Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 12 July 2022:
Joshua 4:6 – “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?…’”
The first thing the Israelites did when they entered the Promised Land was set up a monument to the Lord so that generations would never forget what God had done. How will you memorialize God’s blessings in your life for generations to come?
Joshua 4:8 – “And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded.”
God’s plan involves God’s people diligently and faithfully obeying God’s appointed leaders.
“Spiritual memory is crucial in the Christian life. Do you vividly recall times when you know God spoke to you? It would be tragic if, in your haste to advance in your Christian faith, you neglected to leave spiritual markers at the key crossroads of your life. Without the help of these markers, you will lose your spiritual bearings.
The Israelites experienced a tumultuous pilgrimage. Their doubt that God was powerful enough to give them victory cost them forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Then God miraculously parted the waters of the Jordan River so they could pass over and continue their conquest. God knew that at times the Israelites would face intimidating enemies and would need a reminder that He was powerful enough to protect them. The Israelites might be tempted to think they made a mistake entering Canaan. For this reason God instructed them to build a monument on the banks of the Jordan River. Whenever they returned to this spot, they would see the monument and be reminded of God’s awesome power. This marker would give them confidence to meet the new challenges they faced.
A spiritual marker identifies a time of decision when you clearly know that God guided you. Can you remember the moment you became a child of God? Were there specific times when He called you to His ways of living? Can you point to times when He clearly guided you in a decision? Were there times when He spoke powerfully to you about a commitment you should make? Keep track of these important moments! Regularly rehearse them and notice the steady progression in the way God has led you. This will help you understand God’s activity in your life and give you a sense of direction as you face future decisions.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Colossians 4:2 – “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
How is your prayer life? Today’s readings tell us to continue “steadfastly” in prayer, from the Greek word proskartereō, which means to powerfully persevere with continuous diligence and courage, never growing faint or quitting. This is not casual prayer but rather deeply earnest, fervent prayer, a relentless struggle in prayer as described in Colossians 4:12. The prayer described here is persistent and enduring – “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Are you praying continuously, earnestly, and fervently?
Today’s readings tell us that when we pray, we should “be watchful” in our prayers. Anticipate God’s answer to your prayer, and pay attention. God may (likely) answer your prayer in ways you never anticipated. The Bible also tells us to pray with thanksgiving. This involves trusting God with all your circumstances and genuinely believing that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Thanksgiving also involves trusting that God’s “No” response to some of your prayers is far better than the “Yes” for which you had hoped. Are your prayers full of thanksgiving?
“Pray also for us….” (Colossians 4:3) Finally, if you do a word search in the Bible on “pray,” you will find the vast majority of verses on prayer involve praying for someone else and for the advancement of the Kingdom, rather than on personal wants, desires, and concerns. Consider the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…. Just give me what I really need today and nothing more (daily bread), and help me forgive others and abstain from sin.’ Also, most praying is done in fellowship with other believers. Isn’t this the example Jesus gave us in the Lord’s prayer? ‘Our Father, (not My Father)….’ Today’s readings give an example of group prayer for others and for the advancement of the Gospel – “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak…. always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:3, 4, 12) Notice that, surprisingly, Paul didn’t ask his fellow believers to pray for his release from prison. His prayers were not self-centered by rather Christ-centered. For what and for whom are you praying earnestly, fervently and thankfully, and why?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 12 July 22: Today, examine your prayer life, and “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Focus your prayers on the advancement of the Gospel and the needs of others.