Friday

July 8, 2022

Section 1 of 4

Joshua 10

About 4.6 Minutes

10 1-2 It wasn’t long before My-Master-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had taken Ai and destroyed it and its king under a holy curse, just as he had done to Jericho and its king. He also learned that the people of Gibeon had come to terms with Israel and were living as neighbors. He and his people were alarmed: Gibeon was a big city—as big as any with a king and bigger than Ai—and all its men were seasoned fighters.

3-4 Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon: “Come and help me. Let’s attack Gibeon; they’ve joined up with Joshua and the People of Israel.”

So the five Amorite (Western) kings—the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon—combined their armies and set out to attack Gibeon.

The men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua camped at Gilgal, “Don’t let us down now! Come up here quickly! Save us! Help us! All the Amorite kings who live up in the hills have ganged up on us.”

7-8 So Joshua set out from Gilgal, his whole army with him—all those tough soldiers! God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.”

9-11 Joshua marched all night from Gilgal and took them by total surprise. God threw them into total confusion before Israel, a major victory at Gibeon. Israel chased them along the ridge to Beth Horon and fought them all the way down to Azekah and Makkedah. As they ran from the People of Israel, down from the Beth Horon ridge and all the way to Azekah, God pitched huge stones on them out of the sky and many died. More died from the hailstones than the People of Israel killed with the sword.

12-13 The day God gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to God, with all Israel listening:

“Stop, Sun, over Gibeon;
Halt, Moon, over Aijalon Valley.”
And Sun stopped,
Moon stood stock still
Until he defeated his enemies.

13-14 (You can find this written in the Book of Jashar.) The sun stopped in its tracks in mid sky; just sat there all day. There’s never been a day like that before or since—God took orders from a human voice! Truly, God fought for Israel.

15 Then Joshua returned, all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

16-17 Meanwhile the five kings had hidden in the cave at Makkedah. Joshua was told, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.”

18-19 Joshua said, “Roll big stones against the mouth of the cave and post guards to keep watch. But don’t you hang around—go after your enemies. Cut off their retreat. Don’t let them back into their cities. God has given them to you.”

20-21 Joshua and the People of Israel then finished them off, total devastation. Only a few got away to the fortified towns. The whole army then returned intact to the camp and to Joshua at Makkedah. There was no criticism that day from the People of Israel!

22 Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring me those five kings.”

23 They did it. They brought him the five kings from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.

24 When they had them all there in front of Joshua, he called up the army and told the field commanders who had been with him, “Come here. Put your feet on the necks of these kings.”

They stepped up and put their feet on their necks.

25 Joshua told them, “Don’t hold back. Don’t be timid. Be strong! Be confident! This is what God will do to all your enemies when you fight them.”

26-27 Then Joshua struck and killed the kings. He hung them on five trees where they remained until evening. At sunset Joshua gave the command. They took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden. They put large stones at the mouth of the cave. The kings are still in there.

28 That same day Joshua captured Makkedah, a massacre that included the king. He carried out the holy curse. No survivors. Makkedah’s king got the same treatment as Jericho’s king.

29-30 Joshua, all Israel with him, moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and fought against Libnah. God gave Libnah to Israel. They captured city and king and massacred the lot. No survivors. Libnah’s king got the same treatment as Jericho’s king.

31-32 Joshua, all Israel with him, moved on from Libnah to Lachish. He set up camp nearby and attacked. God gave Lachish to Israel. Israel took it in two days and killed everyone. He carried out the holy curse, the same as with Libnah.

33 Horam, king of Gezer, arrived to help Lachish. Joshua attacked him and his army until there was nothing left of them. No survivors.

34-35 Joshua, all Israel with him, moved on from Lachish to Eglon. They set up camp and attacked. They captured it and killed everyone, carrying out the holy curse, the same as they had done with Lachish.

36-37 Joshua, all Israel with him, went up from Eglon to Hebron. He attacked and captured it. They killed everyone, including its king, its villages, and their people. No survivors, the same as with Eglon. They carried out the holy curse on city and people.

38-39 Then Joshua, all Israel with him, turned toward Debir and attacked it. He captured it, its king, and its villages. They killed everyone. They put everyone and everything under the holy curse. No survivors. Debir and its king got the same treatment as Hebron and its king, and Libnah and its king.

* * *

40-42 Joshua took the whole country: hills, desert, foothills, and mountain slopes, including all kings. He left no survivors. He carried out the holy curse on everything that breathed, just as God, the God of Israel, had commanded. Joshua’s conquest stretched from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the entire region of Goshen to Gibeon. Joshua took all these kings and their lands in a single campaign because God, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.

43 Then Joshua, all Israel with him, went back to the camp at Gilgal.

* * *

Section 2 of 4

Psalms 142-143

About 3.8 Minutes

142 1-2 I cry out loudly to God,
    loudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,
    and spell out my troubles in detail:

3-7 “As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away,
    you know how I’m feeling,
Know the danger I’m in,
    the traps hidden in my path.
Look right, look left—
    there’s not a soul who cares what happens!
I’m up against the wall, with no exit—
    it’s just me, all alone.
I cry out, God, call out:
    ‘You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!’
Oh listen, please listen;
    I’ve never been this low.
Rescue me from those who are hunting me down;
    I’m no match for them.
Get me out of this dungeon
    so I can thank you in public.
Your people will form a circle around me
    and you’ll bring me showers of blessing!”
143 1-2 Listen to this prayer of mine, God;
    pay attention to what I’m asking.
Answer me—you’re famous for your answers!
    Do what’s right for me.
But don’t, please don’t, haul me into court;
    not a person alive would be acquitted there.

3-6 The enemy hunted me down;
    he kicked me and stomped me within an inch of my life.
He put me in a black hole,
    buried me like a corpse in that dungeon.
I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away,
    my heart heavy, like lead.
I remembered the old days,
    went over all you’ve done, pondered the ways you’ve worked,
Stretched out my hands to you,
    as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain.

7-10 Hurry with your answer, God!
    I’m nearly at the end of my rope.
Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me!
    That would be certain death.
If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice,
    I’ll go to sleep each night trusting in you.
Point out the road I must travel;
    I’m all ears, all eyes before you.
Save me from my enemies, God
    you’re my only hope!
Teach me how to live to please you,
    because you’re my God.
Lead me by your blessed Spirit
    into cleared and level pastureland.

11-12 Keep up your reputation, God—give me life!
    In your justice, get me out of this trouble!
In your great love, vanquish my enemies;
    make a clean sweep of those who harass me.
And why? Because I’m your servant.

Section 3 of 4

Jeremiah 4

About 8.4 Minutes

1-2 “If you want to come back, O Israel,
    you must really come back to me.
You must get rid of your stinking sin paraphernalia
    and not wander away from me anymore.
Then you can say words like, ‘As God lives . . . ’
    and have them mean something true and just and right.
And the godless nations will get caught up in the blessing
    and find something in Israel to write home about.”

* * *

3-4 Here’s another Message from God
    to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Plow your unplowed fields,
    but then don’t plant weeds in the soil!
Yes, circumcise your lives for God’s sake.
    Plow your unplowed hearts,
    all you people of Judah and Jerusalem.
Prevent fire—the fire of my anger—
    for once it starts it can’t be put out.
Your wicked ways
    are fuel for the fire.

5-8 “Sound the alarm in Judah,
    broadcast the news in Jerusalem.
Say, ‘Blow the ram’s horn trumpet through the land!’
    Shout out—a bullhorn bellow!—
‘Close ranks!
    Run for your lives to the shelters!’
Send up a flare warning Zion:
    ‘Not a minute to lose! Don’t sit on your hands!’
Disaster’s descending from the north. I set it off!
    When it lands, it will shake the foundations.
Invaders have pounced like a lion from its cover,
    ready to rip nations to shreds,
Leaving your land in wrack and ruin,
    your cities in rubble, abandoned.
Dress in funereal black.
    Weep and wail,
For God’s sledgehammer anger
    has slammed into us head-on.

“When this happens”
    God’s Decree—
“King and princes will lose heart;
    priests will be baffled and prophets stand dumbfounded.”

10 Then I said, “Alas, Master God!
    You’ve fed lies to this people, this Jerusalem.
You assured them, ‘All is well, don’t worry,’
    at the very moment when the sword was at their throats.”

* * *

11-12 At that time, this people, yes, this very Jerusalem,
    will be told in plain words:
“The northern hordes are sweeping in
    from the desert steppes—
A wind that’s up to no good, a gale-force wind.
    I ordered this wind.
I’m pronouncing
    my hurricane judgment on my people.”

13-14 Look at them! Like banks of storm clouds,
    racing, tumbling, their chariots a tornado,
Their horses faster than eagles!
    Woe to us! We’re done for!
Jerusalem! Scrub the evil from your lives
    so you’ll be fit for salvation.
How much longer will you harbor
    devious and malignant designs within you?

15-17 What’s this? A messenger from Dan?
    Bad news from Ephraim’s hills!
Make the report public.
    Broadcast the news to Jerusalem:
“Invaders from far off are
    raising war cries against Judah’s towns.
They’re all over her, like a dog on a bone.
    And why? Because she rebelled against me.”
        God’s Decree.

18 “It’s the way you’ve lived
    that’s brought all this on you.
The bitter taste is from your evil life.
    That’s what’s piercing your heart.”

* * *

19-21 I’m doubled up with cramps in my belly—
    a poker burns in my gut.
My insides are tearing me up,
    never a moment’s peace.
The ram’s horn trumpet blast rings in my ears,
    the signal for all-out war.
Disaster hard on the heels of disaster,
    the whole country in ruins!
In one stroke my home is destroyed,
    the walls flattened in the blink of an eye.
How long do I have to look at the warning flares,
    listen to the siren of danger?

22 “What fools my people are!
    They have no idea who I am.
A company of half-wits,
    dopes and donkeys all!
Experts at evil
    but klutzes at good.”

23-26 I looked at the earth—
    it was back to pre-Genesis chaos and emptiness.
I looked at the skies,
    and not a star to be seen.
I looked at the mountains—
    they were trembling like aspen leaves,
And all the hills
    rocking back and forth in the wind.
I looked—what’s this! Not a man or woman in sight,
    and not a bird to be seen in the skies.
I looked—this can’t be! Every garden and orchard shriveled up.
    All the towns were ghost towns.
And all this because of God,
    because of the blazing anger of God.

27-28 Yes, this is God’s Word on the matter:

“The whole country will be laid waste—
    still it won’t be the end of the world.
The earth will mourn
    and the skies lament
Because I’ve given my word and won’t take it back.
    I’ve decided and won’t change my mind.”

29 Someone shouts, “Horsemen and archers!”
    and everybody runs for cover.
They hide in ditches,
    they climb into caves.
The cities are emptied,
    not a person left anywhere.

30-31 And you, what do you think you’re up to?
    Dressing up in party clothes,
Decking yourselves out in jewelry,
    putting on lipstick and rouge and mascara!
Your primping goes for nothing.
    You’re not going to seduce anyone. They’re out to kill you!
And what’s that I hear? The cry of a woman in labor,
    the screams of a mother giving birth to her firstborn.
It’s the cry of Daughter Zion, gasping for breath,
    reaching out for help:
“Help, oh help me! I’m dying!
    The killers are on me!”

Section 4 of 4

Matthew 18

About 2.9 Minutes

18 At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”

2-5 For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.

6-7 “But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do.

8-9 “If your hand or your foot gets in the way of God, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owners of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.

10 “Watch that you don’t treat a single one of these childlike believers arrogantly. You realize, don’t you, that their personal angels are constantly in touch with my Father in heaven?

12-14 “Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one? And if he finds it, doesn’t he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way. He doesn’t want to lose even one of these simple believers.

15-17 “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.

18-20 “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”

21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

23-25 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.

26-27 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

28 “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’

29-31 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

32-35 “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”


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