Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September 1, Wednesday Devotion

September 1, Wednesday Devotion
Joshua 8:1-29
1 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land. 2 You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its king. But this time you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the town.”

3 So Joshua and all the fighting men set out to attack Ai. Joshua chose 30,000 of his best warriors and sent them out at night 4 with these orders: “Hide in ambush close behind the town and be ready for action. 5 When our main army attacks, the men of Ai will come out to fight as they did before, and we will run away from them. 6 We will let them chase us until we have drawn them away from the town. For they will say, ‘The Israelites are running away from us as they did before.’ Then, while we are running from them, 7 you will jump up from your ambush and take possession of the town, for the Lord your God will give it to you. 8 Set the town on fire, as the Lord has commanded. You have your orders.”

9 So they left and went to the place of ambush between Bethel and the west side of Ai. But Joshua remained among the people in the camp that night. 10 Early the next morning Joshua roused his men and started toward Ai, accompanied by the elders of Israel. 11 All the fighting men who were with Joshua marched in front of the town and camped on the north side of Ai, with a valley between them and the town. 12 That night Joshua sent 5,000 men to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the town. 13 So they stationed the main army north of the town and the ambush west of the town. Joshua himself spent that night in the valley.

14 When the king of Ai saw the Israelites across the valley, he and all his army hurried out early in the morning and attacked the Israelites at a place overlooking the Jordan Valley. But he didn’t realize there was an ambush behind the town. 15 Joshua and the Israelite army fled toward the wilderness as though they were badly beaten. 16 Then all the men in the town were called out to chase after them. In this way, they were lured away from the town. 17 There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not chase after the Israelites, and the town was left wide open.

18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Point the spear in your hand toward Ai, for I will hand the town over to you.” Joshua did as he was commanded. 19 As soon as Joshua gave this signal, all the men in ambush jumped up from their position and poured into the town. They quickly captured it and set it on fire.

20 When the men of Ai looked behind them, smoke from the town was filling the sky, and they had nowhere to go. For the Israelites who had fled in the direction of the wilderness now turned on their pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all the other Israelites saw that the ambush had succeeded and that smoke was rising from the town, they turned and attacked the men of Ai. 22 Meanwhile, the Israelites who were inside the town came out and attacked the enemy from the rear. So the men of Ai were caught in the middle, with Israelite fighters on both sides. Israel attacked them, and not a single person survived or escaped. 23 Only the king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua.

24 When the Israelite army finished chasing and killing all the men of Ai in the open fields, they went back and finished off everyone inside. 25 So the entire population of Ai, including men and women, was wiped out that day—12,000 in all. 26 For Joshua kept holding out his spear until everyone who had lived in Ai was completely destroyed. 27 Only the livestock and the treasures of the town were not destroyed, for the Israelites kept these as plunder for themselves, as the Lord had commanded Joshua. 28 So Joshua burned the town of Ai, and it became a permanent mound of ruins, desolate to this very day.

29 Joshua impaled the king of Ai on a sharpened pole and left him there until evening. At sunset the Israelites took down the body, as Joshua commanded, and threw it in front of the town gate. They piled a great heap of stones over him that can still be seen today.
Quick Notes/Questions
One thing I like about this story is that there is a combination between God's plan and our own planning that leads to the goal.  God gave us minds to think and understand and to carry out his plans.  Some people believe that we are to just check our brains at the door when it comes to God.  This is by no means the case.  How have you used your mind to complement God's plans?
Quick Prayer
God, may my mind be ready to carry out your plans..  Amen.

Monday, August 30, 2010

August 31, Tuesday Devotion

August 31, Tuesday Devotion
Joshua 7:16-26
16 Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Judah was singled out. 17 Then the clans of Judah came forward, and the clan of Zerah was singled out. Then the families of Zerah came forward, and the family of Zimri was singled out. 18 Every member of Zimri’s family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out.

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.”

20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. 21 Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.”

22 So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achanad said, with the silver buried beneath the rest. 23 They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the Lord.

24 Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. 25 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.” And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. 26 They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.

Quick Notes/Questions
Again, we see that even one dishonest person can cause great harm to a whole community.  So what do we do in our world where several people are dishonest?  Do we have any hope?  Christ gives us hope that truth will come out.
Quick Prayer
Jesus, may you see us free with the truth.  Amen.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 29, Sunday Devotion

August 29, Sunday Devotion
Joshua 7:1-15
1 But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.

2 Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. 3 When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”

4 So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai 5 chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.

6 Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening. 7 Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! 8 Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? 9 For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?”

10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. 12 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.

13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.

14 “In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the Lord will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the Lord will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the Lord will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one. 15 The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”

Quick Notes/Questions
What I really like about today and tomorrow's passages is that God is a communal God.  All of the community of faith are bound together in both honor and shame.  If one person is found honorable, the whole community benefits.  At the same time, if one person is found sinful, the whole community suffers.  What if the whole of Christianity rested on your honor and shame?  What would the world look like?  What if it was just your local church that rested on your faithfulness to God?
Quick Prayer
Almighty God, I praise you for not singling me out but loving me and everyone around me.   Amen.

Friday, August 27, 2010

August 28, Saturday Devotion

August 28, Saturday DevotionJoshua 6:1-27
1 Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. 2 But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. 3 You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. 4 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. 5 When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ 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.”

6 So Joshua called together the priests and said, “Take up the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, and assign seven priests to walk in front of it, each carrying a ram’s horn.” 7 Then he gave orders to the people: “March around the town, and the armed men will lead the way in front of the Ark of the Lord.”

8 After Joshua spoke to the people, the seven priests with the rams’ horns started marching in the presence of the Lord, blowing the horns as they marched. And the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant followed behind them. 9 Some of the armed men marched in front of the priests with the horns and some behind the Ark, with the priests continually blowing the horns. 10 “Do not shout; do not even talk,” Joshua commanded. “Not a single word from any of you until I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 11 So the Ark of the Lord was carried around the town once that day, and then everyone returned to spend the night in the camp.

12 Joshua got up early the next morning, and the priests again carried the Ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests with the rams’ horns marched in front of the Ark of the Lord, blowing their horns. Again the armed men marched both in front of the priests with the horns and behind the Ark of the Lord. All this time the priests were blowing their horns. 14 On the second day they again marched around the town once and returned to the camp. They followed this pattern for six days.

15 On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. 16 The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! 17 Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.

18 “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. 19 Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.”

20 When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. 21 They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys.

22 Meanwhile, Joshua said to the two spies, “Keep your promise. Go to the prostitute’s house and bring her out, along with all her family.”

23 The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel.

24 Then the Israelites burned the town and everything in it. Only the things made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were kept for the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.

26 At that time Joshua invoked this curse:

“May the curse of the Lord fall on anyone who tries to rebuild the town of Jericho. At the cost of his firstborn son, he will lay its foundation. At the cost of his youngest son, he will set up its gates.”

27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his reputation spread throughout the land.
Quick Notes/Questions
The story is one of the most popular among Christians.  Not a lot of deep spiritual insight today.  Basically, if the Israelites gave up before the seventh time on the seventh day this story would probably not be as popular.  All of our lives are faced with issues that can only be resolved with persistance.  What things do you need to be more persistant about?
Quick Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, your love has been persistant with me, continuing to mold and make me.  Thank you.  Amen.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26, Friday Devotion

August 26, Friday DevotionJoshua 5:13-15
13 When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”

14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”

At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”

15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told.
Quick Notes/Questions
Joshua's question is a bit funny.  Are those who serve the Lord our friends or our foes?  Sometimes I think we are more hostile to others who are honestly trying to serve God to the best of their ability than those who want nothing to do with furthering the Kingdom.  Who are your friends and foes?  Which ones seem to be serving the Lord?
Quick Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, may my focus not be on me but on you.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 25, Thursday Devotion

August 25, Thursday Devotion
Joshua 5:2-12

2 At that time the Lord told Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise this second generation of Israelites.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the entire male population of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.

4 Joshua had to circumcise them because all the men who were old enough to fight in battle when they left Egypt had died in the wilderness. 5 Those who left Egypt had all been circumcised, but none of those born after the Exodus, during the years in the wilderness, had been circumcised. 6 The Israelites had traveled in the wilderness for forty years until all the men who were old enough to fight in battle when they left Egypt had died. For they had disobeyed the Lord, and the Lord vowed he would not let them enter the land he had sworn to give us—a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 So Joshua circumcised their sons—those who had grown up to take their fathers’ places—for they had not been circumcised on the way to the Promised Land. 8 After all the males had been circumcised, they rested in the camp until they were healed.

9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day.

10 While the Israelites were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. 11 The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. 12 No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.

Quick Notes/Questions
Sometimes we need to make a radical break from our everyday routine.  It is not that our routine is necessarily bad, but we need to re-consecrate ourselves to God and our community.  What are some ways you can break your patterns of life?  Please do not try to circumcise yourself or anyone else as a break to your routine.

Quick Prayer
God, take my life and let it be consecrated to you.  Amen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

August 24, Tuesday Devotion

August 24, Tuesday Devotion
Joshua 4:1-5:1

1 When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. 3 Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”

4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. 5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”

8 So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there.

9 Joshua also set up another pile of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. And they are there to this day.

10 The priests who were carrying the Ark stood in the middle of the river until all of the Lord’s commands that Moses had given to Joshua were carried out. Meanwhile, the people hurried across the riverbed. 11 And when everyone was safely on the other side, the priests crossed over with the Ark of the Lord as the people watched.

12 The armed warriors from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh led the Israelites across the Jordan, just as Moses had directed. 13 These armed men—about 40,000 strong—were ready for battle, and the Lord was with them as they crossed over to the plains of Jericho.

14 That day the Lord made Joshua a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites, and for the rest of his life they revered him as much as they had revered Moses.

15 The Lord had said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to come up out of the riverbed.” 17 So Joshua gave the command. 18 As soon as the priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant came up out of the riverbed and their feet were on high ground, the water of the Jordan returned and overflowed its banks as before.

19 The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. Then they camped at Gilgal, just east of Jericho. 20 It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River.

21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24 He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”
5:1 When all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings who lived along the Mediterranean coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan River so the people of Israel could cross, they lost heart and were paralyzed with fear because of them.

Quick Notes/Questions
Remembering is very important in an age where reading and writing are absent.  Today, we have virtually everything at our fingertips with the internet and even before that with libraries.  But the time of Joshua, knowledge was passed down through stories.  The story of the twelve stones is an important marker for the people of Israel.  What are the stories you want people to tell about you?
Quick Prayer
Jesus, thank you for letting me be apart of your story.  May it continue to shape and form us.  Amen.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 23, Monday Devotion

August 23, Monday Devotion
Joshua 3:1-8
   1 Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia Grove and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing. 2 Three days later the Israelite officers went through the camp, 3 giving these instructions to the people: “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, move out from your positions and follow them. 4 Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.”

5 Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”

6 In the morning Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river.” And so they started out and went ahead of the people.

7 The Lord told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses. 8 Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’”

9 So Joshua told the Israelites, “Come and listen to what the Lord your God says. 10 Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you. 11 Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River! 12 Now choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 The priests will carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.”

14 So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. 15 It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, 16 the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.

17 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. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.
Quick Notes/Questions
Unless you come from a Roman Catholic or Orthodox tradition, it is very unlikely that you have learned true reverence for certain symbols.  For example, we might hold the sanctuary of our local church in a form of reverence as we should not run in there.  But we have no problem coming in talking about things that have nothing to do with God or church.  The Israelites have a great respect and reverence for the Ark of the Covenant. What things do you revere in your life?
Quick Prayer
Lord Almighty, may we not too quickly forget that your holiness can be frightful.  Amen.

August 22, Sunday Devotion

August 22, Sunday Devotion
Joshua 2:1-24
1 Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.

2 But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.”

4 Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. 5 They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” 6(Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) 7 So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.

8 Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. 9 “I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. 10 For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.

12 “Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that 13when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”

14 “We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the Lord gives us the land.”

15 Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window. 16 “Escape to the hill country,” she told them. “Hide there for three days from the men searching for you. Then, when they have returned, you can go on your way.”

17 Before they left, the men told her, “We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. 18 When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house. 19 If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death. 20 If you betray us, however, we are not bound by this oath in any way.”

21 “I accept your terms,” she replied. And she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope hanging from the window.

22 The spies went up into the hill country and stayed there three days. The men who were chasing them searched everywhere along the road, but they finally returned without success.

23 Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them.24 “The Lord has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.”

Quick Notes/Questions
Pretty cool passage (the Bible seems to be full of them, eh?).  Rahab is a prostitute who lies to her king about the people of Israel.  She is considered a hero of faith for her actions.  She also happens to be in Jesus' bloodlines.  I think this story is a great example of how your past means little if you change to follow God now.  Do you let your past hold you captive?
Quick Prayer
Almighty God, thank you for forgiving me my sins.  May I live as the forgiven and forgive others as well.  Amen.

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 21, Saturday Devotion

August 21, Saturday DevotionJoshua 1:10-18
10 Joshua then commanded the officers of Israel, 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

12 Then Joshua called together the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He told them, 13 “Remember what Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.’ 14 Your wives, children, and livestock may remain here in the land Moses assigned to you on the east side of the Jordan River. But your strong warriors, fully armed, must lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory. Stay with them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has given you rest, and until they, too, possess the land the Lord your God is giving them. Only then may you return and settle here on the east side of the Jordan River in the land that Moses, the servant of the Lord, assigned to you.”

16 They answered Joshua, “We will do whatever you command us, and we will go wherever you send us. 17 We will obey you just as we obeyed Moses. And may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Anyone who rebels against your orders and does not obey your words and everything you command will be put to death. So be strong and courageous!”
Quick Notes/Questions
Most of us have learned how to help others.  Unfortunately, we have a tendency to leave once we fulfill our want or need.  This passage encourages us to continue to help others get their 'dessert' even after we got ours.  We are more sojourners together.  How can you encourage others to keep moving forward even as they have received their 'dessert'?
Quick Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, my life is constantly moving past my goals and into your grace.  Thank you.  Amen.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 20, Friday Devotion

August 20, Friday DevotionJoshua 1:1-9
1 After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3 I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you—4 from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Quick Notes/Questions
Joshua was the first book of the Bible I fell in love.  The stories are fun and the battles exciting.  Joshua takes up the mantle that Moses left and God affirms over and over that he will be with Joshua and his people.  God sticks up for all of his if they are willing to follow and obey.  Do you find this encouraging?
Quick Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for your encouragement and giving me hope to carry on.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 17, Wednesday Devotion

August 17, Wednesday Devotion
Joel 3:18-21
18 In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. Water will fill the streambeds of Judah, and a fountain will burst forth from the Lord’s Temple, watering the arid valley of acacias. 19 But Egypt will become a wasteland and Edom will become a wilderness, because they attacked the people of Judah and killed innocent people in their land.

Quick Notes/Questions
Now that we know how things are going to turn out, but the question is, "Are we willing to wait until God is all in all?"  Are we willing to hold on for God?
Quick Prayer
God, give me the strength to wait for you.  Amen.

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 16, Tuesday Devotion

August 16, Tuesday Devotion
Joel 3:9-17

9 Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. 10 Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. 11 Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.”

And now, O Lord, call out your warriors!

12 “Let the nations be called to arms. Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I, the Lord, will sit to pronounce judgment on them all. 13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people.”

14 Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive. 15 The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will no longer shine. 16 The Lord’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel.
17 “Then you will know that I, the Lord your God, live in Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy forever, and foreign armies will never conquer her again.

Quick Notes/Questions
This passage seems to be a reverse from some of the other things we read about God and his peace.  The scripture clearly states here that God is calling for war.  But this war is not against just anyone.  It is a war against the build up of sin and wickedness of the people for years on end.  It is a war against the constant willful disobedience of people who are very aware of who God is yet still do evil.  How long does God wait before he declares war?  I do not know.  How long should we be willful in our disobedience?
Quick Prayer
Jesus, I wish to renounce all of the evil that overflows from me.  Fill me up with your Spirit that I might spill love and grace.  Amen.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 16, Monday Devotion

August 16, Monday Devotion
Joel 3:1-8
    1 “At the time of those events,” says the Lord, “when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land. 3 They threw dice to decide which of my people would be their slaves. They traded boys to obtain prostitutes and sold girls for enough wine to get drunk.
    4 “What do you have against me, Tyre and Sidon and you cities of Philistia? Are you trying to take revenge on me? If you are, then watch out! I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done. 5 You have taken my silver and gold and all my precious treasures, and have carried them off to your pagan temples. 6 You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, so they could take them far from their homeland.
    7 “But I will bring them back from all the places to which you sold them, and I will pay you back for everything you have done. 8 I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the people of Arabia, a nation far away. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Quick Notes/Questions
Sometimes, the most painful punishment one can have is to endure the consequences for our actions.  As a dad, it is less painful to remove Marideth from the possibility of making bad decisions than to let her not only have the option to make whatever decision, but also not to soften the blow if it happens to be the wrong one.  Ultimately, we sometimes only learn by enduring the consequences for our choices.  I think we see this in the passage above.  God does not appear to be happy that the humanity he created will suffer.  At the same time, we are held accountable for our actions.  Have you ever had to endure the consequences of making a bad decision?  What was that experience like?
Quick Prayer
Lord Almighty, thank you for your tremendous grace and mercy.  Let your Spirit completely indwell within me.  Amen.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 15, Sunday Devotion

August 15, Sunday Devotion
Joel 2:30-32
30 And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. 32 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the Lord has said. These will be among the survivors whom the Lord has called.Quick Notes/Questions
Today, we are going to delve a bit into theology.  Some people believe in universalism, the idea that everyone will go to heaven no matter what they do or believe.  The above passage seems to go against that it says that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Don't misunderstand this.  It requires both belief and action for salvation on our part.  God does not force us into heaven.  We have to accept his grace.  If we don't accept it, we don't get the same deal as those who do accept it.  The question is, are you going to call upon the name of the Lord?
Quick Prayer
Almighty God, I call on you because I need your salvation.  Let your grace surround me.  Amen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 14, Saturday Devotion

August 14, Saturday DevotionJoel 2:28-2928 “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. 29 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on servants—men and women alike.

Quick Notes/Questions
You may remember when we covered the book of Acts last year, these words popped up.  God's pouring out of his Spirit is a symbol that a new age is coming.  Notice v. 29 says that even the servants, even women, will be poured upon.  In a society where servants and women were considered the bottom of the totem pole, God considers them worthy to receive his Spirit.  Did you know you are worthy to receive God's Spirit?
Quick Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, may your Spirit overflow from me to all those around me.  Amen.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 12, Thursday Devotion

August 12, Thursday DevotionJoel 2:18-27
18 Then the Lord will pity his people and jealously guard the honor of his land. 19 The Lord will reply, “Look! I am sending you grain and new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy your needs. You will no longer be an object of mockery among the surrounding nations. 20 I will drive away these armies from the north. I will send them into the parched wastelands. Those in the front will be driven into the Dead Sea, and those at the rear into the Mediterranean. The stench of their rotting bodies will rise over the land.”

Surely the Lord has done great things! 21 Don’t be afraid, my people. Be glad now and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things. 22 Don’t be afraid, you animals of the field, for the wilderness pastures will soon be green. The trees will again be filled with fruit; fig trees and grapevines will be loaded down once more. 23 Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. 24 The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil.

25 The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. 26 Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the Lord your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced. 27 Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced.

Quick Notes/Questions
Joel has been rough on us the past couple of days, but today he offers us hope.  Despite all the destruction that happens, God is continually working in all of creation to bring redemption.  Will you let God redeem you?

Quick Prayer
God, thank you for letting me be redeemed by you.  Your grace continually amazes me. Amen.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 11, Wednesday Devotion

August 11, Wednesday Devotion
Joel 2:15-17
15 Blow the ram’s horn in Jerusalem! Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. 16 Gather all the people—the elders, the children, and even the babies. Call the bridegroom from his quarters and the bride from her private room. 17 Let the priests, who minister in the Lord’s presence, stand and weep between the entry room to the Temple and the altar. Let them pray, “Spare your people, Lord! Don’t let your special possession become an object of mockery. Don’t let them become a joke for unbelieving foreigners who say, ‘Has the God of Israel left them?’”
Quick Notes/Questions
Elizabeth Achtemeier says about the above, "That none of us is exempt from the need for repentance and transformation of our lives before God is perhaps the main thrust of this passage.There have been times in my life where I have seen the people of faith feel entitled that because they are Christians or believers that they are better than anyone who is not... or even those who are.  The problem is that this is not the case.  Joel points out yet again that everyone needs God's grace... even the believers.  How does this move you forward in your belief and faith?
Quick Prayer
God, show me how to repent.  Transform me into whatever you want me to be.  Amen.

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 10, Tuesday Devotion

August 10, Tuesday Devotion
Joel 2:12-14

12 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. 14 Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine to the Lord your God as before.

Quick Notes/Questions
The God of the bible is pretty awesome.  It seems that no matter how bad it gets, God is there for you, for me, for us.  Will you turn to God or turn away from God in your time of need?
Quick Prayer
Jesus, sometimes the things that take my attention bog me down greatly.  I need you.  Help me.  Amen.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 9, Monday Devotion

August 9, Monday Devotion
Joel 2:1-11
1 Sound the alarm in Jerusalem! Raise the battle cry on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the Lord is upon us. 2 It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick clouds and deep blackness. Suddenly, like dawn spreading across the mountains, a great and mighty army appears. Nothing like it has been seen before or will ever be seen again.

3 Fire burns in front of them, and flames follow after them. Ahead of them the land lies as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. Behind them is nothing but desolation; not one thing escapes. 4 They look like horses; they charge forward like warhorses. 5 Look at them as they leap along the mountaintops. Listen to the noise they make—like the rumbling of chariots, like the roar of fire sweeping across a field of stubble, or like a mighty army moving into battle.

6 Fear grips all the people; every face grows pale with terror. 7 The attackers march like warriors and scale city walls like soldiers. Straight forward they march, never breaking rank. 8 They never jostle each other; each moves in exactly the right position. They break through defenses without missing a step. 9 They swarm over the city and run along its walls. They enter all the houses, climbing like thieves through the windows. 10 The earth quakes as they advance, and the heavens tremble. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars no longer shine.

11 The Lord is at the head of the column. He leads them with a shout. This is his mighty army, and they follow his orders. The day of the Lord is an awesome, terrible thing. Who can possibly survive?

Quick Notes/Questions
Imagine judgment day.  What would it look like for sinners?  What about everyone else?  This is Joel's vision for that day.
Quick Prayer
Lord Almighty, I am not really looking forward to judgment day.  It will be a reminder of how we did not embody you fully.  Be bigger than us.  Amen.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

August 8, Sunday Devotion

August 8, Sunday Devotion
Joel 1:16-20
16 Our food disappears before our very eyes. No joyful celebrations are held in the house of our God. 17 The seeds die in the parched ground, and the grain crops fail. The barns stand empty, and granaries are abandoned. 18 How the animals moan with hunger! The herds of cattle wander about confused, because they have no pasture. The flocks of sheep and goats bleat in misery.
    19 Lord, help us! The fire has consumed the wilderness pastures, and flames have burned up all the trees. 20 Even the wild animals cry out to you because the streams have dried up, and fire has consumed the wilderness pastures.
Quick Notes/Questions
Did you know that our sins affect innocent animals?  Yet as we continue to justify ourselves and redirect blame, the animals cry out to the Lord.  Doesn't that seem a little backwards?  That we justify and the animals cry to God?
Quick Prayer
Almighty God, I realize that what I do affects the rest of the world.  May I grow in your imparted grace.  Amen.

Friday, August 6, 2010

August 7, Saturday Devotion

August 7, Saturday DevotionJoel 1:13-2013 Dress yourselves in burlap and weep, you priests! Wail, you who serve before the altar! Come, spend the night in burlap, you ministers of my God. For there is no grain or wine to offer at the Temple of your God. 14 Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Bring the leaders and all the people of the land into the Temple of the Lord your God, and cry out to him there. 15 The day of the Lord is near, the day when destruction comes from the Almighty. How terrible that day will be! 
Quick Notes/Questions
Sometimes people think that being a minister or pastor exempts them from the times of depression and famine.  This passage clearly shows that to be untrue.  When the community is afflicted, all of the community is afflicted together.
Quick Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, may I join in with the sufferings with others that your name might be praised.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 5, Thursday Devotion

August 5, Thursday DevotionJoel 1:5-12
5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you wine-drinkers! All the grapes are ruined, and all your sweet wine is gone. 6 A vast army of locusts has invaded my land, a terrible army too numerous to count. Its teeth are like lions’ teeth,
its fangs like those of a lioness. 7 It has destroyed my grapevines and ruined my fig trees, stripping their bark and destroying it, leaving the branches white and bare.
8 Weep like a bride dressed in black, mourning the death of her husband. 9 For there is no grain or wine to offer at the Temple of the Lord. So the priests are in mourning. The ministers of the Lord are weeping. 10 The fields are ruined, the land is stripped bare. The grain is destroyed, the grapes have shriveled, and the olive oil is gone.
11 Despair, all you farmers! Wail, all you vine growers! Weep, because the wheat and barley—all the crops of the field—are ruined. 12 The grapevines have dried up, and the fig trees have withered. The pomegranate trees, palm trees, and apple trees—all the fruit trees—have dried up. And the people’s joy has dried up with them.

Quick Notes/Questions
The first real task for humanity was to be caretakers of God's creation.  By the time Joel is coming around prophesying we see that the land, the "Promised Land", is now becoming a wasteland.  Human beings adapt to the surroundings they are in.  Take a look of how we think of people from various geographical areas and the last part of verse 12 makes much sense, "And the people's joy has dried up with them."  It is possible that if you are feeling burnt out, stressed out, in a funk, etc. it is because the environment you are in is toxic to your mental, physical, and spiritual health.  Scripture says that our bodies are temples of God... so is your temple dried up?  If so, why do you think that is?  If not, what are ways you can help other temples?

Quick Prayer
God, refresh me with your eternal cleansing fountain. Amen.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August 4, Wednesday Devotion

August 4, Wednesday Devotion
Joel 1:2-12
2 Hear this, you leaders of the people. Listen, all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before? 3 Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation. 4 After the cutting locusts finished eating the crops, the swarming locusts took what was left! After them came the hopping locusts, and then the stripping locusts, too!
Quick Notes/Questions
There are natural disasters that happen all the time.  Sometimes we say God was angry with that particular group of people and they need to repent.  The problem is that there always seems to be more areas around the world that are even worse in those same kinds of sin and they remain unaffected.  The question is does God cause natural disasters to effect repentance?  My answer is yes and no.  If God causes a natural disaster because of people who were sinful, then technically it is the sinful people who cause natural disasters because it is their sin that causes God to act.  At the same time, I really struggle with God causing chaos.  Our God creates out of order and chaos is what order opposes.  What do you think?
God, please let me learn to repent before natural disasters occur.  May my life be patterned to always turn from whatever wrong or sin that I initially endeavor.  Amen.

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 3, Tuesday Devotion

August 3, Tuesday Devotion
Joel 1:1
1 The Lord gave this message to Joel son of Pethuel.
Quick Notes/Questions
Short verse, right?  Joel is a prophetic book and offers us some glimpses of how we are not to use our times to interpret the Bible, but the Bible interprets our times.  Another way of putting it is that the Lord gives us a message to speak to the events and happenings of our world.  The Lord does not gives us events and happenings of our world to speak to the message.  What message do you think God wants us to speak about?
Quick Prayer
Jesus, I spend so much time trying to know you and your message, but I sometimes feel that I'm lost.  Let your message shine through me to the world.  Amen.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Devotion Apology

Hey, everyone,
    Sorry for the month long layoff on devotions.  A couple of lines of communication were broken and then schedule took over.  In the next couple of weeks one of my best friends, Rev. Kent Campbell, will guide us through the book of Nahum.  In the meantime, we are going to journey through a couple of the smaller books of the bible and maybe a few psalms.  I hope everyone is doing well and my prayers are with you all.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Mike

August 2, Monday Devotion

August 2, Monday Devotion
Titus 1-15
1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. 2 This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. 3 And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.
    4 I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace.
    5 I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you. 6 An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife,and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. 7 For an elder must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.
    8 Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. 9 He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.
    10 For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. 11 They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. And they do it only for money. 12 Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.” 13 This is true. So reprimand them sternly to make them strong in the faith. 14 They must stop listening to Jewish myths and the commands of people who have turned away from the truth.
    15 Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.
Quick Notes/Questions
This might be the only letter that Paul ever wrote to a person rather than a church.  There are parts of this letter that make me cringe a bit when I read them, especially the parts on how Titus (and us) are to live.  Part of the problem is that there are several people out there who have nothing better to do than take God's place to judge his standards and don't leave much for God to do.  Sometimes it easy to get bogged down by what others say.  But let this letter be an encouragement to you as it was to Titus.  God is the one who judges us and not man.  Have you felt like the words of others has bummed you out some?  Do you know that God still loves you despite that?
Quick Prayer
Lord Almighty, let me follow you even when others are quick to judge and spread lies about me.  It is for your glory,  Amen.