This was my early morning Karate practice in Greece under the Olive Trees.
The Kata is Heian Yondan
Have you acted impulsively in a way that led you to make a huge blunder? Have you had some ups and downs recently? Do you need a miracle to get out of an impossible situation? For Joshua all of the above was true. That is part of why Joshua asked God that the sun would stand still. Joshua believed God for the impossible and prayed by faith. We find Joshua with an incredible blend of faith and action in this chapter.
In Joshua chapter 10 we learn of the time Joshua had the faith to ask God that the sun would stand still. Joshua is asking God to do the impossible. It is a challenge for us to believe God for something so big that it will not happen without a miracle.
Joshua had that kind of faith for believing God for the impossible. He asked for the sun to stand still. What is impossible with man is possible with God. God has put the natural laws in place regarding the sun and the physical universe. But there was a day when God worked outside the laws pf physics. That day when the sun stood still came at the request of Joshua.
When the sun stood still it was a day when Joshua desperately needed more time. If he had more hours in the day his army could finish their battle. I am sure at some point you wished for more time in the day. You probably never thought to ask God for the sun to stand still. Joshua did.
It was for the sake of God’s people and the honor of God’s name. The sun was going down and Joshua needed more time to finish the battle. And God gave Joshua his request. The sun stood still!
The days of Israel wandering in the wilderness are behind them now. They crossed into the Promised Land on dry ground when the Jordan miraculously divided even though it was at flood stage. The most fortified city of Jericho fell in a way that could only be the miracle of God.
After all these recent miracles there was sin in the camp and the Israelites suffered defeat and setback at Ai. They confronted the sin of Akin and afterword defeated Ai. Following the defeat they again battled Ai and defeated them.
In Joshua chapter 9 we have the story of the Gibeonite deception. The Gibeonites lived near them but wore old clothes covered themselves in dust and came with deception and some flattery and tricked Joshua and the Israelites into entering into a peace accord. Joshua decided this without consulting the Lord. This agreement went against the Lords instructions to conquer the land and only make agreements with outsiders. They did not ask the Lord about this they just plunged ahead.
Now with the defeat of Ai and Gibeonites joining Israel there were five kings that band together to attack Gibeon for making this agreement with Israel. The troops of the five kings surrounded the Gibeonites. The Gibeonits were under Israel’s protection and sent word to Joshua to come and save them.
Joshua was in a big mess. The miracle of the sun standing still is in the context of Joshua making a hasty blunder. Yet Joshua received word from the Lord not to be afraid because the Lord would give victory. This is a story of faith, but it is not only a story of faith. Joshua and his armies were men of action. They received word and sprang into action marching all night into battle. This might have been a twenty-mile march at night.
They marched all night and launched a surprise attack on the five armies. The Israelites surprised the armies and put their entre effort into this battle, but it was the Lord’s battle. God threw the five enemy armies into confusion and many of the enemy were killed by huge hailstones. But darkness was coming and Joshua needed more time. So Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still.
In Joshua 10:12-13 we have Joshua’s poetic faith filled prayer.
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
The same statement in the poem is repeated in historic narrative in verses 13-14. This is the text that was used to oppose Galileo for theorizing that the earth revolves around the sun. The earth revolves around the sun and the moon revolves around the earth. The earth must have stopped spinning for this time. The spinning earth must have come to a sudden halt. There was an occasion 2 Kings 20:8-11 when the earth actually ran backwards temporarily and a shadow moved back by ten steps. (that is my proposal of the way our all-powerful God performed His miracle)
The Lord fought for His people. Joshua’s name means “he saves” and with the help of the Lord he saved the Gibeonites on this day. It was total destruction for the five kings and their armies. God did this, but He works through His faithful people.
Not only did Joshua keep his word to the Gibeonites who tricked him into an agreement, but this was a critical battle for the Israelites. This battle is against five kings of five kingdoms in the heart of the Promised Land. A complete victory here is huge for Joshua and the Israelites.
Our application is faith in the spiritual warfare. We must let the Lord fight our battles. Joshua 10:14, “surely the Lord was fighting.” By faith you can trust the Lord to fight your battles. Joshua had been through some tremendous highs and very deep lows but he had the faith to ask God for the impossible.
We are challenged to have faith. But we also see Joshua was leading his army to action. Intense actin with an all-night march into a battle with five armies.
There is a saying, “pray as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you.” I don’t see how Joshua could have done either pray or action with more intensity. To believe God for the sun to stand still is famous faith a few millennia later. To march all night and fight five armies is just about as outstanding on the action side too.
We are called to live by faith. Can you imagine asking God for a “Sun stand still” miracle like this in your life? “God Is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20.
The prayer of Joshua is a Mark 11:23-24 move mountains kind of prayer; Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
Jesus died for us to redeem us and give us victorious lives. When Jesus died on the cross there was a solar disturbance that day too. It was daytime and for three hours darkness came over the land. Joshua’s battles were all in preparation for that day Jesus died on the cross. God called out a people to a land that a messiah would come for all who believe.
We find in 2 Peter Chapter 3 that the Lord has been slowing the days so to speak that the maximum number of people would believe in the Lord and not perish. At the same time we are to be longing for the days to be shortened, or for the speed of the day of Jesus coming again.
Joshua was a man of faith. He asked God for the sun to stand still. The most important act of faith you can have is to put your faith in Jesus Christ who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
I was eight years old and very surprised that my parents were telling me I would be staying up past my bedtime, but even more surprising is why miss bedtime. The reason was to watch TV. I remember what I saw on TV that night. It was July 20, 1969 and I was watching live Neil Armstrong to become the first man to walk on the moon.
The first step on the moon! My mom said that she thought Neil Armstrong might disappear into deep dust on moon’s surface. The astronauts commented on the dust on the surface, but it was not deep like some suspected. Who knew what would happen. No one had ever been this way before. It was famously put, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It must have been scary to take that step
In Joshua Chapter 3 we read about another time a man took a small step and did something great for mankind. It was when the priest put his foot in the Jordan at flood stage and the children if Israel crossed into the promise land on dry ground.
We find The Children of Israel on the edge of the promise land. They had been wandering in the wilderness the past forty years. But to possess the Promised Land they must cross the Jordon River at flood stage. Everything was about to change with this step of faith.
They were about to march across the River at flood stage. Without a miracle of God this could never happen. Yet, God said cross. Just think of the priest who took the first step into the flooded Jordan River. When he went to the edge of the river and took that step the river stopped and the ground was dry.
Stepping into the Jordan River was a small step for a man giant step for mankind. It was giant because it was part of God’s plan for salvation. God’s people entered the Promised Land and possess the land where messiah would be born, live a sinless life and die on a cross to purchase men with his blood.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself figuratively standing at the river at flood stage. Over and over again God calls his people to a step of faith. A step that would be impossible without a miracle of God.
Taking that step keeps us from wandering in a spiritual wilderness to a experiencing the abundant life. Once the children of Israel cross this river they can never again be satisfied with what they left behind wondering in the wilderness.
I recall an elderly lady crying. She was experiencing a very close relationship with God that she had not experienced through a life of regular church attendance and consistent service. She wept because as she looked back she could see what she missed if she would have had this kind of close relationship with the Lord for all those years.
Israel had been here before and didn’t cross. They had never been this way crossing over the river. Even at this time Ruben Gad and the half tribe on Manasseh wanted the old way in wilderness see numbers 32. How spiritually myopic that we would rather stay in a more steady spiritual desert rather than step out in faith and dwell in the promises of God.
This time the Israelites came to the edge of the Jordan River in faith. In our lives we are going to come up against the impossible. It is going to require us to take a step of faith to cross the river at flood stage. What is impossible with man is possible with God. It requires faith and we must depend on the Lord.
We need to be ready for the Lord to do amazing things. Joshua called Israel to a spiritual preparation for what this kind of step of faith requires. Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5
If you are going to take the step of faith you must be spiritually prepared. We must walk with the Lord to pass ways that we have not passed before. When there is a river at flood stage in our life we can proceed with boldness if we trust the Lord.
We get spiritually prepared but there is also a time we just step in the water. We put everything on the line and trust God. Read Hebrews Chapter 11. It is by faith. This is what the ancients were commended for.
The priest stepped in the water carrying the Ark of the Covenant a symbol of God’s presence. If you are standing at the Jordan River at flood stage and you have the impossible before you, trust God. Will you take that step? The Promised Land for you is on the other side of that step of faith.
Many things have been computerized in our day. The game of chess is completely computerized. If you play the computer in a game of chess you can even find out the rating for every move you make. The computer can tell you if you made a good decision or a bad decision in your chess move and give you a weighted score for that decision.
So far now our spiritual lives have not become this systematized. There is no computer program or phone application that will tell you if you are making a good spiritual decision or a bad one. Our moral decision making is just one of those areas of life where we have to seek God. That must be disappointing for some technology nerds.
Read Joshua 24:14-15
If you are going to put a framed scripture verse over your fireplace mantle, then it doesn’t get much better than Joshua 24:15. “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Hanging this verse on the fireplace mantle is symbolic for a house that has made the choice to follow God.
In this passage we find Israel at the crossroads. They had been through many victories and seen God work dramatic miracles, but they now stood at a fork in the road. Will they follow God with their whole heart? It is a significant choice to make that has huge life consequences.
“Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve.” Joshua 24:15
To set the stage for this event we find Joshua near the end of his life. God has been faithful in the victories as Joshua led God’s people. For the most part the promise of God’s covenant was realized. God’s people had entered the Promised Land and conquered the enemy that possessed this land that was promised to them. However there were still pockets of enemy people and their influence in the land.
Unless the people were obedient to take all of the land the people were at risk to take on the worship of false gods the local people. In fact they already had done so to some extent. They had their feet in two boats. They were worshipping idols and worshipping Jehovah God that strictly forbid any worship besides to Him.
In calling them to this great commitment Joshua gives the people a history lesson about their forefathers and their faithfulness. Joshua begins his teaching with the call of Abraham. The call of Abraham came in the context of his family worshiping other gods. By God’s grace and mercy He calls Abraham to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. It is a promise of the coming Christ.
What really added weight to Joshua appealing to them was that Abraham made his covenant with God at Shechem, the very place they were they were standing and Joshua was calling them to renew their covenant with God. He moves the story to Abraham’s son Isaac and then to Abraham’s grandson Jacob. At Shechem where they were standing Jacob built an altar and dedicated himself fully to God. At the end of his life Jacob and his sons ended up in Egypt.
Joshua gives the account of how God used Mosses and Aaron. Joshua reminds them of the Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea. Then Joshua reminds them of the great victories they won as they possessed the land. Now serve the Lord! Joshua just delivered one of the greatest speeches in history.
But what about us now? Have you seen God do gracious and mighty works in your midst? What about your Spiritual heritage? The price Jesus paid on the cross for your sins. The early apostles that carried the Gospel despite persecution and sometimes martyrdom. The reformers and the radical reformers who paid a price for grace and faith and the Bible. How many times has God proven Himself faithful in your life? How many victories have you seen? We have reason to choose this day to serve God ourselves.
It is an imperative, choose this day! Joshua demonstrated their forefathers had chosen to serve God. But that is not enough. Each generation, each individual must himself choose to serve God.
When you stand before God the issue is not were your parents and grandparents faithful. What did you do with your life? What was your response in the most important matter of all? To follow and serve God.
Joshua lays it on the line. Will you serve God? The call is to stand in stark contrast to the people around them. The call was vitally important and the call was urgent. Making your choice to follow God is the most important of all.
One summer as a new believer I worked at Kings Dominion Amusement Park between Richmond and Washington DC. I shared with a girl who worked with me named Suzan about our condition of sin and Jesus work on the cross and about trusting in Jesus Christ by faith. She did not accept this. She laughed. You are saying the same things Jimmy the fiddler (Jimmy was hired to play the fiddle in the park entertainment shows) said about Jesus.
That night Susan’s house was burned and she was killed. If she could only have seen how important and how urgent what Jimmy the fiddler and I had been trying to tell her. Choose this day to serve God.
Joshua said, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. The people responded, we will serve the Lord. That is an exciting response to me, but Joshua was cautious. He told them, “you are not able to serve the Lord. God is holy and jealous.” Don’t make a shallow commitment, That is too tragic.
If you decide this day to serve the Lord then it should be genuine and real. That was what Joshua was so concerned the people understood. There is no use in a commitment to God that is shallow with nothing but a lot of show.
OK says Joshua, then throw away everything and anything that stands as a hindrance to serving God and yield your heart to God (Joshua 24:23). This was a for real commitment to serve God. The people followed God as long as Joshua lived.
Chose for yourself this day who you will serve. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
read more at Assurance of salvation
“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them” is a famous quote of Shakespeare.
There is a cartoon picture of a statue of a leader who the caption on the base of the statue said he had “greatness thrust upon them.” It is a humorous picture because the statue captures the moment the man had greatness thrust on him and he is afraid and trying to refuse the greatness. His hands are in refusal posture and he has a look of utter fear and panic on his face.
I wonder if Joshua felt a little like that. First of all he must have thought, how am I going to follow Moses and second, what is leading the people of Israel out of the wilderness and into the promise land going to look like. Joshua had a lot thrust upon him.
Read Joshua 1:1-18
Repeatedly God told Joshua “be not afraid.” Probably the reason God told Joshua repeatedly not to be afraid is because if you thought about this naturally there was a lot to be afraid of. There will be battles to fight if they are going to possess the land. If God is with him though Joshua does not need to be afraid to lead God’s people through the difficulties.
There must be a sense that Joshua, in following the footsteps of Moses, found it intimidating and would cause him to put his hands in a posture of refusal and bring a look of panic to his face. After all even with Moses’s shortcomings there was no prophet that had risen in Israel like Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10)
Joshua 1 picks up after the death of Moses where Deuteronomy 34 leaves off. Before Moses death Moses laid his hands on Joshua and passes on the mantle of leadership. Now in Joshua chapter 1 Moses is gone and Joshua must lead.
In every respect he was the right leader to serve as the successor of Moses. Joshua was filled with the spirit of wisdom. But when you read Deuteronomy 34:10 you see just how esteemed Moses was. But now we have a new generation and a new leader. Joshua was the oldest man in Israel, except for Caleb. All others of his generation that witnessed the miracle of the parting of Red Sea have died in the wilderness.
Joshua had the most experience as Moses assistant. Joshua had held up Moses’s arms in the great battle against the Amalekites. It was Joshua waiting for Moses when he was on the Mountain receiving the Ten Commandments. Joshua was one of the twelve who entered the promise land forty years previous and brought back the report.
But now that Moses is gone. What will become of God’s people? How will God’s people go on without the leader they have known the last forty years? There is something we must remember. Leaders come and go, but God lives. God’s work never hinges on any one leader. We may grieve but God’s work will move ahead.
Each new leader faces new challenges. Joshua was at a critical moment in history. For forty years the people were preparing to enter the promise land. Now Joshua has taken leadership and he commands the officers to prepare the people to enter the promise land in three days (Joshua 1:11).
Yes Moses was a great leader. But now it is time for Joshua to lead the people into the promise land. Now it is time for Joshua to prepare to do in three days of leadership what Moses did not do in forty years.
God’s hand in on Joshua. He proved to be a man of faith his entire life. His name, Joshua means God Saves. The Greek equivalent of his name is Jesus. Whenever we study the life of Joshua we have a challenge to faith in God and to be strong and courageous.
This is God’s appointed time for His people to enter the promise land and Joshua is God’s appointed leader. It requires courage and strength of character to take leadership in God’s work. God spoke to Joshua when he took the leadership. There is no need for fear and dismay (Josh 1:9)
When Moses was living he passed on the leadership mantle to Joshua he charged him to be strong and courageous and he told him he would lead the people into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 31:23). But now Moses is gone. The weight of leadership rests on Joshua. With an overwhelming task there must have been a sense that Joshua felt weak and scared. God repeated the charge Moses gave. Be strong and courageous. Strengthen yourself Joshua, be confident, resolute and steadfast.
God is not calling Joshua to be self-reliant. This confidence comes in depending on God. Joshua has a strength and courage rooted in his relationship with Almighty God. That is the reason for courage. This courage comes from the Lord’s presence in his life. Our strength and our courage is because of the Lord’s presence in our lives.
What Joshua accomplished in the days following taking up spiritual leadership was absolutely phenomenal. Spiritual leaders today have Jesus’s promise, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5 Hebrews 13:5). God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).
Center your life on God. Trust in Jesus with your whole heart. Let the Word of God be your guide and do not stray from the left or the right so that you will have success. Whatever leadership that has been thrust upon you do not take it lightly. God has entrusted you and people are depending on you.
God told Joshua to stay in the Word. Joshua is to meditate on God’s Word days and night and apply it to his life (Joshua 1:8). The principle is for every spiritual leader. Keep reading your Bible.
We need leaders today who are strong and courageous. Let God’s Word light your leadership path and continue living by the principles of His Word. If you do you will find success in God’s eyes.
Shillong is the Hill Station at the capital of Meghalaya in Northeast India.
Umiam Lake is a reservoir located just before Shillong on the Guwahati-Shillong Road.
This house on the Tripura Castle road.
Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians is in Don Bosco Square visited as a pilgrimage site for Catholic Christians.
The tea lounge at Tripura Castle which is now a hotel now but was built in the early 1920s by Maharaja Bir Bikram.
Shillong is also sometimes called as “India’s Rock Capital” because of the passion for music.
Khasi Tribal woman in traditional rain cover. Meghalaya is the “wettest place on earth.”
Meghalaya known as “Abode of Clouds” Shillong is a mile high city about 5,000 feet elevation.
Shillong Peak at 1965 m above sea level is the highest point in the state.
Our kids in Khasi tribal dress at Shillong Peak.
Fern on the way to Shillong Peak.
Elephant Falls 12 km from Shillong.
Mawphlang Sacred Forest Eco tourist destination.
Wards Lake is lake park with garden.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tags: Abode of Clouds, Elephant Falls, Family, India, India's Rock Capital, Khasi Tribal, Mawphlang Sacred Forest, Meghalaya, Photo Essay, Photo journalism, Photography, Shillong, Shillong Peak, Travel, Tripura Castle, Umiam Lake, Wards Lake, wettest place on earth
Located just outside of Bhubaneshwar Orissa is the Chandaka Dhampara Elephant Sanctuary
There is elephant dung on the trail so maybe we will see wild elephants.
A dog is following us so our jungle-mobile driver shows off his million dollar arm.
We saw Peacocks, Lungar Monkey, Sambar deer with huge antlers, owls, song birds and migratory birds.
To the watchtower for the view.
We went to look in the thick jungle for the Sambar deer. I thought we would not find it but I was happy to go deeper into the jungle.
In 2007 there were 67 wild elephants and in 2013 there were 27. There will be another census of elephants at the end of May, 2015.
We saw the signs of wild elephants but we only saw elephants in captivity.
I hope to go back again.
I went back through the Kolkata Wetlands this time by vehicle to show my wife and a friend my discoveries.
One man enjoying a swim in the wetlands at sunset.
Talking to some local wetlanders.
And what I wanted to show off. The water lilies in bloom.
And another man out at sunset in a boat.
Bhimbetka Rock Shelter 40 kilometers outside Bhopal.
Bhimbetka Rock Shelter has humans living since the Paleolithic period.
Bhimbetka paintings date start from the Mesolithic Period.
Tortoise Rock Bhimbetka Rock Shelter
Kids climbing at Bhimbetka Rock Shelter
There are so many painted animals (252) that this part of Bhimbetka is called the zoo.
The mythical baor at Bhimbetka Rock Shelter. This is different because the animal is hunting man where other paintings have the man hunting the animals.
Bhimbetka Rock Shelter
Cavemen at Bhimbetka Rock Shelter
There were amazing tree and rock formations at Bhimbetka.
Spent week in Rajasthan and on the train out to the Western Rajasthan area.
Sunrise on the train near Bikaner.
Weaver making rugs in Western Rajasthan.
This bridge was west of Ajmer.
Overview of Jaipur from Nahargarh Fort.
Water Palace in Jaipur
Brass band at Rambagh Palace.
Night at Rambagh Palace and yes, I hang out at thousand dollar a night hotels.
I had a fun time exploring Kathotiya today morning.
This was my guide Vijay Kathotiya.
I would have missed a lot without Vijay’s guidance.
There are different color painting, red is one of the colors.
White rock painting.
Feel the breeze!
Cycle rental in a remote Bhil village. That is what I’m talking about!
Back to Kathotiya for a overnight tent camping later?
Our family has felt like gypsies lately and then lo and behold we meet some real gypsies with their camels so we stopped to take some photos. Their sheep were behind them too.
They were traveling outside Bhopal
Quenching a desert thirst.
Good bye to our new Gypsy friends.
Our family has moved twice in the last sixty days. And now guess what! We are waiting to find out if we will stay where we are for the next few months or if we need to move to the next “encampment” in a few days. All this moving has made me refer to the Cloud by day, Fire by night of the Israelites in the wilderness.
Some years ago a software engineer from Israel who lived in a nearby apartment asked me if he could cut some branches from the trees in our yard. He needed them to make a booth on top of his apartment to remember the time Israel would follow the cloud by day, fire by night and live in temporary shelters. The Jewish people remember that history by celebrating the festival of booths each year.
By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Exodus 13:21-22
Believers in Christ also should remember how Israel followed the cloud by day and the fire by night. We are told that it happened as an example for them for our instruction 1 Corinthians 10:11.
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11
This will not necessarily mean a physical move. Following the cloud by day, fire by night is about a step of faith not a physical move. As followers of Christ we need to follow the fire of the Holy Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). We Pilgrims on our journey in Christ need to be sure we do not miss the move of the Spirit. When the Spirit leads we need to move from the encampment of our comfort zone to the unfamiliar.
I wonder if we need to move a third time in sixty days? Our family lived in one place for fifteen years. But this is a different season for us. I hope we are ready to go or ready to stay. We need to be willing to follow the pillar of fire, the presence of God the leading of the Holy Spirit. All believers in Christ must be led by the Spirit.
Lodi gardens in Delhi is known as “Best Urban Oasis in Asia” Here are a few pictures from my January morning walk through Lodi Gardens.
Muhammad Shah Sayyid’s Tomb from the dynasty 1414-1451.
There was lots of crazy stuff going on with the animals. They all seemed to involve a squirrel.
This was two parrots attacking a squirrel and then getting into the squirrel hole in the tree.
The squirrels had the parrot outnumbered and chased off the parrot.
The squirrel gets the honey from the Lodi garden honey comb.
That’s me I was really in Lodi Gardens.
Not sure why this see hear say no evil statue is at Lodi
There are two New Testament books written to Colossians from Paul. The two books are Colossians and also Philemon, a personal letter to Philemon but also a letter meant for the churches at Colossae and Laodicea. There is no record in the book of Acts of Paul ever preaching the gospel in Colossae. For this reason we have to look for clues about how the church started in the two letters Colossae and Philemon and make some assumptions from what happened during Paul’s two years at Ephesus.
Colossians is one of Paul’s prison epistles and most scholars believe Paul wrote this letter during his Roman imprisonment about 61AD. Paul mentions in Colossians 1:17 that it was his close associate Epaphras who preached the gospel in Colossae. The work in Colossae probably started during Paul’s third missionary journey when he set up a gospel training school at the Hall of Tyrannus outside of Ephesus.
Paul had covered a lot of ground during his journeys but he just could not be everywhere at once. It was common for him to mention in his letters his desire to visit a place, but he just could not at least for the time being. By his third missionary journey Paul had come up with a way to multiply himself and that was the school at the hall of Tyrannus.
At Tyrannus Paul could pour into disciples and they could go out and cover all the places Paul would never have the time or health to reach. With this strategy Paul could even be in prison and the work would carry on.
And so it is commonly accepted that one of the disciples at the hall of Tyrannus who was instrumental in all of Asia hearing the gospel and starting churches in cities Paul never reached was Epaphras. Paul said You learned the gospel from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf (Colossae 1:7-8). Epaphras was the key man for the Asian tri-city area of Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis. Paul said “I vouch for Epaphras that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Colossians 4:13. Epaphras probably started the Laodicea church that met at Nympha’s house (Colossians 4:15) and the Philemon church that met at either Philemon’s or Archippus’s house (Philemon 2).
Epaphras was the ideal disciple/church planter to carry the gospel and start the church in Colossae. He was a local son of the soil Colossian. Epaphras could have made the one hundred mile journey back and forth from Ephesus to Colossae with relative ease. His fellow Colossians were also making that same journey all the time. They would be going from the smaller city of Colossae to the big port city of Ephesus for trade and supplies.
Epaphras would learn from Paul how to proclaim the gospel and start churches and raise up leaders. Paul uses the 2 Timothy 2:2 strategy at the hall of Tyrannus. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others”. Paul rises up Epaphras at the Hall of Tyrannus.
After spending some time at the Tyrannus School Epaphras would head up river or along one of the Roman Roads to Colossae and put what he learned into practice. When he reached Colossae he would teach what he learned to Archippus. Epaphras learned from Paul and he in turn raised up Archippus to lead the Colossian church (probably it happened this way at Colossae). Paul is raising up multi generational leaders. Timothy is even on the scene when Epaphras is in Rome with Paul (Philemon 1, Colossians 1:1).
The hall of Tyrannus strategy worked brilliantly because both Paul and Epaphras are together in prison in Rome and the work is carrying on. Of course the churches at Colossae and Laodicea certainly do face threats from prevalent outside harmful philosophies. Paul is trying to steer the churches clear of their harmful influence in writing the Colossian letter. The church at Colossae has a powerful prayer warrior in Epaphras who regularly intercedes for them too.
The distance and trip from Ephesus and Colossae are very practical. On the other hand the meeting up in a Roman prison of Paul and two Colossians of Epaphras and Onesimus is striking. What were Epaphras and Onesimus these two Colossians doing with Paul in Rome? No one can answer for sure but it seems that Onesimus the escaped slave of Philemon was “free” to travel back to Colossae with Tychicus and Epaphras was not.
Whatever reason Epaphras came to Rome is uncertain but that he brought news to Paul of the growing spiritual fruit and love in the Spirit is certain (Colossians 1:6). Epaphras also brought news of the threats of heresy facing the church in Colossae. Paul is writing to protect the church from the threats of philosophies that diminish the supremacy of Jesus. The letter to Colossians very clearly articulates the supremacy of Jesus and his total sufficiency for salivation. Tychicus would carry the letter back to Colossians and take Onesimus back to Colossae. The Colossian letter was to be read in all the churches in the area.
Here are those mentioned by name in the book of Colossians and the references:
Paul: Colossians 1:1, 23 4:18
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, Colossians 1:1
if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:23
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Colossians 4:18
Timothy: Colossians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, Colossians 1:1
Tychicus: Colossians 4:7-9
Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
Tychicus is also mentioned 4 other times in the NT Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; Titus 3:12; 2 Timothy 4:12.
Aristarchus: Colossians 4:10
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Colossians 4:10
Also we find Aristarchus in Acts 19:29, Acts 20:4, 27:2, Acts. Acts 27:2, Philemon 1:24.
Onesimus: Colossians 4:9
He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here. Colossians 4:9
Also more about him in Philemon 10-16
Mark: Colossians 4:10
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Col 4:10
Also verses mentioning Mark are: Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15: 2 Tim 4:11 Philemon 24
Jesus call Justus: Colossians 4:11
Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews[a] among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. Colossians 4:11
Epaphras: Colossians 1:7-8, 4:12-13
You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,[a] who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. Colossians 1:7-8
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Colossians 4:12-13
Also a reference in Philemon 23
Luke: Colossians 4:14
Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. Colossians 4:14
Demas: Colossians 4:14
Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. Colossians 4:14
Also Demas is mentioned in Philemon 24 and 2 Tim. 4:10
“Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” This man of wavering impulse who surrendered the passion of sacrifice and sank in the swirling waters of the world, is a true reflection of the thought that where our love is, there we finally are. 2 Tim. 4:10
Nympha: Colossians 4:15
Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. Colossians 4:15
Archippus: Colossians 4:17
Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” Colossians 4:17
Torna fort view from Velhe village the where the Trek begins.
It is called the “eagle’s nest” as one of the highest forts of Pune district. I saw some amazing eagles on the way up and on top.
I started at Velhe village 65 kilometers from Pune. Velhe is 2,399 feet and went to 4,570 feet a climb of 2,149. It was categorized HC by my MapMyRide program and said I burned 3,000 calories going up and down and both ways was 5 and one-half miles.
I climbed solo and never saw another person for the 5 hours when I left Velhe village and returned. I just left my information on the windshield and told the Velhe police I was going up.
I saw many crabs along the path and this was the largest I saw.
I saw Rajgad easily and also other forts could be seen Sinhagad and even Raigad.
Torna Fort famous as the first fort captured by Shivaji in 1643. He hit the jackpot with a load of gold captured to continue his campaigns.
I just followed the ridge up to the cloud.
The flowers were very similar to Kaas a world heritage biodiversity spot 100 kilometers away.
This is the ridge that is to be hiked to trek from Torna to Rajgad.
My friend used to joke with me that I was one of God’s spoiled children. I agree with him that much has gone my way. But if anyone was ever born with a silver spoon in their mouth it was Solomon.
Solomon had all the advantages life could offer. He had a God-fearing home with his father being a man after God’s own heart. He inherited wealth and was given the best education. He had the equivalent of a PhD in many sciences, botany (study of plants), dendrology (study of trees), and zoology (study of animals). In addition he was lettered in literature.
Then there were the political advantages that Solomon inherited. He received the throne of Israel when the kingdom was at its zenith. The death of King David meant the assent of Solomon to the throne of Israel. Solomon took the throne during what could be called the “golden age of Israel”. The entire world looked to Israel.
Solomon was David’s tenth son. He was the second son of Bathsheba. The first son died after King David’s sin, adultery and murder. But in God’s grace He gave David another son through Bathsheba.
In 2 Samuel 12:24-25 The Lord gave King David another son through Bathsheba. Nathan the prophet who seems to have had a special burden for Solomon brought word that the Lord had a special love for Solomon. He had two names.
Solomon: Which means Peace.
Jedidiah: Which means loved of the Lord.
1 Chronicles 29 We read how David orchestrated so much for Solomon to follow as king and gave Solomon a great blessing prayer for him to prosper and to build the great temple of God in Israel sometimes called “Solomon’s Temple.” Not because this temple was for Solomon but built during Solomon’s reign for the glory of Almighty God.
In verse 29:25 It says the Lord exalted Solomon at this time while King David was about to die. Royal majesty was bestowed on Solomon like had never been seen in Israel.
There was a challenge to Solomon taking the throne, but it was more of a final challenge to King David who was still living and declared Solomon the air to the throne. David’s oldest son Adonija made a self-proclaimed claim on the throne without David’s knowledge (1 Kings 1).
To get the wheels of justice turning Nathan the prophet begins to act. He tells Bathsheba that Adonijah is undermining her son Solomon’s claim to the throne (1 Kings 1:11). This caused Bathsheba to swing into action (1 Kings 1:17) and Solomon is anointed as King (1 Kings 1:39). The priest anointed Solomon with oil, blew the trumpet and all the people shouted “Long Live King Solomon!”
David gives a death-bed challenge to King Solomon.
1 Kings 2:1-4
When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’
In 1 Kings 2:10-11 King David dies. The greatest King ever in the history of Israel except for the Messiah who came as the second King David. To whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). Succeeding David as King will be a challenge.
Solomon faced his first test as king from his oldest brother Adonijah. This challenge came when their father David died and it came to Solomon at the risk of his life. Adonija’s foolish action results in his own death and now the kingdom is firmly in Solomon’s hands (1 Kings 2:46)
Solomon started with so much. He did not squander his opportunity. The Queen of Sheba later said the half had not been told regarding the greatness of Solomon.
You may not have been given as much as Solomon; inheritance of billions, the most influential kingdom of any era. All at a time of religious fervor of the people. But I would suppose if you are reading this you have been given much.
In 1 Chronicles 1:29 David Prayed,
And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion
to keep your commands, statutes and decrees
He was given wisdom. But tragically at the end of his life he became a foolish wise man and strayed from the ways of the Lord that David prayed he would follow.
You have been given much. You have the riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ placed in your hand. To whom much is given much is required. You have been given a heart to keep faithful to God.
These men are fishing in some flooded areas a week after heavy rains around Kolkata.
They are fishing along the road in front of Vedic Village.
Vedic Village is a five star resort just outside Kolkata.
The heavy rains from Cyclone Komen had the fish in areas normally not for fishing so many fishermen were out.
My hope was to get the picture of the casting net fully open.
I wish I cold have stayed longer for more tries for the elusive perfect Monsoon season casing net photo.
In my favor they were using a very colorful orange casting net.
Fully open casting net!
I was two nights and three days in Bangladesh. That’s enough time for a 40 kilometer bicycle ride so I took the chance.
I started the ride in Banani and cycled north of the airport circling around the botanical garden and zoo area and on to the main bus station at Kallyanpur. I hit a big traffic snag in the first kilometer. I am going to ride the side without the traffic jam!
I went up and over this jam using this walkover.
A selfie on the walkover escalator. I already look hot and tired after 700 meters.
I am now out past the airport as I ride along the Turag River.
I stopped to look at the boats and I was offered a boat ride. I had enough time for a 40 kilometer cycle ride but not for the boating option.
There was lot’s of open area compared to my start. I watched a plane land way in the distance where I had cycled past the airport. How long until this area is fully developed?
This was the Dhaka Botanical garden area. My last photo. After this it is soon back to urban chaos. I stopped to buy a bottle of water and two bananas and then I finished the ride.
Punctured riding the Kolkata wetlands.
Got a ride on a motorized three wheeler carrying live fish. Took me to walking distance of this shop. Tire and tube needed repair.
Finished ride after the repair.
What do you expect to see after a great victory? In winning a war you expect to see a whole nation in jubilant celebration. There will be parades maybe even a ticker-tape parade and much fanfare. When a team wins a championship football game you expect to see the team dump Gatorade on the winning coach. In other sports they might carry the game hero on their shoulders. There are a lot of different ways to celebrate a victorious moment.
After the miracle at the parting of the Red Sea the people of God wrote songs and with tambourine and dancing were in jubilant celebration. It seems like in Exodus 15 the men and women had a sort of dueling celebration where the men would sing and then the women would answer with their celebration song and dance.
In so many ways there are parallels to the parting of the Red Sea and the crossing of the Jordan described in Joshua Chapter 3. But following the Jordan crossing miracle we see something very different. Joshua Chapter 5 finds Israel on the heels of one of the greatest miracles of all time. They experienced something very similar to the parting of the Red sea.
This time the miracle was the parting or stopping of the River Jordan at flood stage. The Jordan stopped flowing as soon as the priests stuck their foot in the water and the water piled up like a giant wall as the people cross on dry ground. This time the post victory is much more serious. This time the focus is on spiritual preparation for what lies ahead.
This is a new generation of Israelites who only heard about the parting of the Red Sea. The whole nation crosses the Jordan River at flood stage on dry ground. They prepared themselves (Joshua 3:5) to cross the river. Chapter 4 is their post miracle response. This time they are making a memorial to remember the miracle.
But there is much more preparation before God’s people undertake a battle with Jericho. What does God call his people to do after this great miracle? Now at this crucial juncture God calls His people to deeper spiritual preparation in trust and obedience.
In the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17) God promised to give Abraham’s descendants the land of Canaan. The sign of the Abrahamic covenant between God and His people is circumcision. For thirty eight years in the wilderness no one has ever been circumcised except Joshua and Caleb had lived before the parting of the Red Sea.
God led His people to cross the Jordan at flood stage without this outward sign, but not any longer. Not before the battles for possessing the promised land. Before the battle of Jericho God set His people apart with His sign as His covenant people. They made themselves useable unto God.
Ever since Joshua was leading God’s people had responded by faith and now they are ready for what God will do next. The river at flood stage behind them and the fortified city before them. No turning back.
There are some very interesting thoughts about this circumcision. Why do we know that to be uncircumcised is to be cut off from their people? Because Moses recorded it. He wrote Genesis and we find this in Genesis 17:14. Then there is Exodus 5:21-25 when Moses was warning Pharaoh of the plagues. Only families whose males were circumcised could take the Passover. Moses children could be facing death but Moses wife Zipporah circumcises their children.
Joshua was an incredible leader. After forty years of wondering in the wilderness uncircumcised never taking the Passover he leads the people into the promise land and spiritually prepares them after they became so unprepared ignoring the command to circumcise males on the eight day and having not taken the Passover in 40 years.
This is a transitional point in the history of Israel. God’s people were unprepared spiritually for the battle of Jericho and Joshua got them prepared. To mark this transition no longer would manna fall from heaven (Josh 5:12), but now God’s people would work the land of milk and honey for their food. It was a new call to obedience in a new chapter in their lives.
The New Testament covenant sign is not circumcision but baptism. Baptism is commanded for the new believer. It may be that God uses a new Christian mightily without the outward sign but then at some point He convicts the believer to obedience in this command. The New Testament pattern* is immediate baptism after believing in Christ. To go on as a believer in Jesus Christ with God’s blessing is to be obedient in baptism.
Acts 2:37-41 Heard Gospel, Believed, Immediate Baptism
Acts 8:5-13 Heard Gospel, Believed, Immediate Baptism
Acts 8:36-38 Heard Gospel, Believed, Immediate Baptism
Acts 9:10-19 Heard Gospel, Believed, Immediate Baptism
Acts 10:47-48 Heard Gospel, Believed, Immediate Baptism
Acts 16:13-15 Heard Gospel, Believed, Immediate Baptism
Acts 16:27-34 Heard Gospel, Believed, Immediate Baptism
Acts 18:5-8 Heard Gospel, Believed, Immediate Baptism
Acts 19:1-5 Heard Gospel, Believed, Immediate Baptism
Acts 22:14-17 Heard Gospel, Believed, Immediate Baptism, (Paul’s Baptism was not absolutely immediate. He was still blind after meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road and Ananias asked Paul, why delay your baptism?
(* verses and pattern adapted from Tree of Life discipleship training manual)
Now God’s people could celebrate the Passover. In the Old Testament God’s people could not celebrate the Passover with males uncircumcised in the house. This was crucial to being a spiritually prepared people of God.
Just as Baptism has replaced circusision for the believer in Christ. In the same way in the new covenant, the far surpassing covenant (2 Cor. 3:10) the Lord’s Supper has replaced observing the Passover.
In preparing God’s people spiritually a reproach was “rolled away” The place was called Gilgal, meaning to roll as a reference to the rolling. The rolling away of the reproach of God’s people being spiritually unprepared.
How could the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant when the Jordan River stopped not be circumcised? That is a reproach that is rolled back at Gilgal. It is a time and place to get prepared. What they do is physical but the circumcision and observing the Passover is about a spiritual preparation. There is only one day a year they can celebrate the Passover so the timing of crossing the Jordan and the circumcision is crucial and certainly appointed by God.
In what is called a Theophany God manifested Himself in a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ as a man with a drawn sword. The captain of the Lord’s army. Joshua fell on his face. There is a parallel to experience of Moses at the burning bush to take off his shoes.
We have a leader here who is willing to make Spiritual priorities number one. They were not carrying Joshua on their shoulders and pouring Gatorade on his head. No Joshua was on his face before God. Here is a leader ready to go beyond what had already been done.
Think about what is happening here. Joshua is meeting the captain of the Lords army who is none other than Jesus. The name Joshua in Hebrew is savior and Jesus is the same Greek name. Joshua taking God’s people into the promise land was a foreshadow of what Jesus would do in taking His people into the new covenant through His death and shedding of His blood.
God uses ordinary people but calls us to go deep in our faith. To be extreme in our obedience. Though none go with me, I still will follow. Is God calling you to deep faith and extreme obedience to accomplish what can only be understood as a miracle of God? Then you must be spiritually prepared.