Wednesday

July 6, 2022

Section 1 of 4

Joshua 8

About 4 Minutes

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. 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.”

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 with these orders: “Hide in ambush close behind the town and be ready for action. 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. 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, you will jump up from your ambush and take possession of the town, for the Lord your God will give it to you. Set the town on fire, as the Lord has commanded. You have your orders.”

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 about 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.

30 Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal. 31 He followed the commands that Moses the Lord’s servant had written in the Book of Instruction: “Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools.” Then on the altar they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. 32 And as the Israelites watched, Joshua copied onto the stones of the altar the instructions Moses had given them.

33 Then all the Israelites—foreigners and native-born alike—along with the elders, officers, and judges, were divided into two groups. One group stood in front of Mount Gerizim, the other in front of Mount Ebal. Each group faced the other, and between them stood the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. This was all done according to the commands that Moses, the servant of the Lord, had previously given for blessing the people of Israel.

34 Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction. 35 Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them.

Section 2 of 4

Psalms 139

About 3.6 Minutes

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Section 3 of 4

Jeremiah 2

About 9.4 Minutes

The Lord gave me another message. He said, “Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the Lord says:

“I remember how eager you were to please me
    as a young bride long ago,
how you loved me and followed me
    even through the barren wilderness.
In those days Israel was holy to the Lord,
    the first of his children.
All who harmed his people were declared guilty,
    and disaster fell on them.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Listen to the word of the Lord, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel! This is what the Lord says:

“What did your ancestors find wrong with me
    that led them to stray so far from me?
They worshiped worthless idols,
    only to become worthless themselves.
They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord
    who brought us safely out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness—
    a land of deserts and pits,
a land of drought and death,
    where no one lives or even travels?’

“And when I brought you into a fruitful land
    to enjoy its bounty and goodness,
you defiled my land and
    corrupted the possession I had promised you.
The priests did not ask,
    ‘Where is the Lord?’
Those who taught my word ignored me,
    the rulers turned against me,
and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal,
    wasting their time on worthless idols.
Therefore, I will bring my case against you,”
    says the Lord.
“I will even bring charges against your children’s children
    in the years to come.

10 “Go west and look in the land of Cyprus;
    go east and search through the land of Kedar.
Has anyone ever heard of anything
    as strange as this?
11 Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones,
    even though they are not gods at all?
Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God
    for worthless idols!
12 The heavens are shocked at such a thing
    and shrink back in horror and dismay,”
    says the Lord.
13 “For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
    the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
    that can hold no water at all!

14 “Why has Israel become a slave?
    Why has he been carried away as plunder?
15 Strong lions have roared against him,
    and the land has been destroyed.
The towns are now in ruins,
    and no one lives in them anymore.
16 Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes,
    have destroyed Israel’s glory and power.
17 And you have brought this upon yourselves
    by rebelling against the Lord your God,
    even though he was leading you on the way!

18 “What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt
    and your covenants with Assyria?
What good to you are the streams of the Nile
    or the waters of the Euphrates River?
19 Your wickedness will bring its own punishment.
    Your turning from me will shame you.
You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is
    to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him.
    I, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!

20 “Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you
    and tore away the chains of your slavery,
but still you said,
    ‘I will not serve you.’
On every hill and under every green tree,
    you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols.
21 But I was the one who planted you,
    choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best.
    How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine?
22 No amount of soap or lye can make you clean.
    I still see the stain of your guilt.
    I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!

23 “You say, ‘That’s not true!
    I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’
But how can you say that?
    Go and look in any valley in the land!
Face the awful sins you have done.
    You are like a restless female camel
    desperately searching for a mate.
24 You are like a wild donkey,
    sniffing the wind at mating time.
Who can restrain her lust?
    Those who desire her don’t need to search,
    for she goes running to them!
25 When will you stop running?
    When will you stop panting after other gods?
But you say, ‘Save your breath.
    I’m in love with these foreign gods,
    and I can’t stop loving them now!’

26 “Israel is like a thief
    who feels shame only when he gets caught.
They, their kings, officials, priests, and prophets—
    all are alike in this.
27 To an image carved from a piece of wood they say,
    ‘You are my father.’
To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say,
    ‘You are my mother.’
They turn their backs on me,
    but in times of trouble they cry out to me,
    ‘Come and save us!’
28 But why not call on these gods you have made?
    When trouble comes, let them save you if they can!
For you have as many gods
    as there are towns in Judah.
29 Why do you accuse me of doing wrong?
    You are the ones who have rebelled,”
    says the Lord.
30 “I have punished your children,
    but they did not respond to my discipline.
You yourselves have killed your prophets
    as a lion kills its prey.

31 “O my people, listen to the words of the Lord!
    Have I been like a desert to Israel?
    Have I been to them a land of darkness?
Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God!
    We don’t need him anymore!’
32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry,
    or a bride her wedding dress?
Yet for years on end
    my people have forgotten me.

33 “How you plot and scheme to win your lovers.
    Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you!
34 Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor,
    though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses!
35 And yet you say,
‘I have done nothing wrong.
    Surely God isn’t angry with me!’
But now I will punish you severely
    because you claim you have not sinned.
36 First here, then there—
    you flit from one ally to another asking for help.
But your new friends in Egypt will let you down,
    just as Assyria did before.
37 In despair, you will be led into exile
    with your hands on your heads,
for the Lord has rejected the nations you trust.
    They will not help you at all.

Section 4 of 4

Matthew 16

About 3.1 Minutes

16 One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.

He replied, “You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times! Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Then Jesus left them and went away.

Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? 10 Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? 11 Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’”

12 Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

20 Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

21 From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. 28 And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”


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