“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: June 5, 2023 – Joshua 007

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Joshua+007

Joshua Chapter 7 (ESV)

Israel Defeated at Ai

But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.

Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water.

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?”

The Sin of Achan

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13 Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” 14 In the morning therefore you shall be brought near by your tribes. And the tribe that the Lord takes by lot shall come near by clans. And the clan that the Lord takes shall come near by households. And the household that the Lord takes shall come near man by man.15 And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel.’”



  • When Israel was defeated at Ai, Joshua’s prayer (vv7-9) clearly revealed his panic and worry about what might lie ahead. God’s words to Joshua put a new perspective on the situation. “Israel has sinned”. Joshua was not to worry about possible consequences of defeat, but to look for the cause of defeat. Why Israel lost the battle was far more important than what the loss might mean in terms of enemy morale.
  • When we experience a setback, it’s better for us too to look for the cause than to worry about consequences. If we examine ourselves and find no known sin, then we can advance with confidence. If we do find sin, even unintentional sin, we need to deal with it immediately.
  • Are you aware of the sins you have committed? Is there any secret sins you harbor? Sit silently and invite the Holy Spirit to illumine you. If so, honestly admit them to God and ask humbly for God’s gracious forgiveness.



Merciful and glorious Heavenly Father, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light on my path, preventing me from slipping and losing my way in the darkness. Your word is sharper than any double-edged sword, so alive and powerful that it can divide my soul and spirit, laying bare the deepest shadows in my life. Heavenly Father, I pray that You would examine me, know my thoughts, test me, and know my intentions. See if there is any wickedness within me and forgive all my hidden sins. Guide me on the path of eternal life. Purify my life like refined gold, making it radiant and shining. Sharpen my determination, making it firm and as precious as jade. Cultivate my soul, making it holy and fresh like a lily in a secluded valley, emitting the fragrance of heaven. Heavenly Father, grant me abundant wisdom so that I do not worry about the consequences of failure, but repent for the reasons behind it. Keep me dwelling in Your presence all the days of my life, not following the plans of the wicked, not walking in the path of sinners, and not sitting in the seat of mockers. May I be like a fruitful tree planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in season, and my leaves never wither. May everything I do prosper according to Your will. Amen!



Lead Me in the Way Everlasting – youtu.be/_Q-sPK286W8


“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: June 2, 2023 – Joshua 006

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Joshua+006

Joshua Chapter 6 (ESV)

The Fall of Jericho

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in.And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days.Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”

And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11 So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.

12 Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days.

15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 21 Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.



  • God’s command to Joshua – to have the people march silently around Jericho for six days, and then after seven circuits on the seventh day to shout – was strange indeed. Yet Joshua followed His instructions to the letter.
  • When the people finally did shout, the massive fortifications crumbled, and Israel won an easy victory. The victory at Jericho teaches us that obedience, even when God’s commands seem foolish, brings victory. It is the same with us today. Spiritual battles require obedience, unified vision and team work.
  • Are you a good soldier for the Lord? Are you obedient to the spiritual leaders God has entrusted to your church? Do you submit to the church leadership and embrace their vision? Do you enjoy other members of the church and work well with them?



Heavenly Father, I pray that You would instruct me in Your statutes, and I will faithfully keep them. Grant me understanding, and I will observe Your law with all my heart. Cause me to follow Your commandments, for they bring me joy! However, how difficult it is to obey Your commandments! Though my heart desires it, I often fail to act accordingly. My pride is like a stubborn rock that trips me, and I am like a wild bull thrown down to the ground. I have relied on my superior reasoning, abundant knowledge, and exceptional abilities, often acting based on these, but I forget that everything is by Your grace, even my very breath is a gift from You. Heavenly Father, grant me more wisdom and greater faith so that wherever and whenever I am, I firmly believe that Your thoughts far surpass mine and Your ways are much higher than my ways. May I not rely on my own cleverness but wholeheartedly pursue the simplicity that pleases You, for Your ways are hidden from the wise and revealed to the humble. May I gain heavenly wisdom in my foolishness, understanding that a life that pleases You is one that is truly wise yet appears foolish, truly skillful yet seems clumsy. For those who fear and obey You will inherit eternal life. Amen!



Teach Me, O Lord – youtu.be/p0L5eFWS32A


“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: June 1, 2023 – Joshua 005

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Joshua+005

Joshua Chapter 5 (ESV)

First Passover in Canaan

10 While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. 11 And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

The Commander of the Lord’s Army

13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.



  • The Israelites celebrated Passover by looking back to their redemption from Egypt, and remembered God’s provision. From now on, Israel would live by faith, not by sight. The manna now ceased. No fiery pillar would lead. Daily, visible evidence of God’s presence would be absent for the first time in the memory of many of the Israelites. Yet the people under Joshua would trust and obey God. Seen or unseen, God is with His people. We can trust Him to lead us to victory.
  • “Take off your sandals” (v15) is almost identical to the command given to Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:5). Thus, Joshua was confronted with the living God, as Moses had been (Ex 33:9-11).
  • List as many different postures of worship recorded in the Bible as you can recall. What posture is the most common today? Most uncommon?
  • Sometime this week in a place where you won’t be disturbed, try to choose the posture that is most unfamiliar to you and worship God in this way until the time is over.



Holy, holy, holy! My God, my God, You are the Almighty who was, who is, and who will be forever! O gracious and majestic Heavenly Father, You are worthy of glory, honor, and authority! For You have created all things, and everything exists according to Your will. All things reflect Your eternal mystery and beautiful radiance. Though I cannot see the pillar of fire and cloud that led the Israelites in the past, by the faith You have given me, I can perceive Your grace and glory in all things. Among the many red leaves that fall in autumn, I search for the verses of love You have written for humanity. In the countless snowflakes that dance in winter, I listen intently to Your holy call to Your children. In the gentle waves of spring waters and the abundance of stars on summer nights, I see Your good intentions for all humankind. Even though I may not encounter burning bushes or drawing swords before me, I will remove my shoes and worship You with a solemn and reverent heart. For everywhere I look, I see Your fingerprints, and wherever my feet stand, that place becomes a sacred ground where I meet You. I will also be humble and gentle, surrendering before You, and ask that You be my Commander throughout my life, guiding me every step of the way. Amen!



Holy Holy Holy (We Bow Before Thee) – youtu.be/qpwpqexUNdw


“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: May 31, 2023 – Joshua 004

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Joshua+004

Joshua Chapter 4 (ESV)

And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the Lord told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down there. And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua.

The people passed over in haste. 11 And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the Lord and the priests passed over before the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. 13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.

15 And the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.

19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”



  • The heap that Joshua formed from the 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes, were taken from the Jordan River and placed on the west bank. This was to be a memorial to future generations. In later days when the children asked what these stones meant, the parents were to tell the story of how God caused the river to stop flowing and allowed the people to cross the river (v21-23). They were also to give glory to God (v24), and remind future generations that such “remembering” called for appropriate actions of love and obedience to such a great living God.
  • God knows it is easy for the Israelites and us to forget His almighty power and His grace once we settle into a comfortable and self-sufficient state.
  • Take a moment to reflect on God’s grace and what the Lord has done for you in the past week, month, year. Record what was brought to your mind in this remembering and reflection. Recognizing and remembering God’s grace motivates us to serve Him and love Him more.



Heavenly Father, whenever I remember Your unfailing love and Your ceaseless mercy, my heart fills with renewed hope. Every morning as I wake, whether I see sunlight filling the room or hear the rain tapping on the window, each day is a fresh start for me. You give me new breath of life, and You inspire me with new understanding of how to live. You renew my being, guiding me on the path of righteousness, making me increasingly humble and gentle, resembling my Lord Jesus Christ. You also grant me the eternal hope that fills my spirit and fills my heart with anticipation for the new heaven and new earth. Your faithfulness is vast, and Your love is profound! In my heart, I proclaim that You are my strength and my portion. Your grace and love surround me every moment, and I will dwell in Your presence all the days of my life, finding refuge in You, so that I may proclaim all Your deeds. Yet, I am forgetful. I ask that You awaken my soul, so that in the quiet passing of each day and amidst the changes of daily life, I will not forget Your grace. I will find a beautiful stone to place on my desk, as a reminder of Your grace, so that I may speak to others about the living river of water You have given us, flowing to eternal life. Amen!



Great Is Thy Faithfulness – youtu.be/ErwiBz1QA4o


“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: May 30, 2023 – Joshua 003

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Joshua+003

Joshua Chapter 3 (ESV)

Israel Crosses the Jordan

Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.

The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’”And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13 And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

14 So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea ofthe Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.



  • Joshua has led the Israelites to the riverbank of Jordan River. On the eve of entering God’s Promised Land, Joshua asked his people to first make themselves clean both physically and spiritually. (v5) Joshua also told the people to “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” (v9)
  • The Ark of the Covenant represented the mighty presence of God. Later, it is referred to as a portable throne of the invisible God, who was seated between the cherubim above the ark (Ps 80:1; 99:1). The ark contained a jar of manna which was a reminder of the grace of God in the wilderness; it also functioned as a teaching device that “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8:3).
  • How important is God’s Word to you? When was the last time you experienced the guidance of His Word in your life? What was the experience? How did it impact you?



Heavenly Father, Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path! How I adore Your teachings, and I meditate on them day and night! I reflect on the design of the ark, with Your glory shining above the mercy seat between the two cherubim. I ponder the manna stored within the ark, reminding me of Your abundant grace towards all humanity, and teaching me that life is not sustained by food alone but by every word that proceeds from Your mouth. I also contemplate the humble and gentle nature of my Lord Jesus Christ and the new covenant He established with us through His precious blood. In Him, all who are weary and burdened can find rest, and those who thirst can freely drink from the river of life He offers. Furthermore, I envision the future new heaven and new earth, where You will dwell with us personally, being our God and we, Your people. You will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain, for the former things will pass away. Heavenly Father, I desire to transform all these thoughts into obedient actions, coming into Your presence to hear Your words. Strengthen my heart that I may live each day in holiness, like a pure lily blooming in the darkness and impurity of this world. Amen!



Thy Word – youtu.be/npWJZwgmKMo


“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: May 29, 2023 – Joshua 002

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Joshua+002

Joshua Chapter 2 (ESV)

Rahab Hides the Spies

And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.

Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”

15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall.



  • Jericho was a walled city that controlled passes leading up into Canaan’s central highlands. Two spies who slipped into the city were sheltered by Rahab, a prostitute who very likely, as was quite common in those days, operated an inn. Rahab hid the spies and asked them to spare her life when Israel took the city.
  • Was it ok for Rahab to lie? Besides, Rahab made her living through immoral behavior. Some wonder if it is fitting to include Rahab, a prostitute, as a main character in the story of the conquest. Even more unsettling to some is the fact that she later married a prince in Judah and became the great-grandmother of King David.
  • We do not say that prostitution is ok because Rahab did it. Neither should we say that lying is ok because Rahab did it. God rewarded Rahab for her faith. But she, like us, made mistakes. We all have to strive toward purity, and repent when we fail. We can learn from Rahab’s mistakes as well as from her obedience
  • This incident shows us that in Old Testament times as well as today, everyone can receive salvation through God’s grace. This also reminds us that our past does not stand in the way of a personal relationship with God.


Heavenly Father, I want to praise You with my sincerest heart of gratitude! May I never forget all Your blessings, at every moment! You forgive all my sins, heal all my diseases, redeem my life from death, and crown me with love and compassion. You satisfy my desires with goodness and joy, restoring my youthfulness like that of an eagle! Your grace is boundless, reaching every person regardless of their humble status or their unworthy actions. Through the salvation accomplished by the precious blood of Christ, anyone can reconcile with You and come before You with a pure faith, seeking Your forgiveness and becoming Your beloved child. Heavenly Father, I see Your glory shining in every impure and dark place, like a pure lotus blooming in filthy mud, and a bright morning star rising in the deepest night, bringing endless hope to this world. Heavenly Father, grant me wisdom and humility, that I may have unwavering faith in you like Rahab. May my eyes not be attracted to the world’s honors, and may my faith be evident in my daily actions, like gold in the dust and roses among thorns, testifying to Your wondrous salvation before all people. Amen!



Bless the Lord, O My Soul – youtu.be/3OoPsX4OvZ8


“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: May 26, 2023 – Joshua 001

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Joshua+001



The books of Joshua and Judges tell the story of the early years of Israel as a nation. They describe how the Israelites conquer and occupy the land of Canaan, and then struggle to live up to their covenant with God. The Bible’s drama here moves to an important new stage—God’s people are in God’s land. Yet it becomes clear that the road to reconciliation between God and humanity will not be easy.

The story describes the preparations and battles of Israel’s invasion, as well as how the land was divided among the tribes. Since pockets of resistance remained, Joshua in his final speech urges each tribe to take full possession of its territory. Next he leads the people to renew their commitment to the covenant relationship with God.

Judges then relates the troubling cycle of Israel’s repeated covenant breaking, falling under the rule of other nations, and then crying out to God for help. God responds by raising up “judges” to fight for them and save them. But the relief is temporary as Israel falls back into wrongdoing once again. (“Judges” are both military leaders and legal authorities.)

Just as Israel was made up of twelve tribes, so the book tells of twelve judges. But as the people persist in going their own way, we see that they have rejected their true Judge and Ruler. As the anarchy and atrocities increase, Israel’s need for a king becomes more evident. By the end the questions are urgent: Can Israel fulfill its destiny and calling to be God’s light to the nations? Who can rule Israel to help it find its proper role in the drama?



Joshua Chapter 1 (ESV)

God Commissions Joshua

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from 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. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”



  • Israel grieved the loss of its trusted leader, Moses. But with every ending comes a new beginning. In the midst of the mourning, God approached Joshua and assured him that he was the man to lead the people into the Promised Land.
  • He promised to be with Joshua and the land will be given to the nation of Israel. God further commanded Joshua to be courageous and commanded him to remain committed to the study of his Word.



Merciful and Almighty Heavenly Father, Your love transcends time and space, and Your love for humanity endures for generations to come! One generation passes, and another arises, yet Your love remains eternal! Just as the blue sky retains its pure color and the rose preserves its fragrant aroma, Your love is likewise unchanging. Your love drives away the sorrows and grief within our hearts, surpassing the dark clouds of death that overshadow all of humankind. You are an all-knowing, all-powerful, and eternal God, the Alpha and Omega, faithful and benevolent, abounding in grace and love! Generation after generation, countless loyal servants rise and follow You. Every child who loves You is carefully sculpted like a precious gem, shining brilliantly. Heavenly Father, I implore You to raise me up like Joshua, strengthening my courage and granting me understanding of Your destined purpose in my life. Whether You cause me to grow into a towering tree, a pillar of talent used for Your purpose, or make me a fragrant little white flower, picked by Your gracious hand to comfort the weary in this world, I am loved by You, and I joyfully obey Your will. Please help me diligently keep and obey all Your words, and I shall not fear or be dismayed, for wherever I go, You will be with me. Amen!



A Mighty Fortress is Our God – youtu.be/h-T7UbxF85g


“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: May 25, 2023 – Acts 028

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Acts+028



Acts 28     English Standard Version (ESV)

Paul in Rome

17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.”21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the gentiles; they will listen.”

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.



  • Paul spent two years of imprisonment in Rome welcoming everyone who came to his house. Acts began with a crucifixion turned into a resurrection.  There had been imprisonments, beatings, martyrdoms – not just for Paul but for many members of the early church.  There had been open threats and secret intrigues.  And there had been the more subtle danger of compromise – the pressure to be drawn back into Jewish ritual, absorbed into the old rule-keeping.  Through it all, the gospel of Christ was spread to the world.  Every attempt to confine it, to compromise it, to muffle it, to reject it was in the end ineffective.  It spread from the center of the world in Rome through the far reaches of the globe.
  • Acts closes with this image: Paul, opening his home and his heart, preached boldly and without hindrance to all visitors. As he had received hospitality, he offered it to “all who came to him.”  As “God shows no partiality” (10:34), God’s messengers must be similarly inclusive.
  • The words “proclaimingthe kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance ” (v31) summarize not only Paul’s two years in Rome, but his whole Christian life.
  • Take a moment to reflect: To what degree would you like v31 to be a summary of your life as well?



O Heavenly Father, let the heavens declare Your glory, and the firmament proclaim Your handiwork! From this day to that day, I will be still and behold the marvelous splendor of the stars in the universe. From this night to that night, I will attentively listen to the brilliant chapters of nature’s creations! I see the rosy pomegranate slowly growing under the sunlight, the bright apricot hanging down amid the twinkling stars, the graceful willow swaying in the twilight, and the exquisite peach tree unfolding in the morning sun, all adorned with the radiance of Your glory. I hear the birds singing with joy, the flowing water playing a melodious song like silver bells, the thunder resounding in the heavens with triumphant hymns, and the gentle whispers of the breeze among the treetops, all responding to Your loving care. O Heavenly Father, I thank You and praise You! Despite humanity being as humble as the soil and fragile as the reeds, You still look after us! You have given us the gift of intricate wisdom to understand the principles of heaven and earth; You have endowed us with rich souls to appreciate the beauty of all things; and You have granted Your children a pair of spiritual eyes to see Your works that fill the universe and permeate our lives! O Heavenly Father, let the heavens declare Your glory, and the firmament proclaim Your handiwork! I will also declare and proclaim! My declaration shall be like that of the mountains, to make people understand that the kingdom of heaven is near and those with pure hearts are blessed; my proclamation shall be like that of the waters, to make all know that there is a living water that flows to eternal life; my desire shall be like that of the wind, how sweet and enduring it is! O Heavenly Father, may Your Spirit’s wind blow day and night, so that I may diligently declare and boldly proclaim! Amen!



Every Step – youtu.be/zuUkOzu7SU0


“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: May 24, 2023 – Acts 027

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Acts+027



Acts 27     English Standard Version (ESV)

The Storm at Sea

13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. 14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. 17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. 18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”



  • In spite of the terrible conditions, Paul, on the journey to Rome, spoke hopefully that an angel of God had appeared to him in the night and assured him that he would arrive in Rome and stand trial before Caesar; and all who were with him would get there, too. He said, “Do not be afraid … take heart” (the Message vv24-25).  God would strip them of what had obscured their awareness of Him – the ship, the job, and the mad rush to Rome.  But their lives would be preserved.
  • God is also out to get us. Everything we consider a loss can be a chance to discover God at the center, to realize the preciousness of life itself, of love unencumbered by lust and pride and greed.  God’s voice keeps coming in the midst of terror, disaster and hopelessness: “Do not be afraid … take heart.”
  • Tell God your fear and helplessness. Find God in the midst of your problem and His presence.  Listen to Him telling you: “Do not be afraid … take heart.”



Heavenly Father, I admire the red flowers in full bloom during the hot summer days, fearlessly facing the scorching sun; I marvel at the green bamboo standing tall in winter, unaffected by snow and ice; yet, I admire even more the little seagulls in the midst of a storm, the fledgling swallows braving the raging winds, sleeping peacefully in their nests, relying solely on the shelter of the rock and the protection of their parents’ wings. Heavenly Father, if Your grace is sweet honey, I wish to become a diligent bee, filling my basket with it; if Your love is a cool night breeze, I wish to become a tree seed, willing to be blown wherever You desire, falling by the wayside of the lost, by the windows of the weary, growing into shade for years, so that the miracle of life may be proclaimed. I look up at the countless stars in the sky, and down at the rivers flowing into the sea, knowing that the world is built upon your rock, and Your children are all under Your protection. Heavenly Father, I pray that You would sharpen my resolve like a whetstone sharpens jade, refine my courage and determination like gold in the fire, so that I may be brave in the face of fear, experience peace in times of worry, find contentment in times of lack, discover joy in times of suffering, endure in times of impatience, and hold on to hope in hopeless situations. This patience and hope I hold onto are the result of Your abundant grace and mercy upon my unworthy and imperfect life. Amen!



Ancient of Days – youtu.be/cJUtAw21qAM


“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: May 23, 2023 – Acts 026

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Acts+026



Acts 26     English Standard Version (ESV)

12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,17 delivering you from your people and from the gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the gentiles.”

24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”

30 Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. 31 And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”



  • Though clearly his innocence had been stated many times, Paul remained a prisoner. He repeatedly had to face the unfair charges of the Jewish leaders. He made his defense with integrity and power, and in return he got only death threats. In it all, Paul’s witness remains consistent. And his greatest desire is that his accusers and those in judgment over him “should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (v20).
  • How do you respond to the unfairness and injustice in the world around you—poverty, homelessness, and the unfairness in your own life? It is difficult to assume an attitude like Paul’s in the face of injustice. But God sees and knows what is right, and He understands the anger we feel.
  • Ask God to give you the proper response to injustice and a heart that is soft toward those who do not know Him.



Heavenly Father, thank You for granting humanity the gift of eloquence. It can be used to defend the oppressed and speak out against injustice, but it can also confuse truth and lies, and turn black into white. Right and wrong often come from the same mouth, just as sweet water and bitter water flow from the same well. Heavenly Father, grant me the power of silence, for it is a precious and invaluable treasure that cannot be melted by fire or eroded by water. Behold, the heavens, the earth, the mountains, and the rivers are all silent. The clouds and sunlight are silent, and the flowers, grass, and trees are also silent. They remain silent between good and evil, light and darkness. Heavenly Father, in the midst of silence, I see the vastness of your grace, for since ancient times, you have let the sun shine on the righteous and the wicked, and sent rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. Increase the strength in my heart, so that when faced with injustice and unfairness, I can remain silent without the need to defend myself, just as my Lord Jesus Christ remained silent on the cross. Heavenly Father, let me grow in silence, calm the anger in my heart, and treat others with the gentleness and love of my Lord Jesus. Heavenly Father, I know that justice is in Your hands, and you will repay. Amen!



We Look To You – youtu.be/iia_owSfv-8