Remember any defeats? Can you remember a time when God’s people (a church or ministry) lost? Where she suffered casualties ( permanent losses of people or money)? Looking back can you see any early warning signs?
Know any Achans? Do you know anyone whose sin took down a whole family? Took down a whole group? Know any Rahabs? Do you know anyone whose obedience saved a whole family? Preserved a whole group?
Do you see yourself in Joshua? Have you ever foolishly not inquired of the Lord and gotten yourself in serious trouble? Have you ever foolishly blamed God for sin (yours or someone else’s)?
The Lord’s Response & Ours:
What do you need to confess? What do you need to aggressively put to death (see Col 3:5)? What is God calling you to try again? What’s your “do over”?
Israel suffers defeat, Achan grievously sins and Joshua makes foolish mistakes. Why? They all thought they were special–that God’s rules didn’t apply to them. And their mistakes were costly. But it’s also important to remember: we’re not special. Because after we’ve been defeated, after we’ve sinned, after we’ve made foolish mistakes, God graciously says: Get up, go out, and fight for me again.
*64 words for those counting
From Betty Hockla
Today we read the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho. We built on last week’s lesson of obedience by talking about when and how God will answer prayer. The kids were asked about what they prayed for and it was highlighted that what you pray for needs to be good and right for you and others in God’s eyes. I was told “I pray for candy, but not too much, because it is not good for you. But when I get to heaven I can eat all the candy I want, because you can’t get sick in heaven.” Got to love it!
We made paper horns and reenacted walking around the walls of Jericho (a giant pile of bean bag chairs), and then proceeded to the sanctuary where we marched around the communion table a few times during one of the closing songs. That was really great; the kids were excited! It was also good timing since Pastor Vince then led us out of the building to walk and pray at the end of the service. What a perfect follow up to the lesson! It is a blessing to serve in the children’s ministry.
Maybe it’s because I’m morbid, more likely because it’s convenient, but I jog around the graveyard near my house. It’s only a couple minutes walk there, and it’s almost like a rectangular track, and that rectangular track is about a half mile long. Don’t judge.
Recently I’ve gotten to the point where I can jog several miles at a go, which means I do a lot of laps. The repetition and the routine and the pattern of going around the graveyard in the same direction has become so familiar that when I tried running in the opposite direction, I found myself getting annoyed and grumpy. It actually felt uncomfortable.
It’s funny how quickly I get into routines and patterns, and how these patterns affect me. There’s something about the way doing something familiar gets locked into my brain, and my ways of thinking: while I’m on walks and while jogging, I’m usually churning something over in my head at the same time. My job. My future. My family. My aspirations. Questions I have. Things I heard or read. Fears. Disappointments. Plans ahead.
And this, like the routine of going around that “track” in a certain way, affects how the jog goes.
Once while I was running, I was thinking about how things were so uncertain, how I had failed at this-thing-or-the-other, how these-people must be humoring me, how major life decisions I’ve made may have caused unnecessary hurt and damage. And it started to dawn on me that besides the fact that I was starting to feel badly about life in general, I couldn’t get a deep breath in. I had to stop and sit down, right there next to the graves, and wait until I could breathe again.
It wasn’t that I was out of shape (believe it or not). It was that I had forgotten to breathe at a regular and even pace because those thoughts were interrupting my normal jogging experience, which, incidentally, includes oxygen. These thoughts were so powerful, they were affecting me physically, and affecting my “circling.”
On Sunday, the message was on the fall of Jericho, and how the repetition of going around the city was a time of prayer and reflection. The Israelites had a lot of time to think about what God had in store for them; they didn’t know what was happening exactly, and I’ll bet that was part of their thoughts. At the same time, I think their prayers were probably also full of faith and anticipation for what God was going to do, because rituals, circles, and thoughts can have a lot of power.
Praying in circles attests to this. Prayer is about God, but it doesn’t do anything to change Him or His character. He hears us. He answers us. He may bring walls down. But praying in circles doesn’t make Him more powerful.
It doesn’t make us more powerful either. But it does change us. When I focus on the negative things, and meditate on me and my problems, it changes me and the way I see everything. But when I “pray circles,” I become more faithful. I put more trust in God. I give my mind, my heart, and my thoughts over to Him. And I end up asking for bigger things.
It may not seem like I’m actually going anywhere in particular, but it’s not about getting somewhere anyway. It’s about the going around in circles.
Join us on November 2nd to walk the UConn campus and pray for the students, staff, faculty, and buildings.
We will be meeting at 9 am at the Mansfield Community Center and then breaking off into groups to pray together as we walk the different areas of campus.
Please let us know if you can join us. To register, click here to sign into the St. Paul’s site and select the “Events” tab to see all the events happening at St. Paul’s over the next few weeks.
If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org