My Father’s Business

November 1, 2014

My Father’s Business

And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luk 2:49)

Here we have one of those moments in the life of Jesus that everybody knows about – even people who are not at all familiar with much of what the Bible says. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard about the boy Jesus at twelve years old, in the Temple confounding the religious leaders with his understanding and answers concerning the things of God.

His parents, Mary and Joseph, had taken him to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They had traveled together in a large company from Nazareth, and when the time came to return home they thought that Jesus was with one of the other families. After about a day’s travel, perhaps about dinner time, they realized he was not anywhere with the group. So they turned around and went back to Jerusalem, and there they found him in the Temple.

“Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?” Mary said to Him, “Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.”

And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luk 2:49)

This was a game-changer. The Bible tells us plainly “they understood not the saying which he spoke unto them.” Not only were they doctors and lawyers and religious leaders astonished by His answers, but Joseph and Mary were astounded by His awareness of the high calling upon His life.

The incident concludes, “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

Now here is the thing that strikes me the most in all of this. Jesus was twelve when this occurred, and He is at that time fully committed to be about His Father’s business. Yet, we do not see or hear anything else about Him until He is thirty years old. That’s eighteen years unaccounted for except to say that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

Is it possible that long seasons of unseen and uncelebrated faithfulness are part of “my Father’s business?” And could it be that this stretch of seemingly endless silence and mediocrity you are slogging through may in fact be part of a bigger, deeper work God is doing in you…and eventually through you?

“Have heart,” Jesus says to you today, “you are employed in My Father’s Business!”

From the daily devotional “Rylisms”.


Tending Flowerbeds

I remember a story my Papaw once told on himself, which my mother has repeated many times; she laughs herself nearly to tears every time she tells it and I recall him chuckling pretty heartily as he told it, too. I’ll relay it as near as my memory allows:

As far back as I remember, Granny always had flowers growing around the house, be it in beds, pots or where ever she thought they looked nice, of all different types. She had houseplants and perennials, annuals and the occasional vegetable; my grandmother had a green thumb, that’s for sure.

Once while she was at work, Papaw took it upon himself to “help her” in the flowerbeds after he had finished up his yard work. He was very pleased with all he got done that day and looked forward to her surprise when she arrived home that afternoon.

He was sitting inside, probably having a glass of iced water, when he heard her pull into the driveway. It took a few minutes for her to make her was inside, longer than normal, since she had stopped to see the work Papaw had judiciously put into the flowerbeds for her. The smile he wore as she entered the room was soon replaced by a look of “uh oh” when he realized Granny was wear “that” face instead of the grin he’d anticipated.

“Bill, what happened to my flowers?” she asked him.

“Well, after I finished mowing, I saw your flowers were full of weeds so I pulled them for you”, he replied.

Her face went intensely red at his answer. I only wish I could show you what I remember his face looking like telling the story and what I’m sure her’s looked like! It makes me laugh just picturing it.

With finger-pointing and waving and voice going instantly gruff Granny said, “Those weren’t weeds Bill! You pulled up all the flowers that were getting ready to bloom and left me with the dead ones; I won’t have any more blooms this whole summer now!”

He really, honestly thought he was helping Granny, not ruining her garden. I probably don’t need to tell you that Papaw never weeded Granny’s gardens again.

This story made me think about the parable of the wheat and the tares, or weeds. It is a strong lesson that Christ gave us, one we need to understand and heed. Let us begin with reading from Matthew 13.

Matthew 13:24-30

24  Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

25  But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26  But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27  So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

28  He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

29  But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30  Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

And then a few verses later in the same chapter:

Matthew 13:37-43

37  He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

38  The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

39  The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

40  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. (Or end of time)

41  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42  And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

43  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

I suppose the first thing to address here is about “time”: I’ve heard folks say this is fulfilled prophesy and not for us today and other, similar things. Well, to be frank with you, prophesy isn’t my area of interest, so to speak and I’m not too into discussing the subtleties of it, or dispensations. But I will assert this: This is as much for us today as it was for those who personally heard it roll of Jesus’ lips. This is a parable, teaching tool, which is still very much relevant as I write this and will be until the literal end of time.

The next time we need to understand is this: What is a tare? According to Wikipedia the definition is thus:

Darnel usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so great that in some regions, darnel is referred to as “false wheat”. It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. The spikes of L. temulentum are more slender than those of wheat. The spikelets are oriented edgeways to the rachis and have only a single glume, while those of wheat are oriented with the flat side to the rachis and have two glumes. The wheat will also appear brown when ripe, whereas the darnel is black.

The similarity to young wheat is uncanny. One Bible dictionary says this about the Darnel “These stalks … if sown designedly throughout the fields, would be inseparable from the wheat, from which, even when growing naturally, and by chance, they are, at first sight, hardly distinguishable.”

So, who are these “tares”? They are the same, in description, that the church has been dealing with as long as she has existed, longer really, as they extend well back into the Old Testament: The ones who profess outwardly their “religion” while their hearts are far from God or Spirit filled.

Mat 15:7-9 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, (8) This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (9) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Mat 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Old Testament and new, the Bible speaks of these tares always being present:

Psa 55:12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:

Gal 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

So this is nothing new, even though it may seem it to us.

The reason for these tares among us is simple, and given to us in the text “an enemy hath done this”, referring of course to the devil, Jesus later says to the disciples. Satan will, and always has done whatever he can to disrupt the church and weaken the saints.

2 Co 11:13-14 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Speculation beyond this point is useless, really, though we often will ponder and discuss it; God doesn’t tell us all the reasons He allows certain things. Some of these things He uses to test and strengthen our faith and dependence on Him. This, I think, is an area He allows and uses for such good.

Then question then begs to be answered, what do we do with the tares? Being children of God, heirs and joint heirs with Christ, we naturally want to eradicate them, pulled them up by their roots and toss them out of our midst. We think that these false-brethren reflect poorly upon the church. We think they allow the world to see these false-fruits, rotten fruit, if you will, and blaspheme the name and work of God and His children. We think about the relationships that are damaged among the true members of the Kingdom by these false ones and we are passionately moved to do something. And we are motivated by love, therefore to our credit, feeling we must do whatever we must to rectify the situation. But yet, we are wrong.

The Lord tells us why we are wrong in the very text we are looking at today; we, of and on our own, risk damaging the true “harvest”, plucking up by accident the real “wheat” in our attempts to right the wrongs we see.

God in His perfection and righteous judgment with sort out the tares from among the wheat in the end; He tells us so. How terrible would any one of us feel if we were to take this task into our hands lightly, and make no mistake compared to God’s judging of the situation all we can do is take it lightly, to learn later that we caused a brother or sister to stumble? And God forbid that stumble that we caused have eternal consequences on the soul of that other person.

Granny’s flowerbeds weren’t the same for some time after Papaw’s “help”. Being perennials, the flowers did what they do and propagated in time; I don’t know how long it took but they eventually grew back and looked nice again. But every time Papaw saw those flowers it was a reminder to him of the mistake, an honest one mind you, that he had made and the consequences of it. The church is a lot like the flowers in this story: though she be damaged or weakened, she will, through her members, work and grow again, producing a nice harvest in time. Like the perennials, the time it will take her will depend on man things, but the addition of new “flowers” is sure. You, however, don’t want to have a perpetual reminder of your “gardening mistake” like Papaw had: Your mistake would be much more costly, hurtful, and it could be the end for others and possibly even your our spiritual demise.

As we close today, think back a few weeks ago when we spoke about Joseph. He told his brothers that what they had intended for evil God had used for good. But first, when he realized the situation, he said:

Genesis 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?

We would be wise to follow Joseph’s example when we find ourselves in a “gardening conundrum” my friends.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day

Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd. With the ideal of the recently founded Mother’s Day (1908) in her mind, she wanted to thank her father for all he had done for her and her family, horning him and other fathers the same way that Mother’s Day honored mothers. Her father, William Smart, raised six children alone after his wife died in childbirth. He was also a civil war veteran. Like many things-government, it took quite a while before this holiday was made official; it was 1966 when Pres. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.
As a kid I once heard someone speaking about “call(ing) no man father” from Matthew 23:9 and I must admit that it confused me for some time. So, I thought it well that we should go over this right away, before getting into the lesson proper. This verse does not forbid us to apply the term to our real father. God’s Word requires all proper honor to be shown to him, as is shown in Exodus 20:12, Matthew 15:4, and Ephesians 6:1-3, among other places. But the word “father” also symbolizes “authority, eminence, superiority, a right to command, and a claim to particular respect.” And it this way it is used in this verse. In this sense it belongs eminently to God, and it is not right to give it to people. Christians are equal; God only has supreme authority and He only has a right to give laws, to declare judgment, to mete out justice. The Jewish teachers desired that title because they seem to have supposed that a teacher formed the man, or gave him real life, and sought, therefore, to be called father. Christ taught them that the source of all life and truth was God, and they ought not to seek or receive a title which properly belongs to him. Now, on we go …
Scripture tells us that man/husband/father is the head of the household-
​Eph 5:22-25 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (24) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

​Col 3:18-20 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (19) Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (20) Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
I think, too, that in the next few verses of chapter five of Ephesians make it clear that we are to honor each other, husbands and wives, and be partners in our marriages. Why do I start off by saying this? Because it is important to note that fathers and mothers have responsibilities, duties if you will, to their children and families. And some of what I will cover today will be duties of not just fathers but also of mothers.
Children also have duties or responsibilities toward their parents but that is another subject for another day.
To Teach
Speaking of the Law- Deu 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deu 6:20-21 And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you? (21) Then thou shalt say unto thy son, …..

​From the very beginning, from the giving of the Law, God tells us we are responsible for teaching His Word to our children and families.

To Train
Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

It is curious that the Bible says “train” here, isn’t it? What does it mean to train? Let’s think of this example:

Fathers and mothers have the greatest opportunity as teachers of anyone in the world. You see, that boy or girl in the home has the chance to see if Father and Mother really believe and practice what they teach.

A father who says he believes in Sunday school, and then does not go himself, is teaching by his actions that he really does not feel it very important. A father who teaches love and tolerance to all and yet maintains a critical attitude in the home toward his brothers and sisters in the church is doing a wrong to his children which never in this world can be undone. It is pure poison to the mind of the child, and will most certainly be a stumbling block in the way of the child becoming a Christian.

A father who says he believes the Bible to be the greatest Book, to be God’s Word to us, but leaves it on the shelf to gather dust while he spends hours with the newspaper, magazines, radio and television is in reality saying, “Children, the Bible is not too important. You should read it if you have any extra time.”

Which one of you had not heard a little boy step proudly forward among his playmates and declare, “I KNOW that’s so because my Daddy said so!” He has confidence in you, dear Dad, and the things which he sees you put first in your life are going to stand out as mighty important to him, too. There any likelihood that such impressions shall ever be effaced, or that such habits shall ever be destroyed

To Provide for
2Co 12:14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
Paul was their spiritual father and does not, therefore, expect their material support but to give spiritual support to them. He also infers the parents’ duty to naturally support or provide for their children. The book of Proverbs also speaks to both the natural and spiritual duty to provide:
Pro 19:14 House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
​Pro 13:22 A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

To Nurture
​Eph 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
​Literally, nourish them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The mind is to be nourished with wholesome discipline and instruction, as the body is with proper food. “nurture” (G3809), discipline, may refer to all that knowledge which is proper for children, including elementary principles and rules for behavior, etc. “admonition” (G3559), instruction, may imply whatever is necessary to form the mind; to touch, regulate, and purify the passions; and necessarily includes the whole of religion. Both these should be administered in the Lord – according to his will and word, and in reference to his eternal glory. All the important lessons and doctrines being derived from his revelation, therefore they are called the discipline and instruction of the Lord. More simply put, we are to train nurture by chastening in act where needed and admonish by words whether of encouragement, or advice, or reprimand, according as is required.
​Col 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. By constant fault-finding “children” are “discouraged” or “disheartened.”; it has been well said that “a broken-down spirit is fatal to a child”.

To Control
​1Ti 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
​1Ti 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
Ruleth, ruling — same Greek word (G4291), “presiding over.” Not with heavy-hand or iron fist, but, rather, like a judge keeps balance and order to his coutroom.

To Love
​Tit 2:4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

And what is love?
​​1Co 13:4-8 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; (6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (8) Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
(1Co 13:4-8)

I know that all of us weren’t/aren’t lucky enough to have/had a “good” father. I also know that we, as parents, have all failed at one time or another, to some degree, lesser or greater, no matter how hard we may try not to. Being imperfect, fallen creatures there is no way we can attain the lofty goals and hopes we have for ourselves as fathers and mothers.

I am thankful that God is our perfect, righteous, all loving Father.
​Deu 1:31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
​2Co 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

And I am glad that our Heavenly Father loves us with that perfect love we can only strive to attain.

Let me leave you with this final thought:

Let’s suppose an artist sent you a picture of himself that he had painted. The picture would tell you something about him, give you a glimpse of his knowledge and ability. However, if he sent you a long descriptive letter explaining his innermost thoughts and feelings, you would begin to feel you really knew him. And finally, if he decided to send to you his son who possessed the same features as he and was like him in ability and character, this would reveal the father to you much better. “The only begotten son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18).

Sage Advice

Some of my fondest memories, and best stories, involve my Papaw. He was a kind, gentle, wise, good, Christian man who served more as a father figure to me than a grandfather.

Back in 1994 I decided to chance careers: quit my job as a manager at a pet store and go into the car sales business. While I made a fair living at my job I wanted the chance to make a better living for my family. My wife was apprehensive, to say the least, but didn’t stop me. In fact, no one was particularly supportive of my career change, I felt very good about the prospect.

I remember telling Papaw about my decision, and his reaction. It was Christmas Eve and we were at the traditional holiday gathering at my grandparents house. Papaw and I were talking about I don’t really remember what when I felt like it was time to tell him about my impending change. He listened patiently while I told him of the new job, the potential I felt it held for me, and the reasons I was sure I’d be good at this position. After I finished it remember him pausing, I could see the cogs turning inside his head as he took it all in, a sight I’d seen many times in my life. When he finally spoke he said something I hadn’t expected: he thought I was right! He told me that I had a good plan, had the skills to do the job, and, even though it wouldn’t be easy, I could succeed at it … if I remembered one thing: “Son,” he said, “if you just treat every feller the way you’d want him to treat you if you were in his shoes you’ll do just fine.” I didn’t realize it at the time, mostly because someone finally thought I was making a good decision, but what he was actually doing was biblically teaching me; he was paraphrasing The Golden RuleLuke 6:31

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

My grandfather lived by what God’s Word teaches. And he advised or taught, if you will, from the precepts of The Word, too, in a way that didn’t come across as high or holy or righteous; his words came as wise, thoughtful, caring, and genuine down to earth. He didn’t say that he was giving me Scripture or quoting the Bible; I know he did this because it was just how he was, genuine, down to earth, and all the rest. And when I finally got it and realized it was Scripture I felt like God got even more glory from Papaw’s simple, easy way of presenting it.

As I went into my new career I applied that sage advice in every “deal” I worked. I actually took it a bit farther, perhaps, and treated each customer how I’d want my Papaw to be treated; I still hold true to this philosophy to this day and it has served me well.

Papaw was right about everything he said that Christmas Eve night. I did prosper in my new career, and lived it most of the time. And I always told folks what and how I came about my way of doing business. And as clueless as I was to it, God got the glory each time. He still does today, too, I just realize it now and am happy to be able to be able to give it to Him.

Where is the Fish?


This past April my wife and I bought a fancy fantail goldfish for our grandson, Connor, for his birthday. We, of course, let Connor pick it out, along with all the “stuff” that one needs for a new goldfish: rocks, tank, decorations, etcetera. Naming animals is always a family affair with us and this new pet was no exception. It took an hour or so and several discarded candidates before my wife offered up the winning moniker: Jonah. Connor loves old Jonah and is so cute watching him and especially at feeding time when he almost always says, “Papaw, somebody looks hungry!”, which makes me laugh every time the event it repeats itself.

A little over a week ago Jonah began to act odd: Staying hidden and low in his tank almost all the time, not being at all active and not eating, something he excelled at! I diligently changed his filer, added medicines and anti-stress “stuff”, and performed multiple partial water changes trying to revive his health. At one point it looked like Jonah had turned the corner, too, but alas it wasn’t to be: Jonah went to the big fish tank in the sky late last Saturday.

My wife wasn’t too concerned about the tragedy, she thought a four year-old wouldn’t even notice the fish was gone. But I had doubts, big ones, that she would be correct on this issue. Time would surely tell who was right and who wasn’t since Connor would be back with us Monday after school through Tuesday evening.

Monday my little buddy came home exhausted, as he often is at the start of the week, and wanted only to have his favorite after school snack and relax while watching some Scooby Doo episodes. My wife thought that this proved her point: Connor didn’t really pay much attention to that fish. And to be honest, I thought that she might have been correct on this now ,too. But Tuesday changed everything…

Connor hadn’t been home from school more than 10 minutes when he looked at me and asked “Papaw, where Jonah at?”. My response hadn’t been thought through or rehearsed in any way, I was shooting from the hip, when I answered him “He is at the fish doctor. He got sick, like Gypsy did and had to stay at the dog hospital, and will be home Friday.”. Without missing a beat, I had avoided “the death talk” and a crying little boy; I was pretty proud of myself I have to admit!

Part of my errands today involved picking out a “new” Jonah. I had studied that fish, both before and after his demise, pretty well so as long as there was one in-stock I’d be in good shape, I was sure of that. They lady who netted my pick of the tank was pretty patient with me (after I told her the story), netting and releasing at least three other fish before finally chasing down the soon-to-be Jonah; he was a spunky fish that eluded her for several minutes, I was glad to see that zest in him.

When “we” got home I realized that I had yet to clean out the old tank for the new fish. So, I set Jonah (it’s officially his name at this point) safely aside in his bag and began to clean, rinse, and wash the tank and the entire contents. I must have had help setting the tank up the first time, though I don’t recall it. I made quite the mess sloshing the tank and water across the kitchen to the metal cart that serves as the fish tank stand, which I;d have to clean up, and is still drying as I write this. But within an hour the tank and all of its “stuff” were cleaned and dry and Jonah was in the fresh, treated water, looking pretty happy to boot.

As I cleaned up the mess I began to contemplate the decision I had made to spare my young grandson “the death talk” at this time. It was during this time that I remembered that my own children were merely five and seven when they experienced their first real encounter with death: My grandmother’s death in October 1995. I hadn’t expected them to react with the emotion they did: They were too young to really grasp it I had, in my youthful ignorance,, thought. But they most assuredly were not too young I quickly learned, as I comforted them and wiped their tears, still somewhat in shock myself both at their grief and in my own.

Sooner or later we will all experience death on some level, be it a “Jonah” type situation or one like that of my grandmother’s passing. Did I do Connor any favor by avoiding “the death talk” over Jonah? Was “saving” it for another time/creature/person really a good idea? In retrospect, probably not. Now I don’t know if the knowledge of death will come to him through a small matter, like a goldfish, a larger one, perhaps one of our dogs, or worse of all from a family member. And I don’t know who or how that event will be dealt with. If I had it to do over with I would have handled it very differently. Hopefully I have learned a valuable lesson here and will use it to good effect in the future.

Daily Verse

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8, 9 NLT)