Don’t Choose the Curse

Deuteronomy 11-13

Deut 11 26 NIV

We make choices all day long – little things and big things.  What will I eat today, what will I wear, how long will I study, should I stay late at work, should I work out, should I read my Bible (and read my SEEKGROWLOVE) in the morning or at night… You get the idea; there are a lot of choices. In fact, a Psychology Today article stated that some sources suggest that the average person makes 35,000 choices per day.

In Deuteronomy 11, the Israelites are presented with a choice. In verse 26, it states, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.”

This sure seems like a “no brainer choice”. The blessing is so wonderful. Moses goes into detail of how incredible it will be to live in communion with the Lord God in this land of abundance. In chapter 12, he describes a scene that we might imagine as the perfect Thanksgiving, “There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.”

How could they choose the curse? Our God gives His people many warnings of why they may wander away from Him. One is curiosity of other religions. His people will ask, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” Remember that these religions even burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. Let’s consider the difference from choosing idols rather than choosing to follow the One True God. Those who follow His commands will come into His presence with their family, feasting and rejoicing. Those who choose idols will sacrifice their own children.

I can’t imagine anything worse than a parent allowing this to happen to their child. The LORD warns them that some of them may face evil prophets or even family members that entice them. Even if large groups of people like a whole town decide that it is ok to be wicked, they must resist and follow the LORD.

You see we have these same choices today. Let’s decide that no group of people, no person, nothing should be chosen over our God. Out of our love, we will obey Him and do what is right in His eyes.

 

Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+11-13&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Deuteronomy 14-16 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

 

 

Anti-Anxiety

Deuteronomy 8-10

Deut 8 6 7a NIV

Imagine that you are an Israelite that has been taking in all the words of your leader Moses. You have listened as he has given your history. You have committed to love God with all your heart, soul and strength. You have determined to follow the commands, decrees and laws that the Lord directed Moses to teach you. Soon it will be time to enter the land and possess it. You have heeded the warnings of idol worship. You have envisioned this good land flowing with milk and honey. Moses told you of all the good things that wait inside the land, but your mind also fills with doubt. You must face the nations that are physically stronger than you are. As you lie in bed, your mind races over what lies before you. It is then that you remember what else was said. “If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers.” You decide this is in the LORD’s hands, you settle in, smile and go to sleep.

 

We are sometimes faced with the same dilemmas that the Israelites faced. We live in an uncertain world. We daily experience the results of this fallen world-war, pain, sickness, … We can easily become anxious and worried. But God also provided us with a great teacher who gave us instruction. Jesus Christ told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Our Heavenly Father and His Son are with us. They are aware of our situation. We may have to face difficult and uncertain circumstances, but they are with us as we go through them. We are certain of this, if we are faithful to them, they will always be with us.

Just like the Israelites we will set our minds on the words of God. We will remember that we live on “every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Even in our chaotic world, we should observe the commands of the Lord our God, walk in obedience to Him and revere Him because the Lord our God is bringing us to a good land. This land where righteousness dwells will reside in a new heaven and new earth.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+8-10&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s reading will be Deuteronomy 11-13 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

Reasons to Obey

Deuteronomy 5-7

Deuteronomy 5 33 NIV

I had an oppsortunity to teach the importance of keeping the Name of God holy a few weeks ago. A five year old was loudly saying “God” clearly showing that she was surprised by something that was going on. I helped her understand that because we love and respect God that we would never use His name this way. Thankfully that is the last time that she has expressed surprise in that manner.

But this experience reminded me of Moses. He was not only the person that was bringing the people the Law-he wanted them to understand and practice it. We may hear that we should not misuse the name of God, but when we really enter into a genuine, loving relationship with God, we would only use His name with sincere words from our heart.

In Deuteronomy 5, Moses summoned all Israel in order to recount the decrees and laws to them. He wanted the Israelites to learn them and follow them. He reminded the people that they were involved in a covenant with God.  The Law showed the Israelites which actions were right and wrong. God wanted them to know how to live as His holy people. He wanted them to know how to interact with Him and others. He wanted them to “walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

God still wants us to “live and prosper” today. We are His people, His family.

When we experience God’s love our motivation for doing what is right is produced from a place of love. (Deuteronomy 6) Christ later explained the greatest commandment of the Law. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+5-7&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Deuteronomy 8-10 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan (1) (1)

 

Learning from Obedience & Disobedience

Deuteronomy 3 & 4

Deut 4 9 NIV

We live near apple country. In the fall we have driven to the mountains and visited apple orchards. The taste of ripe apples from the tree is amazing. The apple trees are pretty hanging with the delicious varieties of apples and the views are really beautiful. In Deuteronomy 3, Moses is told that he can “Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes to the west and north and south and east, and see it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan.” Imagine Moses standing on the mountain looking at the Promised Land. He would not enter the land because of his former disobedience. I think this consequence was important for the Israelites. Moses was so close to God and was an example for the entire Israelite community. He was their appointed leader and they followed his example. They could also learn from his disobedience. Experiencing this consequence of not entering the land probably made a big impact on the Israelites and Joshua. In fact, God tells Moses to “charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.”

I grew up with siblings. I had an older brother and sister and I learned from their example. If they did something good at school or church, they were rewarded with awards and praise. It was great because I learned what I should do by their example.

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses is giving his all to make the people understand the importance of obedience to the LORD. Not only will the Israelites and their children be blessed by obeying, but if they keep the decrees and laws they will have wisdom and understanding. They will set an example for other nations. People will hear these statutes and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?”

Our personal obedience to God can be a positive example for others. Obedience leads to blessings for us and for others.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+3-4&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Deuteronomy 5-7 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

Most Important Message to Pass On

Deuteronomy 1 & 2

Deut 1 3 NIV

If you only had a short time to live, what would you communicate to those in your circle of influence? I know that is a tough question. I think most of us would want to express our love for special people in our lives, our thanks to those that helped us in life, we might share what we found to be valuable and important in life, we would want to give encouragement and insight…at the top of our list-we would want others to know the importance of a loving, close relationship with God through Christ.

Moses is close to the end of his life as Deuteronomy begins and he has much to convey to the Israelites.  He wants them to learn from the past, he wants them to be prepared for what lies ahead and most importantly, he wants them to rely on God. In the book of Deuteronomy, the title of “the LORD our God” together with “the LORD your God” occurs almost 300 times along with many uses of “the LORD”. Moses wants the Israelites to rely on the LORD. He reminds them that in the wilderness they saw how the “LORD your God” carried you just as a man carries his son. He reminds them that the “LORD your God” went before them to lead the way and gave them places to camp. He was there in fire by night and cloud by day to show them the way to go. Moses wants the Israelites to trust God.

Unfortunately, my dad and mom are no longer living, but one of their messages to me was to trust God. I am eternally grateful for that message. We may lose loved ones through life, but God is always with us and we can trust Him.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+1-2&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s passage will be Deuteronomy 3-4 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Faithful

Numbers 31-32

Numbers 32 18

In the second half of Numbers, we have seen plenty of dissatisfaction from the people of Israel. Even Moses was fed up with the complaining of the Israelites. As his life was drawing to a close, he had no patience for any more unfaithfulness. So when the tribes of Reuben and Gad requested to take their homes before crossing the Jordan, he assumed the worst. As it turned out, at least in this instance, these tribes had their hearts in the right place. They were actually satisfied with what they already saw, and God honored their request.
Moses’ reaction is understandable given what he has gone through with Israel. After forty years of wandering and waiting to enter Canaan, a request to not enter the land would have been foolish. Similarly, if Reuben and Gad failed to fight alongside their brother tribes, it would have constituted treachery. But the tribes were merely asking the Lord to provide, not complaining about what they didn’t have. And they did prove faithful to their commitment to fight throughout the campaign in Canaan.
For Reuben, Gad, and a segment of Manasseh, the battle began early. They drove out the enemy, an important requirement for faithfully claiming the land. They even changed the names of the cities to remove the stigma of false gods as well as the people who worshiped them.
What Moses originally suspected as a sinful act became a breath of fresh air in the book of Numbers. Where others had complained, these tribes asked from the Lord. Where others served their own interests, these tribes were willing to leave their families in order to serve their brothers. And where others were drawn to false gods and foreign worship, these tribes drove out the enemy. The key difference was faith. These tribes trusted the Lord to give generously to meet their needs, and that faith produced obedience in their hearts and deeds. Even when Israel seemed desperate or disappointing, God was always in complete control. He doesn’t get overwhelmed by anything, even disobedience. Remember that as your faithfulness waivers or your situation worsens, God’s love and faithfulness remains. When you feel like a failure or threatened by anything at all, know that God’s grace is sufficient, and His faithfulness is assured. Your circumstances will change, but your God will not.
Andy Cisneros
Today’s reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+31-32&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 33-34 as we start the 11th week of the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Daughters of God

Numbers 26-27

Numbers 27 7 NIV
In our passage today, in Numbers 27:1-11, the five daughters of Zelophehad (what a name) face issues concerning land inheritance. Upon the death of their father, Zelophehad, the five sisters boldly approached Moses and other leaders to ask for the property that rightly belonged to their father’s clan (vv. 2-4). Moses brought their case before the Lord, who said the women are “right.” He proceeded to establish the legal requirement for handling such cases in the future (vv. 6-11). At first glance, this may seem to be a slow and boring account of how property rights for women were established among the Israelites in the ancient Near East, but there is a lot to learn here.
Land is among God’s promises to Abraham (see Gen. 12:113:14-1715:7). It’s an inheritance of God’s children, an expression of their covenantal relationship with Yahweh. There are theological implications for the daughters of Zelophehad and anyone who might disinherit their land. For their “father’s name to disappear from his clan” (v. 4) is to be cut off from the Lord’s covenant community. This explains why the five sisters are “right” in their request.
The case of the daughters of Zelophehad sets the precedent for future Hebrew families without male heirs. The Lord’s response reminds readers that He is always making a way for women to have full rights to His covenant community and His blessings. God the Father watches over the socially vulnerable and cares for them as His children. If you ever feel vulnerable just know that God will always fight to keep you in His covenantal love just as He did for the women of that time.
Andy Cisneros
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+26-27&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 28-30 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Formula

Numbers 21-22

Numbers 21 7 NIV

In today’s reading, the Israelites needed a spiritual “blood transfusion.” Their sinful and rebellious attitude had shown itself in impatience, complaints about hardships, ingratitude for manna, and a lack of faith in God’s leader, Moses. This faithlessness resulted in a deadly plague of snakes that were killing the people.
The Israelites repented and asked Moses to intercede for them. God’s response required them to show their repentance by a simple act of faith. Moses made a bronze serpent and lifted it up on a pole. To be healed, people had to look at the serpent. If they didn’t believe God’s words, they wouldn’t look up and would therefore die. Only through faith could they be saved.
Homeopathic medicine is the practice of curing likes with likes. The patient receives diluted doses of substances that, at full strength, cause the same symptoms the patient already has.
This type of medicine is used in many parts of the world, though it remains controversial among medical experts. In this instance, God prescribed a similar remedy for Israel, treating snake bites with a replica of a snake. Going a step further, God undid the effects of the plague through an image of the curse itself.
Today’s story begins with the people grumbling … again. It was the same old story: we’re dying, we’re starving, we don’t like the miraculous food, and we’re sorry we ever left Egypt. But this incident is unique; this time, the people repented.
In past events, Moses had asked God for mercy on behalf of the Israelites, but on this occasion, his prayers were prompted by a recognition of their sin that Israel hadn’t shown before. They realized on their own why the snakes were sent, and they confessed their sin. In that way, this was a spiritual breakthrough for Israel!
If God had followed the formula we’ve seen so far, we might expect Him to demand a sacrifice of some kind, like a lamb without defect. But the Lord told Moses to put a bronze snake, a picture of judgment, on a pole for all to see. He directed the people’s eyes, not to an image of purity, but to a symbol of wrath.
For healing to take place, the people had to close the loop of repentance. They sinned, confessed, and asked for mercy. The last step was to accept God’s remedy by faith and follow His instructions.
We often picture Christ as the perfect sacrifice, and that he is. But He also took upon Himself the shame of sin and the full penalty of wrath. In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus compared His upcoming crucifixion to the lifting up of the serpent in the desert. Let’s confess our sins, seek His mercy and turn our eyes to him, who not only gave his life but also received our punishment. Thank Him in word and in deed today.
Andy Cisneros
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+21-22&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 23-25 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Rebel to Righteousness

Numbers 16 38 ESV

Numbers 16

There was a man named Korah who led a rebellion against Moses’ leadership (Numbers 16:2-3). Moses instructed them to put fire and incense in censors before the Lord to let God decide what man would be in charge. Of course, God stayed faithful to Moses and made it clear that Korah and his men were sinning.
God, to punish the rebels’ sin and rid Israel of false leadership, caused the earth to open up and swallow Korah, his household, and his rebellion. Next, God redeemed the sinful situation into a holy one by turning the censors the men used to sin with into a covering for the altar that was holy.
This is a large part of what makes the Christian faith different than other beliefs. In order to be justified, or have right standing, with the gods of many religions, one must work their way into the god or goddesses’ approval; they need to pray enough, give enough, fast enough, and do enough good all with the hope of making the cut. Our God doesn’t work like that. Instead of accepting the good or holy, he seeks the sinful and makes them holy (Mark 2:17), having exchanged our sin with Jesus’ perfection (2 Corinthians 5:21). That is a fundamental difference, that he takes the sinful and makes him holy, instead of expecting the sinful to clean himself up and work his way into his favor which is impossible for man (Rom. 3:10-12). We serve a wonderful God who can turn rebels to righteous before God.

The God of Second Chances – Numbers 17

The story of the rod of Aaron.
The rod was like a stick and these twelve men carved their names on them, out of the twelve one of them sprouted. The one that sprouted was Aaron’s rod and he became the priest. God worked this miracle to prove to the children of Israel that they had been wrong in questioning whom the priesthood rightfully belonged to. God mercifully gave Israel another evidence of his will, to correct their judgment. The miracle was sufficient to silence the complaints of the Israelites. After they realized what they had done, they were terrified and said: “Behold, we perish, we are dying, we are all dying!” God asked Moses to place the rod in front of the alter so that it served as a reminder that they were wrong in questioning God’s authority.
How many times has God given us a second chance? If you haven’t noticed, every morning is an opportunity to serve Him, love Him, give yourself to Him, reconcile with Him, reconcile with your brother, love those around you, enjoy nature, be kind, serve others. My point is, God is merciful and loving, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercies for thousands..”(Exodus 34:6-7). In His great love, he gives us second chances. However, there will come a day when we will have no more second opportunities.
Andy Cisneros
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+16-17&version=NLT
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 18-20 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Follow

Numbers 11 13 Cain

These next three chapters are where things start to heat up in the book of Numbers…literally. In verse 1, we see the Israelites start to complain. After all that God has done for them, I understand why He would be upset. When it says the “fire of the LORD burned among them,” this isn’t a metaphor, but instead literal fire burned throughout the outskirts of the camp. The people obviously didn’t like this fire, so they complained to Moses and Moses prayed to stop the fire. God stopped the fire, but apparently, this wasn’t enough to teach the Israelites their lesson. In verses 4-6, they complain about not having meat and nice food like they did in Egypt; all they had to eat was manna. In verses 11-15 Moses honestly lays out his heart to God to the point where he asks God to kill him. Now, to me, there is an important lesson that we can learn from this outpouring. Even the greatest among us can reach a point where we have had enough. However, we can always bring our troubles and anxieties to God. Even if the problem seems impossible, like feeding millions of people meat in the middle of the desert. God wants to deal with us in a personal way. He doesn’t want the perfect fake versions of ourselves where we have all the answers and are always composed. We can be honest with Him and show Him our true heart. God dealt faithfully with Moses when Moses came to Him with a huge problem and He will deal faithfully with us when we bring our problems to Him.

This interesting incident happens in 11:24-30. The Spirit of God comes upon the leaders of Israel much like what we see in the New Testament on the day of Pentecost. We usually think about the Spirit being a New Testament power, but it is also present in the Old Testament. After the spirit comes on the elders, two of the elders prophesy in the camp. A young man thought this was a problem, so he told Moses. Little did Moses know, God’s big plan was to give His Spirit to each of His followers in the new covenant that was coming. The elders prophesying was just a taste of what God had in mind for His people. I like how Moses doesn’t get jealous about God giving His Spirit to others, but instead trusts and respects God enough to allow Him to deal as He sees fit. I think we too should have this same attitude of trust in God.

In verse 34, Kibroth-hattaavah literally means “the graves of greediness”. They named the place after exactly what happened in that place. The names of places serve as reminders. Imagine going down the interstate and passing the exit to Graves of the Greedy Town. Chapter 11 serves as a good reminder to us about our selfishness and greediness. Do you feel like God owes you something? Are you complaining to God about the things you want? Let’s take chapter 11 as a good lesson for us today. God truly has our best interest at heart and has already rescued us from death and slavery. Let’s not be like the Israelites who are so quick to forget where God has brought them from and so quickly turn to our own desires.

In chapter 12 we read another story of disobedience. Aaron and Miriam get mad about Moses’s wife being a Cushite. This may be because she wasn’t a Jew and in the law people were only supposed to marry Jews. Regardless of the reason for their anger, they think they are justified in thinking they are better than Moses. They say, “’has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us as well?’” (11:2). Almost as to say Moses married a Cushite women and God has spoken through us as well, what makes him think He is better than us? In the way that verses 2-4 talk about the situation, I can imagine Aaron and Miriam colluding in the corner of the Tabernacle, whispering to each other about how they are better than Moses. God sets them straight in verses 5-10, even giving leprosy to Miriam for her disobedience. Even the leaders of Israel were making big mistakes and being divisive. The scope of these happenings highlight the sin nature of man. Even after God has liberated the Israelites from Egypt, with all the miracles that went into that event, they still sin and disobey God. No matter the circumstances, people can’t stay away from sin very long. The only way we can be purified and righteous before God is through Jesus. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see all the mistakes we’ve made today. He sees His perfect son who covers our sin. When I read the Old Testament, it makes me very thankful for Jesus and the role that he plays in my life.

Even though the people have continued to fight and disobey God, He still leads them to the Promise Land. In chapter 13, we see the beginnings of God’s plan to move His people into the Promise Land. God wants the people to spy out the land.  However, things don’t go smoothly, even the spies are disobedient and give a bad report about the land. The only spies to come back and give a good report are Caleb and Joshua. It’s like the spies forgot what they just went through with the Exodus. Did they not see the plagues that God sent on Egypt? Did they not see God defeat the entire Egyptian army in one stroke? Did they not see the manna and quail that God provided? How can they go to the land of Canaan after experiencing all these things and not think God can take care of these people too? Where is their faith? More importantly and real to our lives, are we the same way? We know the stories about what God did. We know who God is and have seen Him work. We know that even death has no power, yet we let our faith fail when we are confronted by hard things. Are we different than the spies of Israel who gave a bad report about the land of Canaan out of fear? Is there a land in which God is leading you? We have seen how He works and He is faithful to follow through. He is powerful to complete any task which He undertakes. I want our faith to be strengthened by chapter 13 and I want us to learn a lesson from the Israelites. Let’s not forget and let’s have faith. Let’s be people who follow God through the wilderness, faithfully, so that we can walk into the place He has prepared for us.

Josiah Cain