Life's busy, read it when you're ready!

Create a free account to save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Browse thousands of RP articles

Articles, news, and reviews with a Biblical perspective to inform, equip, and encourage Christians.

Get Articles Delivered!

Articles, news,and reviews with a Biblical perspective to inform, equip, and encourage Christians delivered direct to your inbox!

Create an Account

Save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Advertisement

Most Recent



The Rest


Daily devotional

August 27 – divine sojourners

“So the children of Israel gave to the Levites from their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their common-lands.” – Joshua 21:3 Scripture reading: Joshua 21:1-42 As the land was being divided in chapters 13 through 19, it was often mentioned that the tribe of Levi would receive no specific place because “their portion was the LORD.” They were God’s special servants with no earthly home. As such, the Levites foreshadow our life as God’s people on earth. This world is not our home, but we still have worldly needs. The Levites were set aside by God for special ministry, but they still needed to eat. So they come to Joshua in chapter 21 and ask for “cities to dwell in, with their common-lands for our livestock” (vs. 2); essentially, they needed a roof over their heads and a pasture for their animals. This tells us that we are to pursue the things of God with all our heart, but we also need to pay our bills! Our Heavenly Father knows this. He supplies all of our eternal and earthly needs. He calls us to be faithful in our service to Him wherever He has us sojourn in this world. Notice too how the Lord provides for the earthly needs of the Levites through the glad giving of the different tribes. Forty-eight cities are given for the Levites out of the inheritance that God has just given to the twelve tribes. This is their “tithe” given out of what God has just given to them. May we as God’s people hold loosely to earthly things. May we give gladly to God from the riches He has given to us. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for all His rich gifts given to you, both eternal and earthly. Ask Him to supply you with an eternal perspective which views earthly things in a way that honours Him. Thank Him for supplying all of our needs in the riches of Christ Jesus, our Lord. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 26 – Divine justice

“The LORD also spoke to Joshua, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: “Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses”.’” – Joshua 20:1-2 Scripture reading: Joshua 20 In the ancient world the rule of “an eye for an eye” prevailed. Whenever an injustice was done, an “avenger of blood” was appointed to make sure that someone paid for the crime. With the cities of refuge, God sets a higher standard of justice for Israel. Anyone who killed a man accidentally could flee to the nearest city of refuge and be safe until a preliminary hearing could be held (verse 4). He is to be presumed innocent until a trial before his peers can take place (verse 6). If the fugitive’s story does not stand up, he is given to the avenger of blood for punishment. If the killing was indeed accidental, then the man-slayer would be allowed to live, but he had to remain in the city away from family and friends as punishment for not properly safeguarding his neighbour’s life. Only upon the “death of the high priest” was he free to return back to his home. Two truths are seen here. First, our God is the God of life! Because man is created in the image of God, all life matters to Him and should be protected by us. Second, is imputation. In God’s eyes, the High Priest’s death substitutes for the offender’s death, and he is allowed to go home. This foreshadows the work of our Great High Priest. God looks upon Jesus’ death and credits us with righteousness, so that we are allowed to go “home” into the presence of our Heavenly Father. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that in His Divine Justice He looks upon our Substitute and imputes our sin to Him and His righteousness to us. Ask that God’s justice would be known more and more across this land. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 25 – The deceitfulness of sin

“And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.” – Joshua 17:13 Scripture reading: Joshua 15:63, 16:10 and 17:12-13 In direct contrast to the whole-hearted faithfulness of Caleb seen in yesterday’s passage, these next chapters of Joshua testify to the whole-hearted failure of the tribes of Israel to follow the command of God and totally remove unbelievers from the land. In fact, with each description of failure, the sin gets worse. In chapter 15, Judah allows the pagans in one city to remain alive. In chapter 16, Ephraim also allows the sinners of one city to remain alive and they turned them into “forced laborers.” This is worse because if Ephraim had the power to turn the pagans into slaves, then they surely had the power to put them to death. In chapter 17, Manasseh allows the unbelievers in many cities found in “three hilly regions” (vs. 11) to remain alive. In this growing denigration of God’s will, in this half-hearted devotion to the Lord, in this purposeful sin and rebellion, we see an Old Testament picture … of us! Here, sad to say, is our own less than stellar life of faith and obedience. In God’s Church today, the Ten Commandments will be read. This practice is done because so easily we tell ourselves that “I’m not so bad. There are worse people than me. I am pretty good.” But God’s holy law and these verses of Scripture tell us the truth: we are great sinners. Thankfully, the Lord has sent us an even greater Saviour! Look in faith to Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the sin that hides within you. Pray for an ever increasing awareness of how great a Saviour we have in Jesus Christ our Lord. Pray that around the world today the great good news of the Gospel of our Lord would go forth with power. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 24 – Wholly following the Lord

“Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God.” – Joshua 6:8 Scripture reading: Joshua 14:6-15 Today we focus on Caleb, one of only two faithful spies who gave a good report to Moses. Ten spies reported that the land was filled with fortified cities and that giants lived there, so Israel would never be able to conquer it. The people believed this bad report, rebelled against Moses and rejected the Lord. As a result, they never set foot in the Promised Land. In direct contrast to this unbelief, Caleb, “wholly follows the Lord” and is blessed by God. Notice the repetition in this passage. Five times Caleb speaks of what God said or promised (vs. 6, twice in vs. 10, and twice in vs. 12). Because Caleb based his faith on the sure promises of God, he was able to “wholly follow the Lord” (repeated three times, vs. 8, 9, and 14). In this whole-hearted following of God, Caleb is more than just a good moral example for us. He is an Old Testament picture of Christ! Caleb had a strong faith and followed the Lord with all his heart, but he still sinned. Caleb needed to look, as we all do, to the Lord. Jesus came and fully accomplished and perfectly completed every command of Almighty God with His righteous life. He laid down his life, paying for all our sins with His sacrificial death on the Cross. Caleb’s obedience foreshadows Christ’s. God’s plan for the history of redemption is carried out fully and completely in Jesus Christ alone. Look to Jesus and whole-heartedly follow Him. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for the whole-hearted obedience of Christ, lived out for us. Thank God for the sacrificial death of our Lord in our place. Pray that this message of the Gospel would go forth powerfully from faithful churches tomorrow. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 23 – As the Lord had commanded

“As the Lord had commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did; and they divided the land.” – Joshua 14:5 Scripture reading: Joshua 14:1-5 Repetition is used in the Old Testament to emphasize the main point that is being expressed. In our passage today the phrase “as the Lord had commanded” is repeated twice, signifying that we must notice this truth. Joshua begins his work as God’s “Registrar of Deeds.” With Eleazar the high priest, he casts lots in order to determine which tribe of Israel receives which part of the Promised Land. Both verse 2 and verse 5 emphasize that they do this “as the Lord had commanded.” It would be easy for us to read over this repetition, but it is here for a reason. You might think, “All they are doing is dividing up the land. Why is it so important who lives here and who lives there?” What is important is not what they are doing, but how they are doing it! “As the Lord had commanded” them – That is the point being stressed. This underscores the truth that God cares about ALL that we do, how He wants us to be faithful in even the small things of life, just as much as in the big things of life. The Lord considers Joshua’s work as “Registrar of Deeds” just as important as him exterminating Canaanites. So too in your life today. No command from God is small. No work done for the Lord is “insignificant.” Whether you are a CEO or are doing another load of laundry; do it faithfully, with all your heart, for His honour and glory. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the work that He has given you to do. Ask Him for the strength and diligence to do it well. Ask Him to use you today for His honour and glory. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 22 – An ominous warning

“Nevertheless the children of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maachathites, but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.” – Joshua 13:13 Scripture reading: Joshua 13:8-14 Because of the Lord’s righteous judgment against sin, the Israelites were to exterminate all of the Canaanites from the Promised Land. This was a foreshadowing of what will happen at the end of time when God’s eternal judgment is brought upon the whole earth. In our passage today, we see the first occurrence of what will quickly become a common pattern with Israel: a failure to walk by faith and to trust in the Lord. Even though they have God’s specific promise to lead them, they fail to do as He commands. Pagans are allowed to live in Israel. Our tendency is to read this and not see anything too threatening. This is not much to get worked up over, is it? A couple of minor Canaanite tribes? Whom we have never even heard of before? Whose names we can’t even pronounce? Is this really such a big deal? After all, Israel has been through a lot already. They have been very faithful in the big tests given them against those massive coalitions of pagan kings! So they deserve a break, don’t they? Maybe later they can take care of these last few stragglers. But “later” never comes. Israel too easily lives with sin. They become comfortable with pagans in their midst. And within one generation these pagans have taken over God’s people (see Judges 2:7-10). This is how easily sin infects our heart. Do not live with it. Fight it! Trust in Jesus, and He will strengthen you for this battle. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to reveal and root out sin from your life. Ask the Spirit to increase your spiritual fervour. Ask Christ to work within you in powerful new ways. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 21 – The divine promise

“Them I will drive out from before the children of Israel.” – Joshua 13:6 Scripture reading: Joshua 13:1-7 With Joshua 13, a very different section of the book begins, the division of the now conquered Promised Land. One Bible commentator described the difference between the first half and the second half of this book as the difference between watching an action-packed war movie and going to the register of deeds office to read through the descriptions of land surveys! Yet even here in the division of the land, we can learn much from God’s Word. With this chapter, Joshua’s work for the Lord takes a much different turn. His role as Israel’s military general is finished and his role as the Lord’s “Registrar of Deeds” begins. The boundaries for the 12 tribes within the Promised Land need to be settled because there are still small pockets of Canaanite resistance left which need to be eliminated. All the main fortified cities have been destroyed. The coalitions of pagan kings have been eliminated, so there is no need for the whole army of Israel to remain together. But each tribe needs to eliminate the small enclaves of pagan people that yet remain within their borders. It is about these last remnants of unbelievers that God gives His promise, “Them I will drive out from before the children of Israel.” What reassuring words for His people to hear. In the power of this promise, Israel can move forward confidently. May this promise give you confidence as you go forth in your life. God has promised. He is faithful. He will watch over your life. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His faithfulness shown to each new generation. Praise Him for His watchful eye shown to you. Ask Him to use you mightily for Him this day. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois. This picture adapted from one adapted by Malus Catulus and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license....

Daily devotional

August 20 – He left nothing undone

“As the LORD had commanded Moses His servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.” – Joshua 11:15 Scripture reading: Joshua 11:1-15 Because they forget that the Bible is God’s one account of His history of redemption, many view the Book of Joshua only as a tale of gruesome battles. We must see instead the sovereign Lord preparing for His Messiah: preparing an earthly place and a human line through which His Son can enter into time and space to redeem the elect. Joshua 11 records the battles leading to the complete conquest of the Promised Land, ensuring that God’s covenant of redemption can be fulfilled. This time, the pagan kings of the northern half of the land of Canaan assemble to fight against the Lord. Once again the Lord proves that the seed of the Serpent cannot stand against the Seed of the Woman. Four times, in verses 8 through 14, the complete annihilation of the Canaanites is emphasized (verses 8, 11, 12, and 14). Many consider this to be unnecessary, unloving and intolerant. This attitude reveals our ignorance of the Battle between Good and Evil that rages all around us. It shows we do not understand the holiness of God or our own sinfulness. This extermination of evil has nothing to do with love or tolerance, but with Divine justice against human sin. Joshua dispensed this justice and “left nothing undone.” As such he foreshadows the true Warrior King of Israel, Jesus Christ. He too “left nothing undone” when on the Cross He fought the final Battle with sin. Look in faith to this warrior King Who has fought so completely for you. Suggestions for prayer Pray for humility as you boldly enter God’s throne room of grace. Thank Him that you are part of His covenant of redemption. Praise Him for both His mercy and His justice. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 19 – The sun stood still

“The LORD heeded the voice of a man.” – Joshua 10:14 Scripture reading: Joshua 10:12-15 When they come to this passage, liberal Bible scholars focus all their attention on explaining why we no longer need to believe that the sun literally stood still for Joshua. Don’t listen to that lie. Of course we believe this literally! The same God Who created the sun and moon and Who hung them in space is fully capable of stopping them in space if He so chooses. If your “god” cannot do miracles like this, then you do not believe in the true God; and if you do not believe in the true God, then your fate will be no different than these five Canaanite kings. So our focus is not on whether God can make the sun stand still; of course He can! Our focus is on Joshua’s prayer and how the Almighty God of all Heaven and Earth would choose to “heed the voice of a man” (vs. 14). For think on this: this same God Who controls the spinning of this earth and the rising of the sun each day; Who rules every nation and controls every event of human history; this same sovereign, holy and majestic God STOPS EVERYTHING the moment He hears you call out His name! He answers the deepest sighing of your soul. He bends low to hear the weakest stammering of your hurting heart. Everything else takes a back seat when God hears you call His name, and He takes action on your behalf. Find comfort in the fact that God answers your prayers. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His loving heart shown to you. Thank Him for hearing your prayer. Ask Him to bring you His comfort through the working of His Spirit within you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 18 – The battle belongs to the Lord

“And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.’” – Joshua 10:8 Scripture reading: Joshua 10:1-11 and 16-27 With Israel’s defeat of Jericho and Ai, and with the treaty made with Gibeon, a military wedge has been driven east to west through the middle of the land of Palestine, dividing it north from south. The five kings of the south decide it is time to work together to put up a united front. This will be the first time that Israel’s army will face any kind of organized resistance and this offers the devil a perfect time to plant the seeds of doubt and fear into the minds of God’s people: “Will we be able to take on such a large number of highly trained soldiers? We are just shepherds and herdsmen. They live in fortified cities; we just live in tents. Sure, God helped us in the past, but how do we know He will help us in the future?” How easily Satan messes with our hearts and minds, and how easily we let him. Knowing our weaknesses, the LORD comes to Joshua and gives the comforting promise of verse 8, “Not a man of them shall stand before you.” God repeats here what He has often promised before, that He is fighting this battle for them. He goes before them laying waste all who stand in opposition to Him. We must simply believe and follow after Him. On this Lord’s Day, place yourself under the preached Word of God; for when doubt comes, it will be God’s Word that sees you through and brings you comfort. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to make you a diligent student of His Word. Ask Him to make His Word powerful and effective as it goes forth today. Thank Him for fighting your battle against sin in Jesus Christ His Son. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 17 – The Gibeonite deception

“Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord.” – Joshua 9:14 Scripture reading: Joshua 9 Israel easily succumbs to the deceit and trickery of the Gibeonites because they rely upon their own understanding and do “not ask counsel of the Lord.” These false ambassadors deceive Israel visually (vs. 4-6), verbally (vs. 9-10), and psychologically (vs. 11). This last deception was the most effective of all because it addressed Israel’s ego. When the Gibeonites confess, “We will be your servants.” they were saying, “You are better than us! We want to be more like you! You are great!” The devil still uses these deceptions today to great effect, especially the third, where he appeals to our natural love of self. Who doesn’t like their ego stroked? Their self-esteem built up? Israel falters because they do not seek out the will of God. They evaluate the situation only through their own eyes and convince themselves that they can handle this on their own. They tell themselves, “This is an easy decision. We’ve got this! The Lord can just relax. We don’t need His help. If something really big comes up, then we will consult Him. But for now, we’re good.” The devil is no less subtle and deceitful today. He “masquerades as an angel of light.” Are you fully aware of his tricks? Do you know who your enemies are? Daily we must work on walking ever closer to our God through Bible reading and prayer. For the closer we are to the LORD the easier we will see the deception that is all around us. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for spiritual eyes so that you can see the temptations that surround you. Ask Him to guard and guide your mind and heart. Thank Him for His presence and power that we have in Jesus our Lord. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 16 – From conquest to covenant

“...and afterward read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law.” – Joshua 8:34 Scripture reading: Joshua 8 At first, it may seem that the last verses of Joshua 8 are out of place and don’t belong here. Why the sudden shift from combat and conquest in the first part of the chapter, to covenant and commandments in the last part of the chapter? It is because the detailed account of Ai’s defeat by Israel given to us in the first 29 verses of this chapter establishes the reason why Israel praises God so profusely in the last part of the chapter! This is seen even more clearly when chapters 7 and 8 are viewed as a whole. For remember that in chapter 7, Israel was experiencing the curse of the LORD’s anger because of unconfessed sin. But once that sin is propitiated, in chapter 8, Israel experiences the great blessing of the Lord in its defeat of Ai. So how appropriate for Joshua to take a break from fighting and to gather all of Israel to Mount Ebal in order to give praise and thanksgiving to God. Joshua reminds them of both the promised blessings of God and of the promised curses of God found in the covenant. The covenant renewal in verses 30-35 teaches Israel that their success in the conquest of the Promised Land comes not because of them, but in spite of them. Their success comes not when Palestine is rid of pagans, but when their heart is rid of sin! With Israel, may we too praise our mighty, majestic, and merciful God. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His covenantal faithfulness. Thank Him for sending His Son to be our curse for us. Thank Him for crediting us with Christ’s righteousness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 15 – The Church in the hands of an angry God

“So the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger.” – Joshua 7:26 Scripture reading: Joshua 7 God’s wrath against sin plays the central role of this chapter. The anger of the LORD is mentioned at the beginning and the end (verse 1 and 26) of this account, with a chilling declaration by God to Israel in between, “Neither will I be with you anymore” (verse 12). This is the opposite of what the Lord had promised in chapter 1:5, “I will be with you. I will not leave you, nor forsake you.” So what has happened? What made the difference between what God promised in chapter 1 and what He now declares in chapter 7? The difference is sin; purposeful, unconfessed sin. God takes sin seriously. In fact, He hates it! We may not, but He does. We may grow accustomed to it, but God does not. Because of sin in their midst, God’s covenant people find themselves in the same situation as the pagans around them: devoted to destruction! They have broken covenant with God and so they are worthy of judgment. “Unless!” Don’t miss the glimmer of grace held out at the end of verse 12, “unless you destroy the accursed from among you.” Here is propitiation, the turning aside of God’s wrath. When Israel identifies and destroys Achan, his family and all his belongings, God’s wrath is turned away and propitiation occurs. This is a foreshadowing of the finished work of Christ; a picture of the Cross of Calvary. The only begotten Son, crushed by the Father, that we could be accepted by Him. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for propitiation. Confess any and all sin to Him, hiding none. State out loud that your hope, your righteousness, your life is found in Jesus Christ alone. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 14 – The Lord fought the battle of Jericho! – Part 2

“So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpets, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat.” – Joshua 6:20 Scripture reading: Joshua 6:6-27 The ark of the covenant of the LORD once again plays a central role in the Book of Joshua, this time in the defeat of Jericho. Remember that in the Ark, God Himself is represented on earth! For six straight days God – in the presence of the Ark – confronts the unbelievers behind the walls of Jericho. With the priests carrying the Ark, God’s holiness is presented to them. With the soldiers going in front of and behind the Ark, God’s judgment is presented to them. For six days God graciously withheld His judgment. The people behind the wall should have responded to this mighty and majestic God of Israel by surrendering. They should have “come out with their hands up” throwing themselves upon the mercy of Israel’s God. But they hide behind their high wall and strong gates in the vain hope that these earthly things might save them. They love their sin too much. So on the seventh day, after the seventh pass around the city, God unleashes His judgment. The time for mercy is over. The day of grace has passed. These rebellious unbelievers experience how mighty and majestic the true God of all Heaven and Earth really is. Today is still the day of grace for us. Today is the day of salvation. Do not hide behind earthly things. Do not cling to your sin. Come with a submissive heart to the mighty, majestic and merciful God of Heaven and Earth. Confess your sin and trust in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask God the Holy Spirit to examine your heart and reveal any vain things upon which you are trusting. Thank God for this day of grace. Thank Him for sending Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 13 – The Lord fought the battle of Jericho! – Part 1

“And the LORD said to Joshua: ‘See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.’” – Joshua 6:2 Scripture reading: Joshua 6:1-5 Joshua has never yet fought a battle like this. How is his army supposed to take this fortified city with its strong gates and thick walls? Build battering rams for the gates? A siege ramp to scale the walls? Or maybe just surround the city and starve them into submission? It looks so hopeless. God tells him: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand!” What an odd thing for the Commander of the LORD’s army to say, because Joshua doesn’t see a defeated Jericho. All he sees is a powerful, fortified city, with strong, locked gates and high, thick walls! Joshua sees an impenetrable fortress that even if his army does succeed in taking, he is going to lose many good men doing it. That is what Joshua “sees.” So the Lord encourages Joshua to look with the eyes of faith and see that it is not him or his army who is going to fight this battle. It is the LORD! Jericho will be taken, but in the way that God determines. And the rest is history. Whatever “battle” you may be facing in life, the Lord calls for you to “See!” Do not dwell on outward appearances. Look instead with the eye of faith to what God can do. Find your hope in how He has promised to care for you, fight for you, love you. Humanly, your situation may seem hopeless, but “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you the eyes of faith. Ask Him to work powerfully even in the midst of your hopeless situation. Ask Him to give you even more grace to find your rest in Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 12 – Judgment begins

“Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” – Joshua 5:15 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:13-15 This second main section of Joshua emphasizes judgment, destruction and death; this troubles many modern readers. Yet, it is a section that rings out with praise to Almighty God! Yes, God is praised even in the destruction of these pagan tribes. Such judgment shocks us today only because we have lost sight of God’s holiness and the sinfulness of sin. Eternal punishment testifies to God’s holiness and how much He hates sin. We prefer a “kinder, gentler” god, one more like a soft and sweet marshmallow who wouldn’t hurt a flea. But that is not the God of Holy Scripture. As Biblical Christians, we are to understand the judgment and destruction seen in Joshua as a foreshadowing of the LORD’s promised final judgment that awaits this earth at the end of time. We must remember how God promises to send to eternal destruction all who reject Him, while He also promises to welcome into eternal glory all who respond to Him in faith and repentance. This is why “the Commander of the LORD’s army” reveals Himself to Joshua, to remind Joshua Who he ultimately serves. This “Commander” is none other than Jesus in pre-incarnate form. He tells Joshua, “The place where you stand is holy.” What makes a place on earth “holy,” but that this “Man” Who is standing there with Joshua is Himself holy! This reminds us that the Lord goes with us too as we go out into the world. Go in His strength and serve your holy God today. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His holiness. Ask Him to reveal to you even more of your own sinfulness. Ask the Lord to help you serve Him with all your heart. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 11 – Covenant renewal

“Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’” – Joshua 5:9 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:1-12 This passage marks the end of the first main section of the Book of Joshua. From here the wars and battles begin. More significantly for Israel, however, this passage also verifies that her desert wanderings are now done. The divine judgment against that first generation of unbelieving Israel is fulfilled. The final obstacle of the Jordan River has been miraculously overcome and the Promised Land lies before them. But wait! Covenant renewal is needed before covenant blessings can come. Two essential Old Testament memorials that God had given His Church need to be restored: circumcision and Passover. Circumcision was God’s covenantal sign first given to Abraham in order to mark out the people who belonged to the Lord from those who belonged to the world while Passover was God’s memorial meal that testified to God’s redemption of His people from slavery and sin. So these testified to God’s claiming and saving of His chosen people. These truths must be professed by the people before the Promised Land can be enjoyed by the people. In church today you will be confronted by a very close correlation of these same two memorials: the baptismal font reminding you of how God’s mark of possession has also been placed upon you, setting you apart from the world. And the communion table reminds us of the crucified body and shed blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. These truths need to be professed by us before the Promised Land of Glory can ever be enjoyed by us. Suggestions for prayer Dwell on what these twin New Testament memorials mean to you as a follower of Christ. Pray that through His preached Word heard today, your heart, mind and soul would be filled with a greater appreciation for the redemption found in Jesus Christ alone. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 10 – A sign among you

“That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’” – Joshua 4:6 Scripture reading: Joshua 4 A quick reading of Joshua 4 would have us wonder why a pile of rocks is worthy of our consideration. Why all this fuss about 12 stones? The answer is that because weare all too forgetful concerning spiritual things, we too need “a sign among us,” a memorial testifying of the great and awesome work of Almighty God. Each generation of Israelites, when they walked past this memorial set up along the Jordan River, was to remember how mighty, majestic and merciful their God was. This teaching was to be passed down to each succeeding generation as well, so that all who follow would praise their God aright. God gives His New Testament Church such memorials as well. Tomorrow, as you attend church services, you will undoubtedly see a baptismal font and a communion table at the front of the sanctuary. Most churches will also have a cross displayed, either inside the sanctuary or outside on the front of your building. These are to be “a sign among you.” The water of baptism symbolizes the forgiveness of sin. The bread and the wine testify to how that forgiveness was obtained for us in the spent body and shed blood of our Lord. The cross is not just a mere decoration for the front of the church; it is the throne where the Lamb of God absorbed the wrath of God as our substitute. Because our hearts so easily forget, we too need these memorials to be “a sign among us.” Suggestions for prayer Think deeply about each of these signs among us. Praise God for giving us each of these “memorial stones.” Ask God to strengthen you that you may always remember and never forget what He has done for you in Jesus Christ your Saviour. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 9 – The marvelous miracle

"The waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away." – Joshua 3:16 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:14-17 Three truths need to be seen so that we understand just how marvellous this miracle was. The first is that God brings His people to the Jordan when it is at flood stage (vs. 15)! Humanly speaking this was the worst possible time to try to cross this river. Normally, the Jordan is no more than 90 feet across and the deepest hole only about 12 feet deep. But when the snows in northern Palestine melt, the Jordan becomes a raging torrent that is up to 30 feet deep and three-quarters of a mile across! This torrent is what the people must now cross. The second truth is that this is the torrent that God “rose in a heap very far away” (vs. 16). Imagine what the people witnessed as they watched the ark approach the raging water: as the lead priest enters the water … there is no water for him to enter! The hand of God pushes back the raging torrent so that it stands “in a heap!” Thirdly, and just as amazingly, not only is there no water for the priests to step into, but the muddy river bottom … is not muddy! The people and all their possessions pass over on “dry ground” (vs. 17). With this marvellous miracle, the people are assured that this endeavour of conquering the Promised Land is truly of the Lord. The LORD God Almighty goes before them and will watch over them. As God’s child, let this truth comfort your heart today. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He is a miracle working God. Praise Him for working the miracle of grace within your own heart. Ask Him for His guidance and blessing in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 8 – The glory of God

“The waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” – Joshua 3:13 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:7-13 In our text, Joshua tells the people of Israel that God is going to do a great miracle among them, but even before that miracle is done, Joshua focuses the attention of the people onto their mighty, majestic and merciful God. In verse 10, Joshua reminds them that “the living God is among you,” but how will the people know that God is really with them and will do for them what He has promised? Once again, it is because the Ark of the Covenant is with them! This ark symbolized God’s might and majesty. The same God who dried up the waters of the Red Sea will also dry up the waters of the Jordan River. This ark also represents God’s mercy, for covering the ark is the mercy seat where once a year the blood of a sacrifice is sprinkled. This sprinkling of blood testified to the principle of substitutionary atonement, how God had ordained that an innocent victim could die in the place of guilty sinners. This mercy seat foreshadowed the Messiah. The faith of the old covenant people was pointed to the day when the new covenant would be sealed in the shed blood of Jesus. So the blood-covered mercy seat is a type and shadow of the great and finished work of Christ. So in the ark, the might, the majesty and the mercy of God is proclaimed. In the ark, the glory of God is revealed. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His glory. Thank Him for opening your eyes to see that He is the living God of all the earth. Thank Him that your salvation is found in the finished work of Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 7 – The ark of the covenant

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.” – Joshua 3:3 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:1-6 In the camp of Israel, the ark represented God Himself residing with His people. The ark was emblematic of God’s promise to never leave them nor forsake them. So wherever the ark was, there God’s people were to be as well. However, the presence of God also comes with a warning. The people must stay at least 2,000 cubits away from the ark (vs. 4). This is over one-half mile away (or just under one kilometre)! This is to teach Israel that they cannot just come and approach God anyway and anytime that they feel like it. No, God sets the rules for how sinners can approach Him. You might think that 2,000 cubits sounds excessive. Wouldn’t 1,000 cubits be good enough? Or 500? No! What a typically human and sinful response! The Lord is never content with our “good enough.” Our fallen hearts always think little of God’s holiness and our own sinfulness. We so easily convince ourselves that we are not as bad as God says we are. The Bible tells us that God is holy, pure and absolutely righteous; and we are not! This is exactly why He had to send His only begotten Son into this world as the Mediator between God’s holiness and us as sinners. Jesus Christ is our righteousness. Through faith in Christ, we are made as holy as God Himself. In Christ we can “go after” God and serve Him with all our heart in this world. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His holiness and majesty. Confess your sin before Him. Ask Him for the leading of His Holy Spirit to draw you closer to your Saviour, and that you may find your rest in Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 6 – The profession of a prostitute – Part 2

“And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted: neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” – Joshua 2:11 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:8-24 In verses 10-13, we see that the Holy Spirit has been active in Rahab’s heart, for this pagan prostitute makes three key statements that every believer in the Lord must make. First, in verse 10, Rahab confesses the might of the Lord. She mentions how “the LORD dried up the waters of the Red Sea,” and how the two Amorite kings, Sihon and Og, were “utterly destroyed.” Second, in verse 11, Rahab confesses the majesty of the Lord when she states, “The LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Third, in verse 12, Rahab confesses the mercy of the Lord. Twice in that verse, she uses the Hebrew word hesed, a word used regularly throughout the Old Testament. Yet, it is a concept that is difficult to put into English. Different English translations use words like lovingkindness, mercy, covenantal faithfulness, and so on. It is important to notice that with her request for divine hesed, Rahab is expressing genuine faith! For true faith is never content with only expressing intellectual truths, such as God being majestic and mighty. Those truths must also reach down and transform the heart. True faith, after confessing truth about God, then seeks to take refuge in God! Rahab not only states correct beliefs, but she also confesses her desperate need. Who else but God the Holy Spirit could have planted such a faith in such an unbeliever? Here is sovereign, divine grace in action. Here is God’s hesed. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His might. Confess His majesty. Thank Him for His mercy. Express your gratitude to Him for the amazing grace that He has shown to you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 5 – The profession of a prostitute – Part 1

“So went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.” – Joshua 2:1 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:1-7 The late James Montgomery Boice in his commentary on Joshua states, “It is interesting that the first character described for us in this great book of Joshua – other than Joshua himself – is this woman Rahab, and that the first real historical account told us is her account.” This is interesting and important because most Christians would say that Joshua is basically about wars and battles. Even conservative theologians would describe the book as God’s divine judgment against human sin, using the nation of Israel to punish whole people groups because of their rebellion against the LORD. Now it is true that war and judgment play a major role in this book. Yet we must not miss the fact that the Book of Joshua essentially begins, as Boice puts it, with “a story of God’s mercy rather than of His wrath." Think about that. Divine mercy and grace begin this account, not divine wrath and judgment. This must be the presupposition that guides us as we read through this historical record; namely, that yes, our God is holy and just and He will punish sin, but God is also merciful and gracious, long-suffering and filled with lovingkindness. And in this we find our hope! God’s grace is seen today in the blood-stained cross of Calvary. There perfect and full propitiation occurred. Through the instrument of faith, our sin is imputed to Christ and Jesus’ perfect righteousness is imputed to us. The “great exchange.” Trust in Christ and find your hope in Him. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His mercy and grace. Thank Him that He did not leave you in your sin as you deserved, but that He sent His only Begotten Son “to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 4 – Turning promise into possession

“Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, “Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.” - Joshua 1:11 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 Finally, God is delivering on His promise made years earlier to Abraham, to give the land of Palestine to Abraham’s descendants. Because “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1), Palestine can be given and taken as God sees fit. Canaan does not belong to the pagan tribes who now reside there any more than it does to the tribes of Israel who will soon reside there. For now, God has decided to give this land as His gift to Israel. Yet the LORD does not just drop this gift into Israel’s lap! Rather, He commands His people to cross over and lay hold of His promise. They are to fight for this land! Work to claim God’s gift. The people are expected to turn promise into possession. Notice the commands given them in verse 11: “prepare provisions,” “cross over,” “go in to possess.” God’s promises often come with expectations. You may have observed this in church today. In the sacraments, God’s great covenantal promise is put before us in picture form. The water of baptism and the bread and wine of communion picture for us the promised salvation of Jesus Christ. Yet, with that promise comes expectations. We must “cross over the Jordan”, as it were, and take possession of the promise. For water, bread and wine do not save. Only Jesus saves! God commands us to respond in repentance and faith to the promise pictured in the sacramental elements, for salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the salvation found in Jesus Christ. Repent of all your sins. Ask the Lord for a greater measure of His Holy Spirit so that you would look in faith to Jesus Christ alone. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 3 – Prophetic foreshadowing

“Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” – Joshua 1:6 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:3-5 As we study Joshua, we must remember the Reformed hermeneutical principle of “prophetic foreshadowing”; namely, that throughout the Old Testament God reveals types and shadows of greater spiritual realities. “The Promised Land” is one of these types. In Joshua the people fight for land in Canaan, but this earthly land is only a shadow of the spiritual land of promise that awaits us in Christ. The “inheritance” in our text foreshadows the greater inheritance won by Christ. Peter uses “inheritance” as a kind of theological shorthand for all the spiritual blessings that become ours through faith (1 Peter 1:3-5). The most common foreshadowing found here is Joshua himself as a type of Christ. Not only do they share the same name, Ya-shua in Hebrew, Jesu in Greek, both mean “The Lord saves;” but earlier God had promised Abraham that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12). In Galatians 3:8, the Apostle Paul states that in this promise made to Abraham, God was speaking in Old Testament times of Jesus and “preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand.” Thus, in the conquering of Canaan, God is laying the groundwork for the fulfillment of His promise, first given to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15), that through the line of the woman, One will come Who will crush the serpent’s head. Adam and Eve believed this promise and were saved by faith. So did Abraham and Joshua. May you too look in faith to the long-promised and now revealed Saviour, Jesus the Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask God, the Holy Spirit, to give you the eyes of faith in order to better see and understand these spiritual truths. Thank the Lord for fulfilling His great promise of redemption. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 2 – Divine assurances

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 Yesterday we were confronted with the sinfulness of sin. Today we are comforted with Divine assurances from our loving God. There are three assurances in our passage. First is God’s Divine Presence. In verses 2 through 4, God commands Joshua to cross over the Jordan River to take possession of the Promised Land. Israel knew there were hordes of pagans there, some of them giants, all of them living in fortified cities. How could they possibly take this land? Only by trusting in the promise God makes in verse 5, “No man shall be able to stand before you … I will be with you.” With God’s presence this is possible. Without Him there is only failure. Second is God’s Divine Courage. Twice in verses 6 and 7 God commands Joshua “Be strong and of good courage.” Joshua can be this - not by drawing on some inner pool of strength - but because God’s presence is with Joshua and so he has God’s strength and courage! Relying on self will only bring disaster, but relying on the LORD will bring blessing. Third is God’s Divine Success. In verse 8, God promises that by observing “The Book of the Law” there will be “good success.” God gives us His presence and makes us strong and courageous so that we will be people of the Word, doing His will and not our own, as a testimony to the world. Jesus Christ is the fullness of these Divine assurances. Rest in Him today. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to teach you more of Himself. Ask Him to wean you more from yourself. Ask Him to make you “strong and courageous” through faith in Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 1 – Introduction

For many churchgoers today, the Old Testament Book of Joshua is only about ancient battles and bloodshed. Sure the walls of Jericho fell down flat, but what does that have to do with me? Liberal church leaders will even condemn the book because it seemingly encourages “ethnic cleansing.” As Reformed Christians, we see a far bigger truth being played out in the pages of this book. These chapters demonstrate well the intense and intimate nature of the process that God used in order to bring about His promised Messiah: how God worked in man and through man in order to save man! We also see in Joshua how our Sovereign God is not only in control of the outcome of individual battles, but how He also determines and guides the rise and fall of every nation on earth. All nations, all kings, right down to every individual, play a role in our Lord’s eternally devised plan to bring about and secure the salvation of His elect people. That is the greater “Story” going on in this book: the sovereign work and almighty action of our God in redeeming His people. From our studies this month, may we learn of how our Redeeming God continues to work out His great plan of salvation in the hearts and lives of His people still today. All came to pass “Not a word failed or any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” – Joshua 21:45 Scripture reading: Joshua 21:43-45 We begin our study of Joshua with verses that explain why this historical record was written: as a testimony to God’s covenant faithfulness! God is sovereign and “all comes to pass” of everything He ordains, therefore He can be entrusted with our life. We can follow Him in all confidence. Liberal scholars take exception to this. They contend that this book should not be read by us. “Joshua is too gory,” they proclaim. “Here is an Old Testament God of vengeance Who commands the Jews to steal the land that belongs to others and to commit genocide in the process! We demand a ‘kinder and gentler’ God than Who we see here.” We respond by admitting that there is bloodshed in this book, but we read Joshua in the light of the first five books of the Bible. There God reveals Himself as being absolutely holy and morally pure. He created us perfect and He warned us that He hates sin, promising death for anyone who did sin. Thus, the elimination of the pagan tribes of Canaan must be seen by us as God sees it: the holy, moral, and natural outcome of human sin. God’s righteous judgment must be against man’s sinful rebellion. Divine justice. “All came to pass” just as God promised. God will judge our sin as well. Do not ignore this truth! Apart from Jesus Christ, we too are “sinners in the hands of an angry God.” Trust in Jesus, for only in Him is there salvation for our soul. Suggestions for prayer Confess God’s holiness and your sinfulness. Thank Him for this time of grace and for the sending of His Son. Ask Him to give you spiritual eyes to see the great truths found in the Book of Joshua. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....