Romans 3:21-31

            It would be an understatement to say that how we view the whole of Holy Scripture is important.  For Christians, the Bible is God’s Word to humanity.  Some believers approach the Bible as a law book and see the essence of Christianity as obedience to specific commands.  Yet, today’s epistle lesson affirms that we are justified by faith apart from works of the law.
            Therefore, I tend to see the Bible more as a beautiful story of grace in which God goes out of his way across the millennia to redeem his lost creatures from sin, death, and hell.  Our relationship to God will not stand up under the burden of a perpetually angry army sergeant-type God who is trying to drill truth and salvation into his stupid raw recruits.  Rather, we come to God as a loving heavenly Father who, along with the Son and the Spirit, went to the greatest lengths to make redemption possible.  God did for us what we could not do for ourselves.
            The only proper response to this grace is faith – not effort, not trying harder, not by self-flagellation or extreme guilty feelings.  None of us has anything to stand upon, except the grace of God in Christ.  The wrath of God against sin and evil has been satisfied through the death of Jesus.  We do not need to try and please God through working more and harder because we already possess his pleasure.
            Loving God, who sent Jesus as my substitute on the cross, give me the gift of faith so that I might always trust you for my salvation and for everything in my life every day.  Amen.

Joshua 1:1-11

            The ancient Israelites had been delivered from Egypt, wandered through the desert for forty years, and, after the death of their leader Moses, were standing poised and ready to enter the land promised to them.  But it was not going to be a cakewalk.  There were pagan peoples entrenched in the land and it would be no small accomplishment to conquer their territory.  Joshua, Moses’ young aide, now leader of the people, would be the one to go before them in battle.  He was likely nervous, even downright scared. 
            So, the LORD came to Joshua and told him to be strong and courageous, to not be afraid to claim the good promise of the land.  The path to success for him, and all of God’s people, would not be by the physical sword but by the sword of the Lord, the Word of God.  “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.”
            A faithful knowledge and careful adherence to Holy Scripture comes through meditation.  There needs to be among God’s people a continual rumination upon God’s Word.  We sometimes wonder how to address and deal with certain situations and problems that seem as large as taking the Promised Land.  The place to begin is by going to the Word of God – not just in an impatient question-and-answer manner, but in a slow, deliberate, contemplative way.  True spiritual success comes not only through acknowledging that the Bible is God’s Word, but by the means of meditating upon it continually.
            Scripture memorization is a discipline worth pursuing.  Having large chunks of the Bible within our minds and hearts helps us to draw upon particular verses and messages when we are facing certain situations.  Also, when we are doing tedious work, we can engage our minds in the practice of meditating on those verses we have committed to memory.  Meditation on God’s Word is not an optional practice if we want to have success in living the Christian life.
            O God, as I meditate on your Word, would you grant me success through confidently living your commands on a daily basis.  Sink the message of the Bible down deep in my heart, and press it firmly in my mind so that I will be strong and courageous to the glory of Jesus Christ.  Amen.