Deuteronomy 8 – Don’t Forget!

“Alright! Alright! I heard you the first time!” These are the words I would think to myself when I was a teenager and my parents were telling me something over and over again, so I wouldn’t forget it. (It was probably safer to think these words, then to say them out loud to my parents.)

In Deuteronomy chapter 8, God, through Moses, is doing the same thing any good parent does…repeating His instructions over and over. And like any good parent, It’s not because He thinks we don’t understand. It’s because He’s stressing the importance of what He’s saying, as well as the need to remember it and apply it.

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Deuteronomy 7 – Do You Need to Declutter?

Marie Kondo has given rise to the recent trend in decluttering our living spaces. Marie encourages people to get rid of anything that doesn’t give them joy.

We all have have things we don’t really need and no longer give us joy. We walk around the stuff, trip over the stuff, and eventually become blind to the stuff. Though it adds no value to us, we still hold onto this stuff.

The same thing can happen in our spiritual lives. We can accumulate things that clutter and steal our joy spiritually. They are things that add no spiritual value, but we continue to walk around, trip over, and hold onto them.

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Deuteronomy 6 – God’s Locker Room Instructions

Just before a big game, a coach will gather the players together in the locker room and go over instructions about the attitudes and behaviors they will need to win the game.

You would think that Moses would give the same kind of locker room instructions just before sending the Children of Israel across the Jordon river to fight for the Promised Land. But that’s not the case!

In Deuteronomy chapter 6, instead of telling them what they need to do to win the battle, Moses tells them what they need to do after they have won the battle. He warns them not about the struggle, but about the success.

It’s true. Once we’ve achieved the success we’ve desired, we must be even more on our guard, for complacency is much more threatening than combat. Struggle heightens your senses, while success dulls them. When we’re in need, we acknowledge our dependency on God. When our bellies and our bank accounts are full, we act out of self-sufficiency.

So Moses reminds them that when the battle is over, and they are living in the peace and prosperity they always dreamed of, then it’s even more important that they…

  • Revere God as the One and only sovereign Creator and Sustainer.
  • Respond obediently and promptly to His commands and directions.
  • Recall all He has done for them.

This sounds like a good reminder/warning for us. Compared to the rest of the world, we are very wealthy…even the poorest of us. We live in an abundance that much of the world can’t imagine. We’ve been blessed with this, but not guaranteed it.

So don’t forget to revere the God of your blessings. Don’t forget to respond obediently to His commands and directions. And don’t forget to recall His mighty interventions in your life.

Deuteronomy 5 – Awe and Obedience

Remember when you were a kid and the sight of fireflies, shooting stars, and rainbows would cause you to stop in awe? Remember when your parents seemed so big and powerful that the sound of their voice would quickly snap you into obedience?

As we grow up, we tend to lose our child-like sense of awe, as well as our desire and willingness to obey authority.

We can also lose our sense of awe and obedience when it comes to our relationship with God. We lose our awe of God when we become too familiar with Him or too indifferent to Him. We lose our willingness to obey God when our self-motivated desires dampen our desire for prompt and complete obedience to Him.

In Deuteronomy chapter 5, Moses reminds the children of Israel that the key to their relationship with God, as well as their success in the world, would come from maintaining their awe of Him and their obedience to Him.

Awe and obedience should still be the core of our life and relationship with God. Without them, our life will lack power, passion, and production for God. Perhaps that’s why Jesus put such an emphasis on becoming child-like…as opposed to childish. (Matt. 18:3) (1 Cor. 13:11)

Our lives need to be based in awe over God’s indescribable greatness and obedience to His perfect Word. And one will prompt the other. If we reclaim our awe of God, it will renew our obedience to Him. If we improve our obedience to God, it will increase our awe of Him.

Have you lost your awe over the greatness of God? Do you find yourself treating obedience to God more as an option than a mandate? Pick one to focus on and the other will not be far behind.

Deuteronomy 4 – Focus!

Focus! If you’re a photographer, this means to train your lens on the most important part of the photograph, making it sharp and clear. If you’re someone with a touch of ADHD and facing a lot of demands, it means to train your mind on the most important thing at the moment…so as to not get sidetracked or pulled away.

As the Children of Israel prepared to cross over into the Promised Land, I imagine their hearts and minds were crowded with lots of thoughts, fears, excitements, dreams, anticipation, apprehension, memories, etc.

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Deuteronomy 3 – Who Would Have Believed It?

I started playing guitar at the age of nine and very quickly was playing music wherever I could. All through my high school years, I spent my weeknights rehearsing and my weekends playing in clubs and bars around the area. My hair was long, I hung out with a questionable crowd, and I’m sure there were many who thought I would never amount to anything.

But at the age of twenty-two, I gave my life to Christ. I stopped playing in the bars, and gradually got plugged in at church. God continued to grow me, and eventually called me into full-time ministry. The kid who didn’t care about God, religion, or education is now a teaching and counseling pastor with two graduate degrees. Who would have believed it!

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Deuteronomy 2 – The Wilderness is Not a Waste!

Ever fell like you’re wasting your time? Like you’re getting nowhere fast? This must have been what it felt like to wander in the wilderness for forty years.

In this age of instant text, google searches, and three minute microwave popcorn, wandering in the wilderness seems like such a waste of time.

But Deuteronomy chapter 2 shows us that God doesn’t waste anything! He uses even the difficult times in our life to teach us and prepare us.

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Deuteronomy 1 – Go and Occupy

Some people make things harder than they have to be. These people complicate things by ignoring suggestions and instructions. They like doing things their own way. They open the box and begin putting pieces together, without reading the instructions.

In Deuteronomy chapter 1, Moses begins a speech to the Israelites who are preparing to cross over into the Promised Land. In the speech, Moses reminds them that the generations before them had made things harder than they needed to be. They had turned an eleven day trip into a forty year trip, because they chose to do things their own way, rather than follow God’s lead.

God had their blessing in hand and was holding it out to them. He promised to pave the way and handle the difficulties they would face. All they had to do was go and occupy.

But their fear and discouragement led them to doubt God. They refuse His direction…and thus His blessing. So the previous generation spent forty years wandering in the wilderness, never receiving what God longed to give them.

I have a feeling I would be shocked and dismayed at how much un-necessary wandering I’ve done, simply because I was afraid to go and occupy. How many times during a single day does God hold some blessing out before me and longs for me to make it my own, only to see me wander and stumble trying to do things my own way.

God, help us to hear the words “Go and occupy” at every turn, and to respond without hesitation.

What is it that God is calling you to do that you’re hesitating to do? Spend this week asking God to give you the courage to step out in faith.

Numbers 34-36 – God Cares

There will be times in all our lives when we will wonder, “Does God really care about me?”

Let me assure you, God cares. It’s a simple and almost cliché sentiment that’s over-used and barely shows up on our radar. But this simple, two-word declaration is the key to living life with assurance and hope.

Notice that the statement “God cares” doesn’t place any limits on who He loves or how much He loves. The inclusiveness and expansiveness of God’s care is demonstrated in very practical ways in Numbers chapters 34-36. In these chapters, you see that God cares about such things as land, boundaries, fair allotments, inheritances, equitable provision, justice, protection of the innocent…and so much more. There isn’t anything that God doesn’t care about. (1 Pet. 5:7) (Heb. 13:5)

At times, it will seem as if God doesn’t care. There will be times when things aren’t going right, evil seems to be winning, and God doesn’t seem to be coming through. During those times, God will seem to be unaware, indifferent, or malicious.

But all children feel this way about their parent(s) at times. It’s only in hindsight that a parent’s care becomes evident.

So, when it seems like God doesn’t care – believe that He does, act like he does, and wait for the evidence that He does. (Eccl. 3:11) Because if God cares about little things like boundary lines and land, you can be confident that He cares for the big things – like your life and your heart.

The evidence of God’s care is all around us. Look for evidence of God’s care this week. You might even try keeping a list.

Numbers 33 – Are We There Yet?

“Are we there yet?!” What parent hasn’t heard these nagging words from the back seat.

We all want to “get there.” So much so, that we fail to appreciate what’s happening on the journey. But when I read Numbers chapter 33, I’m reminded that our life is more about the journey than the destination. Long before you get to the destination, there’s…

  • The Start. Remember how exciting it was, as a child, to start a long journey? Starting felt like the best part. The car was packed, the house was locked, you felt the car back out of the drive, and you thought of all the things you would see.
  • The Stages. Once you started, the journey happened in stages. You stopped at: gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and parks. And these stops were necessary. You can’t make a long trip on one tank of gas and one meal. You must make it in stages.
  • The Struggles. Journeys usually include struggles. There are detours, flat tires, and traffic jams. There’s the kids fighting in the back seat: “They’re touching me!” “Do I have to sit next to them?!” “I don’t have enough room!” “You mean I have to sleep with them at the hotel?!”

For believers, the journey’s the same. There’s…

  • The Start. (Num. 33:3-4) Remember the excitement of starting your journey with Christ? Leaving an old way of life, anticipating new things, the unexplained confidence, etc.
  • The Stages. As believers, we make our journey in stages. (Num. 33:5-49) Some of the stages are unwelcoming and inhospitable, and we’re eager to move on. Other stages are like an oasis from which we never want to leave. Still, we must remember that until we see God face to face, we must move on to the next stage of the journey.
  • The Struggles. And our journey as believers will include difficulties. (Numbers 33:52-56) The struggle to take possession of what God wants to give us is a standard part of the journey. He will not hand it to us on a silver platter. We must roll up our sleeves, cross the river, and get to work. But some of the difficulties we bring upon ourselves, by not ridding our lives of things that don’t belong there.

So, when it comes to making the journey God wants you to make, stop focusing on the destination. Instead, buckle up for the long ride, expect some struggles, and change your question from, “Are we there yet?” to “Where are we now?”