Day 78: Blessed is She (Deuteronomy 33-34; Luke 1:24-56)

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. -Luke 1:45

You’ve probably seen variations of this verse all over Pinterest and other social media sites, but I hope today after reading the story behind the verse, you understand the depth of this promise.

As the scene unfolds, we see Mary coming to visit her friend, Elizabeth. Although we’re not told exactly how much time passed between when Mary discovered she was pregnant and this visit, but based on verse 56, Mary was probably either in her first or second trimester. So, the idea of being a pregnant virgin, with the son of God, was probably still fresh and new. If she was like most women today, Mary probably wasn’t even showing very much and she might have not even felt pregnant. And then she hears Elizabeth’s words:

Believe and the Lord’s promises in your life will be fulfilled. 

I know that if someone told me that today about some of the promises God has made me, I would be so encouraged. Because sometimes, when it takes awhile to see God’s promises come to fruition, we get impatient and start to doubt.

When will I finally meet my future husband and start a family?

When will I figure out my calling? 

When will I see my mom or dad saved and in church?

When will these wounds be healed? 

Because God, You promised….

We’ve been reading a lot about the journey of the Israelites. And just like He told them when they got impatient about reaching the Promised Land: if you wholly follow the Lord, you will inherit His promises. 

It may take 40 years of desert seasons, 30 years of singleness, 20 years of schooling, or 10 years of faith building, but what He promised will be fulfilled.

In the meantime, like Mary did in verses 46-55, praise Him for the promises He has made to you. Thank Him now for what He will do for you in the future. Because not only does that please Him, but it will remind you that the Lord is truly good and His promises are totally , completely, absolutely worth waiting for.

What promises are you waiting on today? 

Day 77: Meet Joshua (Deuteronomy 31-32; Luke 1:1-23)

As we near the end of our journey with Moses, we are introduced to a new protagonist: Joshua. But in reality, Joshua’s story has been unfolding for a few decades:

“So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” -Exodus 33:11

From a young age, Joshua was Moses’s assistant. He was the only person allowed to accompany Moses partway up to the mountain when Moses received the law. He was also among the 12 spies that were sent to investigate the Promised Land. In fact, because of his faithfulness in bringing back a positive report from the spy mission, Joshua was one of only TWO adults who experienced Egyptian slavery and lived to enter the Promised Land. Talk about a life story, y’all!

We’ll read a lot more about Joshua’s story in the coming weeks, but today, I wanted to focus on how Joshua got to being inaugurated as the Moses’s successor in today’s reading.

Joshua found a man of God and he didn’t leave his side. 

It sounds so simple, but I imagine it took a lot of sacrifice. It probably meant choosing to hang around the tabernacle for hours to wait on Moses, instead of playing with friends his age outside. As the young one, he was probably assigned all the busy work the adults didn’t want to do. I mean, how many young people do you know who would rather follow some preacher around all day and voluntarily spend time all their time at church? Very few, I’m sure (let’s be honest, sometimes a two hour church service or a 30 minute sermon is a struggle!).

Who are you learning from today? Who are your role models? Whose advice are you listening to? What wells are you drinking from to nourish your soul?

The people and sources you learn from mold you and shape your future. If you spend time in God’s presence, learn from Jesus’s example, seek advice from wise and Godly elders, and spend your days doing the Lord’s bidding, you will be greatly rewarded. As Luke  16:10 tells us, those that are faithful in the small things will be entrusted with greater responsibilities. That’s how leaders are trained up.

So, if you long to step into your calling; if you pray for God to give you something to do for His kingdom, first spend some time learning the ropes. Study the Word, pray, observe those who have walked this path before you, ask questions from wise counselors, and volunteer for the mundane, everyday tasks that no one else wants to do. That is where discipleship is born.

PS. Did you notice the apple of His eye reference in Deuteronomy 32:10? That verse brings so much joy to my heart!

Day 76: Blessing in Obedience (Deuteronomy 29-30, Mark 16)

In Deuteronomy 29 and 30, we see the Israelites renewing their covenant with God. Moses talks about the blessings that come from walking in the covenant, but also what happens when the people live in disobedience.

“Covenant” is used around 300 times in the Bible. The story of what the covenant was and why it is important starts early in Scripture. The basis was God reaching down to love humanity in all of our brokenness and mess. By creating this covenant with His people, all of what is His would be theirs. His intense love of humanity inspired Him to create this covenant. The people would fall away and break the covenant, but God never would. He is faithful even when we remain faithless. Even here in Deuteronomy, He pursued His people as they strayed away and loved other idols.

As we talked about it yesterday, living in obedience to God brought the people into great blessings, but disobedience brought curses upon them.

When understanding why this matters in our life, it is important to see God’s intense love for us. He was doing these things to protect His people and to give them the greatest blessings He could. When we choose to walk in obedience to His commandments, He blesses us for that. The blessings leave though when we go  our own way, thinking we know better.

What areas of your life are you choosing your own way?

Where is God asking you to be obedient to Him?

Day 75: If…Then (Deuteronomy 28; Mark 15:27-47)

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments, which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above the nations of the earth. -Deuteronomy 28:1

Do you realize that your Christian walk is not a passive one? That’s because we don’t serve a passive God. There are times in the Bible where we’ll come across passages that offer conditional promises. They usually look like this: If we keep our minds stayed on Him and trust in Him, then He will give us perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).

Conditional promises are dependent on whether we are willing to do what God has asked of us. If we are, then He will do His part in what He has promised.

Deuteronomy 28 is filled with the blessings God will give when His people listen diligently to His voice and obey His commands:

They will be blessed in the city and out in the field (v. 3).

The fruit of the body and of their ground and the fruit of the beasts, the increase of their cattle and the young of their flock (v. 4).

He would make them the head and not the tail (v. 13).

If they did not obey His commands, they would be overtaken by their enemy, have a lack of crops, and their children would be given away to other people. (It’s interesting to note that God blesses with addition and multiplication and curses through subtraction and division).

What they received was based on the choices they made. When we walk with God, we can be sure that we will be abundantly blessed and taken care of. Walking in obedience shows faith and trust in God. Jesus tells us in the book of John that our obedience is tied to our love for Him.

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with Him. -John 14:23

Do you struggle with being obedient to God? 

How can you take a more active role in your relationship with God? 

Day 74: Rejoicing in the Provision of God (Deuteronomy 26-27; Mark 15:1-26)

And you and the Levite and the stranger and the sojourner among you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given you and your household. -Deuteronomy 26:11

In this chapter, God is addressing the Israelites. As we’ve read, God wanted them (and us as well) to remember where they came from. God freed them from the oppression of Egypt and promised them a land filled with milk and honey.

The Levitical priests were from the tribe of Levi, one of Abraham’s sons. They would make the sacrifices and atone for the sins of the people. This priestly tribe was never promised land but were in full-time service to the temple.

The stranger and the sojourner were foreigners who either stayed permanently or temporarily, yet they were offered hospitality among God’s people.

So what do all these people have in common? Their dependence on God. The Lord used the blessings of abundant crops to tithe a portion of it to the Levites and the foreigners. It’s human nature to want to hoard our belongings for fear that we will need it at some point, but God gave the command that the Israelites were to give to others and in doing so, they would remember Who had made the provision.

God continued to do this in the Gospels when Jesus preached about taking care of those in need, specifically orphans and widows. Because in giving, we testify that God will provide and fill the emptiness left after we share. We depend on Him and rejoice that we are so incredibly blessed that we have enough to share and still have leftovers.

Where can you share with someone else what the Lord has given you? 

What can you rejoice in today? 

Day 73: The Great I Am (Deuteronomy 23-25; Mark 14:51-72)

Reading the Gospels is like putting pieces of a great puzzle together. Each book focuses on certain aspects of Jesus’s character and ministry. He is the King of the Jews in Matthew, the Servant and Prophet in Mark, the Son of Man in Luke, and the revealed Son of God in John.

As we go through Holy Week leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, there is one part of the story that does not get told.

Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown over his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked. -Mark 14:52-53

Who was this young man and why was he only wearing a linen cloth? The answer is found in John 18:4-6, which has a critical piece of Jesus’s capture outside the Garden of Gethsemane.

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Who are you seeking?”

They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Jesus knew what was coming. His arrest would start the domino effect which would lead to His crucifixion. Yet, in the midst of it all, as He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, He reveals His God-hood when He speaks the words “I am.” God spoke those same words to Moses in the book of Genesis (Exodus 3:14) before going to Egypt to free the oppressed Israelites from Pharaoh. In Mark, He speaks them to the crowd of men working on behalf of the chief priests and scribes.

Jesus speaking those particular words, the revelation of the great I Am was so great that it caused a man to be given life again. In the Bible, linen cloth was used to bury the dead. Linen cloth was used to wrap Jesus after His death on the cross (Matthew 27:58-60).

Too often, I’ve minimized God’s power when circumstances have overwhelmed me. I was sure that my fear would get the better of me rather than believing that God could easily give me the strength from His very Word to overcome it. When you’re feeling spiritually bound and doubtful that God can help you, remember this young man who was brought back from the dead. No situation is impossible for God and He clearly shows it in His Word to us over and over again. Every word within its pages gives us the confidence we need to know that we do not serve a weak God, but One who has conquered death itself.

How has God revealed His strength in your life?

Day 72: Keep Awake and Pray (Deuteronomy 20-22; Mark 14:26-50)

Then He found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak.”-(Mark 14:37-38

What would you do if you knew you were going to die? Not only that, but you knew you would die in the most agonizing torture?

Here we find Jesus just before His arrest doing what He did throughout His earthly ministry: going before His Father in prayer. The difference is that instead of being alone, as was His custom, He invited His three closest companions – Peter, James, and John. He wanted them to support Him in group prayer while He prayed by Himself secluded in the Garden of Gethsemane. Instead of focused prayer, Jesus found them asleep (on more than one occasion!).

Jesus’s warning is clear not only to Peter but to us as well. If we keep falling asleep, we’re making ourselves vulnerable to temptation. God wants us awake and alert to the spiritual dangers we face everyday, though we may not be able to see them. We can be “lulled to sleep” by the comforts and conveniences of the World and our own flesh. Yes, it is weak because it is undisciplined but it is also very strong when it comes to satisfying its own desires.

The truth is, I’ve fallen asleep one time too many myself. I was consumed by my own cares rather than keeping watch and praying for what is going on around me. The disciples had certainly been told what they could expect in the upcoming days as He faced death but maybe they couldn’t fully understand what would happen. How they would be torn apart when He’s arrested or how they’d go back to being fishermen. I think the same could be said for me as well. Things don’t seem like they’re going to change and if they do, it’ll be a long time before I see it happen. There are times when I stop praying for my family to be saved or His will for my life. Yet, the Kingdom truth is that even when it seems like the answers to my prayer are delayed, it doesn’t mean they won’t come to fruition eventually.

God’s Word is true and never comes back void. Rather than being spectators in our faith, I want to encourage you to keep watch and see what God is doing in your life!

Have you stopped praying certain prayers because they aren’t being answered on your timetable?

How do you “stay awake” and continue to pray even if you may feel discouraged?