You Don’t Need the Biggest Army

You Need God

Deuteronomy 19-20

I am currently working towards a goal that has five parts to it. Parts One and Two – easy peasy. I’ve got those done. The first hardly took any time or effort. The Second, only took a few hours to accomplish and not much effort – I just had to sit down and get it done.

Parts Three, Four and Five all depend on the cooperation of others. I’ve come close to doing Part Three before and I wasn’t sure that I would see it happen this time around. But you know what? This week it happened! I am thrilled!

Part Four is something else that I’ve come super close to doing too. And right now, I’m halfway there. The thing is…I don’t have a plan for the last half. I’m stuck.

Part Five is something that I’ve never done before. And I do not know how it’s going to become a reality. But I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for opportunities to inch just a bit closer to that goal.

In Deuteronomy chapter 20, the Israelites are listening to Moses give them directions on how to handle going into battle. I’ve always found verses 5-9 interesting because God is giving soldiers permission to leave the fight if there is something to take care of on the home front. That’s not something that you see happening very often within modern day military organizations. 

In our personal lives, we may not be facing off into a physical battle, but there are times when God calls us to do really challenging things; to face difficult circumstances; to push toward an audacious goal, dream, or vision. And at times our resources for doing these things sometimes seem to dwindle away. How are we supposed to do what needs to be done, when we don’t have the time, energy, money, tools, or people to see it through?

In Deuteronomy, God wanted His army to rely more on Him than on huge numbers of soldiers. It’s the same with us. God wants us to rely on Him more than ourselves or our resources.

And it’s hard. I am tempted to think “God didn’t come through before…why would He do it now?” 

But that’s not being fair to God. God’s timing and understanding far exceeds anything that I could possibly comprehend. As Creator of the entire universe and Sovereign over all living things, I need to have faith and exercise trust to do what He puts before me. 

God goes with me and He will fight for me and give me victory. To God be the Glory.

-Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Deuteronomy 19-20 and Luke 18

Write it Down

Deuteronomy 17-18


In some education circles, there is a debate on whether students should be hand-writing notes for class or if typing notes is sufficient. As recent as October 2020, Psychology Today posted that handwriting, more specifically cursive handwriting, is associated with positive benefits for our brain and how we make neural connections. 


Of course, as Creator of all things, God already knows this. And it makes me wonder if this is why God instructed the Kings of the Israelites to write out the Law? 


When we slow down and take the time to handwrite a verse or short (or long) passage of Scripture, we are doing ourselves a favor because God’s Holy Word is being imprinted in our minds. When this happens, we are more likely to recall and apply Scripture in our daily living.


So while it’s good to be reading these daily devotionals, remember to read the Word too. And while you’re at it, grab a notebook or index card and jot down a verse or two that stands out to you. Throughout your day, recall the verse and ask God how He wants you to apply His Word to your daily living. 


If we keep God’s Word close and are careful to follow it, then as it says in Joshua 1:9, “You will be prosperous and successful”. 

-Bethany Ligon

You can read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at these links to BibleGateway – Deuteronomy 17-18 and Luke 17

Church Potlucks

Deuteronomy 15-16

“Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose…No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.” – Deuteronomy 16:16-17

Church potlucks! We at Lakeshore Bible Church in Tempe, AZ, love our potlucks. 

By my estimation, in the last 12 months, due to the pandemic, I figure that we have missed out on at least four or five regularly calendared potlucks. 

Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, plus two church congregational meetings/potlucks. I miss the casseroles, the crockpot meatballs, the pies and cakes. Who doesn’t love potlucks?!?

As I was reading through Deuteronomy 16 today, it struck me that the festivals that God commanded His people to celebrate were week-long church potlucks!

Here are the similarities:

1 – Church-wide Community. God called the Israelites to gather together at specific times each year at a specific place for a special occasion. 

  • The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to remember how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt without much notice.
  • The Feast of Weeks is also known as the Feast of Pentecost or the Feast of the Harvest. During this seven day celebration, the people were to show joy and thankfulness for the blessing of the year’s harvest.
  • The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) is for remembering the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, when the Israelites lived in tents for 40 years.

Likewise, we get together today, we often gather to celebrate a special holiday or occasion.

2 – Food! What is a celebration without food? During the three festivals mentioned in today’s reading passage, people are instructed with what to eat and how to prepare it. 

3 – Ceremony of Remembering. At each of the festivals mentioned in Deuteronomy 16, part of the time was dedicated to remembering what God had done for His chosen people. 

What I so appreciate about church potlucks today is the opportunity to sit down with others and spend time in conversation over a meal. Sometimes, these conversations are about current life events. But other times, these conversations include recollections of years gone by; how God acted on our behalf; and how our lives changed as a result. 

While we may not have special ceremonies of remembrance during a church potluck, God’s prior interventions and current activities in our lives certainly are exchanged.

So while I might be stretching it a bit to do a direct comparison between the three feasts and today’s modern church potlucks, let’s not forget that it is God’s intention for His people to gather regularly and remember all the things He has done for us!  

-Bethany Ligon

You can read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway here – Deuteronomy 15-16 and Luke 16

Loving the God who Loves You

Deuteronomy 13-14

You have been hand-selected to be a highly-valued and cherished child of the Most High and living God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. 

Do you believe that? I mean, do you truly and wholeheartedly accept that this is true?

So many people long to have confirmed that they belong and that they have purpose.

You, my friend in faith, have been confirmed for both! 

As if the verses from today’s reading don’t state it plainly, let’s look elsewhere in the New Testament. According to Ephesians 2:19, You are a member of God’s household.

And in the same chapter, just 9 verses before, it declares that you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to accomplish! 

If you accept your position and your purpose, then you need to start acting like it. 

  • Honor God by worshipping Him alone; avoid and get rid of anything, or anyone, that could lead you astray. (Deuteronomy 13)
  • Honor God by taking care of your body. (Deuteronomy 14:1-21). While this section of the chapter is referring to clean and unclean foods, something that the Israelites had to pay close attention to, we can extend the meaning to modern times and consider what we put into our bodies. 
  • Honor God with your stuff and by being generous to those in need. (Deuteronomy 14:22-29) 

Friend, God loves you more than you can possibly imagine. Love Him back, with all that you are. 

-Bethany Ligon

You can read or listen to today’s Bible passages at BibleGateway here – Deuteronomy 13-14 and Luke 15

God’s Greatest Hits

Deuteronomy 11-12

I’ve already confessed to you that I like to hang on to things (see Sunday’s devotional thought for reference), so I might as well let you know that something else I’ve kept from my past is a set of mixed tapes I created when I was in high school. 

Cassette tapes predate CDs for those of you who aren’t familiar with the old school technology. And before iTunes, if we wanted recordings of our favorite songs, without actually buying the music artist’s tape, we had to have a tape player with a recording feature and sit and listen to the radio and wait for the song to eventually come on. The worst was when the DJ would continue talking as the song started – this just meant that we cut off part of the song, deal with the DJ talking, or wait until the song played later in the day. 

But eventually, we ended up with customized playlists of all of our favorite songs. And why I’ve kept them up until this point seems silly…I no longer have a tape player to listen to them with. 

You might be wondering why I am sharing all this with you…

As I read through Deuteronomy 11 and 12 today, verses 2 and 7 caught my attention. Moses is continuing to let the Israelites know what is expected of them as they prepare to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. 

He wants them to realize that it was them, his audience, not their children, who experienced first hand “the discipline of the LORD your God; his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm…” (Ch11 v2)

Multiple times through scripture the recounting of God’s greatest acts of saving the Israelites from the Egyptians is recorded, much like listening to my mixed tape over and over again.

I suppose I have kept my tapes as a way to share with the generations who will follow me about the awesome music of the 1990s. 

In the same way, I have stories of my own that I can share with today’s youth about the amazing acts that God has performed in my life. 

And it’s not just a way to pass the time, but sharing our testimonies is actually a responsibility that we have. It’s a way that we teach one another about God’s provision and goodness. It’s a way that we can encourage one another through difficult circumstances. It’s a way that we can pave a path of hope for what’s to come. 

Sharing how God has impacted YOUR life can dramatically influence the lives of others. So do not hesitate to pull out the oldies and goodies of God’s greatest hits in your life. Tell others your testimony, for “it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the LORD has done”. 

-Bethany Ligon

You can read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway here – Deuteronomy 11-12 and Luke 14

Remember

Deuteronomy 9-10

The year was 1990-something and it was a Friday night. High school football playoffs were intense that year. We were headed into an away game against one of our biggest in-district rivals for a spot in the next round of playoffs. 

While I wasn’t a member of the football team, I was a member of the marching band. Our high school administration had gotten wind that we might be greeted with some hostility by the hosting team’s fans. Any MHS student who was riding a bus to the game got the same warning and encouragement:

It doesn’t matter who our opponent is tonight.

Remember who you are…

Remember what is expected of you

Make good choices so we can be proud of you!

As I read through Deuteronomy chapters 9 and 10, I can see similar reminders to the Israelites. 

They are about to enter into the Promised Land and they would be facing the biggest, most intimidating opponents on that side of the Jordan.  

Remember who you are…

You are God’s chosen people, not chosen because of your righteousness, but because of God’s great love for you.

Remember where you came from…

You were held in captivity for 400 years and by God’s great hand, you were released to enter a land that has been hand-picked just for you.

Remember what has been done for you…

Even though you are a rebellious people, deserving of God’s wrath because of your disobedience, you have been saved. 

Remember what is asked of you…

Love God with all of your heart. Show the same generosity towards others that has been shown to you.

Remember the promise that has been given to you…

Even though there is a mighty opponent currently occupying the land – it is yours; I am giving it to you.

Believe what will be done for you…

I (God) took you from seventy people and grew you into a nation as numerous as the stars. Believe what I am telling you.

Since the time of Abraham, God had laid out a vision for the Israelites and now the time had come for this particular generation to take action.

I hope that you have realized that God has also given you a vision for the life that He longs to give to you. Does it scare you just a little bit, because you aren’t really sure how it’s all going to come together? 

Richard Bach, the author of “Jonathon Livingston Seagull”, once said, “You are never given a dream without the power to make it come true.” 

It doesn’t matter what kind of opposition you are facing.

It doesn’t matter what kind of past you have lived.

It doesn’t matter that your resources are inadequate.

As a child of God, you possess the power to make it come true.

So remember who you are…

Remember who loves you…

Remember what has already been done on your behalf…

Remember the promises set out for you…

Believe and go do great things! 

-Bethany Ligon

You can read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway here – Deuteronomy 9-10 and Luke 13

Time to Purge

Deuteronomy 7-8

Deuteronomy 7:5 – This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.

I’m a keeper. Not exactly a pack rat. Definitely not a hoarder. But I do like to keep stuff from the past. 

For example, I have movie theater ticket stubs that date back to the 1980s! Yeah! I know. I even scrapbooked them at one point! Can you believe it?

Here’s another example. Several years ago I went through a grand purge of my closet and found a tshirt that a boyfriend from my early college years had given me. Why had I kept that? It had zero relevance to my current, happily married life and yet I still had the silly shirt.

It didn’t take long for me to decide to toss that shirt in the trash. 

As we continue our reading through Deuteronomy this week, we read about all the stuff that God is directing the Israelites to get rid of once they enter the Promised Land.

Specifically in Deuteronomy 7:5, God is referring to idols that all the “ites” nations worshipped. God tells them that if His people do not break down, smash, and burn the idols that those practices will separate them from the love of God. 

When we enter into a relationship with God, our lives begin to transform from the inside out. And for those of us who have been on the journey for some time, we realize that God is always refining our character and letting us experience a life that will draw us closer to Him. 

And sometimes that means we need to get rid of the stuff that is keeping us from having a closer relationship with our Father. That “stuff” might be actual physical materials. It might be habits or relationships. But it is also mindsets, the ideas that casually roam freely through our minds that do us more harm than good. 

“I’m not good enough.”

“No one understands me.”

“It’s too hard to accomplish.” 

“Who would want to take a chance on me?”

LIES! LIES! LIES!

Listen to me. 

You are a child of the Most High God! 

You are precious.

You are valuable!

You have a grand purpose in God’s eyes and that purpose will be fulfilled!

When God tells us to get rid of the old stuff in order to experience the new creation He has intended for us to be…THIS is what He is talking about! 

Dear Friend, Do not let old mindsets and ways of thinking separate you from the love of God. 

Believe His Word. 

Do what it says. 

Experience the life He has designed for you to live! 

-Bethany Ligon

Read or listen to today’s Bible passages at BibleGateway – Deuteronomy 7-8 and Luke 12

His faithfulness will be your shield

Deuteronomy 32-34, Psalm 91

Deuteronomy 32 46 47 NIV

Even things that were written with a specific audience in mind can contain principles that we can apply, too.  Our look at this section of Deuteronomy this week has shown us a number of these principles.

As we dig into these final chapters, I want to back up a smidge to chapter 31 from yesterday’s reading.  It fits a bit more to mention it here, as a lead-in to the close of the book.  What I thought after reading chapter 31 was this:

How depressing for Moses.

Here he is about to die, and God decides to tell him that, by the way, these people that you served all these years…they’re going to totally screw up and abandon me.  (I believe the phrases God uses include, “prostitute themselves to foreign gods”, “forsake me” and “break the covenant they made with me”)

Clearly God knows what he’s doing, though, as he further prompts Moses to take this information and write a song that the Israelites can sing as a reminder.  (Showing what a great teacher God is, knowing that songs stick in our minds!)

Blackout Poetry

The song of Moses can be found in Deuteronomy 32.  I want to take a look at it by singling out certain words and phrases.  Blackout poetry is a form of poetry in which you take an already printed piece (article, story, anything) and black everything out except the words you want to shine a light on.  In this instance, I think it can help us get a feeling for the heart of God in these words.

Listen

Proclaim … Oh, Praise the greatness

He is the rock…A faithful God who does no wrong

To their shame they are no longer his children…warped and crooked…foolish and unwise

He made you and formed you

Remember

He found…He shielded..cared for..guarded…fed

Abandoned God…Rejected the Rock

Jealous…Angered

“I will hide my face from them,” he said… “They angered me with their worthless idols.”

Fire kindled by my wrath

Heap calamities upon them…wasting famine…pestilence…plague…fangs…venom

Perish

Scatter

“If only they were wise and would understand”

The LORD will judge…and have compassion…When he sees their strength is gone and no one is left

I have wounded and I will heal

Rejoice

He will…make atonement for his..people

 

Speaking of poetry, Psalm 91 is a beautiful picture of God’s protection and provision.  (You can read it here  https://biblehub.com/bsb/psalms/91.htm )  One phrase I want to single out is in verse 4.  It tells us that

“His faithfulness will be your shield.”

In Moses’ song, he says that our God is,

“A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”

We are foolish and unwise, weak and broken, and often fail.  But we can depend on God’s faithfulness.  We can trust that he does what he says he will do.  After all of this Moses tells the people in 32:47, and I remind you today:

“They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.”

 

Susan Landry

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+32-34%2C+Psalm+91&version=NIV

Tomorrow we will begin the book of Joshua (chapters 1-4).  Don’t miss out – Be Strong and Courageous – as we charge ahead on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

And if you haven’t started consistent daily Bible reading yet…now is a great time to start.  Come read with us and see God at work – through the books of Old Testament history – and in your heart.

Restoration is Possible

Deuteronomy 30-31

Deut 30 4 NIV

Yesterday we looked at God’s promises of blessings and curses, rewards and consequences, for the choices that the Israelites made.  We also saw that God enacted those consequences exactly as described hundreds of years later with the Babylonian captivity.

Today’s passage in Deuteronomy provides some hope that even after God punishes, he restores.

In historical context, we once again see God doing just what he promised. (See books like Ezra and Nehemiah).

God’s response to us is really no different. His word is clear on what he expects of us, and the consequences we reap can be crushing.  But if we return to him, he will always restore us.  Always.

Make good choices

From the middle of chapter 30 on, we see God literally pleading with his people to choose his ways.  He lays it all out, and reminds them that he’s not asking them for anything too hard, saying,

“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.”

Then he reminds them of the promised rewards or consequences they will face and gives them a bit of an ultimatum and a plea,

“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”

Our sin hurts us.  But it doesn’t just hurt us, it grieves God.  His pleading with us to choose his path is not only because he knows that it’s ultimately the best for us.  He’s also pleading with us to choose him.  He loves us that much.

If you’ve found yourself suffering the consequences of bad choices, restoration is possible.  It is usually a long path, but worth every step.  Here’s a resource that you might find helpful  https://thesparrowshome.com/caught-in-sin-restoration-possible/

 

Susan Landry

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+30-31&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be the final chapters of the first 5 Books of Law – Deuteronomy 32-34 and then also Psalm 91 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Rewards, Consequences, and Follow-Through

Deuteronomy 28-29

Deut 28 1 NIV

We’re spending the week looking for principles in Deuteronomy that we can apply to modern believers.  Chapters 28 and 29 are nothing if not a striking lesson in believing God’s warnings and preparing us for end times.

In yesterday’s devotion, we thought about how moms spend a few minutes in the car before going somewhere, reminding their kids about the expectations and what consequences might ensue should they not meet those expectations.

As a parent, I found that being specific in these kinds of discussions mattered a lot.  Consistency also mattered.  If I promised a reward or consequence, it was important to follow through.

These chapters in Deuteronomy are the car discussion.

The follow-through can be found in books like Jeremiah, 2 Kings and the end of 2 Chronicles.  Honestly, we find almost word for word the exact things that God told them would happen…happened!  Hundreds of years after they were promised.

It’s not enough to be awed that God is the perfect parent…consistent in all he does.  We should be called to attention that as modern believers, we are living in a time between car discussion and follow-through…if you know what I mean.

Lord, make us ready for your kingdom

Prophecies about the end times are not my personal area of interest when it comes to Biblical study.  But I am reminded in this passage that understanding what to watch for is important.  It’s also gravely important for me to know what God’s expectations are for my life so that I can be counted among those blessed on that day.

God also reminds us that there’s no charming, schmoozing, or faking your way in, either.

Deuteronomy 29:19-21 describes a person who positions themselves among believers and invokes the blessing on themselves while thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.”  We’re told that this person will be not only punished, but singled out for disaster.

Yikes!

Tomorrow’s reading offers more in the way of promises that we can see fulfilled in history, and that we have hope for future fulfillment of as well.  In the meantime, as we think about how we can prepare for Christ’s return and our place in the Kingdom, soak in these beautiful words from the end of chapter 29:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

Susan Landry

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+28-29&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be the Deuteronomy 30-31 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan