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For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. - Deuteronomy 8:7-9 (NLT)
One thing I thoroughly enjoy about my work in ministry is having pastoral conversations with people. Those conversations might involve processing difficulties like disappointment or grief. Others revolve around questions about the Bible and God. I’ve often found it helpful to ask people to restate something they said. It’s a way to ensure I understood what they were trying to communicate. The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy is, in a sense, a restating of some things already said. The word Deuteronomy could be translated as repetition of the law. Deuteronomy paints a picture of the Israelites on the verge of receiving the land God has promised them. Moses provides some last-minute reminders about God’s faithfulness and expectations of His people. Some of what they heard was a refresher (the law). Some of it was new information about how to enter the land.
Read again today’s Scripture above. The Israelites could hardly believe what they were hearing. When they entered the new land, they would have everything they could need—and more—to live full lives with the Father.
We’re in a teaching series called Good Work. It’s all about how God provides everything we need to live lives that are both productive and peaceful. We’ll spend some time in our devos this week thinking about some of the tools God offers us in order to live that way.
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. - Psalms 103:2 (NLT)
My mom and dad recently celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary. I wanted to acknowledge the occasion with a social media post, so I asked mom for a picture from their wedding day. She was a little reluctant, wondering why anyone would want to see something from so long ago. The picture she gave me was taken in 1964 as dad placed a ring on her finger during their ceremony. I posted that photo alongside another one taken just a day before their anniversary. It was surreal to look at the picture of my young parents knowing how much older I am now compared to their age then!
We’re looking this week at ways God equips us to live productive and peaceful lives connected to Him and others. One way He chooses to do this is through our experiences. In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, Moses spends considerable time reminding the Israelites of all that God had done for them by liberating them from slavery in Egypt and providing for their needs through His supernatural intervention in the wilderness. There’s no question the Israelites would have been moved as Moses spoke and they remembered.
The same is true for us. The passage of time provides an ability to look back and see God at work all along. I had this conversation with a grieving husband just this week. Although his heart is heavy because his wife of 63 years recently passed, he is also moved to tears as he recalls how good God has been all those years. He said remembering those blessings helps him get through each day.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at another way God blesses us—through the riches of His grace through Jesus.
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. - Ephesians 2:7-10 (MSG)
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, the Israelites stood on the east bank of the Jordan River, mere steps away from the land God had promised them. Before they could enter, there was the need to pause. Moses walked down memory lane reminding the Israelites of all God had done for them. He revisited the law (God’s directives for how to live) and finally restated God’s covenant of promise. All God asked was that the Israelites obey Him and reverence Him in order to receive the riches of a prosperous land.
It was all foreshadowing. Jesus would eventually enhance the law and give us a template for how to live. If we humble ourselves and receive Him, then the Kingdom and all of its abundance is ours. The land God promised the Israelites provided everything they could need, and more. For us, Jesus is everything we could ever need, and more. There is nothing else needed to live a life that fills us, helps us encourage others, and glorifies God.
We’re in a teaching series called Good Work. We’ve seen that our lives are not as compartmentalized as much as we may think. As followers of Jesus, everything we do matters, and every good thing we do can bring Him glory.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) - Ephesians 2:4-5 (NLT)
When I was in elementary school, we played a game called Mercy. You would lock both hands with someone, and at the word “Go!” you’d attempt to bend their hands back until they cried “Mercy!!” Mercy was yelled when the pain was unbearable. Really, the person yelling mercy recognized they had lost and it was all over. What a contrast to the truth that when we recognize God’s mercy given to us through Jesus, that’s when it all begins.
Our focus this week has been on things God gives us to live fully connected to Him and others. While we talk quite a bit about God’s love and grace, we don’t often speak of His mercy. The Bible says that God not only has mercy, but is rich in it. Micah 7:18 NIV says God even delights in giving it. Mercy means being offered kindness when what’s deserved is blame and punishment.
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses stood before the Israelites as they were just about to enter the land God had promised—a land filled to capacity with all they would need for life. We talked in Monday’s devo about how Moses reminded the people of God’s faithful provision during their long journey, along with some instructions on entering the new land. What we didn’t mention was that Moses also recounted, in some detail, how the Israelites had been rebellious and sinful at times along the way. It was a moment when the magnitude of God’s mercy would have been profound.
There isn’t a single gift from God I can think of that we’re not also asked to offer other people. Imagine our world today if we all delighted in extending mercy to others as much as our Father does to us.
Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. - 2 Peter 1:3-4 (MSG)
My neighbor has every tool and piece of machinery imaginable. He’s got chainsaws in various sizes, a large zero-turn mower, an ATV with a trailer. I could go on. I’ve often wondered what he thinks when he sees me headed his way to borrow something else! My experience is that getting work done is all about having the right tools.
As part of our Good Work teaching series, we’ve been talking this week about just a few things God gives us to help us live complete lives. Today, let this truth sink in: When we choose to follow and accept Christ, we are whole. Nothing needs to be added! When a spiritual task is at hand, I don’t have to borrow anything from anyone else to finish the work. Now, I might learn from someone else how to better use a spiritual gift or biblical truth. Tools are only as good as our ability to use them properly. But, unlike my garage, I’m fully equipped to live and grow in Christ and do good work. As believers, we’re given these things, not in preparation for entry into Heaven, but to reveal God’s beauty and grace now!
1 Peter 2:9–10 in The Message paraphrase sums it up beautifully: But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.