Wednesday, August 31: Deuteronomy 21- Sacredness of human life.

Establishing a people and a country is very different than giving laws or rules for life to an individual. Much of Deuteronomy is pointed at establishing a nation so the laws do not necessarily have personal import, but they can help me understand God’s heart on various concerns.

I found myself mulling over the opening 9 verses and the issue of a homicide with no leads regarding the perpetrator. The Lord was not satisfied allowing the unsolved homicide to have no closure. While bringing a person to justice would not happen, there remains the matter of intentional murder with no atonement. A human life has been taken and the Lord is not pleased! A significant stain of sin remains on the people.

So the Lord decreed a process of atonement for such cases. Certainly this was not wholly satisfying for the family of the murdered individual but at least the guilt before God of the people is assuaged.

As I wrote this last sentence, I realized that guilt before God does not enter my thinking very often. I think about guilt against the victim or the family, maybe even the state, but I rarely think of God’s perspective. The murder has prematurely ended the life of a human and death of an innocent requires atonement.

Human life is sacred; we forget (I forget) that God weeps at a murder.

I wonder if I am growing numb to death of innocent people due in part to the barrage of senseless deaths in my country and around the world lately.

Today’s reading is a sobering reminder of the sacredness of every human life.

Oh, God, I hope not. Lord, if my heart grows callused to crimes against innocent people I fear I will lose part of the flicker of the Holy Spirit within me. But, Lord, I don’t know if I can sustain the full onslaught that the voices of innocents are crying around the world. So I don’t know how to pray.  Should I pray to feel the full brunt of humanities’ crimes against innocents or should I pray to have my heart broken. I don’t know. I don’t know.

I just know, Lord, I want to embrace You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, August 30: Deuteronomy 20- Who gets honor for the victory?.

The response of the officers to battle is a strange one. Tactically you want the largest army you can muster. Strength in numbers, especially in hand-to-hand combat wars, is a clear advantage. And yet we read:

The officers shall say to the army: “Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may begin to live in it. Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.” Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.”

Stop and think for a moment, build a new house and you get to go home. Plant a vineyard and not yet enjoyed its fruit (about 3 years), go home. Remember this is a farming culture. Engaged to be married, go home. Scared and fainthearted, go home. I have no idea what percentage of able bodied soldiers this would add up to be but I imagine it is a significant percentage and it includes the younger most able bodied men at that.

What’s the deal? I suspect there is a psychological component to keep the distracted men off the battle lines where their distraction can negatively influence others.

But even more so, the Lord seems to be in the habit of whittling down the Israelite forces (remember Gideon) so that the Lord gets the honor and glory for the battle victory not Israel itself. This is why David’s counting of the fighting men was so heinous. Knowing ‘his’ strength would lead to vain glory and trust in self rather than the Lord.

God’s whisper to me… the Lord is why I succeed in life and in work. This truth is not meant to undermine hard work and thoughtful actions; I am to bring all I am and all the gifts and abilities I have and place them at God’s disposal. But ultimately success is in God’s hands. Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)

I have been reading about WWII lately and certainly the United States entry into the war was a massive advantage, but the number of battles won by a turn of fate here or there is astounding... these belong to the Lord…

Again, not by might… but by the Lord… victories are won and successes are gained.

Think about it…

Lord, keep me mindful that You deserve all praise and honor. Whatever “I” have gained in this world, You are the giver of these good gifts. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Monday, August 29: Deuteronomy 19- What an interesting punishment.

What an interesting punishment. If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. … (16-19).

Do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. It seems to me that this would be a pretty good deterrent. Instead of simply facing the punishment for perjury, the perjurer receives the punishment that the perjured victim would have received if he/she had been convicted.

Truth telling, especially in court, is important if a society is to function well. How does one enforce truth telling… it prosecutes lying (perjury). With this law God is telling His people how important truth telling in court is.

I have never testified in court so what do I do with this passage?  1) It tells me how much God honors and expects truth telling, not only in court but in life. 2) It begs me to examine my life.   Am I a truth teller or do I s-t-r-e-t-c-h the truth to fit my situation?

Introspection is an important part of maintaining honesty with the Lord.

How are you doing in the truth telling department?

Lord, ‘thou shalt not lie’, pretty much sums up Your view in truth telling. May I honor You in all my speech. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Saturday, August 27: Deuteronomy 18-The occult.

This is not a particularly devotional topic, but for some reason this paragraph seemed to command my attention as I read my daily chapter.

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God (9-13).

It seems strange but these kinds of practices seem to be growing in my culture. Whether it is serious involvement, dabbling or something ‘fun’ to do I cannot say. And likely this will vary from person to person. Reading this passage, any involvement, even the mildest involvement, is categorically forbidden by the Lord. They are detestable to the Lord.

I don’t know of anyone who has sacrificed a son/daughter in the fire; but new age influences are growing. Things like finding your energy or spirit guides are growing in influence in my culture. So the concern Moses raises has its connections to my world.

Bottom line, Moses says NO involvement. In words and behaviors that would make sense to people I know, no dabbling with horoscopes, taro card readings, going to spiritist fairs, reiki healing or meditation in the eastern, sense of emptying oneself and the like. These behaviors are not benign; they open doors to God’s enemy who is masquerading behind these kinds of behaviors.

The Lord expects fidelity from His followers and these kinds of behaviors are affairs with the devil that can only lead to trouble. The Lord is warning us, giving us a guardrail we should not cross.

Think about it…

Lord, give me eyes to see the subtle inroads of Your enemy in my world.  Help me to wall off any personal involvement and then give me appropriate words for warning for others. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, August 26: Deuteronomy 17- The rule of law.

I have been thinking lately about the gift I have living in the US with the rule of law and our right to a trial of peers. Now to be sure the legal system in my country has some issues. It takes too long to prosecute, there appears to be a bias against the poor, public defenders have ridiculous caseloads that do not allow for fair representation, etc. Inequities noted, our system is an incredible gift compared to countries where there is no rule of law except “might makes right.”

Reading the Word today, I grew in my appreciation for the Lord and the gift He gave Israel with their legal system. It showed me God’s heart for truth, honesty and justice. Admittedly this example is a capital case, but it is in those situations where the outcome is most severe.

If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God … and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. … On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. … (2-7).

First I note that any investigation must be thorough. In a world and culture where the big person matters more and generally can do what he wants to require thorough investigation is a huge step forward in jurisprudence. It suggest truth is what is being sought, not vengeance.

Next requiring the testimony of two witnesses –obviously corroborating witnesses- raise the bar of truth significantly while also limiting corruption. This is another large step forward in protecting individuals from abuse by the system or by the rich and powerful.

Requiring the witnesses to be the first involved in executing the capital punishment is a third step forward to seeking truth and offering fairness regardless of a defendant’s wealth. Certainly this doesn’t absolutely ensure honest testimony, but a person with any shred of conscience, I would think, would have problems putting someone to death with their own hands for a crime they were not 100% convinced the person committed.

Lastly, if the judge presiding the case doesn’t discern truth, he has the ability to move the case to a temple priest. The inference here is that the Lord will determine the verdict. For the accused this should bring comfort if they are innocent.

All in all Israel’s system was a major step toward equity, honesty and true justice, especially given the state of affairs in the ancient world from which this comes.

All of this shows me God’s heart for integrity and justice in His land.

Thank You, Lord, for Your heart for truth and for teaching Your people this and for setting up a system that would help insure it for all the people of Your land.

Praise to You, Lord, God… Amen and amen.


Thursday, August 25: Deuteronomy 16- Celebrate.

Devotionally I was attracted to the word ‘celebrate’ in verses 10 and 13. Celebrate the festival of…

It struck me that celebration is the appropriate posture of praise and worship.

Earlier this year we celebrated the wedding of my daughter. There was laughter and conversation and smiles and lots of enjoyment. But there were also moments of reverent wonder and sharing of vows and even a few tears. It was a wonderful celebration.

Six weeks before the wedding the family celebrated the life, death and resurrection of my mother-in-law. While the tone of the service was more somber, due to the occasion obviously, many of the same relational qualities were found at the event and the after events… laughter, conversation, smiles, tears, reverent wonder.

The doses of each were different for these two events but there was a similar underlying goodness and, yes, even joy for both events. One celebrating the new life of a marriage, the other celebrating the ultimate homecoming for a child of God.

Moses invites the people of Israel to celebrate the Lord at the festivals of Israel. And I thought, “Yeah, we get to celebrate weekly the resurrection of Jesus and all that means for a child of God. And we get to celebrate periodically the great events of salvation, birth, death, resurrection of Jesus and giving of the Holy Spirit throughout the year.” And it is healthy if these weekly and periodic celebrations include laughter, conversation, smiles, tears, reverent wonder… the enjoyment of our God in appropriate doses.

Think about this… I am.

Lord, show me how to celebrate You today, a Thursday, and to celebrate You with my church family on Sunday. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, August 24: Deuteronomy 15- a God who cares for everyone, rich and poor alike .

The picture of God setting up structures among His people to care for the poor is impressive. Canceling debt after 6 years, imagine that!

Imagine living debt free.  What a burden would be lifted off most people’s shoulders.

I realize that our modern world is very different than the ancient one. In many ways we are a credit-based society. Even if we eliminated consumer debt like credit cards, the purchase of a house and a car is accomplished on credit. Then add to this, loans due to college expenses. Debt for many people is a fact of life.

Fact of life or not, debt is a burden we carry on our shoulders. It is a weight that is always there and the poorer you are the more the burden weighs on a person. An illness necessitating time out of work can devastate families on the margin.

Debt can be a killer.  Now add the rampant consumerism that plagues our society and the weight of debt grows even more.

Again we are not the ancient world…

God looked down and said people on the lower end need a chance to survive… the Sabbath year, a year to cancel debts. It certainly wouldn’t drive an economic engine but increased quality of life would be tremendous, especially for people on the margins.

God’s heart is that people do not need to feel or be marginalized… a God who cares for everyone, rich and poor alike.

O Lord, if only we could live closer to Your heart and create systems and structures that lift the burden from the down and out and poor among us. I know that no system would be perfect. After all sin-filled human beings are involved but we could do a better job and move a few steps closer to Your ideal. I pray so, Lord. I pray so… in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, August 23: Deuteronomy 14- Treasured by the Lord.

I was touched by the opening line, verses 1-2:

You are the children of the LORD your God. … for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.

I found myself contemplating being the treasured possession of the Lord!

What an incredible statement. As the Lord’s children we are His treasured possession.

I take excellent care of those things I treasure; I believe most people do. And if we, mere mortals, take excellent care of the things we treasure, I tried to imagine the care the Lord would take of the things He treasures. WOW!

Things I treasure are special to me… we are special to the Lord! Another WOW!

Today I found myself marveling in the truth that through faith in Jesus we are God’s treasured possession.  What an amazing thought, amazing truth, and wonderful morning with my Lord. 

God, thank You for the affirmation that this word brings my heart. I am blessed to be Your son… Praise You my Lord and God –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Amen


Monday, August 22: Deuteronomy 13- The surest foundation is God's word.


The Lord is getting serious now, NO OTHER GODS… it is as if the Lord is shouting His command this time.

If a prophet tries to lead you to other gods… Say ‘NO’ and rid the land of him/her.

If a close family member or friend –child, sibling, close friend –tries to lead you away from the Lord to other gods… Say ‘NO’ and rid the land of him/her.

If a town follows other gods… DO NOT JOIN THEM, rid the land of them and all their possessions and livestock, destroy the town and never build there again.

The Lord is speaking one of His most strict words… there is no getting around this one. Follow the Lord and only Him or else.

I was particularly intrigued by the comment regarding prophets, verses 1-4: If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

It struck me; we are always to follow the Lord and never signs, even miracles. Signs and miracles can be counterfeited! Now the Lord does give signs or miracles many times, but we DON’T ever follow the sign or miracle, we follow and obey the Lord.

I am all for a confirming witness, but the clear teaching of God’s Word is ALWAYS the best foundation upon which to build our lives.

Thank You, Jesus, for this great reminder today. I love You, Lord, and I devote my life to loving, serving and obeying You and You alone. Through Your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, August 20: Deuteronomy 12- Get rid of other gods.

How serious is the Lord about not worshipping other gods? Very… check out this instruction from the Lord:

Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places (2-3).

Destroy any remnants of foreign gods in your land; this is the essence of the command. Don’t leave any trace even of how they did their sacrifices in the land, lest you be corrupted even by their manner of worship.

The Lord is serious… one God worshiped His way and only His way.

So I thought, are there any remnants of false-god worship in my home? None that I am aware of. Decades ago, shortly after becoming a Believer, a friend warned me about things like Ouiji boards and anything that might be tainted by occult practices. So I burned one I found in a mound of games in my house.

In later years I have accompanied people when they asked for our prayer teams to pray through their homes. Occasionally we have seen artifacts of other gods and religions that we suggested they rid from their houses. These are mostly trinkets purchased on vacations and though they carried no religious significance for the people, they are representations of gods other than the Lord. Hearing Moses’ injunctions, I believe it is wise to rid our lives of anything that might smack of gods other than the Lord.

Fidelity to the Lord, is my desire, down to the removal of potential hindrances…

Lord, I pray that my life brings You honor and glory. Lord, prepare me today for worship of You tomorrow. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen



Friday, August 19: Deuteronomy 11- Practical words to grow your faith.

Well, Moses is certainly hammering home the concept of loving the Lord God as he speaks to the people before they enter the land.

In the midst of his message, Moses gave the people some practical application of the call to love the Lord. Moses charged the people to: Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth (18-21).

What very practical ways to remind ourselves to love and obey the Lord…

·         Fix them in our mind & heart; create reminders that we can carry with us…

·         Teach our children. I find that when I teach something I actually learn it better, so this application aids both the children and the parents!

·         Talk about them with our families… constant reinforcement of the commands of the Lord.

·         Write them on doorframes and gates… every time you come or go from your house the commands stand sentinel, a constant reminder to us. How often do we leave or enter our house and our property?

Moses gave wonderfully practical ways to apply the teaching he gave. How can I apply these to my life? What are ways I can contemporize these application points to work for me today? If anyone has ideas, please send them to me.

Lord, some days Your Word is so practical. Thank You for today’s helpful and practical word. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Thursday, August 18: Deuteronomy 10- Fear, Obey, Serve.

Some mornings when I read the text a portion leaves the page and attaches itself to me immediately. Today was one of those days. Verses 12-13 did that today. And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

Direct, clear, understandable… it warmed my heart and challenged my thoughts.

Fear the Lord; obey, love and serve Him with everything I have. Pay attention to His commands -His Word.

Good words to live by… but living is more involved than reading.

Fear, obey, serve… meditating on these, the order seems to be significant.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, right. So that is a good starting place. And if I fear God, truly fear Him, then I certainly will obey Him as well.

Obedience seems to represent a different character set than serving. Obedience is a direct response to God’s commands and orders. Serving on the other hand can also imply my initiative. For example, I serve my wife by knowing what pleases her and doing those things for her. So serving, in part, grows from my initiative to please and honor, which is additional to responding obediently to God’s commands and directives.

Fear, obey, serve… three words for today and all the todays of my life.

Lord, thank You for inspiring Moses to give us these three simple words. Now, Lord, help me to embed them into my life. In Jesus’ name and for Your glory, I pray. Amen


Wednesday, August 17: Deuteronomy 9- I deserve nothing, yet God has given richly.

The story Moses paints in this chapter is a reminder that NONE of the good things and graces of God that come into my life are earned or deserved. Like Israel, I am sin filled. There is wretchedness in me.

I only need to re-write the chapter substituting my name for Israel and replacing her sins with my own… then it becomes so clear that God could have justifiably destroyed me but His mercy, grace and love instead chose to save me.

So my heart and mind swell with gratitude for my God –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. He has done great things for me and I will praise His name forever and ever.

Praise Him, praise Him, the Lord my blessed redeemer. He has done great things for me; things underserved. Holy and gracious is He. And I will praise His name forever and ever. Amen.



Tuesday, August 16: Deuteronomy 8- God gives us the ability.

Wow, a rich word from the Lord today. Strong and straightforward. So many touch points for me. I sat and wondered where should I land? What portion should be my manna today?

Slowly, like an old fashioned Polaroid picture developing, my devotional focus cleared on verses 17-18: You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

It is so easy to have a self-centered view of life, especially when it comes to the good things and successes of life.

I am successful in school…

I am successful at work…

I have made money…

I have provided well for myself, family and children…

Look at me…how hard I have worked, how smart I am, how good at my job I have become. Yeah me. I applaud me. Me, me, me.  I, I, I. It is all about me and how good I am.

The simple reminder from the Lord grows out of verse 18: But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.

Yes, I may have worked hard and done well in school and so on, but we have to take a step further back. It is the Lord who gave us the brain power and the will power in the first place.

I must never lose sight that everything I have is due to the Lord’s grace to me. Boasting is not good. Pride is not good,  Humility before the Lord is the posture of faith.

Thank You, Lord God, for this very timely and important reminder. I praise Your name… through Jesus, my Lord. Amen.


Monday, August 15: Deuteronomy 7- Dealing with the gods of this world.

My attention was drawn to verses 25-26, so I sat with these words and pondered them and meditated upon them.

The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God. Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.

I wondered if there were ways I invite the gods of my world into my home?

Who are some of the gods of my world?

·         Materialism & consumerism… the constant wanting of more and better and nicer stuff

·         Power and prestige… my culture likes being on top, people like the perks that being on top adds to life.

·         Recreation… it is almost a ‘religious’ right to have fun, take vacations, have a ‘lake or beach’ place, etc.

·         Retirement… I have worked hard for many years and now I get to ‘enjoy life’ and spend all my time on myself

·         Family… I know this one sounds strange, but sometimes I wonder if people in my culture make family a god. The kids’ sports, music, dance, etc. takes priority over worship and youth activities and developing ones discipleship in the Lord.

·         Sports… people are obsessed with professional sports. Thousands of dollars are spent on attending sporting events and great athletes are almost ‘gods.’ And game times, especially for football, are religiously adhered to.

Now do I allow these into my home?  Yes, to some degree I do, but I do not think I do so in a religious manner. But honesty says I must think about these and bring them to the Lord.

There is some difference between these issues and the actual idols that Israel was being warned against. These issues are not literal idols (though they certainly can become an idol if we allow it). And none of these issues are inherently evil like an actual idol; so they are not a direct connect to the meaning of the text. Still they are topics that a disciple should bring to the Lord and allow Him to speak into our lives. And this is what I will do the remainder of my time with the Lord this morning. 

Lord, as Your son, I do not want to allow anything to disrupt my connection and devotion to you. Please speak with me and let me know if I am allowing any of these cultural issues to impede my spiritual growth or my daily walk with You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, August 13: Deuteronomy 6- love God... but how/.

Love God, give your loving of God everything you have. This is the very simple and straightforward messaged I heard from the Lord as I read this chapter.

Love God and give it everything you have.

This simple message never gets old and it is always applicable.

And so I ponder and meditate on how I can practically live this word out…



Perseverance in the face of hardship

Dedication to the things of God

Doing godly actions rather than simply indulging self

These are some of the practical ways that came to mind. There are many more.

Before I end today’s time with Jesus and before you do, how about making your own list even as I continue to make mine.

God, You have loved me first. You sent Jesus to die in my place and for everyone who believes. How can I do anything less than love You, God, with everything I have? I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, August 12: Deuteronomy 5- the 10 Commandments.

The 10 Commandments dominate this chapter.

Just yesterday I was teaching a class when the 10 Commandments came up.  I shared with the class that many people look at them as God restricting how we should live. The 10 Commandments are like jail cell bars keeping us confined.

But I commented that I see them more as guardrails on the side of a mountainous road. In other words the 10 Commandments are loving limits that God sets for our own wellbeing and if we live within them and if society would live within them life would be so much better. Seriously, if no one lied and always spoke truthfully image how much better the world would be. We could trust people’s word.

How much simpler would life be if no one ever stole anything.  I know it sounds like a utopia of sorts, but life would be so much better if people lived within the parameters of the 10 Commandments.

How many families are broken and destroyed because one of the adults has an affair? The hurt and pain caused by affairs is staggering. Wouldn’t the world be better if that didn’t happen?

In my view of the 10 Commandments are not jail bars confining us from ‘fun.’ Instead I think they were guardrails God erected to keep us from crashing and burning.

So as I read the Commandments I thanked the Lord that He cared enough for us that He established rules that could guide us and keep us from much pain if we obey them.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord… He is so good. He cared enough to give us these wise rules for living. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Father. Thank You, Holy Spirit. Amen.


Thursday, August 11: Deuteronomy 4- Remember and obey.

Two verses stuck to my heart as I read this morning.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them (9).

Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time (40).

Remember and obey… teach the younger generation to remember and obey as well.

It is so easy to forget what God has done in the past. At least for me remembering takes effort. I live very much in the moment. I don’t necessarily dream a lot about the future and when it comes to the past, I am more of a sieve rather than a bank vault. I have to take time to recall and remember. I have to make it a point to remember. Maybe this is why Moses’ words strike so close to the heart.

Remember and teach… tell the young ones the story of God’s exploits, what He has done, and what He has said. Teaching and telling others helps remembering, too. The more I teach and tell, the more the stories of faith get branded into my memory.

My wife and I have a tradition of writing a yearly letter, usually around Christmas/New Year, where we recount the things we have done that year. Very naturally God shows up in that letter because God is the major component of our lives. It is not as if we set out to write about what God did during year, but that certainly comes through. We send this letter to family and friends and we keep a copy for ourselves. Every so often I look through these memoirs of life and my heart is bolstered as I remember the many ways God brought goodness and His presence into my (our) life. These letters are not exactly what Moses was speaking about, but in these letters I can see the wisdom of God in the teachings Moses gave.

Remember… remember so that you obey. God’s Word to me today.

Lord, thank You for the gift of memory. The ability to store and recall events, feelings, emotions and facts. Lord, may I use my memory for good, to remember the ways You have touched my life and the lives of people I know. May I use my memory to store Your Word and Your teachings so that I can recall what You have said as I walk the journey of life.

Bless You, God, for the gift of memory when it is used for good and to spur me on to love and good deeds. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, August 10: Deuteronomy 3- An invitation to be real.

I saw a number of lessons in verses 23-27 from today’s chapter.

At that time I pleaded with the LORD: “Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”

But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. …”

God allows, even invites, us to ask anything of Him. Living in relationship with the Lord, He wants us to come to Him with whatever burdens our heart. Moses pleaded with the Lord to change His mind and allow Moses to go into the Promised Land. I am touched by the text, which says I pleaded with the Lord… Moses knew what the Lord had said. This was not disobedience but prayer grew out of all God was doing and Moses’ longing to see the great works of the Lord. And so he prayed, he begged, he pleaded.

Second, I notice that God listens.  However, when He has heard enough He will say so or end the conversation, as He did with Abraham in Genesis 18:33. God can and will say “Enough.” And wisdom teaches us that is when we are to stop pleading. Paul pleaded three times with the Lord… (2Cor 12:8); not 4 times, not 5. Paul pleaded but when God answered, even though the answer was not what Paul wanted to hear, Paul accepted God’s response. Moses accepted the Lord’s response here.

Three, God answers and Moses accepted God’s answer even though it wasn’t what he desired.

Four, in this case God showed some grace even though His judgment didn’t change. I love the way the Lord allowed Moses to go up the mountain to see the land, even though He didn’t allow Moses’ feet to touch the land. Even in a ‘NO’ God can and sometimes does give us grace. To Paul in 2Cor 12:9 God said “My grace is sufficient for you…” God did not heal Paul but reminded him of His grace.

As I meditate on these thoughts, I am realizing anew how much the Lord desires for us to live in relationship with Him. And true relationship involves honest communication. God doesn't want us to hide our desires from Him but to express them remembering, of course, that God can and often does say ‘No’. After all God is God and we are not!

I am reminded that God invites me to come to Him, to sit in His lap, to be real and honest with Him.

What a gift we have in Jesus… an open and full relationship with the God of the Universe.

This morning God is bidding me to come to Him…

God is biding you to come to Him, too.

Oh, Lord God, thank You that I can bring my full self to You and even when You will not grant my desires –and You know best Lord –You still delight when I come to You. You love me and will give me what is best. I know that and I believe You.

Praise to You, Lord God. I am Yours, delightfully Yours. Use me as You will, grant me what You will, that I may serve You all the days of my life until You usher me into Your eternal kingdom. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, August 9: Deuteronomy 2- Living at God's command.

As I read through this chapter the first thought that came to me was “living at God’s command.”

During the 40 years of wilderness wanderings, Israel was learning to live at God’s command. For 38 years they traveled around the hill country of Seir. When God lifted His presence from the tabernacle they moved, when His presence descended they stayed. They went where He led… no more, no less. They went where God directed.

Then when the faithless generation died off God directed them north. Twice during the first days north God clearly told them not to attack Moab or the Amorites. Why? Because God had sworn to Esau and Lot that He would give them land and these were the lands and peoples who came from them. In fact, they were even to pay Moab for food eaten and water used.

But when they came to Sihon, they were to fight and destroy that people and take their land, animals and cities. This was the first stage of conquest. It was also a time for the Israelites to learn to fight, something they would have to do a lot once they crossed the Jordan.

What I realized, as I read this, is that Israel was learning to listen to the Lord and do what He said to do… not what their human inclinations told them to do.

As I thought about this I realized that they were learning the essence of the life of faith… they were learning how to hear God’s voice and obey it.

And this is the basic issue for every believer… to learn, to discern the voice of the Lord and then to obey.

For 40 years I have been reading the Bible. Part of my desire is to learn the Word of God. But another part was to become so familiar with the voice of the Lord that I can discern when He is speaking directly to my spirit. This is the first step of faithful following. The second is to obey when God speaks.

I am growing better at this, but I still have a long way to go…

How are you doing at discerning and obeying the voice of the Lord?

Oh, God help me learn… help me grow. Holy Spirit, be my teacher and guide, especially when I am weak willed and don’t want to obey, spur me on to faithfulness. Kick me in the butt if need be… wake me up that I will obey You.

This is my prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, August 8: Deuteronomy 1- Unvarnished truth.


As Moses readies the people for their entrance into the Promised Land, he stands before them and recounts their journey. Moses recalls the good and the bad. He is honest about their failures. In an age when high lights were often preserved but not low lights, Moses records the unvarnished truth of Israel’s journey to freedom.

Facing our past honestly and truthfully is a powerful ally to spiritual growth. Some people keep a journal. There is a part of me that honors even envies people who can keep a journal, especially one that truthfully records ups and downs, wonderings, questions and insights. But I have never had the discipline to journal and at this time I am not feeling the spiritual impulse to begin. Maybe someday???

Journaling aside, being honest about our past and present is an important step in spiritual growth. Only when we can face who we truly are can we ever hope to call out for God’s strength to change and become who God longs for us to be.

Lord, God, I pray that I am honest with myself and with You.  I pray that this will help me grow in You and that I will not simply age, but mature as Your child. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Saturday, August 6: Psalm 114- .

Since it was a short Psalm I read it in more than one translation. The way ‘The Message’ translated verse 7 drew me in.

Tremble, Earth! You're in the Lord's presence!

in the presence of Jacob's God.

You're in the Lord's presence… how I often take that for granted.

I think of being in the Lord’s presence during worship on Sunday or when I am in prayer or Bible study. But the Psalmist recognizes that as God’s people we carry the Lord’s presence with us and this is His world, He created it, so we are in the Lord’s presence constantly.

And when God moves even the earth responds. The Jordan River stopped, the Sea parted (3) because of the Lord’s presence.

Do I respond when the Lord moves? Do I obey like the Jordan and Sea did?

These questions pound me like a hammer driving a nail. Do I respond to the Lord when He speaks? Do I respond to the Lord when I read His Word and it speaks?

James bid his readers to be doers of the word, not hearers only (James 1:22 KJV)

As I sit this morning I am reminded that God is always around me and speaking with me throughout my days. A m I listening? Am I listening as I go through the work and play and mundane times of life?

Oh, God, help me to be attentive to You all the day long… not only when I am engaged in direct spiritual activities like prayer and worship. Lord, thank You for the reminder that You are always with me. What a blessing that is, but it also is responsibility to pay attention to You and Your voice as I live every moment of my life.

Help me, Oh, God, to recognize Your presence all the day long. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, August 5: Psalm 113- God is good, all the time.

In some Christian settings I hear people say, “Praise the Lord” all the time. In Nigeria where I teach yearly, it seems like anytime a person speaks in public you must start with “Praise the Lord.” In other circles, some groups have a call and response that goes like this:

God is good…

All the time

All the time…

God is good.

Declarations like these can be good for the soul, but they can also be a rote response with little or no thought connected to them. When someone says “Good morning” to me, I will automatically reply, “Good morning” back. I may or may not honestly engage the individual with my response.

The Psalmist begins as a number of Psalms begin, Praise the Lord (1). However, the Psalmist is not content to let his/her opening words be mere formality. From the opening, the Psalmist dives into why we can praise the Lord and he lists a number of God’s attributes (The Lord is exalted above all nations, v 4) and deeds (The Lord raises the poor and lifts the needy, v7).

It hit me as I was considering this Psalm, what would I write as my reasons to shout, “Praise the Lord” or “God is good?”

I, too, could praise God for who He is… mighty and powerful, above all gods and over all nations, gracious and slow to anger, just and my justifier.  It does my heart good to consider the wonders of who God is. God is great and mighty.

Like the Psalmist, I would then shift my focus to praising God for what He has done. I would praise Him for things like:

·         Sending Jesus to bear my sins on the cross and for teaching the way back to God

·         Sending the Holy Spirit to be with me all the time, teaching, leading and empowering me to live for and serve my God

·         Health and provision for me and my family

·         The goodness of a spouse who has loved me and helped me become more like Jesus

·         The church and my church, sisters and brothers who walk with me and love me as we walk the way of Jesus together.

God truly is good… all the time. And recalling who God is and some of the many things He has done is a perfect way to begin my day and place myself in His hand for the day.

Lord, God, thank You for this Psalm, both a prayer to pray and an example of prayer from which I create my own song of praise. Bless You Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. I love You and I offer You my life and my all today. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, August 4: Psalm 112- God wins in the end.

One can read this Psalm and think, “Oh, yes, when I fear the Lord everything will turn out wonderfully.” Children, great. Wealth and riches, great, and so on.

But is this Psalm a promise of the wonderful life if we only fear the Lord? In broad strokes, yes, but in particulars not always.

I know too many who love and fear the Lord who have gone through pain and trial and difficult times. Even other Psalms are prayers during difficult times.

As I wrestled with this, my eyes fell on verse 8: Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. I shouted YES! In the end they [we] will look in triumph on their foes. No matter how things turn out this side of eternity, I know that my God will win in the end and all who stand with Him will be on the winning side then, too!

No matter the frustration I am facing at this point in my life, God will win in the end and His foes will be vanquished and His followers will be invited into paradise with Him for eternity.

I cling to this truth and pray to Jesus for strength to hold onto my faith in my ever changing and faith-challenging world…

Lord, I pray for my world… for the political scene, which seems to becoming more polarized and more harsh in tone and rhetoric and less loving in action and caring. Lord, I pray for my neighbors who dive more and more deeply into loving the world and the pleasures of the world and move further and further from You. Lord, I pray for my local church that we would rise up in faith and live the Gospel message even as we hold out Your hope to our hurting world. I pray for myself and my family that we would be faithful to You above all things… I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, August 3: Psalm 111- Great is the Lord.

This Psalm is wonderful beginning to my day. How it lifts my gaze to the Lord. What a foundation.  What a start for my day.

The Lord has done might things… His works are a testament to who He is.

Praise the Lord. Praise His holy name.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding (10).

I found my thoughts drawn to these words.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…

Hmmm… There is true depth to these words. Reverence and fear of God is the start of our spiritual journey. It is also the first practice during my journey of faith.

When I reverence God, when I fear Him and His power and might, I get my priorities straight. God first, all other things second.

I realize that God is love. However, God is also God, the Lord, God, Almighty, the One who created all things. And being God I should rightfully and wisely fear Him. And I am thinking fear as in fear. With a single word God could obliterate everything He created. He has absolute power, so there should be fear of God in me! Fear like this is not bad, it is healthy and it is good! It is a constant reminder that I am not God and mustn’t ever fool myself into thinking I am.

And then there is fear as in reverence. It is right to reverence the One who has saved me and reverence the One who has called me to His side.  As I stopped to ponder this, a wave of awe rolled over me. God saved me not because I did anything, but because He chose to. My heart pounds in affection and amazement at God’s graciousness. It is wise and good to reverence God, my Savior!

With these thoughts my heart naturally moves to prayer…

Oh, God, I adore You. You are God… All Mighty, All powerful, Majestic in all You are and do. Praise be to You my God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Bless You for saving me. Bless You for revealing Yourself to me in such a way that I did not die.

Oh, Holy Spirit, Counselor and Guide, help me to maintain right perspective… You God, alone, are God. I love You and I praise You. Through Jesus Christ, my Lord, I pray. Amen


Tuesday, August 2: Psalm 110- Jesus God's answer.

I must have read this Psalm half a dozen times.  Lord, what is there for me today? Where can I hang my hat and find spiritual sustenance for my life?

Lord, for some reason I am very tired and I am wondering if that is keeping me from receiving what You have for me today?

I know the Psalm has a message about Jesus who is the priest in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6, etc.). But still I am struggling to connect.

So I chose to think about Jesus, the forever priest, in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus, the forever priest, who will never be replaced, whose covenant will also never be replaced. Jesus, God’s final answer to the human dilemma of separation from God because of our sin.

As I contemplated Jesus and who He was and what He did for me, for us, I was reminded that Jesus is the only way of salvation. He is God’s final answer to our problem. And this provided an enriching start to my day…

Thank You, Jesus, for coming and saving me and all who will trust and believe in You. I praise You because You will never be superseded. Faith in You is all one needs to come home to a saving relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Praise be to you, Jesus, 2nd person of the Trinity. Amen and Amen.