DEUTERONOMY --- The Book of the Second Law
Hearing, Learning, Following
Moses continued speaking to the people of Israel and said, 'Listen carefully now to all these laws God has given you; learn them, and be sure to obey them!' (Deuteronomy 5:1)
Continual learning is one of the keys to spiritual growth. The people of Israel were in a covenant with God, and Moses commanded them to hear, learn, and follow His commandments. We have entered into a covenant with God through the saving power of Jesus Christ.
We, too, are to be responsive to that three-fold advice.
- Hear by absorbing and accepting information about God's word.
- Learn by understanding its meaning and implications.
- Follow by putting into action all you have learned and understood.
All three parts are essential to a growing relationship with God.
Keys to Spiritual Growth
Moses continued speaking to the people of Israel and said, "Listen carefully now to all these laws God has given you; learn them, and be sure to obey them! (Deuteronomy 5:1)
Constant learning is one of the keys to spiritual growth. The Israelites had entered into a covenant with God, and Moses commanded them to hear, learn, and follow His statues. We also have entered into a covenant with God through Jesus Christ and should be responsive to what God expects. Moses' three-fold command to the Israelites is excellent advice for all of us as well.
- Hearing is absorbing and accepting information about God.
- Learning is understanding its meaning and implications.
- Following is putting into action all we have learned and understood.
All three parts are essential to a growing relationship with God.
Are You Growing Spiritually?Moses summoned all Israel and said, "Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them." (Deuteronomy 5:1)
Spiritual growth involves three things. . . hearing, learning, and following. One is not exclusive of the other. All three must work in conjunction with the other two. God has made a covenant with us through His Son, Jesus Christ just as He made a covenant with the Israelites. Therefore, Moses' threefold command is just as pertinent to us today as it was to the Israelites then.
We, as God's covenant people, must hear, learn, and follow the word of God. Hearing is absorbing and accepting information about God. Learning is understanding information about God. Following is obeying or putting into action all we have heard and learned. All three parts of this process are essential to a growing relationship with God.
Are You Listening or Merely Hearing?
Moses continued speaking to the people of Israel and said, "Listen carefully now to all these laws God has given you; learn them, and be sure to obey them! (Deuteronomy 5:1)
There is a difference between hearing and listening. We hear with our ears, but we listen with our entire being. Hearing means to perceive by the ears. Listening is to perceive by the heart. Listening means to pay attention to what is heard. It means applying it to one's own life.
Listening is an important spiritual skill. While hearing is absorbing and accepting information about God, listening is understanding its meaning and implications. The proof of listening is obedience. Obedience is the direct act of putting into action all that has been heard and understood. Hearing and listening are both essential for a more intimate relationship with God.
Are you listening or merely hearing?
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. (Deuteronomy 5:15)
A reminder is just what it says...a re-minder. A reminder is not new information. It is something you already know, but you have to remember it. It is information you are hearing "again" at least for the second time. A young boy did not bulge when his mother told him to take out the trash. When asked why he didn't move, the young boy said, "Because I know you will remind me again and again."
We live in a world where there are constant reminders. Sometimes these reminders warn us. Sometimes these reminders enlighten us. Sometimes these reminders tell us what to do. Sometimes these reminders tell us what not to do.
We see signs posted along the way to remind us of irregular road patterns and dangerous situations. We see and hear the same television and radio commercials to remind us to buy certain products and use certain services. Our authority figures tell us something and remind us several times later about the same thing. Why do we need constant reminders? We need constant reminders so that we will not forget. We need constant reminders so information might always be fresh in our mind.
God constantly reminded His chosen people about His love for them. He told them over and over again so they would not forget what He had done for them. Wouldn't it be nice if God did the same thing for us? Well, He does. God constantly reminds us through nature; through the changing of the seasons how awesome He is. God reminds us through our own spiritual growth that He is our constant companion. God reminds us through His word that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
God wants to remind you of something today. He is trying to get your attention to remind you of something important. Don't be like the little boy in the opening paragraph. Listen to what God has to say when He says it the first time. Surely, He will remind you over and over again, but why delay His blessings when you could respond and be blessed the first time?
Be reminded today that God is love and those who abide in God abide in love and God abides in them. (I John 4:16b)
Christianity Is Not Cafeteria Style
Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever. (Deuteronomy 5:29)
God wants us to keep ALL His commandments; not just some. God wants us to obey Him ALWAYS; not just sometimes. God wants all of our devotion all the times. God frowns on us when we pick and choose which one(s) of His commandments to follow. Christianity is NOT cafeteria style whereby we pick our own commandments to obey. If God gave a commandment in the Bible, He wants us to follow it.
There is no need to rationalize that since you prayed today, there is no need to praise God today, or since you worshipped God on Sunday, there is no need to worship Him on Monday. In the above scripture, God said "to keep all my commandments always that it might go well with you." When you are picking and choosing, how do you know which choice God will truly bless you? Therefore, it is so important not to choose one commandment from Genesis and two from Matthew. Obey God in ALL things at ALL times so that He will bless you and your children forever.
Some Things You Never Forget
Then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. (Deuteronomy 6:12)
There is a song, "Jesus, I'll Never Forget" in which the lyrics indicate that there are some things you never forget. "Jesus, I'll never forget what you've done for me. Jesus, I'll never forget how you set me free."
God had a fault with the Israelites. They saw how the Red Sea opened up for them to cross over on dry land. Then they quickly forgot the miracle of God. They began to murmur and complain about not having food to eat. God sent them manna from heaven. They still complained. They wanted meat. Then God sent them quails. They abused the gift, and some of them died while still eating. They forgot God. They forgot the source of their supply. God told Moses to remind the Israelites over and over so that they would not forget His many blessings.
God reminded us of His love through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. And He continues to remind us through His grace and His mercy. There are some things you should never forget!
Do the Right Thing
And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. (Deuteronomy 6:18)
A few years ago, Spike Lee made the movie, "Do the Right Thing." My mother (who died last August) always told us, "Do the right thing and the right things will follow." In the above scripture, we are told that we shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, and then we may go in and possess the good land.
Doing wrong does not bring about good results. People do the wrong thing; yet they want a good outcome. They do wrong to people, but expect people to treat them right. They act nasty toward others; yet, they demand respect. It really doesn't work that way and it goes against God's word.
God wants us to do what is right all the time. He has provided what is right in His manual, the Bible. It is our standard to live by. Let's read the Bible often, and then let's do the right thing. Let's put ourselves in the position to possess the good land. Take the advice of my mother: "Do what is right and right things will follow."
"I'm Dreaming of a RIGHT Christmas"
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
Having a right Christmas doesn't mean giving or getting the right gift in the right size and right color from the right department store. Having a right Christmas means having a right relationship in three major areas.
- Be RIGHT with God. How can you enjoy the gift of the Son if you are at odds with His Father? The best way to be in right relationship with God is to read His word and do what He says.
- Be RIGHT with others. If you want to have a right Christmas, forgive those who have hurt you whether it was their fault or yours. Stop harboring insignificant grudges of the past. Mend those broken relationships.
- Be RIGHT with yourself. One of the best gifts you can give yourself this Christmas is to have peace within. Trust God to give you that peace when you establish a RIGHT relationship with Him and a RIGHT relationship with those around you.
Do you want to have a RIGHT Christmas? When you do the three above-mentioned things, you can sing, "I'm dreaming of a RIGHT Christmas.
But the Lord your God shall deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion until they are destroyed. (Deuteronomy 7:23)
Moses told the Israelites that God would destroy their enemies, but not all at once. God truly had the power to destroy them instantly, but God chose to do it in stages. God can miraculously and instantaneously change your life. However, God changes you gradually by teaching you one lesson at a time. Rather than expecting to have an instant solution to all your problems, trust God to work on one problem at a time, making up the difference between where you should be and where you are now.
You will soon look back and see that a miraculous transformation has occurred.
Why Christians Shouldn't Play Cards
Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction. (Deuteronomy 7:26)
They say we should use a deck of cards to measure the portion of meat we eat. That's about the only thing a deck of cards is useful for as far as Christians should be concerned.
The first deck of cards was made in 1392 for the insane French King Charles. The inventor evidently hated God and the Bible and designed a message in the cards which was the exact opposite of the truth of scripture. This is why it is common to find decks of cards possessed by prostitutes, gamblers, thieves and murderer. Decks of cards are found in taverns, brothels, prisons, insane asylums, but NOT at prayer meetings.
Witches, physics, and Satan worshippers use playing cards for divination and to cast spells and curses. It is a bit difficult to see why any born again believer would want to be in contact with such a tool of Satan.
It is unwise, even dangerous, to have playing cards and other abominable things in your home (Deuteronomy 7:26). This could bring a curse on you and your household. It is time that Christians clean house and destroy the hidden works of darkness (1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18; 1 Timothy 6:12)
How to Enjoy Your Desert Experience
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2)
All of us have had or will have a desert experience. A desert experience is a time period when things are dry in your life. A desert experience is that time when you are not producing and you see no chance of producing. A desert experience might involve your household, your business, your ministry or your entire life. It is that time when you are not growing at all. In fact, you feel like you are dying on the vine.
A desert experience shouldn't be looked at as being negative. Yes, a desert experience is different. And it can be difficult. While in the desert, like the Israelites, you will not have the comforts you are accustomed to. You will have to endure hunger and thirst and the heat of the day. But God is your manna from heaven (Exodus 16:31). He is your keeper and the shade at your right hand (Psalm 121:5 ).
God brings desert experiences into our lives to humble us, to test us, and to see what we are really made of. He takes us out of our comfort zone to see if we will still love, adore and praise Him. It is easy to say, "God is good" when things are going well in our lives. But how many of us can praise God when we are going through the desert?
Enjoy your desert experience by knowing that you are not in the desert alone. God is walking beside you to guide you. Remember this: No one gets to the Promised Land without going through the desert. So, you might as well enjoy the journey.
"God, I Love You!"
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV)
Whenever I babysit my two-year old granddaughter, she always amazes me by what she says. Last weekend when she was playing, she stopped abruptly and came to me for no other reason than to say, "Grandma, I love you!" I said, "And who is this who loves me?" She said, "Grandma, you know. I'm Tori Michal Lewis." Then she ran off to play again.Covenant FaithfulnessBut 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 forefathers, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV)
It would be so wonderful if in the midst of whatever we were doing we would stop and say, "God, I love you." God would be so pleased to hear us say those few words without asking Him for anything in return.
Stop whatever you are doing right now just for one moment to say, "God, I love you!" Then return to whatever you were doing.
There is a tremendous danger in learning, quoting, or living by part of a scripture. The above scripture is a good example of a scripture that some might live by partially. Some people have no problem accepting that God gives them ability to get wealth. The part that gets lost in our thinking is that God gives us the ability to get wealth so that his covenant might be fulfilled. This two-part covenant is a binding agreement that says: "God will do and I will do."
Prosperity might lead to forgetfulness about the source and purpose of our wealth. God wants us to remember that it is He who has given us the ability and resources to get wealth. He also wants us to remember that there is a correspondent covenant faithfulness on our part. The wealth that God has enabled us to get is to help establish and perpetuate the Kingdom of God on earth. God is keeping His part of the covenant. We should keep our part of the covenant as well.
What To Do With Bad Habits
You must destroy all the heathen altars wherever you find them -- high in the mountains, up in the hills, or under the trees. Break the altars, smash the obelisks, burn the shameful images, cut down the metal idols, and leave nothing to remind you of them! (Deuteronomy 12:2-3)
A habit is a pattern of behavior acquired by frequent repetition. It is a customary manner or practice. A habit can also be referred to as an addiction. It is something that you do routinely without much thought or effort. It takes about 7 days to acquire a habit and about 14 days to break a habit. Therefore, it is so important not to develop bad habits because it takes twice as long to rid yourself of them.
To break a bad habit is NOT easy. In the above scripture, Israel had picked up a bad habit of worshipping pagan gods. To rid them of the habit, God instructed them to DESTROY all the pagan altars whenever they found them. God was very specific. He told them to BREAK, SMASH, BURN, CUT DOWN and do whatever else was necessary to rid themselves of the altars. Then God said, "Leave nothing to remind you of them!" In other words, God says, "Remove the temptation!"
That's our lesson for today. In order to acquire new pure habits, we certainly must make room for them. If anything is in our lives that might tempt us to hold on to a bad habit, let's destroy, break, smash, burn, cut it down and leave nothing to remind us of it. Bad habits deserve no mercy.
A Treasured Possession
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; it is you the Lord has chosen out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 14:2)
"Treasure" is defined as wealth, money, jewels, precious metals or something of great worth. Treasures are cherished because they are valuable to the owner. We are God's treasured possessions.
In the above verse, Moses tells the Israelites how God feels about them. He gives them three distinguishing privileges. In the Book of Romans, Paul tells us we have these same privileges.
ELECTION: "The Lord has chosen you." Out of all the peoples of the earth, God chose the Israelites to be His special people. God has also chosen YOU! (Romans 9:11)
ADOPTION: "You are the children of the Lord your God." We are children of God not because God need children but because we are orphans, and we need a Father. (Romans 8:15)
SANCTIFICATION: "You are a holy people." Those whom God has chosen and adopted, He set apart to do His work. (Romans 1:1)
Therefore, God considers us to be His treasured possession. How do we know? Because He elected us, adopted us and then He went on to sanctify us unto Himself. That's why we can say, "Our Father, which art in heaven . . ."
Only If You Would Hear From God
Only if you would carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command you this day. (Deuteronomy 15:5)
God is very clear about how to please Him. The Bible records verse after verse about God's provisions, protection and power. In order to experience the fullness of God, you must first hear from God. Then you must be diligent to obey all (not some) of God's commandments.
Only if you would hear from God, you would enjoy a deeper relationship with Him. Only if you would hear from God, you would enjoy a better relationship with others.
At the beginning of this new year, why not carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God and then go on to do those things He tells you to do. Hearing from God is the beginning of a brand new relationship with Him in this brand new year. Discipline yourself to spend more quiet time doing nothing but sitting before the Lord to hear from Him.
God's Exchange Policy
You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. (Deuteronomy 15:10)
When God created the heavens and earth, He said, "Let there be..." (Genesis 1:3) God could have used that same procedure throughout history, but now He commands our involvement. He wants us to participate to some degree in our own blessings. We are so willing to ask God for things, but since God is a covenant relational God, He wants to know what we you willing to give in exchange.
Throughout the Bible, there are examples of things given to God only for Him to replace them with something better or to multiply them back with a greater return. Adam and Eve gave God their fig leaves that covered only a few parts of their bodies. God exchanged them for complete garments of skin (Genesis 3:21). You gotta give up something to participate in God's Exchange Policy. ("gotta" is deliberately used for emphasis).
Abraham gave up his family and country only to be rewarded with becoming the "Father of Many Nations." (Genesis 17:4) Moses gave God his rod that he used to tend Jethro's sheep, and God gave him the leadership role of delivering two millions of his relatives out of slavery from Egypt. (Exodus 12:37) David gave God his harp that he used to play music to the sheep, and God made him king and gave him inspiration for 73 of the 150 psalms that still bring music to our ears and hearts. You gotta give up something!
Jesus' first miracle involved giving God six barrels of plain water, and God miraculously changed the water into choice wine. (John 2) Jesus exchanged a little boy's lunch consisting of only five small barley loaves and two small fish for an all you can eat fish dinner that fed five thousand men besides women and children. And still there were twelve baskets of fragments left over. (John 6:1-15) You gotta give up something!
Even Jesus was willing to give up something . . . His own life. He offered Himself to God in exchange for our salvation. We are benefiting today because of God's Exchange Policy.
What are you willing to give up? What we give God can be described as molehills. What He gives us in return can be described as mountains! Remember, you gotta give up something for God's Exchange Policy to work!
And when he has been crowned and sits upon his throne as king, then he must copy these laws from the book kept by the Levite priests. That copy of the laws shall be his constant companion. He must read from it every day of his life so that he will learn to respect the Lord his God by obeying all of his commands. (Deuteronomy 17:18-19)
Leaders are commanded to know the word of God. Those in authority are ultimately responsible to God. The above scripture refers to the duties of a king who was to (1) have a copy of God's word for his personal use, (2) keep it with him at all times, (3) read from it every day, and (4) obey it completely. Through this process he would learn respect for God. This would keep him from feeling more important than others.
The only way leaders or anyone else can know what God wants is through His word. His word will not have any effect upon us unless we read it and meditate on it night and day. With the abundant availability of the Bible today, it is not difficult to gain access to the source of God's wisdom. Read and benefit from it even if you are not a leader. Read, study and meditate on God's word.
From Panic to Praise
He shall say: "Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic. (Deuteronomy 20:3)
Have you ever noticed that some people panic over every little thing? Or perhaps you are one of those persons yourself. It is normal and natural to panic over some things, but it is not normal and natural to panic over everything.
Panic is a sudden strong feeling of anxiety or fear that prevents reasonable thought and action. Simply put, a panicky situation is one you didn't plan for, and surely it doesn't give you time to think rationally. Panic affects individuals, groups of people, and animals.
Panic is the primal urge to run and hide in the face of imminent danger or disaster. The word "panic" is derived from the name of the Greek god Pan who is said to have been such an ugly baby that onlookers ran because of fear.
What measures should you take concerning panic? Prepare yourself in advance for what might happen. Know your enemy's strategies. Practice being calm in the midst of calamity. Check your perception. Are you blowing things out of proportion? Pray yourself out of terrifying situations. Praise God for desired results before they occur. And purpose in your heart not to panic!
What does the Bible say about panicking? The Bible says, "Do not be fainthearted or afraid, do not be terrified or give way to panic." (Deuteronomy 20:3) How, then, do you make that necessary quick shift? How do you go from panic to praise?
In the words of the psalmist, "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)
For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. (Deuteronomy 20:4)
Deuteronomy 20 is a manual on warfare for God's people. Various classes of Israelites were exempt from military service:
- those who had just built a new house;
- those who had just planted a vineyard and had never tasted its fruit;
- those whose marriage had not been consummated; and
- those who were fearful and fainthearted.
The rest of the men of military age were to go to battle. But they were given special instructions.
They were told, "When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you" (Deuteronomy 20:1). This entire chapter gives instruction on how the Christian is to be victorious. We are NOT to fight our own battles. Just like the Israelites, we sometimes face overwhelming opposition. Whether at school, at work, or even at home, we can feel outnumbered, hopeless and helpless. God uplifted the Israelites' confidence by reminding them that he was always with them and that he had ALREADY saved them from the potential danger.
We, too, can feel secure when we consider that God is able to overcome even the most difficult odds. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God" (Psalm 20:7).
Learning From History
You shall then say before the Lord your God, "My ancestors were migrant Arameans who went to Egypt for refuge. They were few in number, but in Egypt they became a mighty nation." (Deuteronomy 26:5)
What is the purpose of history? What do we learn from history that can benefit our present and our future?
- Our personal history can teach us how God works. The above scripture helped the Israelites to remember what God had done for them.
- History demonstrates our need for a Savior. Isaiah wrote about a coming Messiah who would bring peace on earth.
- History teaches us about God's control over the world. God's plans for human history were outlined long before the events took place.
- History demonstrates the perfection of God's plan. We were weak and helpless because we could do nothing on our own to save ourselves. God sent Jesus as a Savior to control history.
Without Jesus, life is empty and incomplete!
February is Black History Month. What does history teach us? To remember, to recognize and to realize that God has and always will demonstrate His perfect plan through everything and everybody.
What God Expects
Obey the Lord your God and follow his commands and decrees that I give you today. (Deuteronomy 27:10)
What God expects from us can be summarized in two words: Belief and Obedience.
Believing that Jesus is Lord and He was crucified and God raised Him from the dead is the first step toward pleasing God. Believing is a confession from the heart.
However, it is not enough to just believe. Your belief should translate into action. First believe God, then obey the laws of God. Act out your belief.
Abraham believed God and God credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) God will do the same for us when we believe and obey.
Doing What Yields A Guaranteed Return
All these blessings will come down on you and spread out beyond you because you have responded to the voice of God, your God. (Deuteronomy 28:2 Msg)
Most people associate April 15 with their tax return. There is nothing wrong with that because the Bible says, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." (Matthew 22:21). Some people will get a refund while others will have to render unto the government that which belongs to the government. Filing a tax return is what we all have to do in the natural realm even though we would rather not. So much for filing tax returns.
There is something you can do in the spiritual realm that always yields a guaranteed return. Going to church every Sunday is a Christian duty, but it does not always guarantee a return even though Hebrews 10:25 says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together . . ." Being good to your neighbor is great, but it may or may not produce a guaranteed return. However, obeying the voice of God will yield a guaranteed return every time.
Let's thank God for what He has done, but let's praise God for who He is. Let's honor God with the sacrifice of our lips. While we don't honor God just to be blessed, we are guaranteed a favorable return when we honor God with our whole heart.
A Heart Full of Love
You should love the Lord your God with all your heart. (Deuteronomy 30:6)
As long as your heart is empty anything can get in: fear, bitterness, jealousy, hatred, anger, deceitfulness, lies and sin. On the other hand, if your whole heart is filled with love, pure love, there is no room for anything else.
Let your heart overflow with love for God and for one another so that there is absolutely no room in it for anything else.
God's AbundanceAnd the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of they body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers. Deuteronomy 30:9
God has promised His people that He will make us plenteous in every area of our lives. Abraham was rich. He had an abundance of everything; yet, he was obedient and faithful to God. Abraham goes down in biblical history as being the father of many nations.
David, the man after God's own heart was the recipient of God's abundance. The Psalms record how David poured his heart out to God in his distress; yet he was faithful to God.
Solomon was the wisest and richest man who ever lived. He asked God for wisdom, but God granted him not only wisdom, but riches as well. Unfortunately, Solomon's heart was turned from God because of his many wives and concubines.
God has promised that he will give us the desires of our heart. He wants to abundantly bless us. We need to remember, however, that abundance does not always mean money. Abundance might come in areas such as excellent health, good friends, wholesome relationships, peace of mind, harmony and order in your home, your workplace and your church.
Within Your Reach
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. (Deuteronomy 30:11)
God directs our lives and will never command us to do something impossible. If you are faced with a task today, know that what you have been commanded to do is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach when you let God be in control.
Use the truths in the two key phrases in the above scripture to do with ease and confidence what God is calling you to do today . . . Not too difficult; Not beyond your reach!
Tomorrow Today Will Be Yesterday
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. (Deuteronomy 30:11)
One of the worst mistakes we can make is to neglect today. Today holds so many golden opportunities for us to make an impact on those in our immediate circle, our community, our nation and our world.
Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Benjamin Franklin seized every day to work on their inventions. They were successful because they did not give up. They made every day count. They knew they couldn't put off what they needed to do. They knew that the present day would be history the next day.
We should consider today a present or a gift from God. Our present of today will be the past tomorrow. We can say it three ways with the same meaning: Tomorrow today will be yesterday! Today tomorrow will be yesterday! Tomorrow yesterday is today!
Live for today. Live well today. Give all you can to this day! Don't miss any opportunities today. Today is ours; tomorrow might not be.
Where Did Everybody Go?
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Have you noticed like I have that we can go through an entire day conducting business without making any human contact? On our way to work we drop our clothes off at a drive through cleaner without having a brief chat with the clerk. We then drop off a prescription through the drive through window and promise to pick it up that evening via the drive through window. We drive to work, but we no longer get to speak to the toll collector because we have Smart Tags, and we go through the toll booth without having to stop. At work there is no doorman to open the door for us because we use badges to get in. Once inside our offices, we communicate with people around the world via teleconferences, fax machines, voice mail, e-mail, instant messages, text messages and online chats.
We no longer have to go to the post office because we can get stamps online. We don't have to go to the optometrist to get new contacts lens because we log in our prescription online and the lenses are delivered in a couple of days. Remember the times we could go to a small book store and ask the clerk to recommend a book. That is no longer necessary. We can read several pages of an e-book and if we like those several pages, we order the book online. We can order everything we need without the help of a salesperson.
Do you remember having to sit in a classroom to take a course? Those days are over. Now you can get your degree online and never have to see a live professor. Once upon a time, people had to go directly to individual companies to pay their bills. Now some of us pay all our bills and do our banking online. (So much for the lollipops!)
At our local deli, we custom design our own sandwiches on the computer. By the time we pour our own coffee, the sandwich is waiting for us and we haven't made contact with a waitress at all. We no longer get to chat with the pleasant person at the checkout counter in the grocery store. Now we can go through the self-service line, scan and pay for our groceries without having contact with another human. Remember the good old days when as soon as you pulled into the service station a mechanic met you to pump your gas, change your oil and wash your windshields. Now you pump your own gas and use a debit or credit car at the pump. If your windows need washing, you have to do it yourself!
Finally, you get home expecting human contact from your family. Your wife is taking an online class and can't be bothered, your daughter is on the cell phone and your son is exercising with his online instructor. You pop a chicken pot pie in the microwave, set the timer and when it is ready, you eat dinner alone. You have spent the entire day without any human contact.
As you take the dog out for a walk, you try to talk to him, but dogs do what dogs do when you take them out for a walk. You wonder to yourself: "Where did everybody go?" Then you are comforted by knowing that God will keep His promise to never leave you nor forsake you.
God Never Leaves Us
And the Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31: 6, 8, Joshua 1:5).
Why is it written so many times in the Bible that God will never leave us? God wants us to know that He is in charge of EVERY situation. When we are being blessed, we tend to believe God is with us more than when tragedy happens or when we are going through a crisis. God NEVER leaves us. We just think that He does. God NEVER forsakes us. We just think that He does. NEVER means NEVER . . . NOT EVER!
It is not easy to believe God is still in control when we hear about floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and natural disasters. It is not easy to believe God is still in charge when loved ones are sick and death occurs. It is not easy to believe God is still with us when we encounter trouble on every side.
It may be hard to believe, but God does not leave us at those times. God is omnipresence and is always with us. If you are going through anything today that is causing you to doubt God's presence, know that "God Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5)
Use Your Gifts Wisely
And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. (Deuteronomy 33:1)
The whole chapter of Deuteronomy 33 consists of the blessings of Moses on the twelve tribes of Israel. To one tribe he gave the best land, to another strength, to another safety. Notice the difference in the blessings God gave each tribe. So it is with us. God has given each of us special gifts to be used to fulfill His plan. We show our gratitude for those gifts when we use them wisely. Too often we neglect to use our gifts thinking they are not big enough, or they will not make a difference toward the building up of God's kingdom here on earth. We even envy people with special gifts and think God must love those people more than He loves us.
Know that God has given ALL people unique talents. Everybody's talent is needed to complete God's plan. Don't be envious of the gifts of others. Instead, look for the gifts God has given you, and resolve to do the tasks he has uniquely qualified you to do. When you don't use your own gifts, we all lose because in essence you are doing three things: (1) rejecting GOD by rejecting His gift; (2) depriving GOD'S PEOPLE of what they should be benefiting from your gift; and (3) blocking YOUR OWN blessings.
Resting Between His Shoulders
Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders. (Deuteronomy 33:12)
Do you know that God loves you? If you know that He does, then you should know that according to the above scripture:
- You are resting secure in Him;
- He shields you all day long; and
- You are resting between God's shoulders and what a wonderful place to be.
Explanation: What is "resting between God's shoulders"? It goes back to an ancient custom that when a mother had no one to take care of her baby while she worked, she carried her child strapped on her back "between her shoulders." This allowed her to work with ease in the field. The baby was covered and protected from the blazing sun and other elements. The baby was resting between the mother's shoulders without a care in the world; yet protected and provided for all day long. Our Lord keeps us bound to Him like a baby on his mother's back resting "between her shoulders." We are one with Him as He continues to work on our behalf as we rest gently "between his shoulders."
Are You On Mount Nebo?
Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land. Then the Lord said to him, "This is the land I promised an oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it." (Deuteronomy 34:1; 4)
Moses was Israel's greatest prophet. He was the only one who spoke to God face to face. Yet, this great prophet was shown the promised land that he longed to enter, but God said, "No." He was not allowed to enter the promised land. What did Moses do to cause God to make that decision?
When the Israelites needed water while traveling through the wilderness, God gave Moses a method. He was to speak to the rock and strike it with his staff in the sight of the Israelites. Instead, Moses raised his arm and struck the rock TWICE and said to the Israelites, "Listen, you rebels, must WE bring you water out of this rock?" Water gushed from the rock, and the people's thirst was quenched. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them" (Numbers 20:6-12). Moses did not speak to the rock as instructed by God. He struck it twice; God said strike it once. Moses included himself in the miracle by saying, "We." Because Moses disobeyed God's direct command and dishonored Him in the presence of His people, Moses would see the promised land, but he could not enter it.
Are you on Mount Nebo looking at what you could have had if you had only obeyed God? Be prepared to enter the promised land by your obedience to God; otherwise, prepare to see your blessings from afar but never being able to possess them.