April 24, 2015

Journal keeping and prayer lists

Joshua 12:1–13:32, 2 Corinthians 11:7–15, Psalm 52:1–53:6

After reading the Bible through each year for several years, I still want to skip the genealogies and long lists of names and places. However, this morning God showed me something I’d not seen before. This passage in Joshua is a list of conquered tribes and kings, and the allotment of their land to the people of God . . .

“Now these are the kings of the land whom the people of Israel defeated and took possession of their land beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise, from the Valley of the Arnon to Mount Hermon, with all the Arabah eastward . . . . And these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the people of Israel defeated on the west side of the Jordan, from Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak . . . .” (Joshua 12:1,7)

Other than writing down who owned what parcel of land, these records seem of little importance, but what if they were considered journals? What if a church or each Christian kept a journal recording their victories in Christ? What if this journal was read at regular intervals? Wouldn’t that be an encouragement? Re-reading these victories would also be a reminder so when the same temptations and problems came up again (and they do), conquering them would be easier.

The next attention-getting verses don’t offer the same positive results, at least at first. They say, “Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, ‘You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess. This is the land that yet remains . . . .’” (Joshua 13:1–2)

For Joshua, this was a to-do list. God told him to rout the evil out of their land, but much of that land remained as it was before. He needed to spur his people to action. Some of them became complacent, or didn’t see the dangers posed by these tribes, or had other reasons for not wanting to engage in war against their enemies.

Although I’ve done this on a very limited basis, this reminded me of taking time to write a list of problem areas, things that continually trip me up, and issues the Bible calls besetting sins. Those are “land yet to be conquered” and need a determined effort. Since I know that Jesus is my Savior and I cannot save myself, this list has to be a prayer list. After praying about a particular temptation, or about any persistent sin, God has a way of cleansing it out of my life. Sometimes I’ve given my list to my husband and he intercedes for me also.

The NT reading and the one from Psalm 52 gave me a couple items to put on that prayer list. The first one is specific, but the root of it takes a backhand to my pride: “Did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you.” (2 Corinthians 11:7–8) I’m not preaching, but I do have a problem in some areas with humbling myself so others can be exalted.

The psalmist begins with another challenge: “Why do you brag of evil, ‘Big Man’? God’s mercy carries the day.” (Psalm 52:1, The Message). While I rarely brag of evil, I do like to brag. Pride again, but this verse convicts me. I may not be bragging about evil, but in bragging about anything, the bragging becomes an evil. Another item for my prayer list.

The third one is from these verses: “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.” (Psalm 52:8–9)

Trusting God’s love is easier than being continually thankful for it. I’m not sure Satan keeps whispering his original lie to me (God doesn’t really love you) and I buy it, or if I take God for granted, or what is going on, but I suspect by persisting in prayer about this need to express gratitude will be God’s way of getting to the root of it.

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