In this podcast Pastor John begins his summary of the book of Exodus. Pastor John’s primary focus is on chapters 1-13.
Scripture Reading for March3: Joshua 1-5
Walking with God is not for wimps! God leads His people in paths of righteousness and truth. He is a mighty warrior and a conqueror! His reputation for war is known far and wide! He never loses or backs down, but often employs some very unconventional battle strategy (Joshua 6:2-5) and uses only those willing to follow His leadership. Today we begin our walk through the book of Joshua. God’s people finally get to go in and possess the land promised to them for so many years. We listen in as God finishes his preparation of Joshua, their new leader.
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:6-9
Possessing your inheritance requires strength and courage, especially if you are in leadership! It requires strength because there is walking involved and the ground you cover includes mountains and valleys. There are obstacles and tough climbs. You must have strength of mind to keep your thoughts focused on God’s promises. You must possess strength of character and soul to keep from falling for the temptations of the enemy and the flesh that would trip you up. God will lead you and go with you, (Matthew 28:20) but you must have the strength of body, mind, and soul to keep up the pace and walk with Him.
Courage is another attribute of a leader blessed by God. Courage is the ability to face tough situations with confidence. Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to face fear with truth and keep moving toward the goal. The confidence is not to be in your own strength, mind or ability, but comes from a relationship with God. When we know God, we come to trust and rely on His leadership and strength to get us through each obstacle. Joshua was told not to let God’s Law and Word depart from his mouth or mind. He was guaranteed prosperity and success as he meditated on the Word and was careful to obey. Faith is produced by this process and it pleases God! (Romans 10:17) (Hebrews 11:6)
Today, receive this reading from Joshua as a personal call from the Lord to walk in renewed strength and courage. Jesus Christ is our “Joshua” and has blazed a trail of perfect obedience to God’s Word. His leadership in our lives today will give us both the strength and courage to face the obstacles in our path! “Be strong and very courageous!”
Scripture reading for March 2: Deuteronomy 31-34
I have often told the Lord that I would like to leave this world like Moses, strong and vigorous to the last! I am a person who likes action and wants to be busy doing what God has for me. When my time comes to leave earth, I want to take one last look, and be gone! I want to have a successor who will carry on the work. I want to fight one last battle, give one last prophetic word, bless my church and family, and check out! That’s how Moses, the man of God ends his time on earth!
In Deuteronomy 31, we have the transfer of power and anointing from Moses to Joshua. Joshua had been faithful as a helper to Moses. He was by his side continuously. He went up on the mountain with Moses, at least part way. He was in charge of the Tent of Meeting. He was one of the twelve spies and had a “good report” as a man of faith in God’s Word. Joshua was picked by the Lord to succeed Moses. (Deuteronomy 31:14) Joshua was commissioned by the Lord to lead the people and promised God’s presence. (Deuteronomy 31:23)
In Deuteronomy 32, we have a song Moses composed at God’s direction that would be a witness against the people. God revealed to Moses that the people would rebel and suffer God’s punishment. This song commends the greatness of God, as the Rock of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:3-4) It spells out again the curses that will come from their disobedience to the covenant. (Deuteronomy 32:20-26) The song promises compassion and healing on those who return to the Lord and those who remain faithful. Deuteronomy 32:36-43) Music has a way of getting into hearts. God’s Word sung by the people would stick with them. We still have it written down for us today!
Deuteronomy 33 records the prophetic blessings on Israel and the tribes by Moses right before he left them. These blessing tell of God’s love for His people. (Deuteronomy 33:3-5) He ruled over them with love and wanted their blessing and provision. The blessings in this chapter are filled with imagery from the recent wanderings. One again stands out to me today that I regularly claim. “Most blessed of sons is Asher: let him bathe his feet in oil. The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days.” (Deuteronomy 33:24-25) May that be true of you and me!
Moses ends his journey by climbing Mt. Nebo in Moab and getting a bird’s eye view of the promised land. God took him through a panoramic tour, and then took him home. God buried him! (Deuteronomy 34:1-7) He was strong and vigorous and full of life to the last and he ever lives in God’s presence! In Scripture, he is last seen here on earth talking to Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration! (Matthew 17:1-3) What a man of God! I can’t wait to meet him someday!
Greetings! Another week is over and a day of rest and reflection is upon us! Hopefully, you are spending part of this day with God’s family in a place of worship! God redeemed us from slavery to sin to lead a life of worship! We are to worship personally and corporately. We come together to encourage each other and to meet with the family of God and prepare for a week of ministry and witness. We come together to hear the Word of God preached and taught by those with gifts for the body. The gifts in the body help us to become equipped to do the work God has for each member of the family. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
This week has been an interesting look at Moses as an elder and prophet sharing his heart at the very end of his ministry and time here on earth. He is strong and vigorous at 120 years of age. Evidently that manna and water diet kept him very well! He was greatly concerned for the younger kids of the next generation. He wanted them to be blessed and prosper and get all that the Lord had promised of their inheritance. He clearly understood how their sinful human nature was a danger to them. He shared that nature and because of his own anger and dishonoring of God would not be able to go into the promised land. Deuteronomy is the record of his last messages preached to this next generation before he died.
It is also interesting that God chose the preaching of His Word to be the vehicle of teaching and inspiring this next generation. (1st Corinthians 1:21) Faith comes by hearing God’s Word! (Romans 10:17) Faith also works by love and God calls them to love Him and love each other! (Galatians 5:6) This love is not a feeling, but a commitment to act for the highest good of another. God’s promises show His love and our faith and obedience show our love in return! God’s love hasn’t changed today! He is still using preaching to reach people and inspire faith in them. (Romans 10:14-15) He still desires faith and obedience as a show of our love for Him. (1st John 5:2-4) When we walk in faith and obedience and love, His face shines on us! (Number 6:22-27) May God bless you with faith and love for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior! Have a great day of rest and reflection!
Scripture Reading for February 28: Deuteronomy 27-30
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord Your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
This verse has always baffled me. God so clearly spelled out His desire for His people’s blessing and life. He had redeemed them and shown them His love by the signs and wonders and continuous provisions. Their clothes and shoes had not worn out. They ate the manna each day for forty years and had meat too. They drank the water from the rock. (Deuteronomy 29:2-6) Their enemies had been defeated and God had cared for them. (Deuteronomy 29:7-8) Moses asks them to make a choice. Do they want “life and blessing”? Or would they prefer “death and curses”? He even gave them the answer if they were having trouble figuring out the right choice: “choose life”! Yet they struggled with this choice!
There is something about sinful human nature that is blind to simple truth. We are taken captive by the lies of the flesh that tell us that our own way is the best. God’s way is too narrow and life like He wants for us is too restrictive. It’s too difficult to try! (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) We need to take a moment and reflect on this choice of Moses that represents the Gospel message of today! We have this simple choice and the encouragement to choose life in Jesus Christ! (John 14:6) Have we chosen correctly?
Moses told the people it wasn’t too hard for them (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) and the Apostle Paul quoted him in Romans:10:6-12. It is by faith in Jesus Christ that we can be saved from the curses of the Law and the penalty of death. It is our confession of faith in Jesus Christ’s work for us on the cross that saves us. The word is near us, in our heart and in our mouth. We must believe in our heart that Christ died for us and was raised from the dead. We must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!
“But what does it say? “The word is near you: it is in your mouth and in your heart”, that is the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” For it is with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:8-10
Scripture reading for February 27: Deuteronomy 21-26
One of the most difficult things to do is to change. We are by nature procrastinators and easily get comfortable with sin and evil in our lives and culture. We blame others for our bad habits and use the victim mentality to justify our own rebellion. We easily judge others who are “worse than us” and can see their need to change. Looking in the mirror and admitting that I need to change is another story. In today’s reading from Mose’s sermon to the younger generation we can gain insight about the radical methods needed to remove sin and guilt from our lives and community. This blog is inspired by a statement that is repeated many times by Moses: “purge evil from among you”.
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, then his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. You must purge evil from among you. All Israel will hear it and be afraid.” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
What is evil? According to this passage, one form of it is dishonoring and rebelling against your God-given authority. This is a breaking of God’s law, the only true source of knowing good and evil. A son who refuses to listen and be corrected by his parents is exhibiting rebellion and evil. Evil cannot be negotiated with or excused. Discipline is to be used to remove it or drive it out of one’s home or life. Evil affects communities and spreads if not dealt with. It is more than a personal matter. Sin’s final consequence is death and that can spread to a whole community.
Now, don’t jump to the conclusion that we should stone our children today. This law was for God’s family under the old covenant. It is teaching us principles of parenting and community involvement in setting standards for evil and its removal. If we tolerate evil, it always spreads. A lack of swift justice or discipline allows evil to grow. A swift and severe punishment instills a holy fear of God’s Word and reinforces the seriousness of evil as a source of death. Notice the elders were involved here. Those with wisdom and maturity helped the family with the rebellious child. Their goal was removing evil from the midst of the community, not just placating the child or parents. They cared about all the children and the future.
There are other examples throughout this section of scripture. The general lesson for us is our need for a clear definition of good and evil in community. The community working together to purge evil and promote good by respect for God’s law is foundational to God’s blessing of His people. Contemplate these truths and ask God how to apply them personally and in the community we belong to!
Scripture Reading for February 26: Deuteronomy 17-20
The passage today is another example of God’s foreknowledge. In Deuteronomy 17, Moses gives instructions to the Israelites about what will transpire after they enter the promised land. He said that they would want a king like the other nations around them. (Deuteronomy 17:14) We know from history, that is exactly what happened! God’s Word is always true and is worth listening to! I believe these passages will help us today.
The first rule of choosing a king, is to appoint one chosen by the Lord Himself! He must come from his own brothers so he can understand the people and the problems they face. A foreigner will not have a proper understanding and in the case of Israel, would not understand God’s special dealing with this nation. (Deuteronomy 17:15) Jesus Christ was God’s chosen ruler to be king over His people! He is actually king over the universe! He is one of us, being born of a woman. He was tempted in all ways like us, yet without sin. He came from the Father, and knew and willingly did the Father’s will!
Another factor in choosing the proper king had to do with their moral character. The king was not to gather large numbers of horses or send people to Egypt to get them. This king was not to take a large number of wives, because the wives would lead his heart astray. Some of these wives might lead the king into idolatry and cause his downfall. He must not gather large amounts of silver and gold. (Deuteronomy 17: 16-17) These things often lead to idolatry and pride and take the king’s focus off of serving the Lord and the people. Jesus Christ met all these characteristics! He did not put his trust in military power and certainly did not lead the people to Egypt. He also did not marry here, but is still betrothed to a Gentile Bride. He certainly did not gather silver and gold, but was a man of contentment with whatever was provided here. He owns the universe and is not greedy or idolatrous!
The last instructions for the king was that he was to write for himself a copy of the law taken from priests. The purpose was that the king would know the law and Word of God and keep and uphold it in his kingdom. It was to help him with pride and thinking that he was better than his brothers. It would help him revere God and honor Him alone.(Deuteronomy 17:18-20) Of course, Jesus Christ perfectly honored His father and kept the law. He read the law regularly and identified with his brothers in their need by giving Himself for them. The result is a long reign for eternity!
This instruction is good for any who are in authority! Pride is a constant temptation and so is greed. Sexual temptations also beset leaders. Would that we trust the Word of God! Choose Jesus for your king today!
Scripture reading for February 25: Deuteronomy 12-16
In many cultures, the poor and needy are viewed as under the judgment of the gods. These people are despised and live in the worst conditions on the fringes of society. Children born in the families are destined to live in poverty, sickness, and usually have an early death. India has millions living in the caste system and viewed as nearly untouchable by their peers. The Hindu religion and the teaching of reincarnation and this caste system keeps the bondage in place.
The God of the Bible, creator of heaven and earth, is compassionate and merciful. When He formed the nation of Israel and delivered them from slavery, He instructed them in the care of those society had looked down upon. The orphans and widows were singled out for care by the Lord. (Deuteronomy 14:28-29) God promised to bless the Israelites for caring for them. The alien was also to be cared for, because the Israelites were also aliens and strangers in Egypt and could identify with what it felts like to be in a strange culture and on the outside of the economic and political power system.
God said that there should be no poor among His people, however. (Deuteronomy 15:4) The reason given was that if they fully obeyed the Lord in keeping all His commands, God would so bless them that they would have an abundance to help others. They would lend only and not borrow. (Deuteronomy 15:6) They would also rule and not be in servitude. “The rich rule over the poor, the borrower becomes the slave of the lender.” (Proverbs: 22:7) This is God’s heart desire for His people. (3 John 2)
God seems to contradict Himself later in Deuteronomy 15:11. He only seems to because here God is telling the Israelites not all will fully obey. Some will be poor and they will need help. Those who are fully obeying the Lord are to be generous with the poor. They are not to be “tight-fisted” or “hard-hearted” towards their poor brothers, but are to be “open-handed” and “freely lend”. (Deuteronomy 15:7-10) God even goes so far as to say it is sin to be stingy toward the poor brother! He is indicating His care for those who are truly needy. God always pays well when we help the poor. We can’t outgive God!
“A generous man will prosper and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25)
“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31)
“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.” (Proverbs 19:17)
Scripture Reading for February 24: Deuteronomy 8-11
In 1995, my son and I went to Israel and Egypt on a three week study tour of the Holy Land plus the route of the Exodus and Egypt. In Egypt we visited the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx and several museums. The land of Egypt was primarily desert and dry rocky mountains until we got to the Nile River where the water and irrigation made some green areas and lush groves of tropical plants. The land was fairly flat and sandy. Israel, on the other hand was varied in topography and had many different areas of climate and vegetation. The Jezreel valley was a rich agricultural region with big farms. The vineyard country was terraced and had trees and vines. The area around the Sea of Galilee was lush and had banana and pineapples growing. There were herds of cattle and sheep in the Golan Heights. Shepherds drove their flocks of goats and sheep and camped in tents in the Negev desert. It was a varied land full of milk (goats and cattle) and honey (bees pollinating vines and flowers).
In our reading today, God describes through Moses in his sermon the land that they are going to. I thought it was interesting to read Deuteronomy 11:8-12 in light of my own journey to both places. It is a land flowing with milk and honey! (vs.9) It’s a land of hills and valleys! (vs. 10) God sends the rain of heaven on Israel where in Egypt, by hand and foot, the land had to be irrigated! (vs. 11) In Canaan, God cares for the land and His eyes are upon it to bless His people! (vs.12)
As Marshal and I walked and rode through that land, God’s presence was evident to us. It is a special land, although it is not remarkable or extraordinary. God’s presence and His people make it special! God’s promises to Israel and His love for His people and our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stand as a testimony of God’s faithfulness. Four thousand years after Abraham, his descendants are still in that land and are taking possession of it yet! They have defeated armies more numerous and stronger, because God is with them and His Word is still true. (Deuteronomy 11:23,25) They are still being gathered from the nations and settling in that land after years of being scattered! It is a land that God cares for and His eyes are upon it continually! Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and support God’s land and people! A blessing is on those who bless Israel! (Genesis 12:3)
Scripture Reading for February 23: Deuteronomy 5-7
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
This passage from our reading today is known by faithful Jews as the “Shema”. This Hebrew word simply means “listen”. The Shema is quoted twice daily by devout Jews around the world reminding them of the importance of a relationship with the one true God. This passage was quoted by Jesus in part when he was asked which was the greatest commandment. He answered with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38) This ancient word from a sermon of Moses around 1500 years before Christ was foundational in the devotional life of God’s people. Let’s examine it closer today and seek to apply it to our lives as twenty-first century AD Christians.
First, hearing is important! God wants us to have ears to hear His voice! Remember that the nation of Israel did not want to hear God’s voice speaking His commandments. They had asked Moses to hear for them so they would not die. Moses was repeating what God had told him. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God! (Romans 10:17) God sends His people out to speak His Word to bring faith and obedience and the resulting blessing on His own.
Second, the Lord is one! There is no other God but God! He is the creator of heaven and earth. He is holy and complete in Himself. He desires the love of His children and loves them infinitely, desiring the best for them. His love is expressed in his Word and commandments. When we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we are actively responding to His Word in obedience. If we love Him, we obey His commands. (John 15:9-11) His joy will be in us and our life will be full!
The last point to look at in this devotion is the need to impress these commands of the Lord on our children. If these commands are on our hearts, we will pass them on. The most effective way to pass them on is to live them out and speak about them in the normal flow of life. Live them out from morning to night. Make them the focus of all you do because they are on your own heart! It’s pretty simple really! What an impact on the next generation! Are you listening?