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BobCaldwell: And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2011 (TOP)

BLESSINGS OR CURSES

(DEUTERONOMY 28:1-68)

  "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God." -Deuteronomy 28:2

"But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you." -Deuteronomy 28:15

We are taught in scripture that those who are loved by God as His children are both blessed and disciplined by Him as a father. This practice is clearly seen with the nation of Israel.

In this chapter we discover God's desire to uniquely bless the nation he loved above all other nations. In verses 1 through 14 we are told that every area of life would be overtaken with great blessing from God. But conversely, if they, as God's own people, violate their unique relationship with Him, they will be severely disciplined.

Moses, in 52 verses, described an escalating scenario of discipline. In the end, things will be so bad that some of the Israelites will be offered as slaves but be so worthless that no one will even offer to buy them (v. 68).

The key word in this lengthy passage is short: "if." "If" is used six times to make it clear that God's blessings are continual. It is up to us whether we are to live in divine blessing or not. As His children, God is already willing to abundantly bless each of us. But the "ifs" are based upon obedience to Him by those He has called to live as lights of the revelation of God in a fallen world. If we forsake that primary calling we are good for nothing except to be trodden underfoot by this fallen world.

The intense warnings within this passage should leave each one of us who claim to be Christian with a legitimate Godly fear. The choice is clear. Blessings or discipline--which do you choose?

NKJV BIBLE TEXT

Deuteronomy 28:1-68

  Blessings on Obedience

1 "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:

3 "Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.

4 "Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.

5 "Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

God Promises To Bless Israel If They Obey His Law

v. 1 If – a word used six times in this Chapter alone, emphasizing the conditional nature of the blessings and curses which are described here — The children of Israel were responsible to treasure and obey the words of God's Law, to which they were agreeing at this ceremony. Moses clearly let them know about the consequences that would result from obedience or disobedience. Verses 1-14 describe the blessings that God desired in His heart to give them. But in that passage He also told them that He could only bless them as long as they followed Him. Verses 15-68 describe the unfortunate repercussions that Israel would experience if they were to turn their backs on Him and follow other gods.

set you high above all nations – Israel experienced a taste of the favor that was described here under David and his son Solomon. They soon lost that place of honor because of their rebellion and apostasy. However, the Old and New Testaments tell us that God will still be faithful to Israel, and that they will again be exalted above all other nations during the Millennium. When they as a nation receive Jesus as their Messiah at His Second Coming, He will rule the world from Jerusalem and they will be made the political, cultural and religious center of the earth.

v. 2 overtake you – The blessings of God are so sure that they will pursue and overtake all those that obey the Word of the Lord. This is reminiscent of the words of David, when he wrote, "surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life" (Psalm 23:6).

v. 4 the fruit of your body – God's desire for Israel was that they have many children and that their children be healthy and blessed. This blessing extended to their fields and herds, ensuring that they would always experience plenty in order to feed and raise their children and enjoy their lives together.

v. 5 your basket and your kneading bowl – The basket was the container they carried into the fields to collect their harvests, and the bowl was the container in which their bread would rise. God expressed here His desire to keep both of them filled for the children of Israel. It is noteworthy that God's desires for His people are the same as our desires are — He wants to bless us in all the ways that we most deeply want to be blessed and protected.

6 "Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

7 "The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

8 "The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

9 "The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. 10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. 11 And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. 14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Curses on Disobedience

15 "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

16 "Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.

17 "Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

18 "Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.

19 "Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

v. 6 when you come in and when you go out – Whether coming in or going out of their homes, their businesses, or even when going out to war (verse 7), God promised that they would experience success as long as they followed Him.

v. 7 flee before you seven ways – If their enemies rise up against them in war, they would come against Israel in one body. But they would be beaten back so badly that they would run away in all directions. Their Old Testament history proved this to be true, as was the case when Israel went to war with the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Edomites, and Ammonites. It was especially true in the days of David's rule, when they had a Godly king and followed the Lord most closely.

v. 12 His good treasure – The Old Testament, in places such as Job 38:22, describes snow, rain, and wind as coming from the storehouses of God as blessings for His people.

v. 13 the head and not the tail – If Israel stayed faithful to God and His commands, they would not be behind the other nations of the earth in any respect. Rather, they would be honored and served as leaders for the rest of the world. This again was experienced in part under the rule of David and Solomon, but would not be fully realized until Jesus returns to rule and reign from Jerusalem.

v. 15 overtake you – The unfortunate results of Israel's apostasy were all the curses listed in the next 54 verses. These, God told them ahead of time, would be just as faithful to overtake them as the promised blessings of obedience.

20 "The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me. 21 The LORD will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess. 22 The LORD will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish. 23 And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. 24 The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

25 "The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and no one shall frighten them away. 27 The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed. 28 The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart. 29 And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you shall not prosper in your ways; you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you.

30 "You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her; you shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes. 31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your donkey shall be violently taken away from before you, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have no one to rescue them. 32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand. 33 A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually. 34 So you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see. 35 The LORD will strike you in the knees and on the legs with severe boils which cannot be healed, and from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.

v. 21 the plague to cling to you – The word "plague" can also mean "pestilence." In the Old Testament, it was usually used to indicate a pestilence that was connected with divine intervention. It could be used to describe an onslaught by the sword of an enemy, famine, destruction of insects or animals, or disease.

v. 22 consumption – the dehydration and emaciation of their bodies, either through famine or by a wasting disease

inflammation – a swelling either of the internal parts, such as the lungs or organs, or of the skin, such as in boils

scorching snd mildew – These agricultural terms designated that their corn would spring up but then quickly whither away and come to nothing, either because of a scorching east wind or a disease that turned the fruit a pale yellow and caused it to rot on the stalk. The result was a severe lack of food in the land.

v. 23 your heavens shall be bronze – This could be speaking of the sky above them being devoid of rain, or of their prayers being hindered until they repented of their backsliding. Bronze is a metal in Scripture that often speaks of the judgment of God upon sin.

v. 27 the boils of Egypt – Boils were a common condition that resulted when the Nile ran low and people continued to drink the water. Historians recorded how the Egyptians experienced a sharp itching that began under their arms and then spread to the stomach and eventually entire body. The condition lasted about six weeks.

v. 28 madness – an insanity, possibly related to all of the calamities that were befalling them (v. 34)

v. 30 another shall lie with her – The betrothal was the first stage in the Jewish engagement process. The curse spoken of here was that a man might find a wife and become engaged to her, but before he took her home and consummated the marriage she fell into the hands of another man. This was true also in the realm of home building and the planting of crops.

v. 32 there shall be no strength in your hand – They had no power to stop the ravaging of their wives or their daughters by men of other nations. Moses prophesied that their eyes would search the horizon every day in vain, waiting and hoping for the day that their family would be returned to them. But they would never see them come back, and they would know that they had no strength to go get them.

36 "The LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods—wood and stone. 37 And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the LORD will drive you.

38 "You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. 40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off. 41 You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity. 42 Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.

43 "The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

45 "Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever.

47 "Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you. 49 The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young. 51 And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you.

52 "They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the LORD your God has given you. 53 You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you. 54 The sensitive and very refined man among you will be hostile toward his brother, toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the rest of his children whom he leaves behind, 55 so that he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat, because he has nothing left in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates. 56 The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of her delicateness and sensitivity, will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, 57 her placenta which comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of everything in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates.

v. 36 the king whom you set over you – This prophetic foresight indicated that the Lord knew that Israel would eventually demand a king to be set over them as the other nations around them had. Those kings eventually led the nation of Israel into apostasy and delivered them to their enemies along with the rest of the nation's people. This was fulfilled in the days of Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, when they were captured and carried away by Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar.

v. 37 an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword – The neighboring nations who were once astonished because of Israel's prosperity, power, and fruitfulness would be just as astonished at their desolation. Israel would become a proverb in the sense that other nations would use their story of desperate and obvious plight as a warning to their own children. A "byword" is a pointed taunt or tease.

v. 43 alien who is among you – Israel was made up of a mixed multitude, not just people of Jewish descent. Many of that alien population were prisoners of war and slaves who the Israelites gathered in their land during their years of prosperity. However, when the years of Israel's rebellion came about, those aliens began to become more powerful than they in terms of riches and authority. They eventually rose up and overpowered them from within. This should be taken as a warning to any nation that once knew and followed the Lord but turns its back on Him and falls into apostasy.

v. 47 did not serve the Lord with joy and gladness – This is a powerful reminder that God only desires to bless His people and see them walk with Him in happiness and prosperity. He only desires for His people the things that we desire in our heart of hearts. The temptation to follow less worthy pursuits is always there to distract us from God's highest will for our lives, and the consequences are always disastrous.

v. 49 a nation from afar – Babylon is described in Jeremiah 5:15 as a nation "from afar," and whose language the Israelites did not understand. Babylon was also a nation that overtook its enemies very quickly, described here as "swift as the eagle flies."

v. 53 eat the fruit of your own body – The Jewish historian Josephus recorded how, during the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D, the children of Israel were reduced to eating their dead and even casting lots to choose which of their babies they would kill and eat in order to survive. Accounts of this portion of Israel's history can be found in Josephus' book, Thrones of Blood.

v. 54 sensitive and very refined man – Even men who were educated and brought up in wealthy homes took part in the barbaric practices of eating the dead and murdering their neighbor's children for food. Verse 56 indicates that the women of "higher breeding" were also forced to behave in the same manner.

58 "If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, 59 then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses. 60 Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. 61 Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in this Book of the Law, will the LORD bring upon you until you are destroyed. 62 You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven in multitude, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God. 63 And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess.

64 "Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known—wood and stone. 65 And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. 66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. 67 In the morning you shall say, 'Oh, that it were evening!' And at evening you shall say, 'Oh, that it were morning!' because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see.

68 "And the LORD will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you, 'You shall never see it again.' And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you."

v. 58 that you may fear – As God expressed in the first part of this chapter, He desires to bless His people and see them dwell happily and in prosperity, and to see them worship Him with joy. However, if they turned their backs on Him they would experience all of these disasters in order to learn and remember to hold God in proper reverence and fear. God does not desire to chasten or govern His people in this way, but as the book of Proverbs repeatedly says, to fear the Lord is to depart from evil.

v. 63 bring you to nothing – Again, God takes pleasure in the thought of seeing His people walking in His ways so that He can bless them. He delights in protecting them and bringing them out of Egypt, blessing and providing for them, and bringing them into a good land that flows with milk and honey. However, because their eventual chastening brought both correction to them and glory to Himself, He said here that He would also take pleasure in bringing about their destruction, if that became necessary.

v. 64 will scatter you – In every judgment they experienced, the Israelites were taken from their homes and their country and scattered over the face of the earth. Even today, there are Jews living all over the planet as a remnant of the scattering that took place in the most recent judgment, the "diaspora," that took place in 70 AD at the hands of the Romans. Some of them are dwelling in foreign countries with relative happiness and by their own choice. However, others of them live under harsh circumstances, such as those living in Russia and Ethiopia.

v. 68 back to Egypt...offered to your enemies as slaves – The children of Israel ended up being brought back into Egypt, the land from which God had just freed them. And once again they became slaves. This took place several times, beginning in the days of Alexander the Great. Josephus recorded that the Greek ruler Ptolemy eventually freed approximately 120,000 Hebrew slaves from Alexandria.

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GregLauire: But Jesus says, "Come to Me, and you will find rest."

Devotionals by A New Beginning

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Nowhere Else to Go
Greg Laurie
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
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From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety. —Psalm 61:2

A grieving father recently asked me, "What words helped you?"

I told him, "Well, I don't know what words helped me. I just know who helped me. And I know where I needed to turn. I need to turn to Jesus."

When we are burdened, when we are overwhelmed, we need to come to Jesus. There really is nowhere else to go. Jesus did not say that when you are burdened or overwhelmed, you should go to counseling. Nor did He say you should just go read a book, or even go to church or go hear a sermon—although these things are good. Ultimately, the answer is to go to Jesus.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). The invitation simply was, "Come to Me"—not "Come to My teachings," although it could include that. Nor did He say, "Make changes in your life and come to Me." It simply was, "Come to Me."

The psalmist declared, "From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety."

Yet modern culture would say something different. It would say, "Well, if you can, just get that promotion. If you can, just get that house. If you can, just take that vacation. Then you will find rest." Materialism would say, "Build it up, and you will find rest." Pleasure mania would say, "Live it up, and you will find rest." Religion would say, "Keep it up, and you will find rest."

But Jesus says, "Come to Me, and you will find rest." It is not so much that we need words—we need the Living Word. When we are under pressure, we need Jesus.

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AlistairBegg: "The Amazing Gift of Pardon"

Devotionals by Truth For Life

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The Amazing Gift of Pardon
Alistair Begg
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
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This is the voice of unalterable truth. In none of the Jewish ceremonies were sins even typically removed without blood-shedding. In no case, by no means can sin be pardoned without atonement. It is clear, then, that there is no hope for me outside of Christ; for there is no other blood-shedding that is worth a thought as an atonement for sin.

Am I, then, believing in Him? Is the blood of His atonement truly applied to my soul? All men are on the same level in terms of their need of Him. Even if we are moral, generous, amiable, or patriotic, the rule will not be altered to make an exception for us. Sin will yield to nothing less potent than the blood of Him whom God has set forth as a propitiation. What a blessing that there is the one way of pardon! Why should we seek another?

Persons of merely formal religion cannot understand how we can rejoice that all our sins are forgiven for Christ's sake. Their works and prayers and ceremonies give them very poor comfort; and their unease is no surprise, for they are neglecting the one great salvation and endeavoring to get remission without blood.

My soul, sit down and recognize that a just God is bound to punish sin; then consider how that punishment all falls upon the Lord Jesus, and fall down in humble joy at the feet of Him whose blood has made atonement for you. It is useless when conscience is aroused to trust in feelings and evidences for comfort; this is a bad and sorry habit. The only cure for a guilty conscience is the sight of Jesus suffering on the cross. "The blood is the life," says the Levitical law, and let us rest assured that it is the life of faith and joy and every other holy grace.

Oh! how sweet to view the flowing
Of my Savior's precious blood;
With divine assurance knowing
He has made my peace with God. 

Family Bible reading plan

verse 1 Genesis 34

verse 2 Mark 5

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JonCourson: The Book of Joshua illustrates what it means to move into and live out the Spirit-filled life.

 

February 2

 
There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph . . .
Joshua 17:1
 
Joshua 16 detailed the inheritance given to Joseph’s second son, Ephraim. Here in chapter 17, we see the inheritance given to Manasseh, his firstborn son. 

The Book of Joshua illustrates what it means to move into and live out the Spirit-filled life. The people of Israel were set free from bondage in Egypt the night the blood was placed on the doorposts of their homes. So too, we were set free from bondage to the world by the blood of the Lamb on the doorposts of our hearts. 

After they were set free, the people of Israel made their way to the Red Sea, where they were baptized when the waters parted (1 Corinthians 10:2). So too, the baptism of believers signifies death and resurrection to a whole new way of living. 

When their faith faltered shortly thereafter, the Israelites found themselves wandering in the wilderness for an entire generation - approximately forty years.

That can happen to you and me as well. We’re born again, baptized in water, but then we get distracted. Oh, we’re still Christians, but we’re wandering in the wilderness, swatting flies, and eating dust. Things are dry, not like they used to be, not like they’re supposed to be. We wander and we wonder sometimes year after year until, like the Israelites, we come to a second baptism - the Jordan River, which speaks of the baptism in the Spirit. 

A new generation came to those waters, and as they obeyed the command of the Lord to put the soles of their feet into the water, they entered into the Promised Land. So too, when you and I engage our souls and say, “Lord, I want to step out. I want to press in. I want to take hold of all You have for me,” a new dimension of spiritual life begins. The baptism in the Spirit transforms those who were wandering and weak into those who are dynamic and fruitful. 

Maybe you’re at the point where you’re saying, “Lord, I love You, but I’m tired of the dryness of my soul. I’m tired of wandering around aimlessly. I want You to take control. I want to see Your Spirit come upon me and flow through me. I’m going to do whatever You tell me to do. I’m going to step out. I’m going to take a risk and begin to press in to what You say is available for me this very day.” 

As you receive by faith the empowering of the Spirit, you enter into the Promised Land - a Land where there are battles to fight and where there are wars to wage - but also a Land of milk, honey, and grapes the size of bowling balls.

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JoyceMeyer: "Receiving Forgiveness"

Receiving Forgiveness

February 2
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].
 
1 John 1:9

Many years ago when I was first developing my relationship with the Lord, each night I would beg His forgiveness for my past sins. One evening as I knelt beside my bed, I heard the Lord say to me, "Joyce, I forgave you the first time you asked, but you have not received My gift of forgiveness because you have not forgiven yourself." Have you received God's gift of forgiveness? If you have not, and you are ready to do so, ask the Lord to forgive you for all your sins right now. Then pray this aloud: 

Lord, I receive forgiveness for (name the sin), in Christ Jesus. I forgive myself and accept your gift of forgiveness as my own. I believe that you remove the sin from me completely, putting it at a distance where it can never be found again—as far as the east is from the west. And I believe. Lord, that you remember it no more. 

You will find that speaking aloud is often helpful to you because by doing so you are declaring your stand upon God's Word. The devil cannot read your mind but he does understand your words. Declare before all the principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12) that Christ has set you free and that you intend to walk in that freedom.

When you speak, sound as though you mean it! If the devil tries to bring that sin to your mind again in the form of guilt and condemnation, repeat your declaration, telling him: "I was forgiven for that sin! It has been taken care of—therefore, I take no care for it."

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CharlesStanley: The Power of Consistency


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The Power of Consistency
Dr. Charles Stanley
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
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We live in a noncommittal world, where the ability to persevere through difficulty is a rare character trait. If a job is difficult or boring, it's all too common for people to think, Why not quit and find another one? When a marriage becomes stressful and unhappy, it's easier to give up or start over with a new mate. In fact, many couples live together without a marital commitment.

Sadly, this lack of consistency is evident even among believers. At the first sign of conflict or disagreement, some Christians hop to another church instead of remaining loyal to one local body of believers and working through their difficulties. And in our personal spiritual walks, many of us struggle to maintain a consistent quiet time with the Lord. Exhaustion or the demands of the day cause us to let that time slide as we pursue the things of this world.

Daniel was a man of steadfast loyalty. Even the awareness that he could be killed didn't interfere with his practice of praying three times a day. Such devotion to the Lord was noted by others. Jealous satraps and commissioners used Daniel's consistency to trap him, but the king believed it would be the key to his deliverance: "Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you" (v. 16).

The biblical descriptions of Daniel are impressive: he influenced nations and powerful leaders. But have you considered that the Lord was able to use him greatly because of his unwavering obedience and worship? Just imagine what God can do with you, if you likewise commit yourself to Him.

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BobCoy: The target of our trust


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The target of our trust
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
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We've established that faith is belief that reaches beyond this world. It's like an arrow that an archer launches into the darkness of night. But if that's the case, what's the target? The Bible resoundingly answers that question by telling us again and again that the object of our faith, the target of our trust, is to be God.

That's an important point because in some circles there are those who teach that our faith needs to be in our own faith—that if we just believe long and strong enough in something, it will produce positive results.

But faith is only as valid in the object in which it's placed. Faith placed in other people or their promises is always going to be lacking in the end. However, faith placed in God's person and promises is quite another story. Faith in Him will never come up short, which is why Jesus told us to "have faith in God."

And we don't just hear this from Jesus. Jehoshaphat exhorted Judea to "have faith in the Lord" (2 Chronicles 20:20). David exhorted his readers to "trust in the Lord" (Psalm 4:5). Isaiah encouraged his audience to "trust in the Lord forever" (Isaiah 26:4). The author of the Book of Hebrews speaks of the importance of having "faith in God" (Hebrews 6:1). And even Peter reminds us that "your faith and hope are in God" (1 Peter 1:21).

The consistency and continuity can't be denied or ignored. Faith, biblical faith, the kind of faith that believes beyond the limits of this life, is to be placed in God. Not man, not materials, not mantras, but God. And when He becomes the target of our trust, faith becomes the effective factor we read about in the Bible.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart…(Proverbs 3:5 NKJV) 

 

 

Think About It… 

 

What does this passage reveal to me about God?

What does this passage reveal to me about myself?

Based on this, what changes do I need to make?

What is my prayer for today? 

Posted via email from ..................The Last Call Digest

OneYearBible: Exodus 12:14-13:16 ~ Matthew 20:29-21:22 ~ Psalm 25:16-22 ~ Proverbs 6:12-15

January 31st One Year Bible Readings

Exodus 12:14-13:16 ~ Matthew 20:29-21:22 ~ Psalm 25:16-22 ~ Proverbs 6:12-15
~ Click here to read today's Scripture on BibleGateway.com ~ // Mobile Site Link
~ Listen to today's Scripture on OneYearAudioBible.org or DailyAudioBible.com (podcast) ~

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Month One - Today we wrap up Month One of our One Year Bible readings! Congratulations! Your marathon pace is looking great. The wonderful habit of reading from God's Word every day is starting to settle into place in your life. Keep your eyes forward on the path before you this year and your eye on the prize! As Paul tells us in Philippians 3:14 – "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Let us each press on toward the goal!

Old Testament - This is a big day in our readings today - The Israelites officially begin their exodus from Egypt!  Today in Exodus chapter 12 we read about God instituting the Festival of Unleavened Bread along with Passover.  These both are still observed today by practicing Jews.  Verse 14 states the importance of these festivals to the Israelites:  "You must remember this day forever. Each year you will celebrate it as a special festival to the LORD."

Passover_lamb
Passover_bread

Chapter 12 verses 29 & 30 tell us: "And that night at midnight, the Lord struck down all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn son of the prisoner in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died."  Below is Dutch painter Laurens Alma Tadema's "Death of the Pharaoh's Firstborn Son" from the year 1872:

Pharaoh_son

Verses 37 & 38 are amazing: "That night the people of Israel left Rameses and started for Succoth. There were about 600,000 men, plus all the women and children. And they were all traveling on foot. Many people who were not Israelites went with them, along with the many flocks and herds."  600,000 men equals probably at least 1.2 million people all together - and probably close to 2 million.  This is a massive Exodus!  Verse 38 is very interesting in that some Egyptians were joining the Israelites in this Exodus!  Think these Egyptians believed in God?

_exodus_

In Exodus chapter 13 we read about God's instructions for the dedication of the firstborn.  Note that based on this law that Jesus, the firstborn of Mary & Joseph, was dedicated to God in the Temple in Jerusalem as we read in Luke chapter 2 verses 21 through 24: "On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”"  I think it's also interesting to note that Mary & Joseph did not present a lamb, but a pair of doves or two young pigeons.  This portion of the law came from Leviticus chapter 12 verse 8: "If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering.""  Below is an image of Jesus being dedicated in the temple:

Jesus_dedicated

Bible.org's commentary on "The Passover and the Plague of the Firstborn" is at this link.

New Testament - Today in Matthew chapter 21 verse 22 we read these words from Jesus: "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.""  This is a powerful verse if you really stop and think about it...  Do you believe Jesus' teaching here?  Do you believe that if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer?  I do believe this... but then there is always in the back of my mind - "but what about so-and-so who was ill and was praying in belief that they would be healed.  But then they weren't..."   I don't have any easy answer on this one.  I have to believe there are probably some good resources out there for this tough question?  If you know of any resources / books on this subject of prayer - or, more specifically, unanswered prayers - please post up in the Comments section below?  Thanks.

Whoo-hoo!  Today is Palm Sunday in our Gospel reading today!  :)  Hosanna in the Highest!  Hosanna means "Save Now" - Amen!

Palm_sunday_

Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Matthew chapter 21 titled "The Triumphal Entry" isat this link.

Psalms - Psalm 25 verse 22 really stood out to me today: "O God, ransom Israel from all its troubles."  As I read this, the Christmas carol, "O Come O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel" comes to my mind.  Indeed, God would answer this prayer of King David's and send his Son to ransom Israel!

o_come_emmanuel_1

Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 6 verse 14 today tells us: "Their perverted hearts plot evil. They stir up trouble constantly." This is a powerful reminder of the utmost importance for us to guard the condition of our hearts continually!

Heart_symbol

Worship God:  Reading about Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem today reminded me of the Hillsong United song "Hosanna:"


Are you praising "Hosanna?" Click here and praise Hosanna in the Highest!

Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture this week: "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:22 NIV

Prayer Point: Pray that you would believe in Jesus unfailingly each and every day. Ask for things in prayer that you believe are the will of the Father.

Comments from You and Questions of the Day:  It's interesting to me how fast January seems to have flown by. February is now before us. I don't know about you, but I set some big goals and resolutions this year and somehow I'm suddenly a month behind on progress on those goals. However, even though I am feeling behind on some goals for this year, I know that ultimately my life is in a very good place because I am moving forward with my relationship with God. Reading and studying God's Word every day is a higher priority than any of my other goals and resolutions. Those other goals and resolutions can wait. My relationship with God cannot wait. As long as I am in a growing and loving relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, nothing else really matters. How about you? Are there some goals and resolutions for this year that you feel like you might be behind on? Do you agree that reading from God's Word each day and growing in your love relationship with God is more important than those goals and resolutions?  Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings?  Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!

God bless,
Mike

Posted via email from ..................The Last Call Digest

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