Joshua 3:1-4:24:16 ~ Luke 14:7-35 ~ Psalm 80:1-19 ~ Proverbs 12:27-28
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Old Testament - Today is a major day in our readings as the Israelites cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land! The significance of the events in today's readings cannot be overstated. The Israelites 40 years in the Wilderness are over. God's Promise made to Abraham is being fulfilled!
I am intrigued by verse 5 in Joshua chapter 3 today as the Israelites are about to cross the Jordan - "Then Joshua told the people, "Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you."" I'm wondering what the Israelites did to purify themselves? Some sort of ritual purification I'd guess - likely similar to the purification before meeting God at Mount Sinai, which included washing all their garments as well as themselves. I also wonder what we do in our lives today to purify ourselves? The first thought comes to mind that we are of course purified today completely by the blood of Christ. But, then, I also know that once we have made the decision to follow Christ we will still sin on occasion. And then, is purification needed? Not from a salvation standpoint - but from simply having a pure heart before God? I'm thinking that our purification today is confessing directly to God our sins and repenting. And I think through this process God's grace arrives in a nanosecond and purifies us. I think we're purified by God's grace today. But, I think in part we need to recognize our own need for purification and confess to God our shortcomings and repent. Let me know what you think on this in the Comments below if you'd like. Again, I'm not looking at this from a salvation / justification perspective - more of the sanctification perspective. I like the thought of purification - of being pure before God. I pray for this for each of us. No dark corners. No secrets. Just a pure heart before our heavenly Father.
A watercolor painting is below for verses 16 & 17 - "Then all the people crossed over near the city of Jericho. Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD's covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by them. They waited there until everyone had crossed the Jordan on dry ground."
Bible.org's commentary on Joshua's readings today titled "Crossing the Jordan" is at this link.
New Testament - Wow. Jesus' teachings in Luke chapter 14 verses 12 through 14 are so powerful - ""When you put on a luncheon or a dinner," he said, "don't invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will repay you by inviting you back. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the godly, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you."" How often do we do something for others - in hopes of getting something back in return? Maybe it's simply praise? Or maybe it's indeed an invite to something else in the future? Kind of the whole idea of "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine." Jesus tells us there is another way - care for others that cannot repay you. Because God will repay you. And who would you rather receive repayment from for your good deeds - humans or God? Do you think that caring for the poor is giving to God? Will you give to God?
Today in Luke chapter 14 verse 27 we read – "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." I don’t know about you, but I’m not so good at carrying “crosses.” I’m not so good at taking on perceived burdens. I’m not so good at suffering at all. I like to get my way. I often feel entitled to get a lot of good stuff in my life. . . And yet. . . Jesus says if I am to be his disciple I must carry my cross. And I must follow him. I think sometimes in our culture we want to keep up with our neighbors – be hip; be cool; be relevant; know the latest styles; wear the latest fashions; and this list can go on. Jesus tells us to carry our cross. And truly, this is the eternally hippest / coolest / most relevant decision any one of us can make – to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Nothing else matters.
Psalms - Psalm 80 verse 19 today is powerful - "Turn us again to yourself, O LORD God Almighty. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved." I like that opening - "turn us again to you God." I don't believe that God turns himself away from us - but that we do indeed turn ourselves away from God. And like the Psalmist, maybe sometimes we literally need to pray that God will turn us back toward him. I kind of come up with the imagery of us maybe sometimes being like pouty kids with our arms folded and our backs toward God - and God is looking at us lovingly - all we simply need to do is turn our face toward God and his grace will heal that pout and whatever is troubling us immediately... If you need to, will you turn yourself again toward God?
Proverbs - Today in Proverbs chapter 12 verse 28 we read - "In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality." What is the way of righteousness? How does one find the way of righteousness? How does one share with others the way of righteousness? Do you believe there is immortality along the way of righteousness?
Worship God: The Israelites crossing the Jordan River in our readings in Joshua today reminded me of the beautiful song by Vusi Mahlasela called "River Jordan:"
Have you crossed the River Jordan? Click here for your crossing!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture this week: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 NIV
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: Based on our Luke 14:27 readings today about carrying our cross, how about you? Are you a disciple of Jesus carrying your cross? Do you know what your cross is? Do you want to know? Are you following Him? Are you letting worldly and pop-cultural cares fall to wayside of your life as you walk along the true path of following Jesus? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!