October 16, 2017

Godly fear and reverence for God are not the same. Christians will one day stand before Jesus to give account of our lives and stewardship. This should instill in us a holy fear of displeasing the One that loves us. This fear is not paralyzing or tormenting, because of Jesus’ crucifixion. However, the fear of God should embolden us to serve Him, and His love will hold us together when we face opposition as we proclaim the Gospel. Please open your Bible to Second Corinthians chapter two, verse eleven, and listen as Pastor Ray Viola begins his study.

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October 16, 2017

Godly fear and reverence for God are not the same. Christians will one day stand before Jesus to give account of our lives and stewardship. This should instill in us a holy fear of displeasing the One that loves us. This fear is not paralyzing or tormenting, because...

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October 13, 2017

Every Christian will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. At this judgment, sin and salvation are not issues. This is the place where believers will receive rewards for what they have done in this life—or not. The basis for these rewards will not only concern...

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October 12, 2017

When we die, what happens? Do we cease to exist, or is there life after death? If there is life after death, do we exist as disembodied spirits in heaven, hell, or, as some think, purgatory or limbo, and do our lives affect our experience in the after-life? Today’s...

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October 11, 2017

In the physical kingdom a person lives before they die, but in God’s kingdom, one must die to self before one can truly live. When a person is born again, they realize that their life is no longer about themself, but, rather, about glorifying God and proclaiming...

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October 10, 2017

If someone asked you to describe victorious and abundant Christian living, how would you respond? If your answer included health, wealth, and a trouble-free life, then today’s message might surprise you. A better answer would include following Christ, regardless of...

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October 9, 2017

God has given believers ministries and spiritual gifts to do them. Unfortunately, personal pressures, false ministries, and the lack of response to the Gospel discourages us from successfully fulfilling our calling. Today’s passage is a source of encouragement when...

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October 6, 2017

Culturally, we have become a sound-bite generation, and this trend has filtered into the body of Christ. Fewer and fewer Christians have the depth of biblical understanding needed to boldly proclaim the Gospel to a lost and dying world. However, it is the love of our...

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October 5, 2017

Fallen men have a veil over their hearts that blinds them to Jesus Christ and His glorious Gospel. Religious systems are one of Satan’s favorite tools to hide the Gospel from sinners. If religious works were able to save us, then Christ died in vain. Only Jesus, by...

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October 4, 2017

Paul called the Mosaic Law the ministration of death, because everyone is guilty of breaking that Law, and the wages of sin is death. However, through Jesus, who lived His life in perfect obedience to the Law and His Father, we can share in His glory, which He...

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October 3, 2017

Paul compared the New Covenant in Christ with the Old Covenant that was based on the Law. It was not a comparison of something good versus something bad. It was, rather, a comparison of that which changes a person’s heart versus rules that govern behavior. Natural man...

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October 2, 2017

Paul compared the New Covenant in Christ with the Old Covenant that was based on the Law. It was not a comparison of something good versus something bad. It was, rather, a comparison of that which changes a person’s heart versus rules that govern behavior. Natural man...

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September 29, 2017

Have you found that, as you share the word of God, you get one of two responses? To one person it is like a sweet-smelling fragrance to be savored. Others find God’s word to be repugnant, turning up their noses at it as if it had the smell of a dead animal. Scripture...

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September 28, 2017

Paul traveled to Troas, because he sensed that the Lord had opened a door for him to preach the Gospel there. When the Lord opens a door, no man can shut it; however, it does not mean that one will be free of opposition in trying to pass through that door. We are...

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September 27, 2017

The objective of church discipline is restoration and reconciliation. Just as undo leniency is wrong, so is undue severity. When a person genuinely repents after being disciplined by a fellowship, that fellowship must also lovingly receive that penitent person back to...

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September 26, 2017

Every responsible parent knows that failure to discipline a child properly can have dire consequences. It is equally important for spiritual leaders to discipline those over whom God has given them authority. The act of correcting another can be gut-wrenching and...

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September 25, 2017

Scripture tells us to make all our plans subject to the Lord’s will. Paul’s opponents accused him of insincerity when he cancelled his planned trip to Corinth. However, Paul was just obeying the Holy Spirit. He believed that the Lord wanted to give them more time to...

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September 22, 2017

Satan cannot refute the message of the Gospel. To hinder its acceptance, he will oftentimes use false or trivial accusations to attack those proclaiming it. This is what Paul’s detractors in Corinth were doing while he was away in Macedonia, and Satan is still using...

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September 21, 2017

For a Christian, adversity comes with a purpose and a promise. It was the Apostle Paul’s desire for every believer to find contentment in every circumstance of their life, even in times of adversity. The key to doing this is understanding that God uses adveristy to...

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September 20, 2017

When going through a trial, have you ever looked heavenward in frustration and asked God, “Why me, Why this, or Why now?” Even the Apostle Paul had times of despair, but he found comfort and so can you. Please open your Bible to the first verse of Second Corinthians,...

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September 19, 2017

Second Corinthians contains important lessons for Christians. For example, we have a very real enemy that only prayer can defeat. That enemy attacks and condemns people, because they are guilty of breaking the Law of Moses. However, by His blood and His grace, Jesus...

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September 18, 2017

Can you imagine being a missionary evangelist in the first century? There was no internet, no automobiles, and no airplanes. Letters had to be hand carried by people that you knew and trusted. Paul established a church in Corinth, and after he left Corinth to start...

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September 15, 2017

Are you horizontally or vertically focused? Do you live your life based on what you see, or by what God’s word tells you to be true. We serve a God that can do the impossible. Though the outlook may seem bleak, the up-look is always full of hope. He is worthy of our...

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September 14, 2017

Have you ever been on the brink of a life-changing event? You have given the situation over to the Lord, and you would be content with any outcome, yet, the uncertainty is making you crazy. You are tired of waiting, and you want to move forward in your life,...

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September 13, 2017

No matter how much Ruth and Boaz loved each other, they could not marry until Boaz resolved certain legal issues involving one of his relatives. Similarly, regardless of how much God loved us, He could not save us until Jesus resolved certain legal issues, including...

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September 12, 2017

Have you ever been tempted to take a short-cut? The answer to your prayer was within your grasp, but propriety required you to put the fulfillment of your desire at risk. Did you try to force the situation, or did you wait, trusting that if it was the Lord’s will, He...

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September 11, 2017

Scripture portrays Ruth and Boaz as paragons of virtue. Rather than pursue relationships with young men, Ruth, out of respect for Naomi and her deceased husband, offered herself to a much older relative. Boaz, though entitled by law, did not force himself upon Ruth,...

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September 8, 2017

Most Gentiles are unfamiliar with Hebrew customs related to arranged marriages. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, gave Ruth (who was a Gentile) special instructions to initiate an arranged marriage between Ruth and Boaz. Without really understanding what she was doing,...

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September 7, 2017

Ruth deeply appreciated God’s goodness. She did not ask God why she had to endure famine and the loss of her husband. Instead she thanked God for the grace that she received from Boaz. Like Ruth, we should be thankers rather than complainers. God gave His only Son to...

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September 6, 2017

Some believe that spirituality can replace hard work. However, Ruth did not sit at home praying for food when she knew that God’s Law allowed her to glean in the fields. Ruth was a hard-working, virtuous woman, which probably did as much to catch Boaz’s attention as...

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September 5, 2017

To provide for herself and Naomi, her mother-in-law, Ruth went out to glean in the fields. According to God’s sovereign plan, Ruth unknowingly chose to glean in a field owned by Boaz, who was a close relative of Naomi. Her choice played a key role in reversing Naomi’s...

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September 4, 2017

Many words had surely been exchanged that are not recorded in Scripture, but Naomi’s first recorded words are so revealing. Her soul was filled with bitterness, and she blamed God for all that had gone wrong. Bitterness, whether it is a single drop or a sea, is still...

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September 1, 2017

During a famine, Naomi and her family left Israel to live in Moab. She soon learned that dwelling outside the land where God reigns will rob you of your peace, your joy, your praise, and ultimately leave you sad and empty. But God is so gracious, so good, so merciful,...

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August 31, 2017

In Hebrew, the name ‘Ruth’ means ‘friendship' or ‘friendly’, and the woman about whom we will learn certainly was! As precious as that is, the main theme in the biblical book that bears her name is not about her, but about a Kinsman Redeemer that portrays the coming...

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August 30, 2017

Worldly wisdom says, “Let your conscience be your guide.” However, if your conscience has been poorly educated, it might needlessly burden you with dead works that hinder your spiritual growth. Moreover, these dead works create opportunities for our Enemy to condemn...

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August 29, 2017

The Tabernacle and the blood of animals that the Jews offered there, comprised a picture of the way to salvation. However, just as a photograph of a loved one cannot replace direct interaction with that loved one, animal sacrifices could not cleanse sin. They...

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August 28, 2017

How did the surviving Benjaminites get wives after the slaughter? Israel bypassed their vows to God and concocted an unbiblical way. God’s covenant people were all doing what was right in their own eyes. Contrary to God’s laws, they were making one carnal decision...

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August 25, 2017

When Israel went up against the tribe of Benjamin, men from Jabeshgilead were not among them. Some think that Jabeshgilead had entered into a secret, sinful pact with the tribe of Benjamin in which they preferred one another over all the tribes of Israel. They reaped...

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August 24, 2017

People enraged for the right reasons can still respond in a way that does not please God. The Benjaminites did deserve consequences for their perverse actions, but the other tribes, without consulting the LORD, made a rash vow that could have made the tribe of...

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August 23, 2017

Because of what the Benjaminites had done to a Levite’s concubine, civil war broke out in Israel. Eleven tribes of Israel sent four hundred thousand soldiers to battle less than twenty-seven thousand Benjaminites. Though their cause was just, Israel lost forty...

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August 22, 2017

In ancient Israel, travelers expected hospitality, because there were few inns or other places to sleep and shelter animals. Today we will hear about a Levite and his companions that stopped in a city where his Israelite brethren dwelt. An old man took them in to keep...

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August 21, 2017

The last few chapters of Judges reveal big problems that existed within the tribe of Benjamin. These chapters are not for the faint of heart. We will encounter those that were supposed to be people of God engaging in immorality, gang rape, murder, mutilation, and...

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August 18, 2017

Thievery and idolatry go hand in hand. Jonathan, Micah’s Levitical priest, was offered a higher position and more money. He took the offer from the tribe of Dan, and then he assisted his new employer in stealing the gods of Micah, his former employer. Idolators are...

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August 17, 2017

Religious apostasy can be very deceiving. People that worship “in their own way” incorrectly believe that they are okay with God. Micah thought that because he had a Levite as his household priest that the LORD would bless him, even though he was worshiping idols....

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August 16, 2017

During the days of the judges, Israel had no king, and the Israelites did what seemed right in their own eyes. For example, the tribe of Dan fell away from God’s laws. This apostasy led to idolatry, and before long they were looking outside their assigned inheritance...

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August 15, 2017

Samson, who had been spiritually blinded by lust, ended up being physically blinded by the Philistines. Yet, in his darkest moment, when he realized that he had given the Philistines cause to blaspheme Jehovah, Samson finally began to get serious with God. As he...

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August 14, 2017

Samson and Delilah had a relationship that was based on lust not love. Each one was in it for what they could get from the other person. After Samson deceived Delilah three times about the source of his strength, she began to nag him into bearing his heart to her....

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August 11, 2017

Men of the Old Testament, like David and Samson, were heroes of faith that had covenant relationships with God. Yet, because they lived before the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, they were very vulnerable to sinning when tempted. We should not use the flaws of these...

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August 10, 2017

As a Judge, Samson was supposed to have united Israel against their Philistine oppressors. Unfortunately, Samson usually acted alone, and his actions against the Philistines were almost always acts of revenge. Vengeance is a horrible master, and believers should not...

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August 9, 2017

Scripture warns believers about becoming unequally yoked in marriage. Driven by superficial lust, Samson convinced his parents to arrange his marriage to a Philistine woman. Before the wedding feast was even over, their marriage was already on the rocks. Using...

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August 8, 2017

God has used flawed people with imperfect faith to accomplish His purposes. Samson is a famous example. Anger and lust were Samson’s besetting sins. With no regard for his Nazarite vows, he often sought happiness outside of what God had provided for him and Israel....

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August 7, 2017

Samson’s father was absent when the angel of the LORD appeared to his wife. So he asked God to let the angel return to tell him how he should raise this child, who was to save Israel from the Philistines. God answered his prayer. However, even when God tells us how to...

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August 4, 2017

Samson was a deeply flawed person, but God lists him in Hebrews as a hero of faith. His mother, an unnamed barren woman, was chosen by God to give birth to Samson, who was to save Israel from their enemy. God told her that she was to be a Nazarite from before...

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August 3, 2017

The Bible repeatedly shows that Spirit of God hates the spirit of pride. With pride comes an inflated self-image, which spawns contention with those around us. Selective amnesia is another symptom of pride. For example, Ephraim contended with Jephthah, because he and...

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August 2, 2017

Samson’s father was absent when the angel of the LORD appeared to his wife. So he asked God to let the angel return to tell him how he should raise this child, who was to save Israel from the Philistines. God answered his prayer. However, even when God tells us how to...

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August 1, 2017

People on the verge of backsliding tend to remember only a few good things that evil has brought them. This selective memory positions them to slide into open rebellion against God and the consequences of His wrath. After repeatedly delivering His people, God...

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July 31, 2017

Sometimes Scripture’s silence speaks loudly. Tola and Jair, who judged Israel for forty-five years, set righteous examples and pleased God. Scripture says little about the days of their judging, implying that Israel lived peaceful and blessed lives during that time....

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July 28, 2017

As foretold by Jotham three years earlier, Abimelech turned on the men of Shechem: He destroyed their city, salted its fields, and burned a thousand people that were trapped in a tower. However, in a nearby town, God allowed a woman to strike a mortal blow against...

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July 27, 2017

Abimelech tried to massacre all his brothers, but Jotham, the youngest, escaped. When the men of Shechem made Abimelech their king, Jotham shouted a warning to them about their sin. He told them how Gideon, his father, had risked his own life to deliver them from...

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July 26, 2017

Abimelech, a son of Gideon, was a man who earnestly desired power at a time when Israel was far from God and worshiping idols. This allowed Abimelech to manipulate the people to follow him in his evil ways. The Bible tells us that everyone’s heart is deceitful and...

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July 25, 2017

Once Gideon believed that God had called him to deliver Israel from the Midianites, he faithfully served God and obediently did what the LORD had asked him to do. However, the battle and lack of support from the other tribes took its toll on Gideon. This one-time...

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July 24, 2017

Zebah and Zalmunna, two Midianite kings, fled to the east side of the Jordan River with fifteen thousand troops after the initial encounter with Gideon’s three hundred men. Gideon’s weary army pursued them and captured them in a sneak attack. Rather than simply...

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July 21, 2017

After his army of three hundred had Midian on the run, Gideon asked for help in the mop-up operation. Instead of glorifying God, some questioned his leadership. One tribe chided him for not inviting them to the initial battle. Men from another tribe even refused to...

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July 20, 2017

God orders the steps of the righteous. When God sent Gideon and Phurah on a reconnaissance mission into the Midianite camp, they providentially overhead two enemy soldiers discussing a dream that foretold Gideon’s victory. Emboldened and encouraged by their enemy’s...

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July 19, 2017

One can never be too small or too weak for God to use, but one can be too big. God wanted to deliver Israel from Midianite oppression, but He wanted to make sure that they knew that it was God’s hand that set them free and not their own strength. Please open your...

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July 18, 2017

Are you facing a seemingly impossible challenge in your life? Be of good courage and fear not, because we have a God that sometimes does great works in the realm of what many would call the impossible. Besides our obedience and availability to Him, God will often send...

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July 17, 2017

Gideon asked God why Israel was enduring such hardships if He was really with them. God did not respond to his question. He simply told Gideon to go out and deliver Israel, for He had raised him up. God’s thoughts and wisdom so exceed ours, that, if He did answer many...

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July 14, 2017

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. While Israel thought that the Midianites were their problem, the LORD explained that misery had come upon them, because the Israelites had started worshiping the gods of the Amorites. People have been shifting blame for their...

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July 13, 2017

Rebellion against God will eventually bring a person to a life of fear, because one cannot know true peace outside of a relationship with Him. When Israel again rebelled against God, He delivered them into the hands of the cruel Midianites, not as an act of hate, but...

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July 12, 2017

God gave us freedom to choose. People willingly worshiped with Deborah as she sang her inspired song. Her greatest joy was that she was a mother in Israel. Mothers often think of themselves as insignificant, but God regards them highly. They nurture the next...

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July 11, 2017

Deborah, a judge of Israel, approached general Barak urging him to obey God and go forth into battle. Barak agreed to go, but only if Deborah went with him, which she did. Does this mean Barak was not a man of faith? No! In Hebrews, Barak is listed among the men of...

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July 10, 2017

This is the cycle of Israel: As long as Israel had a judge, the country did well and followed God. When the judge died, Israel’s morals declined, and they did evil in the sight of the LORD. First they forgot God and turned from His ways. Then they started worshiping...

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July 7, 2017

God tests us, not because He wonders what we will do, but because He wants us to see what is in our hearts. When a test comes, will we obey Him or disobey? We must know this about ourselves to learn to do what is right. If we obey God, then He will bless us. However,...

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July 6, 2017

Today’s youth are no different than Israel’s during the days of the judges. They did not see first hand what God had done in bringing Israel into Canaan. They only knew what their parents had told them. From disobedience, the enemy was still in the land, and their...

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July 5, 2017

Not long after Joshua died, Israel returned to their sinful ways. Israel had to forfeit many blessings because of compromise and outright disobedience to God. When the LORD revealed to them their areas of disobedience, they confessed their sins, and were sorrowful....

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July 4, 2017

At times, by God’s grace, we embrace the promises of God and complete what He charged us to do. At other times, daunting opposition causes us to stop short. For example, Israel found the iron chariots of valley-dwelling Canaanites too intimidating to drive them out of...

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July 3, 2017

Judah and Simeon joined together to wipe out thousands of Canaanites and Perizzites that remained in their inheritance, even cutting off the thumbs and toes of captured enemies to get information from them. Why did God sanction such carnage and cruelty? God is a just...

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June 30, 2017

The Bible is replete with examples to help us avoid many of life’s pitfalls. The book of Judges is no exception. This book reveals the terrible things that can happen when most people in a nation do what seems right in their own eyes rather following God’s laws....

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June 29, 2017

After rehearsing all the things that the LORD had done for Israel, starting with Abraham, Joshua charged the leaders of Israel to choose whom they would serve: the LORD or the idols of those whom they had just conquered. Whom will you choose to serve? Jesus, Who...

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June 28, 2017

Works of the flesh are rooted in pride, and they succeed or fail according to what you can or cannot do. Works of the Spirit are rooted in faith, and they rely on God’s power and our obedience. Do not under-estimate the potential of God’s power in your life: You plus...

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June 27, 2017

People react differently to aging, but far too many Christians use age as an excuse not to serve the LORD. Joshua was not this way. The latter years of his life were some of his most important, and he was still admonishing the people of Israel to follow the LORD...

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June 26, 2017

Jeremiah wrote that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it? But the LORD knows our hearts, and by His grace, He reveals things to us that we could never find on our own, because our tendency toward self-righteousness makes us...

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June 23, 2017

Have you ever jumped to a conclusion about someone else’s motives, only to learn that you had completely misunderstood their actions? The tribes of Israel living west of the Jordan were guilty of this when they learned that the tribes on the east side of the river had...

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June 22, 2017

Today’s passage concerns two fulfilled conditional promises. After fighting seven years, Israel controlled the Promised Land, and the LORD gave her rest from their enemies as He had promised. Joshua commended the two-and-a-half tribes that claimed an inheritance east...

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June 21, 2017

As a Christian, have you ever wondered why you are where you are in life: living in a particular neighborhood or working at a particular job? It should be no mystery: God has called us to be His emissaries to those with whom we live and work. As Pastor Ray Viola...

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June 20, 2017

The cities of refuge in the Promised Land were always open, and they contained physical resources to house fugitives until the elders of the city could assess their guilt or innocence. Anyone could come to one of these cities for refuge from the Avenger of Blood,...

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June 19, 2017

After occupying the Promised Land, the LORD told Joshua to establish six cities of refuge: three to the east of the Jordan River and three to the west. Besides forming the basis for important laws in modern Western Civilization, laws concerning these cities also...

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June 16, 2017

God’s ways are amazing. Judah and Ephraim often battled and argued. Yet, by God’s sovereign plan, the lot for Benjamin the peacemaker positioned his inheritance between the two contentious territories. Zebulun, Asher and Naptali received the northern portions of the...

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June 15, 2017

Before assigning the last seven portions of land, Joshua stopped at Shiloh to remember the most important thing. Do you have times when you are depressed? Downcast? Discouraged? Overwhelmed? Stop what you are doing and worship God. Put your focus on Him, Who is truly...

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June 14, 2017

Though Israel had conquered Canaan, each tribe still had pockets of resistance to clear on their own. Ephraim and Manasseh did not do well. They compromised. Instead of fully driving out the inhabitants of the land, they tried to increase their wealth by making the...

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June 13, 2017

Do not be afraid to ask the Lord for big things. Do not limit the God of Israel. Be filled and refreshed with the living waters of the Lord. Today’s passage includes a list of cities inherited by the Israelites. God promised them this inheritance before their...

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June 12, 2017

Christian life is not a video game, but a real war. God calls us be soldiers. We are not playing to win points; God wants us to overcome evil and to win souls! We, like Caleb, should call upon the name of the LORD to receive strength and blessing. Caleb, who was...

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June 9, 2017

Chance. Accidents. Luck. Christians can remove these words from their vocabulary, because Proverbs 16:33 declares that all disposing of our actions are of the LORD. When God's people obey Him, they have a double portion: God blesses their obedience, and they have God...

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June 8, 2017

Everything in the Bible is there because God considers it important. In Joshua twelve, Scripture lists all the kings conquered by Moses and Joshua. While it makes for tedious reading, we must remember the victories God establishes in our lives so that we can be...

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June 7, 2017

Joshua left nothing undone that God told him to do. Joshua recognized authority and submitted wholly to God’s direction, and the result was victory. Our nation is in a bad way, because so many people have no regard for authority and the rule of law. How do you respond...

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June 6, 2017

For this message, it might help to have a Bible map of Israel nearby. As Israel worked its way north through the Promised Land, the battles intensified. Likewise, many Christians find that their battles get more intense as they mature in the Lord. God told Joshua to...

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June 5, 2017

When you read the Word of God, do you believe His promises? Do you believe that He can back up what He says? Joshua believed, and he mixed his belief with faith: In the midst of a battle, He asked God to keep the sun from setting, and God miraculously answered his...

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June 2, 2017

Jesus does not want us to live lives filled with anxiety and tension. When you are under attack, cast all your cares upon Him. God gives Christians power, love and sound minds. Do not feed your fear! Pray and watch God defeat the enemy! Please open your Bible to...

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June 1, 2017

It is exciting to be in a war if you are on God’s side, and you know ahead of time that you will win. Do you feel like you are in a battle? The God who was with Joshua can also be with you. If you ask Him to, He promises to fight with you. Battles are a part of life....

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May 31, 2017

We must be on high alert in all areas of our lives, especially when faced with important decisions, because we live in a war zone. Outward appearances and the lies of our enemies can easily fool us, but God sees all, including what is in people’s hearts. To avoid...

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May 30, 2017

Throughout history, God has used armies of men, angels, or other creatures, along with forces of nature to miraculously judge nations. When Israel conquered Canaan, many died, including woman, children, and even animals. Many question God’s character over this, but...

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