Melted Hearts

Scripture Focus: Joshua 2.8-11
8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

Reflection: Melted Hearts
By Zachary Adams

As the people of God await news at the edge of the promised land, two spies take shelter in the home of a Canaanite woman. From the lips of Rahab, the two men find that God’s reputation has gone before them into the land of Canaan. She tells the men, “I know that the Lord has given you this land” (Joshua 2.9).

Rahab’s confidence is a response to the news of what God had done for Israel. God turned the mysterious depths of a sea into a dry pathway to safety. God liberated the people from their burden of slavery. God brought victory to Israel against wicked and powerful kings. This news of liberation reached the people in Canaan and triggered a response of fear. Why? They knew the mighty God who led these people was not their god.

This is an appropriate response. News of God’s liberating movement causes those in the darkness to tremble with fear. The light of redemption exposes that they are opposed to God and his people. How will they realize that this redemption is extended even to them?

Melting in fear is only one response to the movement of God. Rahab’s response shows she understands that redemption is not just for the Israelite, but for anyone who aligns themselves with the God of Israel. She does this as she hides the spies on her roof and helps them escape to safety. Rahab’s faith aligns her with the God of freedom and saves her entire family.

In an age when we do not see the Lord parting seas, what news is there of God?

We often hear news of moral failures in the church, but this isn’t the only news to be told. There are many stories that provide powerful proof of God’s continuing movement in our world today. God powerfully opens up the heart of the loveless. God wins over those opposed to him and makes them friends of God. Those held captive by sin find freedom by surrendering to his advance. This is my story. New life comes to even the most wicked of hearts through faith in the Son of God.

Rahab reminds us that God is mighty and he works through our stories. What is your story? What stories of new life will you tell? Tell stories of God’s movement today that will make the darkness melt away in fear.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us saying: “For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be judged; but whoever does not believe is judged already, because that person does not believe in the name of God’s only Son. And the judgment is this: though the light has come into the world people have preferred darkness to light because their deeds are evil.” — John 3.17-19

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Joshua 2 (Listen 3:49)
Romans 15 (Listen  3:28)

Today’s Readings
Joshua 3 (Listen 2:45Romans 16 (Listen  3:30)
Joshua 4 (Listen 3:31Colossians 1 (Listen  4:18)

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Scripture Focus: Joshua 1.7-8
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Reflection: Success 
By Kelsey Hope Stookey

We all have an idea of what success looks like. Maybe for some, it is a promotion, a new car, or thousands of followers on our social media platform. But what if these forms of success do not happen? Does that mean that we are not successful?

Here, Joshua is called to lead God’s people as Moses’ successor. During his ministry, Moses led the nation of Israel and achieved what most would call a successful life and ministry. Moses was not perfect. But even today, he stands as an icon of a successful leader. After Moses’ death Joshua was called to lead. Joshua’s idea of success was almost certainly colored by the life and ministry of his predecessor. Here in verses 7 and 8, God reminds Joshua of how true success is attained. Who defines success and how do we achieve it? God is the one who shapes our vision of success and it hinges upon a relationship with him.

Success is not obtained by replicating the ministry of others. Instead, it is achieved by being faithful to obey God’s Word. When the Old Testament uses this Hebrew word for success which is transliterated as sakal, there is a common theme. A common Hebrew interpretation is to be prosperous or triumphant. Success though is not obtained by a person, but provided by the Lord.

Joshua is not given a list of people to compare his life to measure his success. God did not tell Joshua specifically how he would succeed. He also doesn’t promise Joshua social standing or a military conquest. Instead, he calls him to remember the words of the Lord, to meditate on them, and to be careful to obey. Then, he was promised success and prosperity on God’s terms.

Success in God’s eyes often looks different then how we would picture it. God’s definition of success for our life may not look like a promotion or a new car. It may look like being faithful in the same job for a long period of time because God has us there to minister to others. As we meditate on his word, success changes from the next big thing to daily obedience. No matter what our current situation is, let God define a successful life and not allow others to determine it for us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
The Lord is King; let the people tremble; he is enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth shake. — Psalm 99.1

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Joshua 1 (Listen 3:11)
Romans 14 (Listen  3:28)

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God’s Work Across Generations

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 34.4-12
4 Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” 5 And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over. 9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

Reflection: God’s Work Across Generations
By Makayla Payne

The beauty and wonder of Moses’ ministry were real. God used him to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and to cross the Reed Sea on dry ground. He brought God’s people the Ten Commandments and spoke with God face to face. (Deuteronomy 34.10) God even tenderly buried him in a place only he knew. This passage acknowledges the significance of his life in advancing God’s plan. Moses’ ministry is worth remembering, and the end of his life is worth grieving.

The final chapters of Deuteronomy make clear that Moses’ absence didn’t mean God was absent. Just a few pages prior, God promised to always be with his people. (Deuteronomy 31.6) This is God’s mission, not Moses’. God was always the source of Moses’ ministry, from beginning to end. God’s work is never dependent on any one person.

Chapter 34 brings Deuteronomy, the Torah, and the life of Moses to a close, Walter Brueggeman notes. As Moses looks out at the Promised Land, his assignment is now complete. God is the one who will lead his people into it, just as he was the ultimate one who delivered them from slavery and sustained them in the wilderness. 

Even as this passage hones in on the specifics of Moses’ ministry, it also zooms out to remind us of God’s sweeping plan. This land was promised before Moses even came into the picture. (Deuteronomy 34.4) The story began with Abraham and Sarah. It moved on to Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. On and on it went, as the genealogies remind us. The Israelites would now see God continue his work under Joshua’s leadership. 

As we consider our own lives, the grief we feel after a good leader dies is honorable and even necessary. Yet, that grief need not turn into hopelessness. The miraculous rescue of baby Moses from the Nile shows how eager God is to raise up leaders of integrity and justice.

God is always at work in the next generation. His plan spans across transitions, leaders, cultures, and times.

Thank you, Father, Son, and Spirit, for the faithful lives of good leaders who’ve gone before us. Give us grace and strength to live well in the particular time and place you’ve called us, as Moses did. Give us courage to persevere amidst grief as Joshua did, for it’s the same Spirit who lives in us today. Amen.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The Lord has sworn an oath to David; in truth, he will not break it:
“A son, the fruit of your body will I set upon your throne.” — Psalm 132.11-12

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 33-34 (Listen6:35)
Romans 13 (Listen 2:35)

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When the Day Turns Dark

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 32.17-18
17 They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God—
    gods they had not known,
    gods that recently appeared,
    gods your ancestors did not fear.
18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you;
    you forgot the God who gave you birth.

Deuteronomy 32.39
39 See now that I myself am he!
    There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
    I have wounded and I will heal,
    and no one can deliver out of my hand.

Romans 3.25-26
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Reflection: When the Day Turns Dark
By Anna Beth Vollema 

Come, let us contest child, 
    if you will not leave me again.
If you will not bend
    to the whisper of the air; 
Soft and Sweet,
    easy and enticing,
    everything you asked for;
When you spoke out of the night,  
    out of desperation and impatience, 
    out of fear and forgetfulness;
You’ll want it all,
    and you’ll want it quickly.
Like a junkie wanting his next fix, 
    you’ll strip your gold bangles,
    you’ll pull out your hairs,
    you’ll throw in your shambles,
    you’ll give up your years,
To an idol of your own making; 
    a statue in your own image; 
    a chasing after the wind. 

Tremble my child, and quake.   
 For I AM he; 
    there is no god besides Me!
My presence is life; 
    My absence is death.
The justice you long for is the crown of my head;
    the chaos of the world is reigned by my ropes;
    and the floodgates of my wrath will clear all the wrongs. 
So, bask in the light of my face, oh child; 
    shelter in the rays of my eyes
For I see what you need,
    and I see who you’ll be.
So, be with me.
Or I’ll have to let you go;
    go stumbling after the wind;
    go traipsing into the floodwaters, 
    so that you taste darkness again. 
The darkness of my absence; 
    My face turned away. 
You’ll bear the burden, 
    I bear for you every day. 
You’ll bear the sadness, 
    of remembering what once was; 
The sweetness of the food,
    in the house of your First Love. 
I’ll let you bear this burden
    so that you remember again, 
       who I AM; 
       who I’ve been; 
       the redemption, 
       in my hands. 

Rest my child, be still. 
For I AM He;
    there is no contest,
    there is no god besides Me!
By my life there is Truth; 
    by my death, there is life. 
Justice was quenched by my time on the tree, 
    the chaos of the world will end by my love, 
And from the floodgates of my wrath, 
    you will be protected. 
So, bask in the light of this lamb, oh child; 
    shelter in these lion eyes. 
By wrath and mercy intertwined,
     my love, unified; 
To set you free
    free to run back to Me; 
    free to skip like a child,
    on a holiday at the sea. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Search for the Lord and his strength; continually seek his face. — Psalm 105.4

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings

Deuteronomy 32 (Listen7:10)
Romans 12 (Listen 2:58)

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Facing “No”

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 31.7-8
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 
8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Reflection: Facing “No”
By Carina Bruno

I’m a stubborn person who’s determined to complete any given task. This trait plays out in my faith because I always want to be physically doing something for God. I want to play a role in carrying out His will. I often wait for the next “big task” he will give me. I want to complete the entire thing all on my own.

Moses was given a sizable task to complete. He was instructed to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. After partially completing his work, Moses’ plan came to a halt when God told him the work would be fulfilled through someone else. The task would be passed on to Joshua. 

One of the most difficult, universal human experiences is facing the word “no” from someone in authority. It affects us strongly because we must surrender our original plans to new plans. We tend to think that our loss generates another’s gain, and our selfish hearts struggle to let go.

Moses, however, doesn’t react in a way that is jealous or demeaning. He does the opposite. He encourages Joshua to valiantly complete the work of the Lord. He reminds Joshua that the Lord “goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Dt. 31.8) This verse reveals Moses’ conviction to humbly encourage others to do work he cannot do himself. Reading this verse, we should be strengthened to do the same.

Perhaps someone surpassed you in a competition, or a coworker has been assigned to finish your task. Perhaps God has changed your circumstances, or has called you to a different church.

Whatever the reason, God is using others to bring his will to fruition. We ought to encourage those people to be courageous in their work, because God does not abandon his people (Isaiah 41.10).

God did not abandon Joshua as he finished leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. God also did not abandon Moses, when his portion of the task was complete. God will not abandon you in a season of newness, and he certainly will not abandon you after a season is complete.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
All your works praise you, O Lord, and your faithful servants bless you.
They make known the glory of your kingdom and speak of your power;
That the peoples may know of your power and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. — Psalm 145.10-12

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 31 (Listen4:57)
Romans 11 (Listen 5:23)

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