Reflecting on the Fifteenth
Sunday after Pentecost
Year B

Daily Readings for Tuesday
September 7, 2021

Prayer

Holy Lord, maker of us all, 

you call us to love our neighbors as ourselves 

and teach us that faith without works is dead. 

Open us to the opportunities for ministry that lie before us, 

where faith and works and the need of our neighbor 

come together in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

 

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.

 

Proverbs 11:1-31

Watch what you say and do

 

A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,

but an accurate weight is his delight.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace;

but wisdom is with the humble.

The integrity of the upright guides them,

but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,

but righteousness delivers from death.

The righteousness of the blameless keeps their ways straight,

but the wicked fall by their own wickedness.

The righteousness of the upright saves them,

but the treacherous are taken captive by their schemes.

When the wicked die, their hope perishes,

and the expectation of the godless comes to nothing.

The righteous are delivered from trouble,

and the wicked get into it instead.

With their mouths the godless would destroy their neighbors,

but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices;

and when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.

By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,

but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

Whoever belittles another lacks sense,

but an intelligent person remains silent.

A gossip goes about telling secrets,

but one who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a confidence.

Where there is no guidance, a nation falls,

but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

To guarantee loans for a stranger brings trouble,

but there is safety in refusing to do so.

A gracious woman gets honor,

but she who hates virtue is covered with shame.

The timid become destitute,

but the aggressive gain riches.

Those who are kind reward themselves,

but the cruel do themselves harm.

The wicked earn no real gain,

but those who sow righteousness get a true reward.

Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live,

but whoever pursues evil will die.

Crooked minds are an abomination to the Lord,

but those of blameless ways are his delight.

Be assured, the wicked will not go unpunished,

but those who are righteous will escape.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout

is a beautiful woman without good sense.

The desire of the righteous ends only in good;

the expectation of the wicked in wrath.

Some give freely, yet grow all the richer;

others withhold what is due, and only suffer want.

A generous person will be enriched,

and one who gives water will get water.

The people curse those who hold back grain,

but a blessing is on the head of those who sell it.

Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor,

but evil comes to the one who searches for it.

Those who trust in their riches will wither,

but the righteous will flourish like green leaves.

Those who trouble their households will inherit wind,

and the fool will be servant to the wise.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,

but violence takes lives away.

If the righteous are repaid on earth,

how much more the wicked and the sinner!

 

Hebrews 12:3-13

Trials for the sake of discipline

 

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—

 

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

or lose heart when you are punished by him;

for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,

and chastises every child whom he accepts.”

 

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

 

 

Prayer

God, whose love streams like fresh water 

into the deserts of our hearts, 

you turn us from greed and partiality 

to healing and justice. 

Make us companions of those who long for your deliverance, 

and give us safe passage at the last 

into the land of your shalom. Amen.

 

Canticle: Isaiah 38:10-20

Prayer for health

 

I said: In the noontide of my days

I must depart;

I am consigned to the gates of Sheol

for the rest of my years.

I said, I shall not see the Lord

in the land of the living;

I shall look upon mortals no more

among the inhabitants of the world.

My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me

like a shepherd’s tent;

like a weaver I have rolled up my life;

he cuts me off from the loom;

from day to night you bring me to an end;

I cry for help until morning;

like a lion he breaks all my bones;

from day to night you bring me to an end.

Like a swallow or a crane I clamor,

I moan like a dove.

My eyes are weary with looking upward.

Lord, I am oppressed; be my security!

But what can I say? For he has spoken to me,

and he himself has done it.

All my sleep has fled

because of the bitterness of my soul.

Lord, by these things people live,

and in all these is the life of my spirit.

Oh, restore me to health and make me live!

Surely it was for my welfare

that I had great bitterness;

but you have held back my life

from the pit of destruction,

for you have cast all my sins

behind your back.

For Sheol cannot thank you,

death cannot praise you;

those who go down to the Pit cannot hope

for your faithfulness.

The living, the living, they thank you,

as I do this day;

fathers make known to children

your faithfulness.

The Lord will save me,

and we will sing to stringed instruments

all the days of our lives,

at the house of the Lord.

 

Joshua 8:1-23

The Israelites conquer Ai

 

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed; take all the fighting men with you, and go up now to Ai. See, I have handed over to you the king of Ai with his people, his city, and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king; only its spoil and its livestock you may take as booty for yourselves. Set an ambush against the city, behind it.”

 

So Joshua and all the fighting men set out to go up against Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand warriors and sent them out by night with the command, “You shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it; do not go very far from the city, but all of you stay alert. I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When they come out against us, as before, we shall flee from them. They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city; for they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us, as before.’ While we flee from them, you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city; for the Lord your God will give it into your hand. And when you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire, doing as the Lord has ordered; see, I have commanded you.” 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 in the camp.

 

In the morning Joshua rose early and mustered the people, and went up, with the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. All the fighting men who were with him went up, and drew near before the city, and camped on the north side of Ai, with a ravine between them and Ai. Taking about five thousand men, he set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 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. When the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the inhabitants of the city, hurried out early in the morning to the meeting place facing the Arabah to meet Israel in battle; but he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. And Joshua and all Israel made a pretense of being beaten before them, and fled in the direction of the wilderness. 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. There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel; they left the city open, and pursued Israel.

 

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Stretch out the sword that is in your hand toward Ai; for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the sword that was in his hand toward the city. As soon as he stretched out his hand, the troops in ambush rose quickly out of their place and rushed forward. They entered the city, took it, and at once set the city on fire. So when the men of Ai looked back, the smoke of the city was rising to the sky. They had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city was rising, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. And the others came out from the city against them; so they were surrounded by Israelites, some on one side, and some on the other; and Israel struck them down until no one was left who survived or escaped. But the king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua.

 

Hebrews 12:3-13

Trials for the sake of discipline

 

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—

 

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

or lose heart when you are punished by him;

for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,

and chastises every child whom he accepts.”

 

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

 

 

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Prayer reprinted from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts. Reproduced by permission.

Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Reproduced by permission. No further reproduction allowed without the written permission of Augsburg Fortress.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.