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April 23, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 18

There are three main issues dealt with in Deuteronomy 18, and they are each unique. The first concerns the treatment of those in primary spiritual leadership roles for Israel. The second: the holiness of Israel and why the Israelites must avoid the practices of the people of other nations. The third is regarding the coming prophets as well as the Final Prophet. Let’s glean some insights from each.

1) The Care of the Religious Leadership.

Those that labored in full-time vocational ministry — the Levitical Priests — set themselves apart, and they were to be treated differently. The Lord wanted these men to be respected so they had to remain respectable in their dealings. They were not supposed to worry about their financial situations. The people were to take care of their needs so they could focus on ministering. Their worth wasn’t to be found in money or things but in the Lord; He was their inheritance.

These are principles that need to be applied to those in ministry today. Paul addresses this a number of times. The church must take care of those who labor in preaching/teaching/shepherding. Those who labor as such need to be respectable and above reproach so that they are worthy of such care by God’s people. Since many in full-time ministry were not/are not wealthy, they must, above all things, remember that God Himself is their inheritance.

2) The Holiness of Israel.

The people of Israel were not supposed to adopt another people’s customs or adapt to their religious practices. They Lord called them to be set apart. Living a holy life would remind them of their God as well as point others to Him. The Lord is clear in this passage. If they adopt/adapt, they would be in blatant sin. It seems like they missed this boat a few times. Idol worship is a big no-no. “You shall be blameless before the Lord your God…” (v.13).

The Lord expects this of us today as well. We are to be in the world but not of the world (John 17). Church, let’s fight to remember these words from 1 Peter 2: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

3) The Lord’s Prophets.

God raised up Moses to lead the people of Israel for a season, but more prophets had to come. These men of God would give important messages from the Lord, many of which foretold of the coming Christ. The people of Israel needed to recognize these prophets, test them, and obey the hard words they would give. There would be One who would come, though, who would be a final prophet for them and for the world. His message and promise is eternal. This Prophet would lay His life down for His people after giving them countless life-giving, truth-saturated teachings. His name is Jesus Christ.

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What did you learn today? What has God been teaching you throughout Deuteronomy.

Posted Todd Thomas


April 22, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 17:1-20

God has a certain way we should do things. When we do things His way we find out it always works out for the better and when we don’t it often brings us harm. In today’s reading we see a lot of rules and regulations that God has laid out for His people. He also puts with many of them what should be done and why some of these certain things should happen. What we have to understand is that God truly does know best and we have to trust that and when we live our lives by His rules and regulations we find freedom and security in it. Here is the point:

God does not give us rules to hem us in but rather to set us free

For many of us, when we see a rule or a law we have to obey we typically feel that we can’t have fun and that we are being limited in our lives. The truth is that when God gives us rules to live by it shows us His love. For parents out there… we tell our kids they can’t play in the street or not to touch a hot stove or not to just eat junk food or stay up all night because we know they won’t like the consequences and they could really get hurt. God is our loving father who gives us boundaries because He cares for us and knows what is best for us. So, the next time you feel like God is holding you down or stealing your fun, remember what would happen if you played out in the street as a kid.

Posted by:Robbie Byrd


April 21, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 16:13-22

Today’s reading – about the Festival of Shelters – reminds me to be thankful.  You would think, with all God has done for us, that would be a natural reaction in our lives – but it isn’t.  Instead we complain about what we have and ask for more.  We need to stop today and THANK God for what He’s done for us.

Let me lead us through a time of thankfulness today…

1. Recapture the Moment (v.13-15a)

Sometimes we just need to stop – shut everything down – and live in a moment of thankfulness.  That was one of the purposes God had for the festivals He required of His people.  What about you?  Are you living in the moment?  Recently I was moved with that idea and wrote this blog post…

If you have a minute – check it out – http://wp.me/pAaqB-4r

So take a minute and get quiet – Recapture the Moment.

Psalm 95:2-3

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.

1 Chronicles 16:34

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 28:7

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

2. Recognize the Source (v.15b)

Who is the Source of your blessings?  Is it your hard work?  Brilliant planning?  Good fortune?  No – those blessings came from the Lord.

Stop and Recognize the Source of your Blessings.

Psalm 7:17

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

Psalm 100:4

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Isaiah 12:4

In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.

3. Recommit to Give (v.17)

When we are moved by God’s goodness – our response should be – What can I do?  How can I help?  Where can I serve?  What do you need me to give?  Ask God how He wants you to respond and Recommit to Give to Him.

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:11-12

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

Need a little more push to give thanks?  Listen to this song…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMEpb39M0e4

Please reply with the TOP 3 things that you are thankful for.  Let’s give God a praise offering on this BLOG today!!

Posted by:Tim Parsons


April 19, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 16:1-12

Remembering God’s Work In Our Lives…

Sometimes I just reflect on all that God has done for me over the years.  I think about who I was, where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and what could have been my destiny.  This remembrance leads me to praise God for his mercy.  There is no reason to be discouraged when we are breathing love beyond reason in Christ.

Remembering the past of what God has done can be a powerful tool for motivating us in the future, of what God can still do.  God used this tool of memory plenty by setting in place holidays that were designed to cause people to remember God’s wonderful works for them in the past.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

I have an assignment for you… check out this simple little description I found on a small website regarding the feast of weeks that you just read about.

Feast of Weeks: http://www.christcenteredmall.com/teachings/feasts/weeks.htm

Think of the imagery… the seven weeks of seven, a number symbol that God uses often for the idea of “completeness.”  Think of the idea of this feast symbolizing the end of the harvest season, and this being the time after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven (the end of His harvest season) and of the Holy Spirit coming to begin a new era of “harvesting.”  I could keep going, there is so much imagery in these holidays…what a beautiful God who uses imagery like this of numbers, and farming, and holidays, and timing, to ultimately all point back to His Son and His mission.  Unreal.

And, we can practically apply this to our lives by taking the time to simply remember.  With Easter being tomorrow, it is a holiday of remembrance.  A time to remember what Jesus did for us through his life, death, burial, and resurrection.  Take this time to remember, and ultimately praise God, for what He has done through Jesus and in your life.  And, use that as motivation for what you still know He has left to do in your future.

Posted by:Sam Cirrincione


April 18, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 15

Before getting into jumpstart let me first start with an invitation to CPC’s Good Friday service tonight at we take part in Lord’s Supper as one united church with all 3 campuses present. Services are at 5:30 and 7pm. This is one of those rare yet special times we can break bread with our brothers and sisters in Christ from Richmond KY, West side of Lexington and East side of Lexington. I hope to see all of you reading this there.

Most of today’s Scripture dealt with the importance of helping the poor. Very timely for any connect group who recently served at Lighthouse ministries in downtown Lexington as a part of their community project for Community Impact Month. Moses talks about the importance of sabbaticals for slaves, freedom for slaves, feeding and taking care of the poor and the slaves you free. If you didn’t already know, slavery looked different in this culture then what it looked like in recent history. If your confused with these verses because of that then I’d encourage you to listen to this short 7 minute answer from John Piper.

http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-did-god-permit-slavery

We see that most of these passages concerning the treatment of slaves is not relevant to us today but the Scripture concerning the treatment of others we employ and the poor and needy certainly is. In fact, when you first read this chapter, you might think that socialism is where Moses lands at politically (he doesn’t, so you can put down your pitchforks). Moses goes to great extents encouraging Israel to be generous and giving of their materials and to not do so begrudgingly. This is important because it is a characteristic of one who has been given that same treatment from God. Moses reminds them of their freedom from slavery in the Exodus and promises to bless them as they bless others in this way (v. 15-18).

So in light of God’s generous heart for the poor and needy, how do you display that same heart? I joked that socialism is what Moses is pushing for in here (knowing that this is God’s chosen people, not just a country) but I say that because I do believe our western capitalist mindsets have infiltrated the church where we don’t live out these generous lifestyles to those who are poor and needy within our very own church at times. You see the early N.T. church doing this as they shared everything they had with each other in Acts chapters 2 and 4. Do you display that same heart to give and serve to the poor and needy beyond April’s Community Impact Month? If not, what type of action steps may you have to take to display God’s heart in this and make sure our church family looks like this in Deuteronomy 15?

Posted by:Erik Koliser


April 17, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 14

“Buddy, please stay out of the dog’s crate.” This is a statement that my wife and I say to our son Hudson on a daily basis. He loves to crawl in there and play. To him this is a magical place to play but to us it is Barkley’s (our dog’s name) dirty, smelly crate. Hudson must have a hard time understanding what is wrong with him playing in the crate. It is fun and he sees the dog go in there all the time. Sometimes as a parent you have rules that your child will not understand but they need to obey because you have a good reason for them.

When I read passages like the one we read today I find myself thinking, “why did God have so many rules for his children?” Is it really that big of a deal if they ate hare (v.7)? I grew up eating many delicious meals of fried rabbit. Or, you might be thinking, “why would God even need to tell them (v.1-2) not to cut themselves or shave the hair off their foreheads?” Crazy, right? It can be very hard to relate or understand passages like this in the Old Testament. Hopefully, the following points will help make some sense of how this applies to us.

1. God wanted His children to be set apart.

Deuteronomy was written at a time when people were organized by tribes and each tribe had their pagan gods that they worshipped. Rituals like cutting yourself were common in pagan worship practices (v.1-2). Also, the separation of clean and unclean animals was to illustrate Israel’s separation from other nations.

So, why don’t we practice these rituals today? The gospel broke down this separation of clean and unclean because we are all made clean in Christ Jesus (Mark 7:19; Acts 10:9-16; 1 Timothy 4:3-5). We are now to show our separation from the lost through practicing Christ-like love and behavior to all of those around us (Romans 12:9-21). Our hopes are to point others to Jesus through sharing and living the gospel.

2.  God wanted His children’s trust and worship.

When God called Israel to tithe he meant for it to be an act of worship for them. Tithing was also meant to teach Israel trust. Tithing taught Israel that the remaining 90 percent would be sufficient for them (v.23).

Tithing is one of those practices and principles that has remained the same to this day. Tithing is just one area of our life that we must learn to trust the Lord for provision. Matthew 6:25-34, speaks about this principal in detail and much of our fear and worry is a result of a lack of trust in God.

My prayer is that this passage would encourage each of us to ask ourselves the tough questions. How much do I trust God with? Would others see me as set apart for Jesus Christ?

Posted by:Chad Wiles


April 16, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 13

There is a fairly basic, yet profound lesson to learn or be reminded of in Deuteronomy 13.  It’s a lesson that is very applicable in our society that has embraced pluralism, relativism, and a “believe whatever you feel like believing” mindset about God.

There are three examples in this chapter of someone saying, “Let us go after other gods and serve them.”(See vs. 1-2, 6-7, and 12-13).  Basically, these three examples are simply people distorting the truth about God and trying to get other people to follow.

Following these examples of people distorting the truth are instructions for how to respond:

Verse 3 says, “You shall not listen to the words of that prophet.”

Verse 4 says, “You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him.”

Verse 8 says, “You shall not listen to him or yield to him.”

In other words, simply put, do not listen to, entertain, or believe the teachings of one who speaks against the authority and truth of God and His words.  Regardless of how appealing they may sound, how “P.C.” they are trying to be, how “tolerant” they claim to be, anything that goes against God and His teachings are considered an abomination.  Following after false teaching is a recipe for disaster.

Look at the instructions about what to do with false teachers in verses 5, 9-10, and 15-16.  The false teacher was supposed to be put to death.  Yikes!  Now, I’m not advocating that we go and slaughter any false teachers that we know (including some very popular pastors in America), but I want to express the seriousness and the importance of following God and teaching about Him by His word, by His ways, and by His standards.  To do anything differently is to be “cruisin’ for a bruisin’.”

With that said, let me ask a few probing questions:

  1. What preferences do you choose to follow that do not measure up to the teachings of Scripture?
  2. Do you have teachers/preachers/pastors that you follow who teach things that simply oppose the true gospel yet you yield to their teaching?
  3. Do your disciples and those around you learn a false gospel because your life contradicts Scripture? 

Posted by:Rich Duffield

 


April 15, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 12

These should be familiar words to us:

“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:3-6 ESV

This is the start to God’s “big 10″, and this is exactly what Deuteronomy 12 is about. It’s about proper worship. It’s not just about God being worshipped but how God wants to be worshipped. There’s order. There’s purpose. There’s a plan. There’s even a place. Worship is a big deal; it is, in fact, one of the major themes of the Bible, and it is what life itself is about.

The Lord addresses idolatry sternly in this chapter. I want us to turn our application to this important spiritual issue. The Lord does not want to share your heart with anything else. No carved image can meet your deepest spiritual need like He can. Yet, for all of us, we allow things/people/status/time/resources to take over our hearts and take the place of God in our lives. Those “good things that become “god things” must be dealt with so that God can take first place again (Colossians 1).

Are you struggling with idolatry? Heed the words of Deuteronomy 12 and rid yourself of the fleeting “treasures” this world offers. Grab hold of Jesus, the eternal treasure who can quench all of your longing thirsts.

What did the Lord teach you through this passage? How are you going to apply these sound words to your life? And if you’d be so honest, what idols are fighting for the place of God in your life? Leave comments and prayer requests below. Let’s fight idolatry in community.

Posted by:Todd Thomas


April 14, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 11:8-32

The Blessings of Obedience is again the theme of today.  This is an overriding principle in the book of Deuteronomy.  That’s OK – because we – like the children of Israel – are slow learners.

We see the command that Jesus says is the main thing quoted again in verse 13.  “Love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and soul”.  Is this starting to get through?  It’s quoted time and again throughout scripture.

The main verse I want us to focus on today is verse 16…

“But be careful.  Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the LORD and serve and worship other gods.”

We must guard our hearts!

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life”.  Proverbs 4:23

On day 6 in my book, The Change of Life, it mentions three very dangerous conditions of the heart.

1. Your heart can become HARD

This is a condition that happens when you continue to allow evil to live in your heart.  When you first experience evil as a Christ-follower, you’re convicted.  But, if you continue to allow it to stay eventually you become hardened to it.  Much like our how hands are tender – but, when we continue to do manual labor, like digging a hole, they hurt and become red.  If we don’t stop digging we’ll get a blister and if we don’t stop then – our hands will get calloused.  Same with our hearts…

In Exodus 7:13 – God gave Pharoah a hard heart.  What does a hard heart look like?  Ever had one?  Have one now?

2. Your heart can be DECEIVED

This is what our chapter today mentions.  If you continue to lie to yourself, you will eventually believe the lies and fight for them.  You often see this in an addict.  They will lie and believe their own lies.  Many Christians have fallen into this trap.

In James 1:26 the Bible talks about a deceived heart.  How can you deceive your heart?  Ever done that?  Living that way now in some area of your life?

3. Your heart can HARBOR EVIL

You know what a harbor is – it’s a safe place for ships to spend the winter.  A place closed in by 3 sides.  To harbor something means to hold onto it…to keep it safely in your heart.  This is a good thing if the thing you’re harboring is good – but when you harbor evil it’s deadly.  It will eventually destroy your heart like cancer.

In James 3:14 and 1 Corinthians 14:25 the Bible talks about this principle.  What does harboring evil in your heart look like?  Ever do that?  Doing it now?

How can I avoid these conditions of the heart?

1. Commit yourself to reading, studying, memorizing, and obeying God’s Word (v.18)

2. Teach these principles to your children (v.19)

…look how God commands parents to disciple their children in verses 19-20.  It’s not an option parents.  Not to is to disobey God.

3. Obey God’s Word (v.22)

God ends this chapter by laying it on the line for us…

“Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse!  You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today.  But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the LORD your God and turn away from Him and worship gods you have not known before.”  (v.26-28)

What is God saying to you today?  Post a comment and let us know…

Posted by:Tim Parsons


April 12, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 11:1-7

Motivation for loving God…

God usually gives reasons for why He commands us to do things.  He doesn’t need to, but He does.  We should do what He says regardless of the reasons, but He is gracious in guiding us as His children.  For example, when God tells us not to fear, He tells us not to fear because He is with us (Isaiah 41:10).  When He tells us to love people, He tells us to love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

In the beginning of our passage today, God tells us to love Him and keep His commands, but again, just as a Father to his child, He guides us with the reason to do so.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

If we look back to yesterday’s passage, chapter 10 ended with,

“He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.  When your ancestors went down into Egypt, there were only seventy of them. But now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky!”

Then, in the ESV, chapter 11 begins with,

“You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.”

Whenever we see the word “therefore” in Scripture, we need to ask ourselves, what is it “there for?”

In this case, therefore is used because the previous information motivates the following command.  “So, because God saved his people from their slavery and multiplied and blessed His people, they should therefore love Him and keep His commands”.

And the same is true for us.  If you’re questioning why you should love God and follow His ways, even though it can be hard… let me encourage you with the same motivation as found in this passage. He saved us, called us out of slavery, blessed us, and has chosen to multiply our efforts.  We are motivated to love Him because He was motivated to save us.  Let that encourage your love for Him today.

Take some time and remember when Jesus saved you.  Who were you before?  Who are you now?  How does that push you to love Him with all of your heart?

Posted by:Sam Cirrincione


April 11, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Justice and Righteousness. Two common themes that you’ll see throughout Scripture that doesn’t exactly work without the other. You see both of these themes in the Scripture we read today as Moses talks about circumcision of the heart which stand for the righteousness we receive only through the upcoming Messiah Savior. We cannot become righteous off our own good deeds but instead Jesus’ righteousness is imputed on us through the Cross. This is why circumcision was so special in the O.T. because it was God separating who was righteous and who was not. It was a physical sign to show that He loves us and chose us “above all peoples” as he mentions in v. 15. Most talk of circumcision in the O.T. is of the physical kind but Moses foreshadows what the apostle Paul writes about circumcision of the heart through Jesus.

 

“28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.” –Romans 2:28-29

 

As we Moses stresses the spiritual instead of the physical nature of righteousness in circumcision here, he does the opposite in v. 18 as he highlights our Heavenly Father’s concern for the physical justice of others.

 

“18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” –Deut. 10:18-19

 

This is why Christians should pursue both justice and righteousness in the spiritual and physical nature. I’m reminded of the whole WorldVision fiasco where it seemed like all of a sudden Christians felt like they needed to pick sides between the physical and spiritual when God clearly calls for both. Action follows our faith and that includes caring for the poor, being a father to the fatherless, helping out widows in need. We care for the soul along with the body that inhabits that soul. So this month as we focus on the physical needs of others as a church and dedicate 2,000 hours of service toward our community, be reminded that God call us to do this for justice sake. However, we need to continue to dedicate just as much time to righteousness by sharing the Gospel, the only thing that makes us righteous before God’s eyes.

Posted by:Erik Koliser


April 10, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 10:1-11

There was some major rebellion going on in the Israelite camp while Moses was on Mt. Sanai.  In the previous chapter, Moses recounts the sinful, idolatrous acts of the Israelites while he was on top of the mountain receiving the 10 commandments from God.  Also, at the end of chapter 9, Moses recounts how he prayed to the Lord on their behalf.  Chapter 10 begins to reveal God’s plan of recovery for Israel after their rebellion.  He’s a God of second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. chances.

In 10:1-5, after having prayed to the Lord, Moses received instruction from God to cut out some tablets of stone so He could write the 10 commandments on them again.  You may remember that Moses shattered the previous tablets before the rebellious Israelites to demonstrate his anger and Israel’s breaking of God’s law.  So, God re-wrote the tablets and Moses came back to the camp.

The whole act of re-writing the tablets is a demonstration that God wants His law and His word to be the starting point for new beginnings.  This is a great act of grace in a couple of ways.  First of all, God could have just destroyed the Israelites but He gave them another chance.  Secondly, God’s laws and commandments gave the Israelites instruction and guidance for how to walk with Him.

How gracious of God that He would freely give guidance of how to walk with Him.  Some people see the law and God’s word as restrictive and as something that takes all of the fun out of life.  The reality, though, is that God’s laws protect us and provide for us and give us the keys to living the abundant life God has planned for us.  There’s no way to be who God wants us to be apart from a close association to His law/word.  I want to be a hearer and a doer of the law.   How about you?

So, even though God re-gave the 10 Commandments, He obviously knew that they would fail time and time again.  Verses 6-9 prove this.  God set up an enduring priesthood who would become mediators on behalf of the Israelites and stand before God to bless and worship Him.  God knew they would need a mediator.

Now if the sin of Israel, the continual second chances, and the institution of an enduring priesthood doesn’t point you to Jesus, then you might not be looking for Jesus as you read the Scripture.  God knows we sin, but gives us continuous second chances because of His grace which He has lavished on us through the enduring priesthood of the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ.

So, be reminded of the need for His law and word in our lives today.  Also, be reminded of the goodness of the Gospel today.

Posted by:Rich Duffield


April 9, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 9:7-29

This was a strange passage to read at first. Moses tells the people to remember their sins. He tells them to remember how they made the golden calf idol and provoked God’s wrath. At first, I wasn’t really sure why Moses wanted them to remember these events and how they had, over and over again, provoked God to wrath but I think we see it in a couple of places and here it is:

Even in the Lord’s anger we find His mercy and His promises

Even in their constant sinning and angering God they were still spared and still received some of God’s blessings. Also, we see Moses bringing God back to His promise to make a great and lasting nation from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Obviously God relented and did not destroy Israel. God, even in His wrath, still shows us mercy and grace. What we can take away from this today is the same lesson Moses gave to the Israelites way back then. Remember your sins and how they grieved God and how they kept you from knowing God. But don’t forget to also remember His mercy in Christ that, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The truth is we know God’s mercy because of our great sin. Now, just as Paul said, don’t go on sinning so you can get more grace (paraphrased). It is that mercy and grace that should lead us to repent and turn from our sins toward God. So, here’s a thought for you to take with you today:

My sin is great but His mercy and grace are greater.

Posted by:Robbie Byrd


April 8, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 9:1-6

Why does God love me? How do I gain God’s favor? What is it that makes God happy with me and want to bless me? These are questions most people wrestle with and ask themselves. And, for most people the answer is usually something like this:

God loves me when, or is happy with me when, or will bless me when…I am good. (False Answer)

It is a sad fact that most people, if you asked them right now, even those who profess Jesus, would say that in order to get to heaven there is some sort of personal act of goodness or charity or obedience. Now, obedience is a good thing and doing what is right and good can certainly put us in the best position to receive God’s blessings in our lives but rest assured, it does not happen because we are doing these things. Moses warned the people three times in two verses that God going before them had nothing to do with their righteousness or integrity. In fact, he ends the passage by saying they were a stiff necked, or stubborn people.

So why did God do it for them and why does He do these things for us? Why does God love me? Why does God bless?

God loves me because, or is happy with me because, or will bless me because…He made me for that purpose. His purpose. (True Answer)

For many of us this perplexes and frustrates us. We feel like we should at least do something to earn or keep or pay our way to heaven. The truth is that is pride. The minutes we can and do add to what God gives us we then give ourselves room to boast. That is why Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-10 about salvation being a gift from God, not of us so that we cannot boast. Moses made sure the Israelites knew they had nothing to do with what was about to happen. It was all God.

This should bring us a sense of relief and peace. I learned a hard lesson in college that comes to mind when I think about this. I used to hate when someone would try to give me money or pay for my meal as a surprise. I was taught by a mentor that it was a sign of pride. A humble person who is walking with God understands blessing and finds joy in it. The same is true when it comes to our relationship with God and His blessings in our life. Now I have no problem letting someone bless me with money or take me out to eat. (Open invitation J) We need to find peace in knowing none of this has anything to do with us or how we perform.

God has great plans in store for you and for me. He wants to bless us and give us hope and a future, ultimately in eternal life with Him. He has a plan and an agenda He desires to see happen and we are assured it will all happen, no matter what we say or do. We do have the joy and privilege of being involved and used in His plan but, be assured; it has nothing to do with our righteousness, but rather His plan.

Posted by:Robbie Byrd


April 7, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 8:1-20

What a great chapter!  One of my favorite chapters in the Bible!!  Read it carefully.

The theme of this chapter is Obedience to God.

Be Careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today… (v.1)

Obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him.  (v.6)

Obey God’s commands

God gives us commands and expects us to obey them.  Not in any way to earn His approval – that was done at the Cross through Jesus – but to honor Him and to make our lives better.  Things always work better when you do them God’s Way!

What commands of God are you ignoring and doing life your own way?

What immediately comes to your mind and convicts you when I ask that question?

Walk in His ways

This means we are to live like Jesus.  Remember the question that was popular a few years back?  What would Jesus do?  Where would Jesus go?  What would Jesus say?  To walk in His ways means to walk as He would – in His footsteps.

What are some ways that you’ve been walking in your own path rather than that of Jesus?

Fear Him

This doesn’t mean we are to be afraid of God – simply respect Him.  Not afraid of what He will do because of our sin – but afraid of what our sin will do to Him.  He loves and only has the best in mind for us (Jeremiah 29:11).

In what ways have you ignored God and disrespected Him by your words or actions?

God reminds His wandering children – if you obey my commands I will bless you lives (v.7-9).  The same is true for us.  God’s grace is amazing – but He will not continue to bless disobedience in our lives.

Verses 10-18 give us a solemn warning – When you’re living in God’s blessings – don’t forget God.  It’s so easy to forget when things are going well.  Don’t do it!  Remember where it comes from and Who to thank.

Have you forgotten God during your time of plenty?

Do you need to remember Him again and give Him the praise He deserves for all He’s given you?

Posted by:Tim Parsons


April 5, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 7:1-26

God is good.  So very good.  So good, in fact, that when we feel the most afraid or when we feel the most destroyed, God steps in as a kind and benevolent Father that reaches down, gets down on one knee, looks in our eyes, and tells us:

“I love you, my daughter, my son.”

This chapter today is a love letter between the great maker of stars, of galaxies, of roly-poly’s, and each grain of sand.  This love letter was written thousands of years ago to a people who belonged to God, but sometimes they forgot who they were. They tended to forget whose they were.  Just like you and me.

Sometimes, the Israelites lost their way and forgot who had brought them thus far.  The Israelites had a tendency to forget where their strength came from.  To start this chapter, God reminds them who has done all that the Israelites have accomplished (v1-2).  Then in verse 2b-5, God reminds them of His calling for them to remain Holy and undefiled as a people so they wouldn’t turn away from Him.

But then God tells them why they can’t act like or associate with other nations:

“For you are a people HOLY to the Lord your God.” (v6)

In verses 6-16, God makes some astounding statements about the Israelites:

1)      You are HOLY as the people of God. (v6)

2)      You are chosen by the Lord your God. (v6)

3)      You were chosen, not because you were worth choosing, but because He loves you! (v7)

4)      Because He loves you, know that God is faithful. (v9)

5)      His love is steadfast and true to his promises. (v9)

6)      His love calls us to obedience out of worship. (v11)

7)      He is faithful to bless our obedience. (v12-16)

Just like the Israelites, God declares to us today:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” – 1 Peter 2:9-10

God gives us a new identity IN CHRIST.

God has chosen us BECAUSE OF CHRIST.

So today, no matter what you are going through, no matter the trial or the pain, remember one thing:

Remember whose you are.

Just as God declared the Israelites to be His own, He declares you to belong to Him as His beloved, His people.  Not by any thing that you have done, but by everything that He has done for us.  He has redefined our identity – as His child, His beloved, as forgiven and free.

Take an extra second sometime today and read through Psalm 89 and remember why, and in whom, we can be thankful.

Posted by: Wes Brooks, Ministry Intern


April 4, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 6:1-25

There are many times when I’m with my children when I just kind of step back from what I’m doing and I start thanking God for entrusting me with my children. A desire to get married and become a father was a sure sign of regeneration for me, as I never desired to have children, nor be around children before becoming a Christian in High School. However, soon after those desires like many others in our new life in Christ changed to where I couldn’t wait to be a father. Of course parenting is much more then provision, protection and playing with them according to what we read in Deuteronomy 6 today. We are to disciple our children by keeping Christ at the center of our marriage and home and teaching them about Jesus as we live life together (v. 5-9). These verses are some of the most popular verses in Scripture regarding parents as the main disciplers of their children.

So how do we do this as parents?

1. As Parents, You Need to Love Jesus First. (v. 5-6) You can’t teach your
children something you don’t possess yourself and this includes loving God with all of your heart, soul and might. Your parent will read right through this if  “Jesus, church and his supposed morality” is something you want for them but don’t care for yourself.

2. Teach your children the Bible. (v. 7-9) Be purposeful and consistent in teaching your kids the Gospel and Scripture. This includes conversations in speech (7b) binding (8a) and in writing (8b). This could be as simple as weekly family devotions with children, scripture memorization over vacations or an encouragement in Scripture with a text to your teenager.

3. Live out the Bible in your Home. (v. 7-9) Notice how you are to teach the Bible to your children “when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise.” Like James says, “We are to be doers of the Word, not just hearers of the Word.” This is more important for parents then any other influence in their life for you will be around your child more then any children pastor, disciple or friend.

4. Point them to the Gospel (v. 20-25) After teaching them the Bible and modeling a home where it’s lived out, they will get to a point where they will genuinely ask “What’s the meaning of all this? (v. 20). It’s then that you point them to the Gospel, not morality, spiritual disciplines or more law for personal righteousness. You show them that the whole purpose of the Bible is that Jesus freed us from our slavery to sin and graciously gives us new life like the Israelite parents taught their children through the Exodus, one of the greatest Gospel foreshadowing in all
of Scripture.

Posted by:Erik Koliser


April 3, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 5:1-33

Did you ever watch the TV show “My Super Sweet 16” on MTV a few years ago? If you are over the age of 26 chances are you missed this little gem of a show. For those of you who have never heard of this show, it was basically about rich, famous parents throwing their kids sweet 16 birthday parties. It was a huge production for these kids who got to experience the luxury of kings because of the family that they were born into. Let’s just say that humility and modesty were not characteristics that many of these children displayed. For more information on this show check out this article from the Huffington Post,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joanna-popper/mtv-my-super-sweet-16_b_2348445.html.

I would like to think that the goal of the parent was to show their children how much they loved them by lavishing gifts upon them. The parents worked very hard to achieve the success that afforded them the opportunity to give their children a birthday that very few kids in the history of the world would ever experience. So why didn’t their children respond with gratitude and thankfulness? What lesson did these kids miss? The answer is the parents forgot to teach them perspective.

Today we look at the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5 and this passage teaches us perspective as believers. Through His commandments God teaches us to remember:

  1. Who He is (v.6). God is our salvation and is the one who delivered Israel, and us, from slavery. He is Lord and we should have a worshipful fear of Him. Not only is God our savior but he is our judge (v.9). He deserves our worship because this whole life is about Him.
  2. Who we are (v.15). Nothing that we have as believers can be claimed as our own. Without God we are still a slave to our sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). We must remember that we are bought with a price.(1 Corinthians 6:20).
  3. What God promised. (v.32). God has given us these commands so that it may go well with us. God is a loving God and wants our best for His glory.

I gave the “Sweet 16” example because as believers we have been blessed with God’s grace and mercy. We have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus and we have done nothing to earn it (Ephesians 1:3-14). Let us remember the lessons from Deuteronomy 5 and live as grateful children of God and not selfish children who make this life all about us.

Posted by:Chad Wiles


April 2, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 4:32-49

Deuteronomy 4:35 is such a great verse.  It’s a verse that just summarizes the greatness of God and who He is.

You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other. (NIV)

“He showed you these things so you would know that the LORD is God and there is no other. (NLT)

To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him. (ESV)

“To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him. (NASB)

 

There is none like God.  Moses reminded the Israelites about this fact.  Just before and after this verse he gave them a few reasons to be reminded that God had done such great things and there was no question that “He is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other.” (vs. 39)

God has done amazing things in all of our lives that cause us to say the same thing about Him that Moses said in verses 35 & 39.  I thought it would be fun and encouraging today for us to share about some of the things we have seen God do in our lives that has caused us to realize that He is God above all things and there is none like Him.

So, would you take a minute to comment and tell us all at least one specific  way that God made Himself known to you and proved Himself as the one true God above all things?

I’ll start.  For me, God has transformed my life.  If I had to write the story of my life 15 years ago, I never would have included the current chapter of my life that I am in now.  I could never have conceived 15 years ago that I’d be doing what I am doing now.  I never would have imagined that my life would revolve around the gospel.  Simply put, my life has been transformed and God has shown me that He is above all.

OK, your turn.

Posted by:Rich Duffield


April 1, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 4:15-31

Cade Thomas (7 mo)This season of life has been a lot of fun. 8 months ago, my wife and I were excited to welcome home our little boy. Cade’s a joyful, happy lil’ feller who loves people and really really really loves food. He constantly brings a smile to our faces. Recently, we began feeding him solid food. Of course, this is for his good and growth. More often than not, he thinks it’s the best thing in life. Lately, we’ve introduced a bunch of things into his diet, many of which he loves (banana, apple, sweet potatoes) and some… well, not so much (peas, broccoli).

The other day, I was spoon-feeding him while he was in his high chair. Just a typical meal. As a father, I wanted him to pay attention and eat his food. Mid-meal, for whatever reason, he decided that it was time to stare at the ground off to the side of the high chair. He was fixated on something — I’m pretty sure it was a Cheerio that he dropped earlier — that was in plain sight. Whatever it was, he was committed to studying it. It wasn’t going to make his hunger go away. It wasn’t going to help him grow. But it captivated him. Meanwhile, his dad, who deeply cares for him, sat with a full bowl of tasty fruit, ready to take care of his needs.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s what God feels like with us.

How often do I desire things that don’t matter? How often do I elevate good things to idol things? My gracious God has blessings for me, His child, that will satisfy me so much more than my fleeting pleasures. Just like Cade, though, I can’t seem to take my eyes off them long enough to enjoy Him and His provision.

That’s what God is getting at with His people in Deuteronomy 4. He is reminding them that He is better than idol things. He deserves their attention. He knows that if they elevate gift about Giver, it will harm them and discipline will be necessary. The warning in this passage may seem stern, but it’s loving too. It comes from a caring Dad who wants what’s best for His kids. It reminds me a lot of some tough and tender words from the author of Hebrews:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Church, let’s be encouraged by this passage today. God cares about you. He is a loving Father who always has His children on His heart. Stop looking at the Cheerio on the ground and let Him feed you the richest of foods.

Posted by: Todd Thomas


March 31, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 4:1-14

What a powerful call to God’s people we see in this passage! Moses is urging God’s people to obey and follow every single command God had given them. He tells them about the benefits of obeying and the consequences for not obeying. The part that really seemed to jump out at me was verses 6-8. Moses tells the people to obey God’s commands completely in order to display wisdom and intelligence to the surrounding people. He tells them that those people will see them as prudent and close to their God. I think we can certainly take home this lesson from that call:

The level of our obedience shows others the level of our allegiance and love to our God

When people see or hear of us cutting corners or fudging the line of our obedience to God in order to satisfy our own desires they begin to truly see where our loyalty and love are for our God. If we obey God 100% of the time then people will see us as being 100% genuine and real and serious about our faith. If we are anything less than 100% then people will see us as dishonest, hypocritical, and we will be used as fuel for those who oppose God. I can’t count how many times I have heard anti-Christian messages about the crusades (a war fought in God’s name that God never signed off on and had nothing to do with or His plan). Those people and that act of disobedience has caused lots of people over the years to say, “see, they preach love but they kill in God’s name.” In fact, just the other day I had an old high school classmate post over social media that “there had never been a war fought in the name of satan, only in the name of God.” Now, the crusades are an extreme but we, too, can easily say or do or not say or do things that cause those around us to say, “see, Christians are hypocrites” or “If Christians are like this I don’t want any part of it”. We aren’t perfect but we have to own our mistakes and be careful with guarding how we live and speak.  We are the reflection of Jesus to a lost world.

Posted by:Robbie Byrd


March 29, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 3:21-29

Do Not Fear…

“Enough is enough” is what God told Moses.  Almost like a parent who looks at their child and says, “stop asking, I’ve said no, and I mean no.”  Moses takes it like a champ by obeying what God says.  In this recounting, Moses speaks of when God told him he wasn’t able to enter the Promised Land.  A practical application for us is this:  Sometimes when God says no, He means no.

Although this is great, I want to look more specifically, today, at verse 22.  This is what Moses encourages Joshua with:

“Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the Lord your God will fight for you.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Our rendering of verses like these can be great and misleading at the same time.  Here’s why; if we lose the reason behind this confidence, we lose the confidence.  Again, if we lose the foundational reason of not having to be afraid (God is with us), then we have no reason not to be afraid.

As believers, we don’t have to be afraid because the God of the universe is with us, and He fights our battles for us.  He is in control, and He always will be.  He is the Author and the story finishes how He has written it.  We don’t have to be scared…. not because we are strong enough, not because we have it all together, not because we are growing stronger, not because people applaud us, and not even because we have been successful in the past.  We don’t have to be afraid of our battles because the Lord, our God, will fight for us.  Let Him be your confidence today.

Here are a couple questions to ponder on:

What am I afraid of right now?

How can I practically trust God to fight my battle for me?

Posted by:Sam Cirrincione


March 28, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 3:1-20

We’ve been in Deuteronomy for about a week now and you may already be starting to think that you’re reading the same thing over and over again. So far we’ve read a lot about God speaking, Israel traveling, Israel fighting.. and repeat. Today’s devotion may seem much of the same on surface level but there’s two very important things that I would encourage you to notice from today’s Scripture. First, don’t ever name your son Og. Even if he’s going to be a king. Scratch that. Especially if he’s going to be a king. King Og. I can’t imagine what middle school was like for poor ol’ Og. On a more serious second point, God gives us REST and we must take advantage of those Sabbaths.

I know some of you are probably rereading now and wondering where I got this Sabbath passage from and I missed it myself the first time reading through these twenty verses myself. However when studying it a little more, vs. 20 stuck out as God shared with the men of Israel to rest as they left their women and children behind in the cities that they just conquered and for the men to move on but to rest before doing so. According to the ESV Study Bible, this word “rest” is similar to the “rest” God had on the seventh day after creating the first six and the “rest” we have in Psalm 95 being in the good shepherd’s flock. Rest is important because life is tough and we must work hard in the responsibilities that God gives us. The men of valor was to move on and fight to take what God had given them and they we told to rest in between. We are called by God to do certain things for Him, move certain places to be missionaries and to fight temptations while pursuing holiness. Some of you know the importance of Sabbath as you are in a particularly busy season of life with family, your job or possibly ever your service in church and you must find great peace and comfort that God will give you rest if He has given you responsibilities and called you to do something in any of those areas. So work hard because Jesus worked hard for us in defeating satan, sin and death on the cross but know there is Sabbath and rest to come like Jesus knew when He would be resurrected and reigning over all things on His Heavenly throne.

Posted by:Erik Koliser


March 27, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 2:26-37

I really like verse 31 from our passage today.  Here it is in four different versions.

The LORD said to me, “See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his country over to you. Now begin to conquer and possess his land.” (NIV)

 

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Look, I have begun to hand King Sihon and his land over to you. Begin now to conquer and occupy his land.’ (NLT)

And the LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to take possession, that you may occupy his land.’ (ESV)

“The LORD said to me, ‘See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to occupy, that you may possess his land.’ (NASB)

Begin to conquer and possess.  Begin now to conquer and occupy.  Begin to take possession.  Begin to occupy.  When I read those phrases I want to go conquer something.  I want to go take a big, bold faith step and watch God act on a big, bold promise.

The Lord had already promised Moses that the land he was to take had already been given to him in verses 27-31.  God told Moses to move in and possess the land.  Moses did what God said to do.  God did what He said He would do, and they took the land.

God has made some big promises to us.  He promises that if we trust in Him, He will give us wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).  He promises eternal life to all who know Him (I John 5:13).  He promises that His grace is sufficient for salvation (Eph. 2:8-9).  He promises that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (I Cor. 10:13).  He promises that all things work together for the good for His children (Romans 8:28). He promises to supply all that we need (Matthew 6:25-34).  He promises to produce fruit in our lives (John 15:5).  God promises that He has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11).  God promises peace of mind (John 16:33).  God promises that the Holy Spirit will direct and empower us (John 16:7-16).  I could go on and on about His promises.

When I see God’s promises, I want to go conquer and take possession of the promises that He has made to me.  Believing God’s promises and acting on them isn’t always easy, but the rewards are always worth the obedience.

I don’t know about you, but I plan on conquering and taking possession of His promises today.

Posted by:Rich Duffield


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