Here are the Scripture passages for the day: (My comments were added a day late…see the last paragraph for an explanation!)
Verses 6:2-5: “But the Lord said to Joshua, ‘I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the ram’s horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” (emphasis added.)
GUYS! How amazing is this passage? Okay, I’ll admit that God’s command to Joshua and the Israelites seemed pretty ridiculous. BUT look at the words I bolded: “have given.” God told Joshua that Jericho was his before they even conquered it. This passage is such a great reminder that God’s plans for us cannot be thwarted as long as we are seeking and obeying Him. Joshua could have laughed at God and simply tried to attach Jericho in a normal way (with weapons and blood and gore,) but then they may not have conquered Jericho. Jericho belonged to the Israelites…they simply had to obey God. Spoiler Alert! The Israelites DID obey God, and conquered Jericho.
Verse 15:3-7: “So Jesus told them this story:’If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”
Okay, we could debate whether this passage is talking about Christians who have fallen away, or simply people who have never made the choice to follow Jesus in the first place, but we’re not going to. To be honest, I don’t know if it really matters. We were all made for eternity in Heaven…whether or not we spend eternity with God is just a matter of whether or not we choose to follow Jesus. We’re all sheep. We have all been/will be like lost sheep, whether we have chosen to follow Christ and have fallen away, or have never made that decision at all. I think it’s so amazing that Jesus doesn’t wait for us to find our way back to Him. He loves us so much that He seeks us out. Ultimately, choosing to follow Christ is our decision. But God woos us to Himself, giving us chance after chance to choose Him. And when we fall away, (as many of us often do,) He comes after us – wooing us, leading us, encouraging us – until we are at last finally back with the rest of the flock. How amazing is it to realize just how much God loves us?!
Verses 81:5b-7: “I heard an unknown voice say, ‘Now I will take the load from your shoulders; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks. You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thundercloud and tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah.”
I know it’s important to read Bible verses in context (if my Bible and religion courses have taught me anything about Biblical exegesis, it’s that!) However, sometimes I like to pull verses out to meditate on, after I already know their context. This is one of them. I believe the Bible is the living Word. If it wasn’t, then words that were written thousands of years ago would be completely irrelevant today. If it wasn’t, then I couldn’t read the same passage time and time again, and still have God speak to me through it in new ways. While this Psalm was written to a specific people at a specific time, God can still use it to teach us! I don’t need to understand or even know the full context (historical/cultural/literary) of this passage to be comforted by these words. I know from reading other sections of Scripture that God is willing to take our burdens, to be our comfort and our refuge, to support us and carry us, and to protect us in times of trouble. This passage is just one more reminder of this amazing truth.
“A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.”
How often do we choose to do things our own way, ignoring the correction of our teachers, our mentors, our parents, our friends, and our pastors? Sometimes we even know that their instructions will give us the best outcome, and we ignore their advice anyway! I know I’m definitely guilty of this. Sometimes I’d rather be “right” than accept correction. Pride can get in the way of a lot… If we forget about pride and simply accept the instructions and advice of those wiser than us, (including God!) things are more likely to turn out well.
(What I wrote last night before I finished reading these passages of Scripture: I’m in the process of reading right now. I’m exhausted and don’t feel very well, so I will be posting my comments on the readings tomorrow. (If I posted them now, it would probably all be jibberish because my mind isn’t as sharp when I’m tired. :P) I know, I know! I should have read earlier. However, I drove back from Rochester tonight and about 20 or 30 minutes into the trip, I turned off my music and simply talked to God. So, even though I didn’t prioritize reading the Bible today as I should have, I did spend time with God, and it was awesome! We talked about a lot of things and I felt Him guiding my prayers and kind of revealing Himself to me as I was speaking to Him, which was really cool. I also prayed that He would help me stay awake and alert. :P