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)

Read more about A Better Joshua
When changing leaders there is sometimes the fear that the new leader will not live up to the last one.

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A Better Joshua

Scripture Focus: Joshua 1.2-3
2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.

Reflection: A Better Joshua
By John Tillman

Human leadership is flawed and highly variable. Even poor leaders occasionally do something positive. Even great leaders fail in some ways. When changing leaders there is sometimes the fear that the new leader will not live up to the last one and sometimes the hope that someone better is now taking charge.

If Meribah had gone differently, Israel may not even have experienced the change of leadership described in the first chapter of Joshua. It is only due to his own frailty that Moses is excluded from the promised land and Joshua is promoted.

Moses was the human liberator of the people of Israel. He set them free from slavery. He led them into an unknown future with a promise of finding peace.

Joshua was the one tasked to fulfill that promise. Moses had established the spiritual identity of Israel. Joshua was to establish the territory of Israel, giving them geographical, agricultural, and political identity. 

Just as God worked through the flawed human leader, Moses, he promised to work through the flawed human leader, Joshua. Human leaders are sent from and responsible to God, however, we have a better leader in which to hope. Jesus, who’s name is a shortened form of Joshua’s name, is greater than Joshua or Moses. 

Jesus is a greater liberator. He liberated us not from a political power but from the spiritual power of sin. Jesus is a greater lawgiver, for his commandment to us is to love one another and his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Jesus is a greater savior. He saved us not from temporal dangers but eternal dangers. He saved us not merely from armies, snakes, poison, or thirst, which might kill our physical bodies but from our own rebellion, venomous lies, and sins that kill our souls. He satisfies us not with water flowing from a rock but with living water flowing from our renewed hearts.

Jesus is a greater leader. In our lives, his presence is reliable, empowering, encouraging, and patient. When we walk with Jesus, everywhere we set our foot belongs to God. In every place we go and in every role we fill, we press God’s impression into the clay of this world. 

We pray for the courage, not only to ask that his will may be done on Earth, but that we may set out to walk in it.

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

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Joshua 1 (Listen – 3:11)
Psalm 120-122 (Listen – 2:12)

Read more about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time for us to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 through July 2021) that have challenged and comforted you and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Read more about Over Jordan
In the story of the transition from Moses to Joshua, from Elijah to Elisha, and from John the Baptist to Jesus, the Jordan symbolizes a change in leadership.

The Garden of Psalm 119

Psalm 119.174-176
I long for your salvation, Lord,
    and your law gives me delight.
Let me live that I may praise you,
    and may your laws sustain me.
I have strayed like a lost sheep.
    Seek your servant,
    for I have not forgotten your commands.

Reflection: The Garden of Psalm 119
By John Tillman

We finish Psalm 119 today and reflect on it with some words from Charles Spurgeon: 

“Those who have studied this divine hymn, and carefully noted each line of it, are amazed at the variety and profundity of the thought…The more you look into this mirror of a gracious heart the more you will see in it.”

Spurgeon is convinced that David wrote the Psalm and if not he, then some other writer who spent long years in its work and created it not over a short span, but through a lifetime of faithfulness.

“There is evident growth in the subject matter. The earlier verses are of such a character as to lend themselves to the hypothesis that the author was a young man, while many of the later passages could only have suggested themselves to age and wisdom.”

In the end, rather than rising in acclaim or celebration, the aged wisdom of the psalmist leads him to a humble and prostrate stance.

“The psalmist is approaching the end of the Psalm…he seems to break into the inner circle of divine fellowship, and to come even to the feet of the great God whose help he is imploring. This nearness creates the most lowly view of himself, and leads him to close the Psalm upon his face in deepest self-humiliation, begging to be sought out like a lost sheep…It is a very sweet thing to a suppliant when he knows of a surety that his prayer has obtained audience. It is to Jehovah that this prayer is expressed with trembling earnestness…we crave audience of none else, for we have confidence in none beside.”

Meditating on Psalm 119 daily has been a common spiritual practice over the centuries and many have reported its wealth of spiritual benefit.

“This sacred ode is a little Bible, the Scriptures condensed, a mass of Bibline, holy writ rewritten in holy emotions and actions. This Psalm, like the whole Scripture which it praises, is a pearl island, or, better still, a garden of sweet flowers.”

It is our hope in each cycle of our two-year-long tread through the garden of scripture to produce not pride, but humility. Not judgmental attitudes, but merciful gratitude. Not clamoring commands for others, but tender notes of correction in our own hearts.

*Quotations abridged from “A Treasury of David,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, and the oppressed who has no helper.
He shall have pity on the lowly and the poor; he shall preserve the lives of the needy.
He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, and dear shall their blood be in his sight. — Psalm 72.12-14

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 33-34 (Listen – 6:35)
Psalm 119:145-176 (Listen – 15:14) 

This Weekend’s Readings
Joshua 1 (Listen – 3:11), Psalm 120-122 (Listen – 2:12) 
Joshua 2 (Listen – 3:49), Psalm 123-125 (Listen – 1:52) 

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Read more about Quotations from the Desert
Connecting to God’s Word and relying on it for our sustenance, for our source of life, is a consistent theme of scripture and the purpose of spiritual disciplines.

Read more about Setting Aside the Scriptures
The reason that we cannot set aside the Scriptures that we don’t like, is that Scripture must be considered holistically. Each part is bound up with the others for a purpose.