John 16:1-12

“And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me” (v3).  Jesus declared that his disciples would be persecuted by people who thought that they were serving God (v2), while ignoring Jesus, the very image of God.  Part of the role of the Holy Spirit is helping us understand that sin comes from refusing to believe God’s love, justice, mercy and power, His character, was perfectly revealed in Jesus (v7-9).

“I have said these things to you to keep you from falling away” (v1).  Jesus didn’t want us to be led astray by false gods: we know exactly what the Father is like because we know the Son.

Psalm 46

“Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea …” (v2).  We know more than ancient people did about extreme weather and earthquakes, but we still can’t control them, just as we can’t always control personal situations that “roar and foam” in our own lives (v3).  God continues to be our only refuge and strength, our “very present help” in all kinds of trouble (v1).

We are the “city of God,” since He dwells among us (v4), and He has promised that we will stand firm.  “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns” (v5).

Joshua 12-13

“Only allot the land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded you” (13:6).  God’s purpose for Israel was not to continually engage in warfare but to settle in the Promised Land and thrive.  Each tribe had designated land that was theirs to care for and develop over the generations (v8, some east and some west of the Jordan), except the Levites (v14), who received the Temple offerings instead. As they represented God’s relationship with all Israel, He was their inheritance (v33).

“The Lord God of Israel is their inheritance” (v33).  We too have an inheritance. Though we were enemies, God made us His people through faith in Jesus so that we can enjoy life in His kingdom.

Joshua 11

“And they came out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots …” (v4).  When the kings of Canaan realized that Joshua and the Israelites were a true threat, “all these kings joined their forces” against them (v5).  This was no ordinary warfare; Israel was outnumbered in every way, yet they were sure of victory.  Nations that followed idols observed that “the Lord gave them into the hand of Israel” (v8).

“Do not be afraid of them …” (v6).  Our trust is in the Lord, no matter how weak or outnumbered we feel in the face of temptations and trials.  He will be victorious.    

Joshua 10

"Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you” (v8).  When Joshua and the other Israelite leaders did not consult the Lord, they were easily tricked and defeated (ch 9).  But when they went to battle under God’s command, they were helped by hailstones and miraculous signs (v11,13), and their enemies fled before them.   Joshua conquered a huge territory in one day, without losing anyone, because he was following the Lord (v41).

“For the Lord fought for Israel” (v14).  We were never meant to face our battles alone; as we listen and trust in Him, God fights for us.

Joshua 9

“We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us” (v6).  The Gibeonites (inhabitants of Canaan) were terrified of being conquered by the Israelites, so they sent a delegation asking for a peace treaty.  Cleverly, they pretended to be from “a distant country,” knowing that the Israelites couldn’t make alliances with near neighbors.  Israel’s leaders fell for the deception because “they did not ask counsel from the Lord” (v14).   

“Come now, make a covenant with us” (v11).  Every day we are faced with important decisions, crises, and potential commitments; rather than rely ourselves, God’s wisdom is available when we ask for it (James 1:5). 

John 15:13-27

“You are My friends if you do what I command you” (v14).  Obeying Jesus does not save us; that happens when we trust Him to forgive and cleanse us.  However, as we grow in faith, abiding in Jesus daily, the new life in us is evident by our changed behavior - our obedience.  Like our Savior, we begin to love others sacrificially (v13,17), and we begin following the ways of God’s Kingdom, which sets us apart from the world (v19-23).  

“But when the Helper comes …” (v26).  We aren’t alone in trying to live for Jesus; God has sent His Spirit to encourage and strengthen us in our witness. 

John 15:1-12

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (v8).  Jesus told His disciples that the Father wanted them to “bear fruit” (v1-7), in other words, for God’s own love, goodness, and power to flow out from them into the world.  This would only happen one way: “Abide in Me, and I in you” (v4).  As we give ourselves to Jesus and receive more of Him daily, His life takes root in us, and our thoughts, desires, words and deeds become life-bearing “fruit” (v5).

“Abide in My love” (v9).  The process of growing in Christ and bearing fruit begins with resting in His unconditional love for us.

Psalm 45

“Therefore nations will praise you forever and ever” (v17).  This psalm celebrates a king and his royal marriage (v8-10), describing what all people want from their leader: strength, justice, and victory (v4).  The author of Hebrews realized that in celebrating greatness, even this psalm points toward the Messiah, our ultimate Leader: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (v6 and Hebrews 1:8-9); He is only one who perfectly upholds “truth and meekness and righteousness” (v4).

“Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies” (v5).  Our King Jesus lived humbly and conquered the enemies of sin and death by giving His life; He rescued us through sacrifice. 

Joshua 8

“And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law” (v34).  After the tragedy of Achan (ch 7), God gave victory to His people, and afterward Joshua led them in a renewal of their covenant.  A new altar was built, inscribed with the Law, and Joshua read it all aloud to everyone – men and women, foreigners and native-born, children and leaders (v33).  

“To bless the people of Israel” (v33).  Reading the covenant reminded he Israelites that God Himself was their real blessing and walking faithfully with Him was the only way to thrive in His Promised Land.

Joshua 7

“And they fled before the men of Ai … and the hearts of the people melted and became as water” (v4-5).  Right after the Jericho victory, the Israelites soldiers fled in fear from the army of Ai.  God told Joshua that “the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies” (v12) because they were harboring sin in their hearts.   One of the men had stolen treasures from Jericho, even though they were forbidden.  This hidden sin had weakened the community and caused them to flee before their enemies.

“Truly, I have sinned against the Lord God” (v20).  Courage for daily life comes from having a clean heart before the Lord; when we confess, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse us.

Joshua 6

“But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction” (v18).  Just as Rahab (the foreign prostitute) and her people made the choice, by faith, to join the Israelites and escape the destruction of Jericho, the Israelites themselves faced the reverse choice: they could disobey God and embrace the poisoned objects of Jericho, forfeiting their share of God’s blessing. By His own power, God caused Jericho’s walls to fall, yet the Israelites had to desire to be part of His victory.

“See, I have given Jericho into your hand” (v2).  Our most difficult “Jericho” might not be external, but rather an internal struggle against sin; God wants to give us the victory.

Joshua 5

“Are you for us, or for our adversaries?" (v13).  Joshua, about to lead the Israelites into enemy territory, was worried when he saw an unknown armed man.  The armed man turned out to be “the commander of the army of the Lord” (v14), and he was not on anyone’s side.  His goal was to re-orient Joshua to God Himself: “Take off your sandals … the place where you are standing is holy” (v15).  Joshua could not lead the Israelites well until he recognized God’s supremacy over all.
“And Joshua fell on his face and worshiped” (v14).  When we take our eyes off our battles and worship our powerful, merciful God, our vision is filled with Him and what He can do. 

John 14:15-31

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (v26).  The Helper or Comforter, also called the Spirit of truth (v17), reminds us of who Jesus really is and what He taught us.  Even more, the Spirit lives with us and in us, just as Jesus promised (v17), so that we are never alone.  He helps us to obey the Savior that we love (v23).

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (v27).  The peace of Christ comes when His Spirit dwells in our hearts, and He delivers us from fear (v27). 

John 14:1-14

“Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (v9).  As radical as it sounded, Jesus declared that the full glory, love, holiness, and power of the Father was revealed in the Son, walking around on earth in human form.  Even his closest followers struggled to believe this, like Philip: “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (v8).  But Jesus was showing them the Father, daily, through miracles and teaching (v11), revealing God’s awesome love for broken men and women.

“From now on you do know Him and have seen Him” (v7).  We don’t have to wonder what the Creator is like; Jesus has revealed God’s character in full, living detail, and we know Him.     

Psalm 44

“All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant” (v17).  This psalm expresses the struggle of those who have faithfully served God and yet encountered trouble and sorrow (v15-16).  The psalmist knew that God had delivered His people before (v1-3), and he didn’t understand why God was allowing their present suffering (v9-11). However, he knew that self-help wasn’t the answer: “For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me” (v6).
“Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!” (v26).  Sometimes God calls us to wait, to endure a little while, yet His steadfast love never fails. 

Psalm 43

“Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!” (v1).  The psalmist’s cry was not against one person, but against the dark forces that work through circumstances and people to cause us pain.  At times we are “cast down” and “in turmoil” because we can’t see a way out; trouble keeps increasing (v5).  But God’s light and truth are powerful and effective (v3).

“…bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!” (v3).  The only place we truly find peace is in God’s presence; only His light overcomes the darkness.      

Joshua 4

“Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground” (v22).  After God made a dry path for the Israelites through the Jordan River, they set up memorial stones so that they could tell the story to their children.  Joshua reminded them that God had done the same for his generation at the Red Sea (v23), though he and Caleb were the only ones living who had experienced that miracle.  This new supernatural act proved that God was still leading His people. 

“So that all the peoples of the earth may know …” (v24). God wants every generation to know our salvation history and to experience a new river-crossing, so that we can keep testifying to the world of His redeeming love.

Joshua 3

“Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before" (v4).  Joshua commanded the Israelites to let the priests carrying the ark of the covenant lead the way, while they followed at a distance, so that they would be sure to go the right way.  As God showed His miraculous power – such as making a path through the Jordan – they were commanded to follow in faithful obedience (v13-16).

“Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you” (v10).  As God shows us His kindness and His power, our faith grows, and we become more willing to follow wherever He leads.   

Joshua 2

“Go, view the land, especially Jericho" (v1).  In obedience to the command to begin to occupy Canaan, Joshua sent spies to Jericho.  The spies “happened” to lodge at the house of Rahab, a woman God had already prepared to receive them.  This woman – a foreigner and a prostitute – recognized that they were from God (v9) and claimed their side in the battle to come.  She was so convinced of their victory that she deceived the king and risked her life.

“The Lord your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath” (v11).  We underestimate people due to cultural or personal differences, but God sees the heart and welcomes every person who honors Him.