Morning
April 25

Joshua 7:1a, 4-5a (NIV) 1But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things... 4So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5awho killed about thirty-six of them.


Everything in Jericho belonged to the LORD. He gave the victory, and as a sign of faith that the LORD would deliver the rest of their enemies into their hands, they were to give everything to God. One man, Achan, kept some of the spoils of war. He buried it under his tent. He must have thought that no one would ever know the difference.

When Israel went to the next battle, they chose a small city named Ai. They sent just 3,000 soldiers, for they thought the size of the city would warrant no more than that. To their surprise they were defeated and lost 36 men. Why? After such a miraculous victory over a much larger city, what went wrong?

Joshua fell on his face and cried out to God. God told him to get up and deal with the sin of Israel. There is a principle here that relates to us today. Because God is holy, He does not bless hidden sin. He cannot overlook rebellion. Achan was just one man, but he held up the whole nation. His actions indirectly caused the death of those 36 men. God said Israel had sinned, when in fact it was one man. Until that sin was dealt with God would not bless their actions.

The same can be true in our life. One area cannot slide by in rebellion and we still have the blessing of God. It is true for our families, for our churches, our cities, and our nation. We need to allow God to expose the sin, so that we can forsake it, find forgiveness, and be blessed. 13He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

Consider: Have I done something that would stop the blessing of God?


Evening
April 25

Luke 1:46-49 (NIV) 46And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name.


The angel Gabriel shared a secret with Mary. He told her that her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant. Mary, now pregnant herself, went to see her. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's voice, the baby in her womb jumped. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke a word of revelation. She knew that Mary was the mother of her Lord! She told Mary she was blessed among women.

Then Mary uttered her song of praise. She acknowledged the blessing God had given her, the greatness of the miraculous conception. Then she added that God's name is holy. Yes! He is utterly apart from creation and yet He is imminently present. He is completely pure, and yet He even became physically present to redeem fallen man.

In the womb of Mary, tiny hands were forming. Those hands had designed Mary. They had set the earth in motion. They had thrown the stars in space. This was the miracle of all miracles, that God could become physically manifest. It was the greatest expression of love ever seen. It would culminate in the cross and ultimately resurrection. If you can accept this miracle, all the other miracles are only natural results of this one. Either this story is the greatest lie the world has ever known and Christmas is a total distortion of history, or God became a man to redeem you and me. If it is true, and the life of Jesus verified it, then we had better heed the words of the God who physically manifested Himself for our sake.

In a metaphoric way, the baby growing in Mary's womb is like Christ being formed in us. As time marches on, more and more of the life of Christ should be formed within us, until He is manifested in our lives.

Consider: Let that life in you be expressed in all His fullness.