There Is An Accursed Thing In Your Midst

The children of Israel, under Joshua’s leadership, had experienced a great victory in Joshua Chapter 6 in defeating Jericho and taking possession of their land. They had a boost of confidence and were now ready to move in on neighbouring Ai. Their confidence was so great that they reduced the size of their army because they noted that the people of Ai were few in number. They were shocked and grew fainthearted when they had to flee for their lives from an army that was weaker than the city of Jericho they had just defeated. What went wrong?

I see two things here. First, they had grown so confident in their defeat of Jericho that they did not consult with the Lord to get a battle strategy. They had become dependent on their strength and their might and past success – shown by the decision they made in reducing the size of their army. Second, the Lord’s presence was not with them because unknown to the others, greed had caused one of them to disobey the Lord’s command. In their defeat of Jericho, Achan had taken some of the accursed things and placed them among his possessions. These things were either to be destroyed or consecrated for the LORD’s treasury (Joshua 6:18-19). By taking these things, Achan disobeyed a direct command and stole from God.

Joshua had clearly stated that taking the accursed things would bring a curse on the entire camp of Israel. There are times in our lives when the presence of the Lord is not felt because somewhere on our journey, we or someone in our midst have sinned and taken of the accursed things and placed them among our (their) possessions. We sin, and we cover it up the way Achan did, thinking we can hide it from God, but failing to realize God sees and knows everything. Then we blame Him when things start to go wrong in our lives, as Joshua did (Joshua 7:6-9).

Be careful of the things that your eyes behold and what your hands take. When Satan tempted Eve, her eyes and hands led to her downfall. She saw that the tree was good for food and was pleasant to the eyes, so she took and ate. Achan saw the beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold. All these things were pleasant to his eyes, and his hands took them. And in looking and taking, the entire camp of Israel had to bear the consequences of his sin.

Sin’s consequences not only affect the sinner, but it also sometimes affects others. When Joshua went before the Lord, the Lord did not say, “Achan has sinned.” He said, “Israel has sinned.” Adam and Eve’s sin led to the fall of mankind. Achan’s sin led to the defeat of the Israelites before Ai, and to the stoning and burning of him, his family, and his animals. Our sin or the sin of someone in our midst might lead to a disconnect in our relationship with God unless we confess and repent.

When we covet, it is a sin, and this sin leads to our trying to hide what we have done from God, which is impossible! The best remedy for sin is to confess it before God and repent. The best rule for our eyes and our hands is to keep our eyes on our Heavenly Father and our hands committed to doing His work. Once these are in line with His commands, there will be no room in our heart to covet the things of this world that others possess. Our mission at all times is to seek His Kingdom first. The desires of our heart should be in accordance with His will. His will is for us to glorify Him and to put Him first in everything that we do. Guard your eyes, hands and heart with the Word of God.

“Father, help me this day to keep my eyes on You and my hands committed to doing Your work. May my eyes not covet, and my hands not take anything that will lead to a disconnect in my relationship with You. My chief end is to glorify You, and my true contentment is found only in You. In Jesus’ name, the One who gave up heavenly riches to live a lowly earthly life, I pray, Amen!”
Guest Contributor,
Sophia Belnavis

Oh, Canada?

Well, it’s July 1st again. Happy Birthday Canada!

Many across our country will celebrate with parades and fireworks. If you’re anything like me, the celebrations will be joined by a growing wonder of what’s next for our country. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the changing culture and the church’s role in a nation. The 2011 Canadian census reported that 67% claimed some Christian affiliation and about 7% identified as Evangelicals. 23% found no religious identity. That 23% consist of both ‘Nones’ and ‘Dones’ – people who have never had a religious affiliation or who have walked away from the church. ‘Dones’, in particular, take faith seriously but can’t find a home and choose to exclude themselves.

The New Leaf Network (a group of Canadian church planters and ministry starters) estimates that the 2021 census data will show that Evangelicals in Canada are holding steady, but that the ‘Nones’ and ‘Dones’ are now the largest single group in Canada – 40% or more of the population. I expect the number that say they are affiliated with Christianity to drop below 50%. If you feel like Canada is changing because Christianity in Canada is changing, you’re right. For the first time in Canadian history, we are the minority.

Numbers and statistics can feel artificial, but the reality of what they represent is now impacting our daily lives. So, what can we do about it? There will be plenty of questions to ask, and maybe times of mourning, but on Canada’s Birthday I’ll choose to celebrate. Here are five things you can celebrate this Canada Day – I encourage you to choose one that speaks to your heart the most.

1. We are Kingdom Citizens First
Our primary citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:30) and we are called to make disciples of all nations, not to make nations of disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). As a born-again believer my first call is to be filled with the Spirit and to be a representative in this world until I am called beyond death, or until our Lord returns and unites heaven and earth forever. Romans 13 reminds us that God is sovereign over all. This is our great hope, and it’s the only reason we can celebrate the other points below.

2. Embrace the Wilderness

If the changing landscape gives you anxiety, ask God what He wants you to do next. Throughout the Bible, the desert or wilderness is a place God called people to test them and prepare them for the next journey. The House of Israel needed to go through the wilderness before they could enter the Promised Land. Even our Saviour was called into the desert for 40 days before beginning ministry. Embrace the season, enter into prayer and ask God what He wants to do next – it’s the perfect time to plan something new.

3. Celebrate Your Family
Good government begins with the family, and the family is still the most important building block of a thriving nation. From the teaching that a husband and wife represent Jesus and the church (Ephesians 5:25) to the command to ‘Honour thy father and mother’ (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:2), the family is central in God’s plan for order. Our families all have issues (we are human) but find the good stuff to share and SAY IT LOUD. If you don’t have a biological mom, dad, brother or sister to celebrate, find a spiritual brother or sister in the church to share with.

4. Celebrate Your City
Jeremiah 29:11 is a popular verse to memorize as an affirmation of God’s favour in our lives. However, all of chapter 29 is good instruction for us to be good citizens wherever God puts us. Jeremiah 29:7 says, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Celebrate good things about Mississauga (or the city where you live). Find a way to make it a better place. Plant community gardens. Reach out to neighbours. Invite them to your porch or table. Commit yourself to being present and busting the cultural idol of productivity. Be the representative of Jesus to the people around you.

5. Celebrate Your Country

Go ahead. Maybe there are some scary things but celebrate the good. Join the parade and light those fireworks. Make food and invite the neighbours. Again, Romans 13 reminds us that God is still in control and appoints our authorities. Live for Christ and pray for our leaders.

Personally, I want to celebrate the church across Canada this year. There are cool things happening on the frontiers with church plants (our own Arabic group included). There are new expressions of art and music that are coming forward. Below are two playlists of music from Canadian worship leaders and churches. For me, these serve as a celebration and an extended prayer for the church in Canada. I hope they bless you.


Happy Canada Day City Centre!
Paul Alli
(Director of Ministry Development)