Hello and welcome back to the Living Water newsletter!
Our passage for this week’s sermon comes from Joshua 5:
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Throughout the book of Joshua, we see the leader of Israel receiving direct commands from God that show almost immediate results. It’s almost like a game of “Simon says,” or “the Lord says;” careful obedience equals success, deviation equals failure.
In this instance, oddly, God’s message comes in embodied form, instead of the usual “then the Lord said to Joshua.”
The significance of this is made apparent in Joshua’s conversation with this strange messenger. Joshua thinks in terms of Israelites vs. Canaanites, a conflict that seems in the moment to be the only thing that matters. However, when he asks the stranger (clearly a warrior) which side he is on, he answers, “Neither.” The commander of the army of the Lord, it turns out, has interests that don’t perfectly align with Joshua’s. Israel’s success at conquest is not really the point; there is a bigger story surrounding Israel’s real estate portfolio.
The Bible contains a lot of wisdom that can be useful in navigating our lives. But when we start to treat this source of wisdom like an “if this, then that” algorithm which, if used right, will bring happiness and success, we miss the whole point of Scripture.
When God’s messenger appears to Joshua as a human (and when God appears later on as Jesus), it is suddenly clear that God wants us to recognize God not as an abstract idea or set of principles but as a person. Not only that, but God invites us to be part of God’s larger story, to seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness (Matt. 6:33).
Ask yourself today: Am I finding myself sucked down into the deeps of my personal struggles? Am I taking in the Word of God like supplements, helpful but not essential? Am I playing “the Lord says” but not really seeking encounters with God?
Sermon Sneak Peek
God has consistently been faithful to the Israelites since before Joshua, now a seasoned general, took over from Moses. But in the passage above we see this experienced military leader in an encounter with God which compels him to completely alter his strategy of conquest in an act of enormous faith.
This week will mark two years since Pastor David began serving at Living Water CRC. For this special milestone, Pastor David would like to take the time to reflect on his journey of leadership with Living Water, as well as look forward to the future of our ministry as a church. What can we as a church learn from Joshua’s transformative encounter with God as we plan for the coming fall semester and academic year?
Watch for context on the whole book of Joshua: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqOqJlFF_eU
We’re Here to Help
If anyone in the church is falling behind on their bills because of the current economic disruption, don’t hesitate to ask for support from the Diaconal Ministry!
Simply take a photo of your bill and attach it to a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure that the image shows the amount and number of days overdue, as well as the contact info and account number of the recipient of payment.
The Diaconal Ministry Team will then evaluate the requests, and as appropriate may contact service providers or pay some overdue bills directly on behalf of Living Water people.
We are also working on creating a system to support our brothers and sisters in Christ by sharing transportation and other resources. If you have any needs, questions, or ideas, feel free to reach out to the Diaconal Ministry as well!
- Friday, August 7 4:00pm: LWYG Bible Study
- Sunday, August 9 10:00am: Sunday Worship
- Sunday 2:00pm: Children’s Ministry (Sermon Review)
- Sunday 6:00pm: College Bible Study
- Monday, August 10 10:00am: Children’s Ministry (Old Testament Panorama)
- Wednesday, August 12 2:00pm: Women’s Bible Study
- Wednesday 6:30pm: Overflow Gathering
- Thursday, August 13 7:00pm: Prayer Meeting
All meetings will be held on Zoom. Click on the links to join or visit https://livingwatercrc.org/events/!
Living Water continues to seek people to serve in leadership. The following are in need of volunteers:
- Outreach Ministry
- College Small Group Leaders for the Fall
Please contact a leader if you feel called to step up!
Online Office Hours with Pastor David
Whether you are a student, regular attendee, visitor, or interested in joining the Living Water family, Pastor David would love to get to know you! If you would like to meet up with him, you can contact him at email@example.com to set up a virtual meeting.
Some Things to Pray About This Week
- Praise for the ongoing work behind the scenes by the faithful people of our church.
- For internal peace in the midst of external chaos
- For wisdom and strength for the leaders of our church
- For justice and healing for those hurt by discriminatory practices of law enforcement in the US
- For the softening of hearts and opening of ears of authority figures
- For those struggling with finances
- For the healing of the sick
- For international students facing so much uncertainty
- For the College, Youth, and Children’s Ministries
- For the flourishing of the new Diaconal Ministry
- For a smooth start to the new academic year
- For the world to seek God’s face and ask for forgiveness and healing
We encourage each of you to come to Living Water’s weekly Zoom prayer meeting on Thursday nights at 7pm!
See you all Sunday.