” (v18).  The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, like the other Israelite tribes, knew the dimensions of their land inheritance, yet they had to exercise faith to possess it, especially when the Canaanites had iron chariots.  Sometimes they didn’t complete the task (v12), and they ended up living in the land alongside their enemies.  Joshua reminded them, “You are numerous and have great power” (v17).

The Israelites were all given inheritances, yet their experience of possessing and living in the land was according to faith.  God calls us to active participation in His promises.      

Joshua 16

“The people of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, received their inheritance” (v4). The twelve original sons of Jacob became the heads of huge tribes, and each of those tribes had a designated part in settling the Promised Land.  Ten tribes received their land, while the tribe of Levi (priests and temple workers) were supported by offerings.  Joseph’s family, uniquely, became two tribes (Genesis 48), named after his sons, and their land inheritances carried their names (Ephraim and Manasseh) rather than Joseph’s.

Joseph’s great faith resulted in tremendous good for his descendants, yet their inheritance wasn’t called by his name.  God calls us to do what is right so that unknown generations and people will receive blessing.

Joshua 15

"Give me a blessing. Since you have given me the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water” (v19).  Caleb modeled bold faith for his family, and he required it of whoever would marry his daughter (v16).  Then, after Caleb gave his daughter Achsah and her husband “the land of Negeb”, Achsah followed in her father’s footsteps by stepping out boldly and asking for more.  She wanted springs of water, so that the land of her inheritance would be fruitful.

“And he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs” (v19).  God is honored when we step out boldly in faith, not for selfish gain, but on behalf of others and for His kingdom.

Joshua 14

“And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old ...” (v10).  45 years earlier, Caleb and Joshua had been the Israelites to have faith in God’s ability to bring them into the Promised Land, despite the giants and fortified cities.  All the Israelites of their generation had died in the wilderness, yet Caleb had survived, and at 85 was still healthy, strong, and full of confidence in the Lord.  The time had finally come for him to receive his inheritance.

“So now give me this hill country …” (v12).  No matter our situation or age or the challenges facing us, what counts is having hearts full of faith in what God can do.