September 7 Devotional (2021)

September 7, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings:  Joshua 8:1-23 / Psalm 73:1-20 / Hebrews 12:3-13

Invocation

O Lord open thou my lips 

And my mouth shall declare thy praise. 

O God + come to my assistance; 

O Lord, make haste to help me. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now, * and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,

    hallowed be thy Name,

    thy kingdom come,

    thy will be done,

        on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

    as we forgive those

        who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

    and the power, and the glory,

    for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn

“Love Lifted Me” 

by James Rowe

Lyrics:

1. I was sinking deep in sin, 

Far from the peaceful shore, 

Very deeply stained within, 

Sinking to rise no more; 

But the Master of the sea 

Heard my despairing cry, 

From the waters lifted me, 

Now safe am I, 

Love lifted me! Love lifted Me! 

When nothing else could help, Love lifted me!

2. All my heart to Him I gave, 

Ever to Him I’ll cling, 

In His blessed presence live, 

Ever His praises sing. 

Love so mighty and so true 

Merits my soul’s best songs, 

Faithful, loving service, too, 

To Him belongs. 

Love lifted me! Love lifted Me! 

When nothing else could help, Love lifted me!

3. Souls in danger, look above, 

Jesus completely saves; 

He will lift you by His love 

Out of the angry waves. 

He’s the Master of the sea 

Billows His will obey; 

He your Savior wants to be— 

Be saved today! 

Love lifted me! Love lifted Me! 

When nothing else could help, Love lifted me! [1]


Morning Prayer

Lord, who formed me in my mother’s womb: Today, I pray thee, make me according to thy heart. Amen.

Short Verse

I give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart;* I will tell of all your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in you;* I will sing your Name, O Most High. 

Psalm 9:1-2
Et-Tell ruins have been identified with the city of Ai
(Source)

Morning Reading: Joshua 8:1-23

The Israelites conquer Ai

The Fall of Ai

1 And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. 2 And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.”

3 So Joshua and all the fighting men arose to go up to Ai. And Joshua chose 30,000 mighty men of valor and sent them out by night. 4 And he commanded them, “Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you remain ready. 5 And I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out against us just as before, we shall flee before them. 6 And they will come out after us, until we have drawn them away from the city. For they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us, just as before.’ So we will flee before them. 7 Then you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the LORD your God will give it into your hand. 8 And as soon as you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire. You shall do according to the word of the LORD. See, I have commanded you.” 9 So Joshua sent them out. And they went to the place of ambush and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai, but Joshua spent that night among the people.

10 Joshua arose early in the morning and mustered the people and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. 11 And all the fighting men who were with him went up and drew near before the city and encamped on the north side of Ai, with a ravine between them and Ai. 12 He took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13 So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city. But Joshua spent that night in the valley. 14 And as soon as the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the men of the city, hurried and went out early to the appointed place toward the Arabah to meet Israel in battle. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. 15 And Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness. 16 So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua they were drawn away from the city. 17 Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city open and pursued Israel.

18 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. 19 And the men in the ambush rose quickly out of their place, and as soon as he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it. And they hurried to set the city on fire. 20 So when the men of Ai looked back, behold, the smoke of the city went up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. 21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 And the others came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. And Israel struck them down, until there was left none that survived or escaped. 23 But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him near to Joshua.

[25]

Morning Lesson

Yesterday’s defeat became today’s victory.”

Following the success at Jericho, the Israelites mounted a raid on the town of Ai (chapter 7). This raid “failed because Achan kept some of the seized valuables of Ai for himself rather than giving it to the Lord’s treasury as required by the Law. Achan admitted his deed and, consequently, was put to death. All of Israel had to live by faith in God’s providence, and all had to obey the Lord and work for the common good. In this way, Israel foreshadows the idea of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ in which all members have specific duties and collaborate together in a united fashion.” [2]

“After Israel had been cleansed from Achan’s sin, Joshua prepared to attack Ai again—this time to win. Joshua had learned some lessons that we can follow: (1) Confess your sins when God reveals them to you (Josh 7:19-21); (2) when you fail, refocus on God, deal with the problem, and move on (Josh 7:22-25; 8:1). God wants the cycle of sin, repentance, and forgiveness to strengthen us, not weaken us. The lessons we learn from our failures should make us better able to handle the same situation the second time around. Because God is eager to give us cleansing, forgiveness, and strength, the only way to lose is to give up. We can tell what kind of people we are by what we do on the second and third attempts.” [3]

“Why did God allow the Israelites to keep the plunder and cattle (livestock) this time [v. 2]? Israel’s laws for handling the spoils of war covered two situations: (1) Cities like Jericho which were under God’s ban (judgment for idolatry) could not be looted (see Deut 20:16-18). God’s people were to be kept holy and separate from every influence of idolatry. (2) The distribution of captured goods from cities not under the ban was a normal part of warfare. It provided the army and the nation with the necessary food, flocks, and weapons needed to sustain itself in wartime. Ai was not under the ban. The conquering army needed the food and equipment. Because soldiers were not paid, the plunder was part of their incentive and reward for going to war.” [4]

“The conquest of Ai was very important to the Israelites. Only 11 miles away from Jericho, Ai was a key stronghold for the Canaanites and a buffer fortress for Bethel (Josh 8:12). If the Canaanite kings got wind of an Israelite defeat at Ai, they could unite in a coordinated attack. They did not know that God had restored his power and protection to Joshua’s troops. We must depend on God with absolute obedience to be sure of the victory he has promised.” [5]

“[A]s God ordered Joshua to plant an ambush in their rear, that is, to plant warriors in hiding to ambush the enemy, we can learn that such treachery is not unjustly carried out by those who wage a just war. Thus, a just man, if he wishes to undertake a just war, ought to think chiefly in these matters about nothing else than whether it is right for him to do so, for it is not lawful for everyone to wage war. However, once he has undertaken a just war, it makes no difference to the justice of the war whether he wins in open warfare or by treachery. However, those just wars ought to be defined as those which avenge injuries, if the tribe or state which is about to be sought in war, either neglected to punish a crime improperly committed by its own countrymen or neglected to repay what had been lost through those injuries. Moreover, without doubt that type of war is just which God commands, since there is no iniquity in him and he knows what ought to be done to each person. In this type of war the general of the army or the people themselves are not to be deemed so much the instigator of the war as much as its agent. Joshua sent thirty thousand warriors to vanquish Ai. We must consider whether every attempt at deception ought to be reckoned as a lie and, if so, whether a lie can be just, when someone who should be deceived is deceived. And if not even this kind of a lie is found to be just, we must still relate what transpired with the ambush to the truth with some other meaning” (St. Augustine of Hippo, Questions on Joshua 10–11). [6]

“The Lord who spoke to Joshua” in verse 18 “was the Son of God [St. Ambrose of Milan]. Joshua’s spear was a type of the cross, that weapon of peace through which Christ and His Church win in battle.” [7]

“The Lord gave Joshua the city [v. 19]. Yesterday’s defeat became today’s victory. Once sin is dealt with, forgiveness and victory lie ahead. With God’s direction we need not stay discouraged or burdened with guilt. No matter how difficult a setback sin may bring, we must renew our efforts to carry out God’s will.” [8] “God handed Ai over to the Israelites, and Joshua accomplished the victory by way of a decoy. His act of stretching out his javelin while the battle raged recalls the episode in which Moses stretched forth his arms so Israel might defeat the Amalekites (cf. Ex 17:11-13). In both cases, the raised arms and hands signified a prayer of petition for God’s assistance.” [9]

“You will read in the Holy Scriptures about the battles of the just ones, about the slaughter and carnage of murderers, and that the saints spare none of their deeply rooted enemies. If they do spare them, they are even charged with sin, just as Saul was charged because he had preserved the life of Agag king of Amalek [see 1Sm 15:9-24]. You should understand the wars of the just… are waged by them against sin. But how will the just ones endure if they reserve even a little bit of sin? Therefore, this is said of them: ‘They did not leave behind even one who might be saved or might escape’ (Origen of Alexandria, Homilies on Joshua 8.7). [10] “We should remember that all the inhabitants of Ai, and in fact all the inhabitants of the cities conquered by Joshua, were killed because none of them asked for mercy or desired to be saved. God always provides the warning and the opportunity, but He will not force people to seek salvation.” [11]

[26]

Midday Prayer

For Peace

O God, your angels always enjoy your peace, and you also share your peace with us. In our time on earth, lead us in the way of peace, and give us complete peace when we inherit your kingdom; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. [12]

Short Verse

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.

Midday Reading: Psalm 73:1-20

I saw the prosperity of the wicked

Truly God is good to the upright,

to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;

my steps had nearly slipped.

For I was envious of the arrogant;

I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

For they have no pain;

their bodies are sound and sleek.

They are not in trouble as others are;

they are not plagued like other people.

Therefore pride is their necklace;

violence covers them like a garment.

Their eyes swell out with fatness;

their hearts overflow with follies.

They scoff and speak with malice;

loftily they threaten oppression.

They set their mouths against heaven,

and their tongues range over the earth.

Therefore the people turn and praise them,

and find no fault in them.

And they say, “How can God know?

Is there knowledge in the Most High?”

Such are the wicked;

always at ease, they increase in riches.

All in vain I have kept my heart clean

and washed my hands in innocence.

For all day long I have been plagued,

and am punished every morning.

If I had said, “I will talk on in this way,”

I would have been untrue to the circle of your children.

But when I thought how to understand this,

it seemed to me a wearisome task,

until I went into the sanctuary of God;

then I perceived their end.

Truly you set them in slippery places;

you make them fall to ruin.

How they are destroyed in a moment,

swept away utterly by terrors!

They are like a dream when one awakes;

on awaking you despise their phantoms.


Eventide Prayer

As I pass to the end of the day, I praise You, O Holy One, and I ask that the evening and the night may be free of temptation. Grant me this, O Savior, and save me. [14]

Short Verse

Let us bless the Lord God living and true! Let us always render him praise, glory, honor, blessing, and all good things! Amen. Amen. So be it! So be it! 

  • St. Francis
  • Eventide Reading: Hebrews 12:3-13

    Trials for the sake of discipline

    3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

    “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

    nor be weary when reproved by him.

    6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

    7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

    12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

    Eventide Lesson

    Do Not Grow Weary

    “Unpleasant circumstances, which tempt us to complain, may be the chastening of the Lord (v. 5). If the loving discipline of our human fathers [vv. 4-11] brought us to respect them, how much more deserving of respect is the discipline of the Father of spirits (v. 9), our Creator, whose breath gives us life (Gn 1:26; 2:7)?” [15] “A good parent disciplines his or her children out of love in an effort to form the children properly. In like manner, God allows trials in our lives so that our faith and virtues may increasingly mature (cf. Prv 3:11-12).” [16] On this, St. Basil the Great wrote, “Do you see where affliction leads you? To hope that does not disappoint. Are you ill? Be of good cheer, because ‘the Lord disciplines him whom he loves.’” [17]

    Verse 8 says, If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. “Under Roman law of the time, legitimation of newborn children did not follow birth automatically. A positive action by the father was needed. Therefore, children who were not recognized by their father had no legal claim on their father’s inheritance.” [18] “[H]uman fathers do not always prevail to discipline us so that they can render us perfect, but God always disciplines us and makes us perfect. For the process of discipline stops when the father dies or the child comes of age” (Oecumenius, Fragments on the Epistle to the Hebrews 12.9). [19]

    “It seems to us as though we were forsaken by God on the cross, but precisely then we are loved and cared for most” (Martin Luther). [20] “Through hardship, the Holy Spirit quenches lust and kills the flesh, to prepare us for eternal life (Rm 8:18–27). Cf Heb 12:14; 1Pt 4:1–2.” [21]

    “They who drink bitter medicines first submit to some unpleasantness and afterwards feel the benefit. For such is virtue, such is vice. In the latter, there is first the pleasure, then the despondency; in the former, first the despondency, and then the pleasure” (St. Chrysostom, On the Epistle to the Hebrews). [22] “Just as a sprained ankle must be protected, discouraged Christians must be cared for and protected by their fellow believers.” [23] 

    Compline Prayer

    LIGHTING THE LAMP OF EVENING 

    A lamp or candle should be lighted now before the icons or the cross. If the incense is still burning, the censer is lifted up three times crosswise at the words “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” as an act of worship to the Divine Trinity O Jesus Christ, the Gladdening Light Of the Immortal Father’s holy glory; The Heavenly, Holy, Blessed One; As the sun declines, we see the light of evening, And sing our hymn to God: + the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Worthy are you, O Son of God, through each and every moment, That joyful songs should hymn you. You are the Giver of our Life, And so the world gives glory. [24]


    Devotionals compiled/written by S. P. Rogers

    Citations:

    [1] Tickle, P. (2000). September. In The divine hours: Prayers for Summertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 512). New York, NY: Image Books.

    [2] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Joshua. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 630). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

    [3] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Joshua. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 5471). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

    [4] Ibid. 3, P. 5472

    [5] Ibid. 3, P. 5472

    [6] Augustine. (2019). Psalms. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 735). Nashville: Holman Bible.

    [7] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Joshua. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [8] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Joshua. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 5472). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

    [9] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Joshua. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 630). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

    [10] Origen. (2019). Psalms. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 735). Nashville: Holman Bible.

    [11] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Joshua. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [12] Stratman, P. (2001). For Pease. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 56). Crossway.

    [13] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Daily Prayer. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 16176-16190). London: HarperCollins.

    [14] Papavassiliou, V. (2014). Early Evening Prayers. In The ancient faith prayer book (Kindle ed., p. 34). Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing.

    [15] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Hebrews. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1699). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [16] Basil the Great. (2019). Hebrews. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3477). Nashville: Holman Bible.

    [17] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Hebrews. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3712). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

    [18] Ibid. 17

    [19] Oecumenius. (2019). Hebrews. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3477). Nashville: Holman Bible.

    [20] A., E. E. (2016). Hebrews. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 9040). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [21] Ibid. 20

    [22] Chrysostom. (2019). Hebrews. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3478). Nashville: Holman Bible.

    [23] A., E. E. (2016). Hebrews. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 9040). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [24] McGuckin, P. (Ed.). (2011). An Office of Evening Prayers at Dusk Vespers. In P. McGuckin (Trans.), Prayer Book of the Early Christians (Kindle, p. 292). essay, Paraclete Press. 

    [25] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Battle for Ai [Map]. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 7646). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

    [26] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Take the Land [Chart]. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 7305). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

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