Saturday, December 23, 2023

December 23, 2023

Does anyone else feel like time has sped up? I put up my Christmas decor before Thanksgiving and have barely had time to enjoy it, and now it’s almost time to take it down. With the economy on shaky ground and our freedom at stake, it seems like our outlook is bleak. Whatever God has in store for us, we must be courageous and brave. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but as Christ-followers, we have much to be thankful for and a future with our King and Savior to look forward to. Enjoy your moments, and be grateful for what you have because our relationship with Jesus is truly more important than anything this world has to offer. What is going to live on once your body gives up? Your soul and spirit. Work on your relationship with God, listen to the Holy Spirit, and revere our Savior for the work he finished on the cross for us. And remember, do not be afraid; God goes before us and is our rear guard. I’m grateful and honored that God chose me for such a time as this; how about you? 

 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6

Friday, December 22, 2023

December 22, 2023

I had resigned to abandon a portion of my vegetable garden because it was too shady. I had decided to fill that particular section with bromeliads because they love the shade, and it would bring beauty to that portion of the garden. However, to my surprise, my husband saw what I was doing and decided to cut down the trees blocking the sun so that the area would again become useful for vegetables and other food-bearing plants. Don’t get me wrong, I love a shade tree, especially here in Florida, where the heat can be atrocious, but some things will not grow or prosper in the shade.

God calls on us to circumcise our hearts by cutting out the sinful things that block his light. We cannot grow in him or prosper in life if we continue in the evil ways of society. We must renounce such behavior and turn to him for abundant life. If we don’t change and continue in the ways of the world, we will stagnate like the puny plants I was trying to grow in the shade. By the way, before Richard cut down the trees, I had moved those tiny plants into one of the new sections of my garden, which is in full sun, and those plants are beginning to thrive. It’s time to cut down the trees in the garden of your soul so the Lord can shine through to help you grow and prosper. “We must return to God from all that which stands in opposition to him or competition with him.” Matthew Henry

See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. Deuteronomy 30:15-16

Thursday, December 21, 2023

December 21, 2023

Our family comprises many adults and children who are not related by blood but still fall under the family category. We even have people not related by marriage that we consider ours. They live among our family; we love them dearly and embrace them as our own. Similarly, God’s chosen people, the Israelites, were and are comprised of many different ethnicities. I found a nice little tidbit of information to clear my understanding. For my entire salvation in Jesus, I have believed that God only made a covenant with the Israelites and didn’t extend it to the Gentiles until Jesus in the New Testament. Gentiles living amongst the Israelites were also brought under God’s covenant if they relinquished their idolatry and trusted in him.

Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water: That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: Deuteronomy 29:11-12

We are the stranger in the camp! Paul clarified that Gentiles are also a party to the transaction of salvation, our covenant through Jesus, but it was initially brought up in the Old Testament here in Deuteronomy. I love when the puzzle pieces fit nicely into place and the Old and New Testaments work together to confirm and verify our beliefs. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

December 20, 2023

Last week, my husband and I had appointments for the optometrist to have our vision corrected. My husband hadn’t been in years and needed corrective lenses. I just need an adjustment in my current prescription. Needless to say, when our lenses come in, we will both see more clearly. I am receiving the same kind of correction by studying the Old Testament, but especially Deuteronomy! The vision is becoming clearer, especially the attributes of God. It’s a little scary, but it’s a holy fear, not like fearing the enemy.

Chapter 28 of Deuteronomy is very long, but every eye opening. Written for the Israelites before they entered the promised land, there is a short section of blessings, but a very long section of curses; it’s very depressing. The blessing for obedience are extraordinary, but the curses for disobedience are harsh and unrelenting. I’m learning some of the best lessons of my life traipsing through the chapters of this book, but somehow, I can’t wait for it to be over with. One thing is sure, I’ve never appreciated Jesus as much I do now. I feel ashamed that I’ve taken my salvation for granted for all these years by not realizing the torment that he has saved me from having to endure, not only in this life, but for eternity. After you have studied the New Testament in depth and feel confident you can make comparative analysis, I recommend you dive into the Old Testament. It is so good!

And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 28:1-2

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

December 19, 2023

We all do our best to try and follow God's Commands, but certain ones make me think I need to clean out my house. Idols or images. I have metal and ceramic statues and paintings of animals and art that I find very lovely. Most of these were inherited. Not only those replicas and images but also nativity scenes set up in my home during this season, which depict both people and animals. Should they stay, or should they go? I've never felt the pressure of the Holy Spirit on that point of the law until yesterday when I thought I had found the missing piece, the angel, of a nativity set that I bought at the Goodwill last year; but before I got it in my car, I broke the wing off. We don't worship these images; they are just artwork. Does that count? Hmm.

When Jesus went to the cross to bear our sins, he bore the law's curses. Even though Jesus covered that law with his blood, is it still a sin to have these images? Am I heaping more sin on the back of Jesus by not trying to follow every jot and tittle of the law? Is it works to even try and follow the law? Then there's the verse that says, "Faith without works is dead." Ugh! This question may be for my very knowledgeable pastor. I won't fret over it right now because of Jesus, but still, I want to do my best to please God with my actions. What are your thoughts?

Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen. Deuteronomy 27:15

Monday, December 18, 2023

December 18, 2023

Our sermon in church yesterday was about glorifying God as the angels did at the birth of Christ.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14

In the 26th chapter of Deuteronomy, God lays out the schedule of the tithe, particularly the third-year tithe, which was to be given to the Levites, widows, and orphans at the gate of their community. They were to set aside their first fruits just as we are with our money. If you have fruit trees or a vegetable garden, you may understand this idea; the anticipation of the first taste of the seasonal fruit is mouthwatering, and we patiently wait for them to ripen. These are the fruits God wants us to tithe because they encourage us to glorify God over our own desires and put him first. 

The birth of Jesus was like the first fruits, and he became the offering to God for our salvation. The angels came and filled the sky and glorified God over his condescending to the lowly form of a human so there would be an acceptable sacrifice for us. The angels offered him the glory he deserved! He gave us what we have; like him, he wants us to be willing to part with a portion to bring him glory. If God was willing to sacrifice his Son for us, shouldn’t we be ready to glorify him by giving up our first fruits to him? Worship God with your tithe, honor, and glorify him with your willingness to put him first.  

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you. When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Deuteronomy 26:11-12

Sunday, December 17, 2023

December 17, 2023

It was a long drive, but we safely made it home from the wedding. Today, the wind is gusting and drying up all the rain that fell yesterday. It reminded me of the Frank Sinatra song, “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.” only my version would be, “Let it Blow! Let it Blow! Let it Blow!” None of that has anything to do with today’s devotional; I’m just stalling. 

Things aren’t looking great for the American dollar. If we return to the gold standard, will we also have to wrangle with gold coins? I’m not sure how that would work, but I know the Bible clearly says that we should not have different sets of weights for buying than we do for selling. We must always be fair in our dealings, which means our weight for measure should be exact. God is so adamant about us being righteous in our dealings that he calls it an abomination if we aren’t. Wouldn’t it be wild to have to learn a new payment system? Many things are happening out of the public eye, so I hope they consider our ignorance when or if a new system is established. Worldwide changes are happening rapidly, so we must pray for an easy transition if necessary. 

But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 25:15-16

The photo was from a couple of days back.