Saturday after Trinity 4

Psalmody
5Blessèd are those whose strengthis | in you,*
         in whose heart are the highways to | Zion.

6As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a | place of springs;*
         the early rain also covers | it with pools.

7They go from | strength to strength; *
         each one appears before God in | Zion.

😯 LORD God of hosts, | hear my prayer; *
         give ear, O God of | Jacob!
               —Psalm 84:5–8

Additional Psalm: Psalm 45

Old Testament Reading: Joshua 8:1–28
The Fall of Ai
1And 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. 2And 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.”

3So 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. 4And 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. 5And 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. 6And 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. 7Then you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the LORD your God will give it into your hand. 8And 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.” 9So 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.

10Joshua arose early in the morning and mustered the people and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. 11And 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. 12He took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13So 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. 14And 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. 15And Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness. 16So 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. 17Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city open and pursued Israel.

18Then 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. 19And 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. 20So 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. 21And 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. 22And 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. 23But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him near to Joshua.

24When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. 25And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. 26But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction. 27Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their plunder, according to the word of the LORD that he commanded Joshua. 28So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day.

New Testament Reading: Acts 11:1–18
Peter Reports to the Church
1Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3“You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Writing
A person who confesses that everything in him is nothing but sin includes all sins, excludes none, forgets none. Neither can the satisfaction be uncertain, because it is not our uncertain, sinful work. Rather, it is the suffering and blood of the innocent Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world [John 1:29].

This is the repentance John the Baptist preaches [Matthew 3:1–12]. And afterward, Christ does this in the Gospel [Mark 1:15], and so do we. By this preaching of repen-tance, we dash to the ground the pope and everything built upon our good works. For all of that is built upon a rotten and vain foundation, which is called a good work or law. And yet, this foundation has no good works but only wicked works. No one keeps the Law (as Christ says) but all transgress it (John 7:19). Therefore, the building ‹that is raised upon that rotten foundation› is nothing but falsehood and hypocrisy, even where it seems most holy and beautiful.

In Christians, this repentance continues until death. For through one’s entire life, repentance contends with the sin remaining in the flesh. Paul testifies that he wars with the law in his members (Romans 7:14–25) not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Spirit that follows the forgiveness of sins [Romans 8:1–17]. This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins and works to make a person truly pure and holy.
               —Smalcald Articles III III 37–40

Hymnody
May God bestow on us His grace and favor
That we follow Christ our Savior
And live together here in love and union
Nor despise this blest Communion!
         O Lord, have mercy!
Let not Thy good Spirit forsake us;
Grant that heav’nly-minded He make us;
Give Thy Church, Lord, to see
Days of peace and unity:
         O Lord, have mercy!
               —O Lord, We Praise Thee (LSB 617:3)

Prayer of the Day
Lord God, the gift of Your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, was given to the Gentile Cornelius so that Christ dwelled in him and he dwelled in Christ. May that same Spirit of Jesus, which rested on us in Holy Baptism, give us courage to confess His holy name even in the face of the fiercest persecution, so that we might receive the crown of everlasting life; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. (1047)

Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Augsburg Confession XXVI 1–20

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.