Week of March 26

Faith Is Lived One Day at a Time

Read: Joshua 12-14; 1 Corinthians 7
“And Moses swore on that day, saying,
‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden
shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever,
because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’”
Joshua 14:9, ESV


Watchman Nee once said, “The Christian journey, from start to finish, is a journey of faith.” Our culture often glorifies human fearlessness, but God’s people know that His faithfulness provides the lasting victory. Children’s Sunday School stories often provide for us the remarkable account of Caleb the octogenarian dynamo (14:6-14). He stood at life’s end reaching ever onward and upward to claim his inheritance in Canaan. Joshua records the event, and rightfully so, but the main hero in the story is the God who made the land possible! His example challenges us to build our lives on God’s faithfulness. Let’s examine this idea more carefully today.

The Meaning of the Text

The historical context
The background to our focal passage is about Israel’s continuing journey to possess the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership (see 14:1-19:51). The specific region is the territory to the west of the Jordan River that was divided among the other nine and one-half tribes (14:2). The spotlight in this devotional is upon the two men who had originally been faithful spies forty years previously—Joshua and Caleb. These two men had been the only ones who had believed that Canaan could be conquered with God’s help (cf. Numbers 13:1-14:38). As a result, these were the only two men among those spies, and the nation, to enter into the Promised Land.
An exemplar of faith
Our story picks up in verse 6 where some of the men of the tribe of Judah, including Caleb, approach Joshua (cf. Numbers 13:6). Caleb’s name means “faithful,” and he has demonstrated lifelong dedication to God. He recounts to Joshua what the Lord had said about himself and Joshua after they had returned from spying out the land (cf. Numbers 14:30). They had brought back an encouraging report, so God promised that Caleb would have some of the land (Numbers 14:24). Caleb stood there that day to claim the promise. He was claiming what God had pledged to be his. Caleb’s life story tickles my curiosity.
The ingredients of a faithful life
Wholly faithful to God. What type of promise carries a man forward in faith through forty grueling years of wandering and waiting plus five additional years of hardship during the conquest? We should all know that he and Joshua alone had been faithful while the other spies had been faithless. Those two men saw and believed the Lord and their hearts soared while the other ten spies saw their opponents and their “hearts melted” (14:7-8).
David Howard sees the irony in those words because the Canaanites reacted in similar fashion—as God had predicted they would—when Israel began taking possession of the land (Joshua 2:9, 11, 24; 5:1; NAC). Again, what type of promise had captivated his entire being (cf. 14:8, “wholly followed”)? It was not a promise alone that possessed Caleb. Caleb bore witness to the promise, and this man becomes an archetypal man of faith whom God blesses!
Trusting God. The promise of God was important, but it was about so much more—it was about a Person! Moses had sworn to Caleb, which Caleb states to Joshua (cf. Numbers 14:24; esp. Deuteronomy 1:36, & here at 14:9). Caleb was simply stating a fact, but the point was as much about a testimony as it was about a deed to a patch of land.
God and Moses had recognized Caleb’s faith and Caleb was simply pointing out that his life testimony bore witness that the claim was true. He was animated as he spoke and was letting all know, “I’m home!” It never was about finally standing there, was it? It was about traveling there with the God who was in control of the journey that made the standing there so powerful (cf. Genesis 12; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Hebrews 11:13-16). Alistair Begg has said, “Follow boldly in your Master’s steps, for He has made this rough journey before you. Better a brief warfare and eternal rest than false peace and everlasting torment.”

The Message for Our Lives

I graduated from college forty-five years ago this May. If I squint just right, I can see the distant past. That time frame represents four-and-one-half decades which is a tick short of sixteen thousand four hundred and thirty-six days! I took a few minutes to leaf through the pages of my life history, and I began to recall distinct passage points along the way where God became quite real to me.
Many of those moments in time included crises through which God delivered me, my family, and even some of the churches I served. Friends, there were several lengthy periods where I wandered through my own “spiritual Sinai wilderness” for reasons that never were quite clear to me. It occurs to me now, however, that I have been traveling all along toward “promised land,” not to occupy land for the here and now, but to possess it in the life to come (Hebrews 11:39-40).
Here is the big picture for God’s faithful ones. For faithful folks it must be this way because we literally cannot hold a day in reserve and relive it. It must be about something and Someone else. In my life, it has never been about the promise of eternal life, as much as it has been about the Person who gave life eternal to me. How about you? Therefore, Caleb has helped us to grasp the significance of Paul’s testimony and challenge to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Journey well this day because home is growing ever closer!

For Thought and Action

1. Good news. God never required Caleb (nor does he oblige you) to travel more than he was able in a day. He lived each day in faith that God was sufficient for the day. Choose to do the same today. Live this day today.
2. Churches wander through “dry patches” too. Remember, however, that the God who guided Israel in circles through Sinai was also the God who led them to encircle, and watch, as He conquered Jericho. Trust Him in the journey even though it appears that you are not making progress.
3. For Families: Have your children been treated to a genuine treasure hunt in awhile? This passage lends itself to this kind of experiment. Make little rhymes to convey clues to your children in order to find a surprise. The first poem leads to a location where they find the second poem, which leads to the third poem, and so on, until finally, they find the treasure! The clues can be difficult or easy, inside or outside, depending upon the age of your kids.

When they finally find their treasure, share with them that this is how living with God each day feels. As they get older, they will learn to know God in deeper ways. They will come to see that each day brings its adventures, but God is always there to instruct us and is right ahead of us, guiding us. Where is the treasure? Our treasure is God on the journey, and the promise of Heaven with Him forever.

May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock