July 6, 2022

Section 1 of 4

Joshua 8

About 4 Minutes

The Lord told Joshua, “Don’t be afraid and don’t panic! Take the whole army with you and march against Ai! See, I am handing over to you the king of Ai, along with his people, city, and land. Do to Ai and its king what you did to Jericho and its king, except you may plunder its goods and cattle. Set an ambush behind the city.”

Joshua and the whole army marched against Ai. Joshua selected 30,000 brave warriors and sent them out at night. He ordered them, “Look, set an ambush behind the city. Don’t go very far from the city; all of you be ready! I and all the troops who are with me will approach the city. When they come out to fight us like before, we will retreat from them. They will attack us until we have lured them from the city, for they will say, ‘They are retreating from us like before.’ We will retreat from them. Then you rise up from your hiding place and seize the city. The Lord your God will hand it over to you. When you capture the city, set it on fire in keeping with the Lord’s message. See, I have given you orders.” Joshua sent them away and they went to their hiding place west of Ai, between Bethel and Ai. Joshua spent that night with the army.

10 Bright and early the next morning Joshua gathered the army, and he and the leaders of Israel marched at the head of it to Ai. 11 All the troops that were with him marched up and drew near the city. They camped north of Ai on the other side of the valley. 12 He took 5,000 men and set an ambush west of the city between Bethel and Ai. 13 The army was in position—the main army north of the city and the rear guard west of the city. That night Joshua went into the middle of the valley.

14 When the king of Ai and all his people saw Israel, they rushed to get up early. Then the king and the men of the city went out to meet Israel in battle, at the meeting place near the rift valley. But he did not realize an ambush was waiting for him behind the city. 15 Joshua and all Israel pretended to be defeated by them, and they retreated along the way to the wilderness. 16 All the reinforcements in Ai were ordered to chase them; they chased Joshua and were lured away from the city. 17 No men were left in Ai or Bethel; they all went out after Israel. They left the city wide open and chased Israel.

18 The Lord told Joshua, “Hold out toward Ai the curved sword in your hand, for I am handing the city over to you.” So Joshua held out toward Ai the curved sword in his hand. 19 When he held out his hand, the men waiting in ambush rose up quickly from their place and attacked. They entered the city, captured it, and immediately set it on fire. 20 When the men of Ai turned around, they saw the smoke from the city ascending into the sky and were so shocked they were unable to flee in any direction. In the meantime the men who were retreating to the wilderness turned against their pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the men in ambush had captured the city and that the city was going up in smoke, they turned around and struck down the men of Ai. 22 At the same time the men who had taken the city came out to fight, and the men of Ai were trapped in the middle. The Israelites struck them down, leaving no survivors or refugees. 23 But they captured the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.

24 When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai who had chased them toward the wilderness (they all fell by the sword), all Israel returned to Ai and put the sword to it. 25 So 12,000 men and women died that day, including all the men of Ai. 26 Joshua kept holding out his curved sword until Israel had annihilated all who lived in Ai. 27 But Israel did plunder the cattle and the goods of the city, in keeping with the Lord’s orders to Joshua. 28 Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanently uninhabited mound (it remains that way to this very day). 29 He hung the king of Ai on a tree, leaving him exposed until evening. At sunset Joshua ordered that his corpse be taken down from the tree. They threw it down at the entrance of the city gate and erected over it a large pile of stones (it remains to this very day).

30 Then Joshua built an altar for the Lord God of Israel on Mount Ebal, 31 just as Moses the Lord’s servant had commanded the Israelites. As described in the law scroll of Moses, it was made with uncut stones untouched by an iron tool. On it they offered burnt sacrifices to the Lord and sacrificed tokens of peace. 32 There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua inscribed on the stones a duplicate of the law written by Moses. 33 All the people, rulers, leaders, and judges were standing on either side of the ark, in front of the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord. Both resident foreigners and native Israelites were there. Half the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and the other half in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the Lord’s servant had previously instructed them to do for the formal blessing ceremony. 34 Then Joshua read aloud all the words of the law, including the blessings and the curses, just as they are written in the law scroll. 35 Joshua read aloud every commandment Moses had given before the whole assembly of Israel, including the women, children, and resident foreigners who lived among them.

Section 2 of 4

Psalms 139

About 2.6 Minutes

139 O Lord, you examine me and know me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up;
even from far away you understand my motives.
You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest;
you are aware of everything I do.
Certainly my tongue does not frame a word
without you, O Lord, being thoroughly aware of it.
You squeeze me in from behind and in front;
you place your hand on me.
Your knowledge is beyond my comprehension;
it is so far beyond me, I am unable to fathom it.
Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee to escape your presence?
If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there.
If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be.
If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn,
and settle down on the other side of the sea,
10 even there your hand would guide me,
your right hand would grab hold of me.
11 If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me,
and the light will turn to night all around me,”
12 even the darkness is not too dark for you to see,
and the night is as bright as day;
darkness and light are the same to you.
13 Certainly you made my mind and heart;
you wove me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give you thanks because your deeds are awesome and amazing.
You knew me thoroughly;
15 my bones were not hidden from you,
when I was made in secret
and sewed together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb.
All the days ordained for me
were recorded in your scroll
before one of them came into existence.
17 How difficult it is for me to fathom your thoughts about me, O God!
How vast is their sum total.
18 If I tried to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
Even if I finished counting them,
I would still have to contend with you.
19 If only you would kill the wicked, O God!
Get away from me, you violent men!
20 They rebel against you and act deceitfully;
your enemies lie.
21 O Lord, do I not hate those who hate you,
and despise those who oppose you?
22 I absolutely hate them;
they have become my enemies.
23 Examine me, O God, and probe my thoughts.
Test me, and know my concerns.
24 See if there is any idolatrous way in me,
and lead me in the everlasting way.

Section 3 of 4

Jeremiah 2

About 7 Minutes

The Lord’s message came to me, “Go and declare in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem: ‘This is what the Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, how devoted you were to me in your early years. I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted. Israel was set apart to the Lord; they were like the firstfruits of a harvest to him. All who tried to devour them were punished; disaster came upon them,” says the Lord.’”

Now listen to the Lord’s message, you descendants of Jacob,
all you family groups from the nation of Israel.
This is what the Lord says:
“What fault could your ancestors have possibly found in me
that they strayed so far from me?
They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to me.
They did not ask,
‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt,
who brought us through the wilderness,
through a land of valleys and gorges,
through a land of desert and deep darkness,
through a land in which no one travels,
and where no one lives?’
I brought you into a fertile land
so you could enjoy its fruits and its rich bounty.
But when you entered my land, you defiled it;
you made the land I call my own loathsome to me.
Your priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’
Those responsible for teaching my law did not really know me.
Your rulers rebelled against me.
Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal.
They all worshiped idols that could not help them.

“So, once more I will state my case against you,” says the Lord.
“I will also state it against your children and grandchildren.
10 Go west across the sea to the coasts of Cyprus and see.
Send someone east to Kedar and have them look carefully.
See if such a thing as this has ever happened:
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods
(even though they are not really gods at all)?
But my people have exchanged me, their glorious God,
for a god that cannot help them at all!
12 Be amazed at this, O heavens.
Be shocked and utterly dumbfounded,”
says the Lord.
13 “Do so because my people have committed a double wrong:
They have rejected me,
the fountain of life-giving water,
and they have dug cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns that cannot even hold water.

14 “Israel is not a slave, is he?
He was not born into slavery, was he?
If not, why then is he being carried off?
15 Like lions his enemies roar victoriously over him;
they raise their voices in triumph.
They have laid his land waste;
his cities have been burned down and deserted.
16 Even the soldiers from Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked your skulls, people of Israel.
17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel,
by deserting the Lord your God when he was leading you along the right path.
18 What good will it do you then to go down to Egypt
to seek help from the Egyptians?
What good will it do you to go over to Assyria
to seek help from the Assyrians?
19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment.
Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you.
Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful
it was for you to reject me, the Lord your God,
to show no respect for me,”
says the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

20 “Indeed, long ago you threw off my authority
and refused to be subject to me.
You said, ‘I will not serve you.’
Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill
and under every green tree,
like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers.
21 I planted you in the land
like a special vine of the very best stock.
Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine
that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes?
22 You can try to wash away your guilt with a strong detergent.
You can use as much soap as you want.
But the stain of your guilt is still there for me to see,”
says the Sovereign Lord.
23 “How can you say, ‘I have not made myself unclean.
I have not paid allegiance to the gods called Baal.’
Just look at the way you have behaved in the Valley of Hinnom!
Think about the things you have done there!
You are like a flighty, young female camel
that rushes here and there, crisscrossing its path.
24 You are like a wild female donkey brought up in the wilderness.
In her lust she sniffs the wind to get the scent of a male.
No one can hold her back when she is in heat.
None of the males need wear themselves out chasing after her.
At mating time she is easy to find.
25 Do not chase after other gods until your shoes wear out
and your throats become dry.
But you say, ‘It is useless for you to try and stop me
because I love those foreign gods and want to pursue them!’
26 Just as a thief has to suffer dishonor when he is caught,
so the people of Israel will suffer dishonor for what they have done.
So will their kings and officials,
their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to a wooden idol, ‘You are my father.’
They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’
Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me.
Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’
28 But where are the gods you made for yourselves?
Let them save you when you are in trouble.
The sad fact is that you have as many gods
as you have towns, Judah.
29 Why do you try to refute me?
All of you have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
30 “It did no good for me to punish your people.
They did not respond to such correction.
You slaughtered your prophets
like a voracious lion.
31 You people of this generation,
listen to the Lord’s message:
“Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel?
Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you?
Why then do you say, ‘We are free to wander.
We will not come to you anymore?’
32 Does a young woman forget to put on her jewels?
Does a bride forget to put on her bridal attire?
But my people have forgotten me
for more days than can even be counted.
33 “My, how good you have become

at chasing after your lovers!
Why, you could even teach prostitutes a thing or two!
34 Even your clothes are stained with
the lifeblood of the poor who had not done anything wrong;
you did not catch them breaking into your homes.
Yet, in spite of all these things you have done,
35 you say, ‘I have not done anything wrong,
so the Lord cannot really be angry with me any more.’
But, watch out! I will bring down judgment on you
because you say, ‘I have not committed any sin.’
36 Why do you constantly go about
changing your political allegiances?
You will get no help from Egypt
just as you got no help from Assyria.
37 Moreover, you will come away from Egypt
with your hands covering your faces in sorrow and shame
because the Lord will not allow your reliance on them to be successful
and you will not gain any help from them.

Section 4 of 4

Matthew 16

About 2.7 Minutes

16 Now when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He said, “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be fair weather, because the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, because the sky is red and darkening.’ You know how to judge correctly the appearance of the sky, but you cannot evaluate the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.

When the disciples went to the other side, they forgot to take bread. “Watch out,” Jesus said to them, “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” So they began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “It is because we brought no bread.” When Jesus learned of this, he said, “You who have such little faith! Why are you arguing among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000, and how many baskets you took up? 10 Or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many baskets you took up? 11 How could you not understand that I was not speaking to you about bread? But beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” 12 Then they understood that he had not told them to be on guard against the yeast in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

13 When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven! 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” 20 Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

21 From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “God forbid, Lord! This must not happen to you!” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it. 26 For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Or what can a person give in exchange for his life? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28 I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

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