~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Joshua 5:1-7:15 ~ Luke 15:1-32
Psalm 81:1-16 ~ Proverbs 13:1
Old Testament - Fascinating! verses today in Joshua chapter 5 verses 13 - 15 - "As Joshua approached the city of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man facing him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you friend or foe?" "Neither one," he replied. "I am commander of the LORD's army." At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. "I am at your command," Joshua said. "What do you want your servant to do?" The commander of the LORD's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for this is holy ground." And Joshua did as he was told." Tyndale's One Year Bible Companion says this about these verses - "The captain of the host was no mere angel. His presence was an appearance of Christ in person. Joshua worshipped the captain; his worship was accepted and he was neither rebuked nor instructed otherwise." Whaddya think? Was this Jesus in these verses?? Bible.org's commentary on "The Captain of the Lord's Army" is at this link.
In Joshua chapter 6 we read about the fall of Jericho to the Israelites - but... things take a turn for the worse in chapter 7 with the defeat at the city of Ai. It is interesting to note why the defeat happened in Ai, in verse 1 - "But Israel was unfaithful concerning the things set apart for the LORD." Think about it. Israel just had a great victory at Jericho and then they were unfaithful toward God. I wonder if perhaps we are like this in our lives today as well? Maybe something amazing happens in our life, and we get so swept up in the victory dance that we forget about God. And yet... it is God who gave us that victory. It is God who gives us every good thing we have in our lives. Are we being unfaithful in our lives concerning things set apart for God? One area of my life where I know I have been unfaithful in the past concerning things set apart for God is tithing. I have withheld from God 10% of the 100% of the salary that comes my way thanks to God. God blesses me with an incredible job and really a good salary, all things considered. And I want to keep almost all of it. Maybe I'd give a few dollars to God. But 10%? No way! That's mine! Or... is it really? Should 10% of my income perhaps be set apart for God? I had a friend challenge me in a very graceful way about tithing 10%, and I greatly appreciate it. And Donald Miller's book Blue Like Jazz has a wonderful chapter on how he finally learned to be obedient and tithe... I guess I say all this to encourage you to consider are there any areas of your life where you might be unfaithful concerning things set apart for God? (It might not be the tithe - it might be your time - or your attention - or this list could go on.) FYI that Blue Like Jazz is a great book overall if you haven't read it yet. I've given away a ton of copies of this book to friends of mine who are seeking, and it has been very helpful to them... Consider reading this and passing it along to your seeker friends. Has anyone else read this book? Reviews?
Below is an image for verses 2 & 3 as Joshua sends out some men to spy on Ai, before the defeat - "Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the city of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. When they returned, they told Joshua, "It's a small town, and it won't take more than two or three thousand of us to destroy it. There's no need for all of us to go there.""
New Testament - Beautiful verses today in Luke chapter 15 verses 8 through 10 - ""Or suppose a woman has ten valuable silver coins and loses one. Won't she light a lamp and look in every corner of the house and sweep every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has found her lost coin. In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God's angels when even one sinner repents."" Do you believe that there was joy in the presence of God's angels when you repented? Or... when you will repent? That is a beautiful thought...
More beautiful verses today (22-24) as we read through the famous Prodigal Son story - ""But his father said to the servants, `Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began."
Bible.org's commentary on our Luke chapter 15 readings today titled "Lost and Found" is at this link.
Psalms - I always like reading verses like 1 & 2 in Psalm 81 today - verses that speak of music & God - "Sing praises to God, our strength. Sing to the God of Israel. Sing! Beat the tambourine. Play the sweet lyre and the harp." Do you sing praises to God? Is God your strength? I'll go off on a tangent here, which is always a risky thing to do... :) I'll admit that I am a music junkie. Really. I have loved music immensely ever since I was a pre-teen and heard K-TEL's Hit Explosion with such fine songs as Laura Branigan's "Gloria" and Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." :) Well, ever since then music has played an interesting role in my life - both positive and negative. Bottom line is that I think God used music to bring me to Him. Six years ago I ended up at a rock & roll postmodern evangelical church where I really first heard songs about Jesus in a rock song! It was a paradigm shifter for me... I ended up accepting Jesus as my Lord & Savior at that church two months later - thanks in large part to an amazing pastor there at the time and thanks in large part to the rock & roll worship. Since then I've actually landed in a more traditional liturgical church with hymns and mellow music. But, I still love any opportunity I can get to flat out worship God in a rock & roll worship way! :) I do realize the risks of high energy rock music... it can propel people to do very dumb things. But I think it can also propel people toward Jesus. Maybe music is like anything else - it's a double edged sword. I will share with you that a buddy of mine shared with me how he threw out every single one of his worldly / secular CD's after becoming a Christian. He said he didn't want to be fed by that garbage anymore. I tried following his lead on this - and actually threw a few CD's in the trash... but I pulled them out before taking them to the dumpster. :) I'm starting to think though that I have a few CD's that need to get to that dumpster here sooner rather than later... I don't listen to them. But why keep them around at all? Hope you don't mind this long tangent. Does anyone else have any music / God experiences that you would be up for sharing with us all? Please post up in the Comments section below! (And please forgive me for this image below... I couldn't resist... :)
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 13 verse 1 may at first glance seem to be speaking about young children - but... I believe it can definitely speak to how we also should respond to God, our heavenly Father - "A wise child accepts a parent's discipline; a young mocker refuses to listen." Are you a wise child of God accepting His discipline in your life?
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!