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? 

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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? 

Day 71: To Speak His Name (Deuteronomy 17-19; Mark 14:1-25)

I go to a public university, in Connecticut, and the majority of my peers have pretty hostile views of the Christian faith. It isn’t easy to talk about my faith and I found myself thinking I can just show people Jesus through my actions instead of talking about Him, because what would I even say? I can’t convince them.

When I reflect on this it’s easy for me to see where I went wrong. Telling people about Jesus isn’t about me, or even the person I am talking to. Telling people about Jesus is about the one who died for me, the one who washed my sins away. Speaking His name is about sharing His love for humanity.

Day 71

In today’s passage from Mark, Jesus preforms the first Lord’s Supper. As an Anglican, my church celebrates the Lord’s Supper every week and for me it is a reminder that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. It’s a reminder of His overwhelming love for me and it’s a reminder of where my strength comes from.

It can be hard to know where to start when telling someone about Jesus, but for me this passage speaks volumes about who Jesus really is and why He is so important.

Do you have trouble talking about Jesus to people who are not Christians?

What has helped you be bold when you share about your faith with others?

Day 70: Don’t forget to remember (Deuteronomy 14-16, Mark 13:14-37)

It’s awesome to see the themes of the Old and New Testaments weave together perfectly. Our God doesn’t change and His heart remains the same.

Deuteronomy 14-16 and Mark 13:14-37 weave together beautifully the theme of setting aside time to remember what God has done for us. This is not to be taken lightly. The children of Israel were commanded to place reminders on their doorposts and to tell stories to their children of the greatness of God.

How can we do that now? What are our doorposts that we can mark in remembrance of the grace of God?

The other theme we see is that of staying alert so we are not deceived. This goes hand in hand with habits of remembrance. Now more than ever we should be telling the stories of God’s goodness and strength because this truth is being challenged daily in our world. In times of fear and uncertainty, we must tell stories of who God has been. The same God who commanded the storms to be silent is our good Father.

What is numbing you to the reality of how brief this life is? What trivial things are you placing your identity and hope in? Let us fix our eyes instead on the kingdom of God. Let’s give those trivial things to Jesus today that He may restore to us the joy of our salvation and lead us on in confidence and love.

Day 69: The Heart of the Matter (Deuteronomy 11-13, Mark 13:1-13)

Sometimes it is difficult to understand how the Old Testament books of the law apply to our lives. We are covered by the new covenant in Christ but the books of the law lay a beautiful foundation and tell us so much about what God cares about. Deuteronomy shows us the heart of God.

If I’ve learned anything from being a Christian, it is that the state of your heart is a big deal. Guess where that started? The Old Testament law. The book of Deuteronomy is FULL of “heart language.” The very foundation of the law is that you “love the Lord, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (11:13). We are admonished to “take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them” (11:16). God cares so much about our hearts and wants us to protect them vigilantly.

If anything, this commitment to the care and protection of our hearts should be of even more importance now because in the new covenant our hearts are the very temple of God. The same reverence in Deut. 12 regarding the temple should be applied to our souls, God’s new chosen place of worship.

In Mark 13, Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple, reminding us that His victory has made the material temple no longer necessary. When was the last time you meditated on the fact that your heart is the dwelling place of Almighty God? Let’s stand in awe and gratitude that we no longer have to go to a physical place to experience God, but we now live with constant access to the full presence of our Creator and the Lover of our souls.