Bible reading for June 29.
"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you." (Joshua 1:5)
THEN YOU WILL HAVE SUCCESS. If we look for one word to summarize the book of Joshua it might be "conquest," or better, as Prof Hendricks suggested, "success". The tribes of Israel finally enter the land promised to them by God. This has been a long-awaited event. It was nearly 500 years earlier that God said to Abram, "To your offspring I will give this land" (Gen 12:7). The Lord was patient toward the previous inhabitants (Gen 15:16). Joshua rather than Moses now becomes the central figure in Israel's history. We hear the call to be strong and courageous, since all the odds, naturally speaking, are against them (vv 6, 7, 9, 18). And again, courage and strength would be related to their thinking, talking about, and doing God's word (Josh 1:9). And God promised to be with them (vv 5, 9, 17).
TAKEAWAY. Verse 9 is an excellent verse to memorize. "Day and night" reminds us of Psalm 1:2-3, and the image of the tree planted by (not moving away from) the streams of water. We might think that a few minutes of reading God's word in the morning will suffice for us to walk with the Lord for the rest of the day, but our minds often drift away and forget lessons learned in the morning. We should be continually drifting back to, not away from, the word all day, evening, and when we wake at night. What could help you meditate day and night in the Scriptures? You could, for example, make notes, keep a journal, turn passages into day-long prayers, share a verse with people you see during the day, have an after-dinner reading with family, read before bed, etc. Don't consider your Bible reading as a box to check off, but a life-giving stream to live by.
"I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD!'" (Psalm 122:1)
SONGS OF ASCENT. The next fifteen psalms are called the psalms of ascent, because traditionally they were recited on the way to the temple mount in Jerusalem. Each psalm has a particular theme related to being a pilgrim on the way to God's house. The first three themes are departure (120), protection (121), and joy (122).
DEPARTURE (120). The psalmist does not literally dwell in Meshech (to the far north of Israel) or Kedar (far to the east), but feels as if he lives among barbarian people who do not care about the God of Israel. Their lives are characterized by deception, not truth. When he speaks out for peace (Heb., shalom) he is not being primarily anti-war, but rather, is promoting God's way of peace, involving reconciliation and the wholeness of living God's way. The people around him do not like this (see Rom 3:17). This is the point of departure for the pilgrim. He, and we, decide to leave the lies and hostility of the world behind to seek God’s holy city (Heb. 11:16).
PROTECTION (121). The Lord is the one who protects ("keeps, keeps watch over") the pilgrim on the journey (John 10:27-29). The trip to Jerusalem could be dangerous and the traveler was vulnerable, needing protection. God is the One who does not sleep or even get distracted in watching over his children. He will bring them safely to his heavenly kingdom (2 Tim 4:18; 2 Thess 3:3).
PEACE (122). This is a call to pray and work for the peace and security of God's people. First, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and that God would reveal the Lord Jesus to the Jewish people (Zech 12:10; Rom 10:1). And we pray for our brothers and sisters experiencing persecution around the world. And we pray for peace within the church, that believers would delight to gather together to worship the Lord in unity (Eph 4:1-6; Phil 2:1-2).
TAKEAWAY. These psalms are clearly applicable to the Christian today. We learn a number of things: that we should have a mindset as pilgrims in this world on our way to the Father's house (John 14:1-3). Also, we must live in a world characterized by deception, with many lying to us about what's important, what's real, who they think God is or is not. They are happy for us to get along with them, but if we speak out concerning true and lasting peace (reconciliation with God) they will react with hatred. We live as pilgrims, however, knowing that we have the protection of our Father in heaven. And we are to work for the unity and harmony of God's people. So... are we like David (Ps 122:1), delighting to gather with fellow believers for worship? How will these songs affect the way you view life? How you view the church? How you view your eternal home? [By the way, if you've never read The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, it's a classic about the Christian life being a pilgrimage to the City of God.]
Image credit. The chart is my adaptation of Prof. Howard Hendricks' hand-drawn card he gave us in his class, "Bible Study Methods and Hermeneutics", at Dallas Seminary in the 1980s. The artist of the picture with the "Songs of Ascent" title is unknown to me.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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