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)

Read more about Marks of Leadership — Selflessness
Tests of leadership are almost always connected to selflessness.

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Light for the Next Step

Psalm 119.105
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.

Reflection: Light for the Next Step
By John Tillman

I’ve found the promises of light bulb companies to be some of the most blatant marketing falsehoods I’ve ever experienced.

In the past nine years living in the same house, I’ve replaced multiple CFL bulbs that claimed they would last over 10 years. Then I replaced those with LEDs claiming to last 13. Recently, I’ve replaced those with, slightly more honest LED bulbs that only claim to last 9 years. The truth will come out—or burn out, in this case.

The ease with which we access artificial light in our modern world makes it difficult for us to understand the world in which this Psalm was written. A lamp for our feet seems redundant when every space is illuminated. We will feel cheated by this verse if we mistake the light it promises for a prophetic career map.

According to the psalmist, God’s word isn’t a spotlight for our ego-centric quest. It isn’t automobile high beams enabling us to speed through the dark toward the future. God’s word, most of the time, provides one-step-at-a-time light. A lamp for our feet forces us to engage with where we are, not look only at distant destinations.

Serving in India, Amy Carmichael wrote about her experience of learning about this popular verse in a very practical way.

“Once when I was climbing at night in the forest before there was a made path, I learned what the word meant, Psalm 119.105: ‘They word is a lantern to my path’. I had a lantern and had to hold it very low or I should certainly have slipped on those rough rocks. We don’t walk spiritually by electric light but by a hand lantern. And a lantern only shows the next step—not several ahead.

All the lights we trust in other than God’s Word, will one day fail.
The brightest lights we know and can design can’t show us what God’s Word can.
God’s Word is the light we need for everyday living.

Walking daily in this Word, meditating on it, breathing it in and out, making it a part of our thoughts and our prayers, charges an inner light of the Holy Spirit that we can trust to give us the next step. Carmichael explains:
“If the next step is clear, then the one thing to do is to take it. Don’t pledge your Lord or yourself about the steps beyond. You don’t see them yet.”

Daily spiritual disciplines keep oil in your lamp so that you may follow the steps of the bridegroom when he calls.

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, the son of man you have made so strong for yourself.
And so will we never turn away from you; give us life, that we may call upon your name.
Restore us, O Lord God of Hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved. — Psalm 80.16-19

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 31 (Listen – 4:57)
Psalm 119:97-120 (Listen – 15:14) 

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Read More about The Good of Christ
Remember the parable of the foolish virgins: they were not harlots or profane, but “virgins.” They were not persecutors, blasphemers, or malicious, but “foolish”—supine, careless, negligent: they had lamps in their hands, but no oil in their hearts.

Read more about In the Wealth of a Dying World
The ineffable source from which this lamp borrows its light is the Light which shines in darkness, but the darkness cannot comprehend it.