Monday: Psalm 115-117, Joshua 24, Acts 1:15-26

from Lucia Pizzo

And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” (Joshua 24:26-27)

When Joshua asks the people of Israel whom they will serve (the Lord or the gods of their neighbors), three times they affirm that they will serve the Lord: 

“Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” (Joshua 24:18)

“No, but we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:21)

“The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” (Joshua 24:24) 

Although Joshua rightfully acknowledges that this will be difficult/impossible for them to do (not long after his death, the people do serve foreign gods), he still takes their words seriously and makes a covenant.

He writes Israel’s intention to serve the Lord into the Book of the Law of God.  And he sets up a stone as a witness.  The stone is a witness for God.  It has heard all of the words spoken, all of the promises.  I am reminded of Psalm 115’s criticism of idols—they have ears, but do not hear; mouths, but do not speak.  But this is a stone, created by God, presumably unshaped by humans.

This stone Joshua uses is large.  It is set up near the sanctuary where everyone could see it and be reminded.  I find it so helpful that God uses everyday objects to remind us of the covenant between us.  He knows we, like Israel, will forget.  He knows we need reminders.  And while this stone isn’t set up as just a friendly reminder (the words “witness against you” seem a little more severe), I still appreciate the way that the stone makes God visible in a tangible way.

I wonder what stones, what objects in our daily life, we see and set as reminders of God’s covenant with us and ours with him.  Which objects have heard our commitment to serve God?  What difference would it make if we thought of the stones, the earth, all of creation as witnesses?

I live in JP with my family and many rock collections (some intentional and some less so)

Monday: Psalm 97-101, Joshua 7.1-8.29, Luke 22.14-53

from Carson Rockett

“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations”

-Psalm 100:5

Years ago when reading through the Old Testament, I remember being overwhelmed by the reality of God’s steadfast love towards his ‘people, the sheep of his pasture’ (Psalm 100:3). Over and over and over again, despite the Israelites constant acts of rebellion, God’s love remained steadfast towards them.

It’s not hard for me to draw a parallel between the Israelites and myself. I grumble. I complain. I rebel. I chase after idols and build golden calves of comfort and security, just to name a couple. And when God provides my daily bread, I too complain like the Israelites, ‘Is this it God? Just bread today? No meat?’

Despite the depths of my sinfulness though, God’s love is constant and unwavering towards me. There have been moments in my life where I have been undone by the reality that while he sees the depth of my sin, he still loves me and accepts me more than I ever dared hope.  That has led me to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (Psalm 100:4)

J.I. Packer summarizes it well in his book Knowing God:

There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench His determination to bless me. . . . There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me to realise this purpose.

I am married to my incredible wife Drue; we are both from the Gulf Coast of Alabama. If anyone would like to drink sweet tea and watch Alabama football please let us know. Roll Tide.

Monday: Psalm 81, 83, Joshua 1, Luke 18.31-19.10

from James Flaherty

God’s commissioning of Joshua teleports me to the afternoon in 2013 when Mark Booker broke down Psalm 1 for me. I must have read Psalm 1 before then, but I don’t think it had ever risen from the bog of over-familiarity and boredom that passed for scriptural knowledge in my life at the time. 

The righteous man, Mark recited, “is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not wither.” His delight is the law of the lord and he meditates on it day and night. 

In 2013, I hated my job and was terribly stressed by it, as would be the case off and on for the next seven years and remains the case today. But when Mark shared Psalm 1, a sharp and very clear image of a faithful tree came into my mind and it carried a quality of simple worship and testimony and I was powerfully consoled by it. Since then I’ve sought the consolation of trees in my prayers as I walk around Boston. A tree doesn’t decide where or how to grow. It simply grows and makes the best of it and appeals for life high and low with a splendid, mighty, patient desperation. It’s an especially wonderful thing to watch trees weather the winter months—gray, dry, stoic, and steadfast, in spite of brittle assaults and blustering weight. 

I think we’re called to live like that. I think God is calling Joshua to obey like that. The line from Joshua 1 that prompted the flashback is: “The Book of the Law shall not leave your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” 

I pray we would look for life in scripture, and that’d we’d expect and crave it there.    

I live in Jamaica Plain with my family.