Will you show up and participate? Will you lift up the needs of others? Will you show up when others are in need? Will you show up when you are in need? Will you show up when you think you are ok? Will you show up when you think you don’t need to be there? Will you show up just in case someone else needs you there? Will you be an extension of God’s hands to the world around you? Will you be an extension of God’s love to the people around you? Will you be an extension of God’s hope into the lives you cross paths with? Will you show up? Will you be present? Will you be there today for someone?
We are all faced with choices and today which choice will you make?
Are you prepared? Will you get ready so that when your time comes you will be prepared for all that will be needed of you? Will you get ready so that when the opportunity comes up you will be able to do your part? Will you trust God to provide you with all that you will need to finish the good work He has for you to do? The good work that He has gone ahead to prepare in advance for you to accomplish?
1. God will deliver you … Psalm 50:1-15
1The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
2From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
3Our God comes
and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
and around him a tempest rages.
4He summons the heavens above,
and the earth, that he may judge his people:
5“Gather to me this consecrated people,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
6And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for he is a God of justice.
7“Listen, my people, and I will speak;
I will testify against you, Israel:
I am God, your God.
8I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
9I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,
10for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine.
12If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
13Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
14“Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
15and call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
–from Psalm 50
2. Your prayers make a difference … Luke 22:1-38
1Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
The Last Supper
7Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
9“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
10He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
13They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
14When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
24A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
35Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.
36He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
38The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”
“That’s enough!” he replied.
–from Luke 22
Today’s devotional and reading speak to the tensions that exist as follows…
As we look at the parts played by each of the people in this drama, we see, once again, that the Bible teaches both predestination (that God has planned everything in advance) and free will. This is a mystery that the Scriptures hold in tension and we are rightly suspicious when any human system attempts to explain it away one way or the other. In this passage we see three examples of how this tension operates in practice.
We see here a terrifying description of how evil works. No one is immune from temptation. Judas is one of Jesus’ chosen twelve, yet Satan enters him (v.3).
Jesus says that all this was foreknown and indeed predestined: ‘The Son of Man will go as has been decreed’ (v.22a). But the fact that it is foreknown and predestined does not absolve Judas of responsibility: ‘But woe to that man who betrays him’ (v.22b).
The paradox is that although ‘it has been decreed’, Judas is a free agent. Judas’ ‘will’ was involved. When he was offered money to betray Jesus, Judas ‘consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over’ (v.6).
The same ‘Satan’ who entered Judas (v.3) wanted to ‘sift’ Peter ‘as wheat’ (v.31).
Peter was very confident that he would not let Jesus down: ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death’ (v.33). Jesus knew that Peter would fail: ‘I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows today, you will deny three times that you know me’ (v.34).
But ultimately his faith did not fail. Jesus said, ‘But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail’ (v.32). This shows that in the midst of this extraordinary paradox of predestination and free will, prayer really does make a difference. Why and how it works we may never understand. However, the example of Jesus shows that it really does count. Your prayers do make a difference.
Supremely, in the life and death of Jesus we see this paradox of predestination and free will. Jesus says, ‘The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed’ (v.22a). He says, ‘It is written: “And he was numbered with the transgressors”; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfilment’ (v.37). There could not be a stronger statement that Jesus’ death was preordained, pre-planned and predestined. Yet Jesus went willingly to his death; he chose to die. He gave his body for us (v.19).
We see the balance between God’s part and our part. We are reminded of it every time we take communion. Jesus said, ‘This is my body given for you… This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’ (vv.19,20). That was the hard part – the sacrifice of his life voluntarily given for us. Our part is relatively simple: ‘do this in remembrance of me’ (v.19).
3. God will do amazing things … Joshua 3:1-5:12
Crossing the Jordan
1Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits4 That is, about 3,000 feet or about 900 meters between you and the ark; do not go near it.”
5Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
6Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.
7And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’ ”
9Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”
14So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
–from Joshua 3
1When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2“Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
4So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
8So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.
10Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, 11and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched. 12The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.
14That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.
15Then the Lord said to Joshua, 16“Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.”
17So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.”
18And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.
19On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
–from Joshua 4
1Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until they1 Another textual tradition we had crossed over, their hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.
Circumcision and Passover at Gilgal
2At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.3 Gibeath Haaraloth means the hill of foreskins.
4Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the wilderness on the way after leaving Egypt. 5All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not. 6The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord. For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land he had solemnly promised their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7So he raised up their sons in their place, and these were the ones Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. 8And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed.
9Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal9 Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew for roll. to this day.
10On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. 11The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.
–from Joshua 5