Deuteronomy 6.1-25 – August 30, 2020

Deuteronomy 6.1-25

These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
13 Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. 16 Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah. 17 Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. 18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors, 19 thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the Lord said.
20 In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” 21 tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 Before our eyes the Lord sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. 23 But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. 24 The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. 25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” 
(Deuteronomy 6:1–25, NIV)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Thought Questions:

What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength?

Once again we have a passage encouraging us to obey the words of God. Why do you think Moses is so insistent on obedience? What kind of priority should we make obedience today?

How well do you share the commands of God with your children or children of faith? How can you do a better job of this?

Deuteronomy 28.1-68 – August 29, 2020

Deuteronomy 28:1–68

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:
You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.
The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. 11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.
12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.
  (Deuteronomy 28:1–14, NIV)

Those who follow God will receive blessings. Those who don’t…

Thought Questions:

When we think about following God, how often do we think of the positive consequences of doing so? The negative ones?

In what ways are the blessings Moses describes in today’s passage immediate, tangible ones? Is this typically how we think about the blessings of following God?

What immediate blessings have you experienced in following God?

Moses concludes this passage with a list of curses. Why do we try to avoid talking about this part of following God? Should we make doing so more of a priority?

Deuteronomy 15.1-11 – July 21, 2020

Deuteronomy 15:1–11

At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you. However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.
 (Deuteronomy 15:1–11 , NIV)

So how cool would it be to have your debts taken care of every seven years?

Thought Questions:

When you read this passage, what are your initial thoughts?

Would it be possible to have a time to cancel debts today? Why or why not? What implication could we draw from our answer to this question?

What is your attitude towards those who are poor? What responsibility, if any, do you feel to help address this poverty? Why is this the case?

Deuteronomy 31.1-8 – January 17, 2020

Deuteronomy 31.1-8

Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31.1-8, NIV)

“Moses empowers Joshua as he takes over to help lead the Israelites, and reminds him that God is always with him.”

Thought Questions:

How do you live your life differently knowing that “God goes before you?” What are some specific ways that impacts your decision making and thoughts?

What are you afraid of? How might Moses’ instructions here relieve you of that fear? Why are we afraid if God is with us?

In what ways can you be strong and courageous today as you go about your day?

Deuteronomy 29.12-15 – January 15, 2020

Deuteronomy 29.12-15

You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, 13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 14 I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you 15 who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.”  (Deuteronomy 29.12-15, NIV)

A covenant is not something that is put into place based on a “contract” in which both party have equal say, but it is made by an entity stronger than the one receiving the covenant, yet it is a promise that the stronger will look out for the weaker’s best interest. God did not make us his people and enter into a covenant with us because of what we had done, but because of who he is and what he not only did … but continues to do.

Thought Questions:

How important is it for us to realize that God makes a covenant with us out of his power, not out of our ability to follow him?

How well do you keep the promises you have made to others, especially those made years ago?

How does knowing you are in a covenant with God affect the ways you live for him?

Melting with Fear – April 10, 2019

Deuteronomy 34.1-Joshua 2.24; Luke 13.22-14.6; Psalm 79.1-13; Proverbs 12.26

The story we read from Joshua shows the contrast of what it looks like to be strong and courageous (Joshua) and what is looks like to be afraid and have no courage (the people of Jericho). Why are the people of Jericho afraid? How does God’s power allow us to have no fear, in contrast to the people of Jericho?

Questions:

Do you think you would like to know God face-to-face? Why or why not?

How have you seen the seemingly least important end up being the most important?

Have you ever wanted God to pay back your neighbors for what they have done? When is this an appropriate response? When is it not appropriate?

What kind of advice are you getting: Godly or wicked?

Closed for Business – April 9, 2019

Deuteronomy 33.1-29; Luke 13.1-21; Psalm 78.65-72; Proverbs 12.25

The Pharisees’ response in today’s story from Luke always boggles my mind. Here is someone in need of healing, yet the response they get is: Come back tomorrow, we are closed. Just how hard-hearted does one have to be to refuse to help someone in need? Or perhaps a better question would be: In what ways do we refuse to help those in need–physically or spiritually–because it does not fit with our schedule?

Questions:

If you were going to give a blessing to your friends or church family as you drew to the end of your time with them, what would that blessing be?

How have you seen a small amount of Christian influence creating a large result?

Psalm 78 goes through a long explanation of what God has done and how the people have responded to conclude with “God chose David.” What purpose do you think this psalm served for the people of God? For us today?

How has worry weighed you down? How can you be free from that worry?

Holiness – April 8, 2019

Deuteronomy 32.28-52; Luke 12.35-59; Psalm 78.56-64; Proverbs 12.24

As Moses concludes his speeches to God’s people in Deuteronomy, we are told he goes up on Mt. Nebo in order to look over into the Promised Land … the land he would not be able to enter because he failed to demonstrate God’s holiness. In many ways, this is a heartbreaking moment. Here is the man who put up with the disobedience and rebellion of the Israelites, yet at the end of the day, would not be able to join them in the land they were promised. What do you think was going through Moses’ mind as he looked out over this land? What goes through your mind as you read this story?

Questions:

What would you include in a song about your history of following God, recounting both how you had acted, but also what God had done for you?

What have you done today in anticipation of Jesus returning? How have you “kept your lamp burning?”

As you read through this account of God’s people in Psalm 78, how do you think you would have responded to them if you were God? In what ways are you thankful that God does not respond as you would?

How have you worked hard today?

God Will Lead You – April 7, 2019

Deuteronomy 31.1-32.27; Luke 12.8-34; Psalm 78.32-55; Proverbs 12.21-23

Near the end of Moses’ life, God calls Moses and Joshua in order to “formally” give leadership to Joshua. I think there are a couple of things that important here. One, there is no question who the next leader will be for God’s people. (This will not always be the case and will cause problems for the people later.) Two, and I think more important, Moses (for God) gives the command to Joshua to be “strong and courageous.” Why would strength and courage be so important for the leader of the Israelites?

Questions:

How does the fact that God goes before you affect your perception of the “battles” you face today?

How have you sought the Kingdom of God today?

Would you say you have ever given God just lip service in your dedication to him? How can you ensure you are fully committed to him?

Someone once said it is better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubts. What response do you think the writer of Proverbs would have to this saying?

Do Not Fear – April 6, 2019

Deuteronomy 29.1-30.20; Luke 11.37-12.7; Psalm 78.1-31; Proverbs 12.19-20

Jesus often tells people to not be afraid, which leads me to believe that the people he comes in contact with are often … afraid. Why do you think people would fear Jesus? How do you react to him and how do his words bring you comfort?

Questions:

One of the ways it becomes easier to obey God is to remember what he has done. What has God done in your life that prompts you to obey him?

How were the Pharisees unclean on the inside, even if they were clean on the outside?

Do you listen to God’s instruction? How can you do that more?

How have words of truth you have said continued to be not only true, but also valuable over a long amount of time?