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Today's Readings: Joshua 23, 24 | Isaiah 29 | Hebrew 12

Reading 1 - Josh 24:14,15

"Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD" (Josh 24:14,15).

"We must choose wisdom and reject folly. We are faced with this choice every moment of our lives. All our thoughts, words and actions fall into one category or the other. They will all naturally be in the category of folly (and death) if we do not consciously and deliberately place them in the category of wisdom (and life). This is the constant battle against the diabolos -- the devil -- our natural selves. This is the required overcoming: 'He that overcometh shall inherit all things.' He that does not overcome shall not inherit anything. The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. We must diligently build up the Spirit's lust (desire) by study and meditation and prayer, so that it is stronger than the flesh's lust" (GV Growcott).

Reading 2 - Isa 29:20,21

"The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down -- those who with a word make a man out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice" (Isa 29:20,21).

"It comes out the worst when a man is half conscious of having a weak case and is making desperate efforts to convince himself that he does well to be angry. If he believes in the Bible he needs then to remember that all who watch for iniquity and make a man an offender for a word shall be cut off (Isa 29 : 20). It is usually an easy matter to collect reports derogatory to any man or any body of men. There is quite a temptation to use these 'make weights' in time of controversy, especially if the original cause of dispute is slight. One on the defensive can be kept busy chasing the false reports and unfair interpretations, but never succeeding in catching one before the next is on the wing.

"In a court of law a litigant is tied down to the actual charge. It is useless for him to try to fatten out his suit by all sorts of complaints remote from the original accusation. We are free from any such legal restrictions now, but it is well to remember that we have to go before a judgment seat far more searching than any ever set up by man, and for 'every idle word' that we have spoken we shall have to give account. Do not let us watch for iniquity, then, either in those we accuse of specific errors or in those who accuse us. Such watching inevitably leads to countless idle and evil words" (Islip Collyer, "Principles and Proverbs").

Reading 3 - Heb 12:11

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless AFTERWARD it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Heb 12:11).

"How happy are tried Christians, AFTERWARDS. No calm more deep than that which succeeds a storm. Who has not rejoiced in clear shinings after rain? Victorious banquets are for well-exercised soldiers. After killing the lion we eat the honey... Our sorrows, like the passing keels of the vessels upon the sea, leave a silver line of holy light behind them 'afterwards'... See, then, the happy estate of a Christian! He has his best things last, and he therefore in this world receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are 'afterward' good things, harsh ploughings yielding joyful harvests. Even now he grows rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and becomes full by being emptied; if, then, his grievous afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life, what shall be the full vintage of joy 'afterwards'? If his dark nights are as bright as the world's days, what shall his days be? If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be? If he can sing in a dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in God's Kingdom! If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how will he extol Him before the eternal throne! If evil be good to him now, what will the overflowing goodness of God be to him then? Oh, blessed 'afterward'! Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present cross for the crown which cometh afterwards? But herein is work for patience, for the rest is not for today, nor the triumph for the present, but AFTERWARDS" (CHS).


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