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Chelmsford Anglican Bible Conference 2015 #CABC15

17 Oct

Back again with a sort of live blog from the day at Chelmsford Central Baptist Church.
This year’s theme is “Colossians: The Uniqueness of Christ” with Pete Sanlon leading our sessions.

Session 1 – Christ’s Supremacy and the Race before us

Colossians 1:1-23

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

We are told that Hugh Latimer once declare that the hardest working bishop in the Church is Satan. He meant that the World has a message, one that is in constant conflict with the truth of who Jesus is. It always tries to downplay who Jesus is, but Paul is always clear that Christ is supreme.

We are reminded of the fallacy that people often bring up, that Paul invented Christianity. A book by David Wenham, “Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity”, which counters and discredits that argument, but it it is an idea that continues to come up.

Pauls message is all about telling people about Jesus, who Jesus is and what He has done.

In v 3-14 Paul writes about prayer for the race that Christians run for the Colossians, how to start the race and how to continue on in the race.

Paul says that we need to be praying for those who run the race. That we support fellow Chistians in their walk of faith in prayer. In a world where people often decide to download sermons, rather than go to church, in doing this they remove themselves from the sphere of prayers in the Church. We need to look after those that are starting the journey, but make sure we continue to pray for and support them as the continue. So often Chistians can find themselves attending church, being a part of their church life and worship, yet when something relating to their family or social life challenges their theology, they can find they are led astray, either in what they believe or from Church itself. We need to pray for people at all stages of the race, start, beginning and end.

In v 15-23 Paul looks at Christ’s supremacy and how it relates to the world and the Church. It shows that we need to remember that Jesus is in control. Not just in control by being able to choose when things happen, but in control of every atom and molecule. “In Him all things were created” tells us that He created everything, alongside the Father. While Christ uses others to do certain things, such as ministers, preachers etc, but He remains in control. The world is always trying to tell us that Jesus is not in control, but we need to hold on to the fact that Jesus Is supreme.

   
  
Session 2 – Christ’s Supremacy and the Work to be doneColossians 1:15-2:5

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 

Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

Peter, reflecting on some words of St Anselm, points out that no matter how amazing we think God is, He is moreso.

In Christ we find the fullness of God is present, not where the world thinks to see it, but in the baby in a manager, in the house of sinners and on the Cross. And it is through this recognition of Christ as God that we see  differ from other faiths. We pray to Christ as God, not seeing Him as a prophet or a good teacher.

And, because He is God, His death has cosmic significance. And because He is God, His death is able to bring reconciliation beaten Man and God. And, as God, He is the one whose power is turned to the task of sharing the Gospel, our job is to allow Him to do that and join in where He leads us.

Paul talks about the work he is involved in, sharing his ministry with his readers to show how Christ is supreme in all he does. This is a regular theme for Paul, always changing what he talks about to refer to the theme of the letter at hand.

We are called to exalt suffering. Not ours, however, but Christ’s. “Christ in me, the King of Glory” – the response is always pointing to Christ, not ourselves.

Paul seeks to move us from a knowledge of Christ as supreme to an experience of Christ as supreme.

  
Session 3 – Christ’s Supremacy and dangers ahead

Colossians 2:6-23

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. 

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. 

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Do we really know what is driving us in our ministry’s? It should be Christ, but is it always the case form used?

When we grow we should grow into Christ, rather than away from Him.

The problem with being deceived by the world is that we don’t know we are being deceived! This is why Paul reminds his readers about all that Jesus has done.

Paul also points out that any reliance on traditions of religiosity is false. They can do nothing for us, as Christ has already done all that can be done. Equally, we need to be aware of ourselves, so we don’t get caught up in super spirituality. It can lead to us being disconnected from Christ.

   
 Session 4 – Christ’s Supremacy and driving lessons

Colossians 3:1-4:18

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 

Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. 

Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. 

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 

Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. 

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here. 

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. 

Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.

Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” 

This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen.

The supremacy of Christ must change us if it really matters to us.

Change means death. A death of our earthly nature, the sins of the appetite.

When we teach the Bible, we can be prone to the attitude of wanting to be right, which can lead to us responding in anger when people say something that we believe to be wrong. Yet Paul has said that this is something that we are to put behind us, for it is not a godly way to be. If we open ourselves to Christ and His supremacy, these things that we have previously been enslaved to are put to death as we turn our focus to Christ’s ways.

We must clothe ourselves in the new clothes that Christ gives us.

We are called to work together. PAUL IS VERY CLEAR ABOUT THIS, BY POINTING OUT WHAT PEOPLE ARE DOING ANDWHAT THEY WILL BE DOING. HE SHARES INFO WITH THEM ABOUT WHAT OTHER CHURCHES HAVE BEEN DOING AND HOW WHAT IS BEING DONE RELATES TO THEM AT A PERSONAL LEVEL, LIKE SAYING THAT they are being prayed for..

   
 

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Breathing Space 2015 – #BSpace15 Session 5

5 Mar

And so we come to our final session, again led by Susie Mapledoram.

This session’s theme is need.

Returning to Mark 5:21-43 we see Jesus recognising the needs of others. Jesus recognises the need of the bleeding woman, that she needs healing of the bleeding. When Jesus meets this need her life changes completely. And Jesus also meets the need of Jairus, that his daughter needs to be made well. When Jesus heals his daughter, his life (and the lives of his whole family) changes forever.

Both needs are not negative, they are needs that will be life-changing.

Psalm 73:21-26

21 Thus my heart was grieved,

And I was vexed in my mind. 

22 I was so foolish and ignorant;

I was like a beast before You. 

23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;

You hold me by my right hand. 

24 You will guide me with Your counsel,

And afterward receive me to glory.

25   Whom have I in heaven but You?

And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. 

26 My flesh and my heart fail;

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

God is present and God is enough, no matter where we are and what we are doing.

Susie finishes by playing this video.

Breathing Space 2015 – #BSpace15 Session 4

4 Mar

And so, after a lovely, relaxing day of simply spending time chilling out together, we come together for the fourth session of Breathing Space.

Our theme for tonight is “Co-dependent behaviour and leadership”. Susie says that it is a very important area of youth ministry, but also a rarely talked about one.

Co-dependent behaviour is about how one person’s behaviour can affect another, particularly in the case of youth work where youth workers can often forget about the boundaries that they normally work to, forgetting where the young person’s responsibilities begin and the youth worker’s responsibilities end. We can do too much, care too much feel too little or overly engage with them. It is natural for us to want to protect and help the people that we care about, as well as be affected and react to the people around us. As problems become mor serious and remain unresolved we become more affected by them and react more intensely by them.

Co-dependency is heavily related to control. When this happens in relationships it can mean that people misunderstand feelings, such as love.

We look at 4 traits of co-dependent behaviour:

  • Getting ourselves too involved in other people’s stuff
  • Allowing their problems to control us
  • Reacting rather than taking right action
  • Thinking and acting like we ar helping when we aren’t

The first stage of a co-dependent relationship is a need to be liked. This will include telling the young people what they want to hear, manipulating them to like us and avoiding conflict so that they don’t reject us.

The second stage is a disregard for boundaries. This includes wanting closeness, disrespecting personal boundaries, a need to spend as much time with them as possible, share problems and demand a high level of loyalty from them.

The third stage is controlling care. This includes confusion between caring about young people and taking care of the, an insistence on helping young people even if they don’t need it and revisiting old issues to regain control.

The fourth stage is a fixing mentality. This includes going beyond care and meeting needs, invading boundaries further and the “fix it” mentality informs the relationship.

The fifth and final stage is the manipulation of loyalty. This is when workers project hurt feelings and sadness when manipulation doesn’t work. Feelings are projected onto the young person to the point that the young person feel that it’s their fault that the worker is feeling that way. This can manipulate feelings of guilt and disappointment for the young person.

We need to remember that in our emotional relationships with young people we need to respect the young person’s privacy and their rights, never assume/insist/demand anything of them, not pester/impose ourselves in their lives when we are not welcome and communicate authentically.

We need to be reflective practitioners, ensure we have thought through our approach to young people, think about the way our relationships with young people are developing, respond appropriately and sensitivity if we have concerns about other youth workers and cream opportunities for interdependence and not dependence.

Carl Buechner – “they may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”

Breathing Space 2015 – #BSpace15 Session 3

4 Mar

Susie, in a slight change to her original plans, is focussing on the area of encouragement within relationships.

Again, focussing on Mark 5:21-43, we look at how Jesus encouraged people.

Jesus names people. He called the woman who touches His cloak “daughter” and calls Jairus’ daughter “little girl”. They are not seen as numbers but as people. Jesus acknowledges them both, not to take issue with them but to affirm them.

 Jesus was really present in the situation. Susie shares her experience of being present with a young person when the young person’s pet hamster had died. Susie points out that we need to be present, not at our own level but at the level that the young people need us to be. Jesus sees the things that really matter and is present in those situations and moments.

Jesus responds with compassion, first to the bleeding woman and then to Jairus and his family and household.

Breathing Space 2015 – #BSpace15 session 2

3 Mar

Susie leads us in thinking about those who have impacted us in our developing years, as we grew up. She shares her experiences of youth leaders who loved her regardless of what mood she turned up with, and who accompanied her on her journey of faith.

Susie then asks us to think about those adults that we knew on our journey and the positive things that they made us think and feel and then asks us to write them down on post it notes and put  them on a drawing of a stick young person.

We are then asked to think about what are the things that young people today need in order to build positive relationships with them, again putting them on post its and sticking them on a drawing, this time of a stick youth worker.

Susie then talks about the 4 stages of building/growing relationships with young people: contact, connect, care and challenge (Doug Fields)

Relationships aren’t about making things better, they are about being with people during everything, including the hard bits.

Young people rarely have the same expectations of their youth worker as we might think that they have. They often want to simply “be” and spend time having fun with their friends.

We also need to be aware of the expectations on us by adults where we work, being aware where these expectations are unrealistic and aware of when this takes its toll on us.

We need to be realistic in our relationships, both with young people and the adults that we work with.

Breathing Space 2015 – #BSpace15 Session 1

3 Mar

This year’s speaker is Susie Mapledoram, DYO for Manchester Diocese, who will be sharing on the theme of relationships we have with people in our lives and our work.

In our first session we are looking at the people in our lives that matter to us.

Susie has created a large number of picture frames, drawn on the back of sheets of wallpaper, for us to draw the people that matter to us, that support us in our work and in our lives outside of work.

After we have had some time to draw Susie asks for the stories behind the pictures, as we remember how important these people are in our lives.

Susie then reads Mark 5:21-43

“Now when Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side, a great multitude gathered to Him; and He was by the sea. And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and begged Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him. 

Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” 

Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” 

But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 

And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” 

While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 

As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.” 

And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.”

Susie draws our attention to the part where the woman touches Jesus’ cloak and Jesus feeling power flow out from Him. Jesus’ response is to call her “daughter”, which shows us the love He has for us, that He cares for us and knows us before we have even come into being.

Chelmsford Anglican Bible Conference 2014

18 Oct

This is a live(ish) blog from CABC 2014

The focus for this year is the book of Joshua, taught by Dale Ralph Davis.

Session 1 – Swallowing it whole: The book of Joshua in 1 swat
Reading – Joshua 21:43

1 – Watch for hinges
The book talks about God fulfilling His promise to Abraham through his descendants, bringing them into the Promised Land.

Whole book can be summed up by chapter 21:43-45.
It shows God’s faithfulness (chapters 1-21) and the responsibilities of His people (chapters 22-24).
This is echoed in Romans, where the summary comes in 11:33-36 of God’s faithfulness (chapters 1-11) and the responsibility of His people (chapters 12-16).
This shows 21 chapters of Grace and 3 chapters of obligation.

2 – Dig up the roots
It is important to read introductory content (chapter 1). It covers Moses (his relationship with God, the power God gave him and the impact that his death has), the land (God’s gift, linking to the promise in Genesis), assurance (“I will be with you”, emphasising God’s name “Yahweh”), requirement and the situation of the tribes sending their troops to aid the other tribes as the conquer the rest of the land.
This all points to the fact that this comes from the promises of God, not the gift of a great leader like Moses.

What we read is important, as it impacts who we are and how we do things.

We see the tribe of Mannaseh repeating God’s promise to Joshua – God’s encouragement so often comes to us through other believers.

3 – Match up the book ends
It starts on a funeral (Moses) and ends on 3 funerals (Joshua, Joseph’s bones and Eleazar). It confirms the promise of God, that all 4 are buried in “promised dirt”!
Why did Joseph want his bones to be taken to the Promised Land? It shows his belief in the promise of God. Possibly Joseph was focussing on the resurrection, with his understanding coming from the promise of Canaan. Certainly there was an assumption of the resurrection from the dead by Jews in the OT (see Psalm 37)

4 – Learn the lingo
Abar – to cross over (1-5).
Lakad – to take or capture (5-12).
Halaq – to divide the land (13-21).
Abad – to serve (22-24) – retaining the land by serving God.
Knowing the way the book is divided doesn’t help if we don’t know who it is pointing to. In each section it is pointing to the things that God is and is doing.

Session 2 – Meeting up with those God: What we are to be about
Reading – Joshua 5:1-12

The historicity of the Biblical text is very important. You can’t say that the second floor is fine if you start destroying the ground floor.
If you say that something in the Bible didn’t happen then it is has no meaning for our faith.
“God has given us His word as a revelation of Himself.” Our study of the Bible should be theocentric!

1 – God is odd in the people that He calls.
Rahab – In 2:10-13 she hears the testimony of what God has done, has a realisation of who God is and then seeks refuge in the mercy of God. This is Rahab’s truth. She sees that God is a dangerous God and so seeks sanctuary from this danger by fleeing TO that very same God.

The writer really wants us to know about Rahab, as you can remove it and never miss it. The writer means to provoke by including a pagan prostitute coming to faith in God.
Before any Canaanites are killed a remnant are saved through Rahab. And that is then brought into the ancestors or Jesus.

2 – God is odd in the circumstances He chooses
Why does the writer take 2 chapters to say what could be said in 1 sentence?
Because of God can help Israel pass the impassable and impossible River Jordan then they will know that He can help them with the “little” things too!
The writer also explains the geography (brackets at the end of verse 15) so that we understand how strange the circumstances are so that we know that it HAD to be God who did it!
Sarah – to old to have children and yet has a child because of God.
Egypt – brought to it’s knees by God.
Philistia – forced to return the Ark of the Covenant because of God’s actions against their gods.
Jesus – a virgin birth by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God regularly chooses to work in scenarios that are impossible, to show that it has nothing to do with human strength but everything to do with His.

The writer takes his time over these chapters because he savours the things that God has done.

3 – God is odd in the way He works
God wants rocks, big rocks! (4:1-10) and He wants rocks to teach people, to remind them of what He has done.
This shows us that He wants us to remember because the miraculous are not His regular way of doing things. Not that He can’t do the miraculous every time, because He clearly can (hence the memorials), but because He provides through his “regular providence”. God is present both in the miraculous and OUTSIDE of the miraculous!
We see this again with His use of soil (5:11-12). God has been providing manna for years. As soon as they eat the food of Canaan the manna stops, because He has already provided through the land of Canaan.

4 – God is odd in the values He prizes
In 5:1-10 we see that God holds the covenant of circumcision, of Israel being set aside, above all else, even the victory over Canaan.

Session 3 – The art of war and lists: Dealing with the literary handmaids
Reading – Joshua 11:1-5

In Joshua we see the eradication of whole tribes and peoples authorised by God. This can, for some, raise the “Old Testament God” who is all about death and suffering
Key to understanding is to go to the Bible and see what it says and doesn’t say about what is going on. In Genesis 15 God tells Abraham that his descendants will be given the land after 400 years. Why 400 years?, because the Amorites “iniquity” has not reached it’s peak yet. So God gives the people living in Canaan 400 years to give up their ungodly actions.
God uses Israel as His instrument of judgement on the Canaanites. It is not because Israel is righteous, but because of the Canaanites wickedness. It is not peaceful happy people being beaten by a zealous nation, it is a wicked nation being punished by a righteous and just God.
Can we preach war? Looking at story of the battle of Jericho and we see that only a verse and a half cover the fighting, the rest show Israel following God’s commands with marching around the city, trumpet blowing and the final shout. The centre of the focus is God’s presence with His people, the Ark of the Covenant (mentioned 9 times).
And then, just before Israel shout to bring the walls down, Joshua tells them about what they are to do and not to do. Why? Because dramatic victory is not as important as ordinary obedience!

At the start of chapter 11 we have a lot of detail about who was coming against Israel. This is to make a vivid impression to make sure that we truly understand what Israel were up against. It ensures that we realise that the victory gained is due to God, not the Israelites.

We are then told of the faith of Caleb (chapter 14), where he recalls the promise made to him by Moses and how he has made it to this point, 45 years later, to gain the fulfilment of that promise.
This contrasts with chapter 17, where Mannaseh bemoan what they are given.

Session 4 – First things in a last chapter
Reading – Joshua 24:1-15

You seek for first-commandment commitment from God’s people by pressing grace upon them.

1 – The story of grace (2-13)
Joshua speak from a concern over who may come after him to lead them.
He reminds them about the grace that God has shown them, from all the way back to Abraham up to the (then) present day.
He reminds them that Abraham was a pagan, yet God still called him from that place into relationship with Him.
He points out the God kept them alive with manna and quail in the wilderness and then fed them with the food of the land of Canaan.
Joshua tells Israel that God has always been there, pulling them out of trouble wherever they have found it.

2 – The claim of grace (14-15)
It is an exclusive commitment to serve only God.
No gods in Canaan were fussed if people didn’t worship them. God being upset by people not worshipping Him was a unique situation.
Yahweh is the ONLY intolerant deity from the ancient Near East!
Joshua is reminding Israel of everything God has done so that they may avoid forgetting and remember the grace shown to them, rather than rejecting God.

3 – The realism of grace (16-28)
Joshua reminds Israel that they are not capable of worshipping and serving God.

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