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

The Mind of Christ – in You

1st Corinthians 1-4


Have you ever been sucked into watching an infomercial? Have you ever purchased something from an infomercial? I have a few times. I believe that my purchases have involved some sort of exercise workout or nutritional program. All guaranteed me phenomenal results. The truth is I have not experienced all the effects that these infomercials promised me. Does that shock you?


Whatever it is, we humans like guarantees. We crave guarantees because we know that we’re likely to mess it up and we want something that can still be true even with a faulty operator. 


Thank GOD that His faithfulness to me is not dependent on my ability to do right. Even on my best days I still fall short. 


One of God’s promises to us is that we have the mind of Christ.  


Not: We will have the mind of Christ – something that is promised for the future.


Not: We can have the mind of Christ – something that is contingent upon something else.


Not: We might have the mind of Christ – something that is uncertain or not yet determined to be true.


We have the mind of Christ…NOW! It’s guaranteed! Isn’t that amazing?!?!


What are the implications of this truth for you – YOU HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST. It’s a done deal. How will this reality change the thoughts that you think, the words that you speak, the actions that you take? 


Take a bit of time today and prayerfully consider the kind of response God might be asking of you.

-Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at Bible GateWay here – 1 Corinthians 1-4

Tomorrow we continue with 1 Corinthians 5-8

How to be an Apollos

Acts 18:19 – 19:41


Because the book of Acts spends a great deal of time tracking the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, it’s easy to overlook others who only have a few verses written about them, but they played a significant part in the spread of the Gospel. One of these is a man named Apollos.  

We meet up with Apollos in Ephesus and immediately we are informed of his cultural background, his hometown, and his status in regards to his knowledge of the Scriptures. We know that he was enthusiastic about continuing his own understanding as evidenced by his time spent with Priscilla and Aquila. We read that Apollos is very enthusiastic and bold about sharing the Gospel to other Jews. And if we take a sneak peak in 1 Corinthians 3: 4-5, we see that his influence of converting believers is compared to Paul! Wow!


So what can we apply to our own lives just off of these verses at the end of Acts 18? 


1 – We each need to be reading and studying Scripture regularly. If you’re reading this blog post, chances are…you do this already! Great! If digging into Scripture isn’t a consistent habit you have in place – ask yourself how you can restructure just a portion of your day to include an infusion of the Word. I know a couple of people who have found that listening to the Bible while on their way to or from work or school has made a difference. Try it out! You might like it! 


2- Be willing to continually learn more about the Word of God from others who have been around a while. And if you’re one who has experience living a Christian lifestyle, make sure that you are connecting and investing in others’ spiritual walks. When Apollos met up with Priscilla and Aquila, he only knew about the baptism of John. After spending time with the couple, Apollos’ ministry became even more influential. This could be you! 


3 – Acts 18:28 states that “Apollos vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate”. If you’re on any kind of social media platform, I’m sure that you’ve witnessed hotly contested debates in the last few months over a variety of issues and I am certainly not advocating for that in regards to faith-based ideas. Instead, think about it this way: Apollos was ready to give a logical response to those who asked questions. AND he was prepared to thoughtfully challenge (I’m sure in a calm and respectful manner) others’ thinking. We must also be prepared to do the same. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” If the situation ever presented itself, could you share your testimony of how and why you became a child of the Most High God? If not, spend some time thinking about what you would say…you never know when you might be asked to share your story. 


Apollos, while not as prolific as the apostle Paul, had incredible influence over the spread of the Gospel of Christ. You and I can also lead consequential lives in which our love for God and His love for us is shared with others. To be effective, we must continue to study Scripture, learn from others, and be prepared to speak boldly. This is what makes us modern day disciples of Christ. 

-Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 18:19-19:41.

Tomorrow we will finish the week with the beginning of 1st Corinthians (chapters 1-4).

Your Work, Labor & Endurance – through Faith, Love & Hope

1st & 2nd Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 1:3 – We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.


Work Produced by Faith

Faith is defined as having a firm belief, complete trust and confidence in something. As a Believer, our faith is determined by the extent of which we believe that God is who He says He is and that His son, Jesus the Messiah, was born of a woman, lived a perfect life, died on the cross for the redemption of your sins, was raised to life, is currently sitting on a throne next to his Father, waiting to return again to reign in the Kingdom. IF you and I believe all of that – then our day to day life will be a compilation of evidence of acts done in faith and by faith. 


James makes the claim in the third chapter of his letter “to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (James 1:1) that “in the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (3:17). And in verse 26 of the same chapter, James writes, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead”. 


The Thessalonians didn’t just accept the gospel message, they acted on it. Jesus was both their Savior and their Lord, meaning that they were obedient to the call on their lives. They were doing the work that God had prepared in advance for them to do (Ephesians 2:10). Likewise, when we accept the gospel message for ourselves, we have to respond. Jesus tells us in the book of Luke that we must take up our cross (do the work) and follow him (9:23). 

Labor Prompted by Love

Mark 12:30 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength”. Have you ever wondered why these four domains are identified? Have you ever loved someone so much that there isn’t anything you wouldn’t do for them? You sacrifice all that you have in order to serve them, sacrifice for them, and labor for them. In the following verse, we’re told to love our neighbors as ourselves. Sacrificing ourselves for family members and close friends is one thing…serving and laboring for others beyond our closest relationships is quite another. 


This is why we’re told to love with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength – because it’s not easy. Sometimes loving another is labor. It’s hard work. It’s humbling ourselves by putting our own desires off to the side in order to honor others. But it’s what we are called to do. And it is possible if we lean into the strength that is provided through our faith in Christ. 

Endurance Inspired by Hope

One of my favorite types of exercise is a 20 minutes HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. I like it because I don’t have to do it everyday, it’s quick, and efficient. And I get to rest for almost half of the time during the “down” intervals. If I were ever called upon to do something that took longer than 20 minutes, I would be gassed! I do not have the endurance for it. And I have no enthusiasm to train for it! 


Walking out your faith knee deep in “works produced by faith” and “labor promoted by love” is not for the faint of heart! It’s not a one time deal. And unlike my HIIT workouts, it’s an all-day, everyday kind of commitment –  for a lifetime! This requires an endurance that cannot be faked nor manufactured. The only source for the necessary fuel to keep this faith-centered life going is HOPE. A hope that has a foundation on the love God has for us. When we stay zeroed in to that – we are able to dig deep and and go the distance. As Paul says in his second letter to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. We can have a FULL life that gives us the endurance needed to do the good works. 


The Christian life is not for the wimpy. In this single verse out of 1 Thessalonians, we are told that we must work, labor, and endure. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t seem very comfy. It’s not a life of luxury and indulgence. The ONLY way that we will be able to sustain this day to day living is doing so out of Faith, Love, and Hope. May these virtues fill your heart today.

-Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1st Thessalonians & 2nd Thessalonians.

Tomorrow we will read Acts 18:19-19:41.