Day 204 – July 23

1 Samuel 5

What does it say?

When the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant back to their land, God was furious. He smashed their idol of Dagon and gave people tumors wherever the ark was taken.

What does it mean?

The Ark of the Covenant was a special place for God’s presence to live among His people. It belonged in the Holy of Holies—a room in the inner part of the tabernacle. When the Philistines took the ark among the spoils of battle, they thought of it as just another religious artifact. God became angry that His ark was dishonored among the Philistines when they put it beside an idol in the temple of Dagon, their god. God doesn’t want to be treated like just another god because He is the one true living God, Who was not made by human hands but is Himself the Creator of all things everywhere.

How should I respond?

There are certain words we use to refer to God like “Lord,” “God,” “Christ,” and “Jesus.” Have you heard someone use those words as profanity rather than respectfully talking about the Creator and Savior of the world? Words like these are special because they refer to the one true living God, and God doesn’t want His name to be used flippantly but in an honorable way. Try this. The next time you hear someone use one of those words as profanity, say under your breath, “May God’s name be praised.” They may dishonor the Lord, but your love for His name will give recognition of the glory He is due.

Day 203 – July 22

1 Samuel 4

What does it say?

The Philistines defeated the Israelites at the Battle of Ebenezer and captured the Ark of the Covenant. Eli and his sons died as God had foretold.

What does it mean?

There was no king in these days, but God led His people through prophets, priests, and elders. The center of Israel during that time was in a town called Shiloh. This was the place where the tabernacle stood and where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. Although God is everywhere, His presence was seen in a special way just above the ark. When the Philistines seemed to be winning the Battle of Ebenezer, the elders of Israel hatched a plan to bring the ark to the battlefield; but this was not the Lord’s plan, so He didn’t bless it. God allowed Israel to lose the battle and the ark.

How should I respond?

Everyone makes plans. This passage teaches us to call upon the Lord in prayer before and during the making of our own plans. What is the next big thing you’re planning? Have you prayed about it? There are three ways you can hear God’s answer. First, make sure your plans are in line with what the Bible teaches. Second, ask Him to give you a sense of peace about the plans. Third, share your plans with godly Christian friends and ask them for guidance. Get into the habit of asking God what His plan is rather than simply asking Him to bless yours.

Day 202 – July 21

1 Samuel 3

What does it say?

Eli helped Samuel recognize that it was God calling his name. The Lord told Samuel His plans for Israel and Eli. God remained with Samuel as he became a prophet of Israel.

What does it mean?

God was about to do something new in Israel, and He chose to reveal it to the boy who would proclaim God’s message to His people for years to come. But before Samuel could hear God’s message, he had to get still before the Lord and listen intentionally. The message of judgment against his mentor, Eli, must have been difficult to hear and even harder to repeat. Through this event, Samuel learned to recognize God’s voice, listen to His plan, and speak His message. As Samuel grew up, God’s presence with him was so evident that it caught people’s attention. God continued to speak and Samuel faithfully communicated His Word to the people.

How should I respond?

We live in a busy world. Being still before the Lord doesn’t just happen; you have to be intentional about spending time with Him. While God may not audibly speak today, He has revealed His plans and instructions through His Word, the Bible. God also speaks through the guidance and conviction of the Holy Spirit, Who lives inside every follower of Christ. How much of your prayer time is spent listening to God versus telling Him what you want? How will you be faithful to carry out what He reveals to you? As you act to carry out God’s plans, His grace on your life will be obvious to the people around you.

Day 201 – July 20

1 Samuel 2:12-36

What does it say?

Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, treated the people of Israel wickedly and despised God through their sin. Therefore, God cut off Eli’s family from serving as priests.

What does it mean?

God gave Moses many specific instructions about how the priests were to handle the sacrifices brought to the tabernacle. There were two main purposes behind these instructions. The first was to maximize the worship experience of the person offering the sacrifice. This wasn’t just a ritual, but worship that brought the one offering the sacrifice into a right relationship with God. The second purpose was to provide an equitable division of the edible part of the sacrifice between the worshipper and the priest. Eli’s sons treated the instructions and purposes with contempt.

How should I respond?

How do you approach worship when you come to church on Sundays? Are you excited to sing, pray, and read God’s Word with other believers? Or do you come out of a sense of duty, just to check church attendance off your “to do” list? Church is all about loving God and loving people. Believers come together because we thirst for God Himself and want to worship and love Him with everything we have. We can also develop relationships with people who become like a family. This week, try singing the worship songs to God directly, thinking about the words. Then, get involved in a Life Group and introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. How will you approach God this week?

Day 200 – July 19

1 Samuel 2:1-11

What does it say?

Hannah praised God and returned home. Samuel stayed with Eli to minister to the Lord.

What does it mean?

Hannah did not forget the commitment she made to God. She not only gave Samuel to the service of the Lord, but she also praised God and celebrated His character before returning home. Hannah worshipped God from a heart overflowing with gratitude for His goodness. In a moment that must have been incredibly difficult for a mother, Hannah chose to remember God’s faithfulness. She chose to celebrate her amazing God. Leaving Samuel at the temple was, at its very core, an act of worship. Hannah gave up that which was most precious to her in service to the Lord.

How do I respond?

It’s easy to become stingy with God’s blessings. Sometimes, the path He puts in front of us means letting go of good things. It can be very difficult to give them up – even to the Lord. We may refuse to hand them over, or grudgingly do so, becoming resentful and complaining about our circumstances. In those moments you can choose to trust God and remember His faithfulness. Giving your greatest treasures to God in an act of worship provides an opportunity to know Him better. Are your most prized possessions available to God? How could you, like Hannah, shift your mindset from the blessings to the One who provided them? How will you choose to worship the Lord today?

Day 199 – July 18

1 Samuel 1

What does it say?

Hannah pleaded with God to end her infertility and give her a son, promising to give him into God’s service. God granted her request, and Hannah gave birth to Samuel.

What does it mean?

This chapter sets the stage for Samuel’s life and God’s purpose for him from the beginning. Samuel was to lead Israel back to God and into victory over their national enemy, the Philistines. But first, Hannah had to be willing to cooperate with God’s plan. It may appear that she was waiting on God to give her a son, and in simple terms, she was. But God was also waiting on Hannah. He had a purpose for Samuel, and Hannah had to be willing to let go of the very thing she was asking for. When, in desperation, Hannah made her vow, it was clear she was ready. Eli was there to reassure her that God would answer her prayer.

How should I respond?

Life is full of surprises, those moments that are unexpected, not part of our plan, just as Hannah did not plan for infertility. God often uses those times to prepare us for something greater. Take a moment to consider what blessings you are asking from the Lord. What struggles have you brought to Him on your knees, in tears, in desperation? Is it possible that God is waiting for you to have a different perspective? Ask God to turn your desperation into an open heart, ready for His purposes.

Day 198 – July 17

Ruth 4

What does it say?

Boaz met with the other kinsman-redeemer who declined to redeem the land.

What does it mean?

The events in the lives of Boaz and Ruth reassure believers that God is at work to fulfill His purposes – even in the spiritual darkness of the times. God works in the lives of those who are willing to trust Him. Boaz didn’t depend on man’s opinions or on his own ideas of how to handle the situation – he looked to what God had revealed in His Word. Without hesitation, Boaz acted in accordance with God’s instructions and settled the legal matter quickly. From Boaz, the Jewish kinsman-redeemer, and his Gentile bride would come the Lord Jesus Christ – the Kinsman-Redeemer of every believer.

How should I respond?

The book of Ruth is often referred to as the fascinating love story of Ruth and Boaz. Even Hollywood has made movies based loosely on the biblical account. However, the movies completely miss the true love story that goes much deeper than the couple could ever imagine. Behind the scenes is the providential movement forward of God’s plan – His love story – to provide a Savior for mankind. Are you included in that love story? Have you received the only One who can redeem you from your sin and provide you with an eternal home in Heaven with Him? If so, how can your life become a part of His love story to those in your life who need to be redeemed?

Day 197 – July 16

Ruth 3

What does it say?

Naomi gave Ruth instructions on requesting Boaz to be her kinsman-redeemer.

What does it mean?

God gave a specific provision for childless widows in Hebrew society (Deut. 25:5-10). That provision brought together two individuals from vastly different cultural and economic backgrounds who shared a common faith in the God of Israel. Boaz responded graciously to Ruth’s request to be her kinsman-redeemer. Though nothing is said about Ruth’s physical appearance, Boaz praises her inner qualities. Once again, his godly character is seen in his submission to God’s law relating to the role of a kinsman-redeemer. He vowed to pursue the matter immediately. Boaz wished to marry Ruth, “a woman of noble character,” but more than that, he desired to obey God’s Word.

How should I respond?

Whether you are choosing a life partner or building close friendships, it’s important to identify people of faith with a passion to please the Lord. What would others say about your character qualities? How is your desire to please and obey God shaping who you are? God promises that if you delight in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). What are you doing to delight in Him and fulfill His plans for you? When you do what pleases Him, you can count on Him to do what He has promised.

Day 196 – July 15

Ruth 2

What does it say?

Ruth offered to glean the leftover grain from the fields. She happened to select a field belonging to Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.

What does it mean?

In His providence, God arranged a divine appointment between two people who lived by faith in the God of Israel — a Jewish man of wealth and integrity and a poor Moabite widow. Boaz commended Ruth for her commitment to care for Naomi. In turn, God used Boaz to provide protection and food for Ruth, the Moabitess. Later, she learned that Boaz happened to be a close relative, a kinsman-redeemer. God was at work behind the scenes, both in their lives and preparing the way for our future Kinsman-Redeemer to enter Bethlehem!

How should I respond?

Have you ever thought, “It was just a coincidence—I just happened to be at the right place at the right time”? How have you seen God’s hand at work in events in your life that seemed to just happen? God’s guidance and provision can come in ways you do not expect. Often those happenings occur during a challenging time, a time when you wonder what is going on. At those times when nothing seems to be going as planned, continue to trust and obey. God uses the tough times to strengthen your faith so that you learn to trust Him to provide exactly what you need at exactly the right time.

Day 195 – July 14

Ruth 1

What does it say?

To escape a famine, Naomi’s family left Bethlehem and moved to Moab. After the death of her husband and sons, Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth returned to Bethlehem.

What does it mean?

The events in Chapter 1 occurred during the period of the judges, a time of depravity in Israel. When Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, she urged her daughters-in-law to stay in Moab. However, Ruth’s words reveal her desire to be identified with God’s people and God’s land. Her decision to leave her home, her family, and the false gods of Moab shows the profound difference that the knowledge of the one true God can make in a person’s life. Although many in Israel were doing what they thought was right, Ruth, a Gentile, chose to walk by faith and do what was right in God’s eyes.

How should I respond?

Do you sometimes find yourself falling into society’s way of thinking and lifestyle? There are strong influences in our culture that can draw us away from God’s best. Living in accordance with God’s will is a lifetime commitment that involves leaving our old way of life. As you trust and obey His Word, He will gradually unveil the unique plan that He has for you. Which of your old ways do you need to leave behind in order to embrace His purposes for you? The Lord comes “to the aid of His people” when they determine to follow Him. When you do, you will see God’s grace even in the midst of grief.

Day 194 – July 13

Judges 21

What does it say?

Four hundred virgins from Jabesh Gilead were given to the surviving Benjamites as wives. Those without wives carried off girls from Shiloh to the land of their inheritance.

What does it mean?

In order to understand the events of this chapter, one must read the end first (v25). The men of Israel used their own logic and reasoning to solve the challenge with the Benjamites. Even their sacrifices and offerings were more ritualistic than truly seeking guidance from the Lord. A Canaanite version of Israel has been developing. By the end of Judges, the men of Israel repeatedly exert power rather than responsibility. Their treatment of women in this passage was no better than the actions against the concubine that started the war in the first place. The inhabitants of Canaan were no longer the biggest threat to God’s people – Israel was rotting from within.

How should I respond?

As Christians, we are often our own worst enemy. We can become so comfortable going through the motions of religion while dabbling in worldly temptations that we don’t realize how far we’ve moved from God Himself. Think back through the challenges you faced this week. How have your thoughts about those issues been affected by unbiblical views in the world? How might you have used your own reasoning to find a solution? Following Christ in a spiritually dark world requires constant communication with God –through both prayer and Scripture. Which version of yourself is being developed?

Day 193 – July 12

Judges 20

What does it say?

The death of the Levite’s concubine led to a three-day war between Israel and the Benjamites. God eventually gave victory to Israel, completely destroying Gibeah.

What does it mean?

The enraged men of Israel marched off to take out their vengeance on the Benjamites, but didn’t ask for the Lord’s guidance until armies were mobilized for civil war. By this point in Israel’s history, people did whatever seemed right without consulting God. They had neglected to offer sacrifices that prompted daily repentance and worship of the Lord. At the root of the problem were willful, rebellious hearts that refused to bow to His authority. They didn’t think to pray, fast or sacrifice to the Lord until they were in dire need.

How should I respond?

Living by our own wits will always result in a loss of some kind – either physical or spiritual. Still, how often do we fail to seek God’s direction until we’re backed into a corner? In a time of desperation, you may quickly attempt to catch up on asking the Lord’s forgiveness or upping your church attendance. While those things are good, examine the condition of your heart that put you in such a precarious position to start with. How would God describe your attitude toward Him today? Rebellious or obedient? Willful or submissive? The Lord is ready to offer daily comfort and guidance, but we must first recognize His sovereign right to be worshipped and obeyed.

Day 192 – July 11

Judges 19

What does it say?

After the wicked men of Gibeah abused and killed a runaway concubine, her husband sent pieces of her body to every area of Israel.

What does it mean?

The shocking events throughout this account show the degradation that takes place when there is no moral standard or central authority to hold people accountable. God seems completely absent from the entire scenario. No one calls on Him, neither does He speak or act. Without actively seeking God, His chosen people were at the whim of their lusts, demonstrating human depravity at its worst. Normal behavior for the children of God had become as vile and corrupt as Sodom within a generation or two of Joshua. The Levite’s actions upon returning home started a chain of events that continue to unfold in the remaining chapters of Judges.

How should I respond?

Reading this passage would make most feel sick to their stomachs. Yet, our society embraces the same rejection of God that led to such depravity and devaluing of human life. Without recognition of God’s laws to guide thoughts and mold the conscience, priorities become twisted. What have you allowed to mold your conscience? Do you recognize God’s Word as the final authority for your life? The moral and ethical values in Scripture are the keys to maintaining standards of decency, both in society and the human heart. Will you determine to actively seek God each and every day?

Day 191 – July 10

Judges 18

What does it say?

The Danites pushed their way north, taking Micah’s priest, ephod, and household idols.

What does it mean?

Throughout the book of Judges we see God’s people acting on the basis of their own logic and reasoning; this passage is no exception. The Danites grew impatient to inherit the land allotted to their tribe and decided to look elsewhere. The spies sent from the tribe sought God’s blessing on their mission after it was well under way rather than at the outset. The young priest who confirmed their plan was isolated from God’s people and serving in a house of idolatry. Though it seemed successful, their mission contradicted the Lord’s plan and resulted in establishing a center of idolatry for generations to come.

How should I respond?

God always has a plan. But disaster results any time we act on our own rather than wait for Him to clear the path. Isolation from God’s Word and God’s people can cause you to think that your plan is reasonable. Friends and family may even confirm the direction you are heading. So, how do you know whether you are moving in the direction the Lord desires for you? First, stay connected with Him through daily prayer and Bible reading. Follow God’s clear instructions in Scripture. Then, seek advice from others who are doing the same. Finally, be patient. God will open the right doors at the right time. With what situation do you need to trust the Lord today? His plan will result in His blessing.

Day 190 – July 9

Judges 17

What does it say?

Micah admitted he stole his mother’s silver. She blessed him and gave some of it to him to make an idol. Micah then hired a nomadic Levite to be his personal priest.

What does it mean?

This is a strange story in the middle of several stories of great heroism. Micah was not much of a hero, but he did have his moments of making the right choices. “Polytheism” is the belief that there are many gods –often including the God of the Bible as just one. Despite the fact that Micah chose to make an idol and to worship false gods, he also wished to have the blessings of the God of the Bible, so he hired a personal priest from the tribe of Levi. In the end, this was unacceptable to the one true God of the Bible, so Micah’s idols and his personal priest were stolen by raiders from the tribe next door.

How should I respond?

Some people see their pursuit of God much like a buffet restaurant. They pick and choose beliefs and practices from multiple religions, filling up on whatever looks good at the moment. However, the God of the Bible is the only true God, and He designed us to worship Him alone. As you read through the Bible and these My Time devotionals, set your primary focus on getting to know the one true God better. Jesus taught us to seek God and His righteousness first and to worship Him alone (Matt 6:33). Where do you look for spiritual fulfillment? True satisfaction is found only by filling your heart and mind with God’s Word.

Day 189 – July 8

Judges 16

What Does It Say?

Samson told Delilah that his long hair was the secret of his strength. She betrayed him to the Philistines, but God answered Samson’s prayer for one final act of strength.

What Does It Mean?

Samson made a series of poor decisions because he was focused on pleasing himself rather than God. He was unfaithful to his Nazarite vow and disregarded the unique plan the Lord had for his life. After hitting bottom, Samson finally came to his senses and realized that God really did know best. The sincerity of Samson’s prayer caused the Spirit of the Lord to return to him. When the building caved in, thousands of Philistines were killed, as was Samson. Sadly, Samson missed out on many opportunities to serve the Lord, but God used his final act of faith for a great victory (Hebrews 11:32).

How Should I Respond?

You’ve probably witnessed a toddler throw a tantrum when he didn’t get what he wanted. Most of us still struggle with a yearning to please ourselves. Problems arise, however, if we don’t learn how to reign in desires that go against God’s will. Any longing that is stronger than your desire to follow God has the power to devastate your life. What are you pursuing more than God right now? Some desires may reveal a moral weakness or a willingness to toy with sin. What would your life look like a year from now if you chose to pursue God over everything else? What do you have to lose?

Day 188 – July 7

Judges 15

What does it say?

The Philistines sought revenge after Samson burned their crops. In return, Samson killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey.

What does it mean?

Samson’s actions can seem retaliatory and reckless, but he was God’s agent to confront the Philistines. Samson didn’t fear them the way his countrymen did. He allowed himself to be handed over to the Philistines and single handedly killed one thousand of them in battle. A thousand men may sound like poetic exaggeration, but don’t forget who accomplished the feat. Verse 14 says that the Spirit of the Lord “rushed upon him” enabling him to put a significant dent in the Philistine army. Again and again in Judges, the Spirit of the Lord caused people to do things beyond normal human capacity.

How should I respond?

Believers often feel pressure to be a super-Christian – handling home, work, and church life with spiritual perfection. But remember, God’s grace is our resource – He is patient with us and will work in us as we follow Him. As a believer, it is the Holy Spirit who works in you, enabling you to accomplish marvelous things as you submit to Him. If you find yourself feeling pressure to take on too much, ask God to guide, equip, and give you the courage to obey.

Day 187 – July 6

Judges 14

What does it say?

Samson found a wife from among the Philistines. Although he trusted her, she betrayed him; in his anger he slaughtered thirty Philistines and lost his wife.

What does it mean?

Samson’s parents were told by God to raise Samson in the strictest type of Judaism—according to the rules of the Nazirite vow. Samson was to remain pure and be used by God to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines. Instead, in this chapter we see Samson marrying a Philistine, eating honey out of a dead lion’s carcass, and gambling with thirty Philistines over a riddle. Samson’s parents must have felt like failures, and Samson must have seemed like the most unlikely of men to lead Israel out of their captivity to the Philistines. However, God used Samson. Nothing stopped God’s plan.

How should I respond?

Have you ever looked at your life, the life of a child, or the life of a friend and thought, “I (or that person) blew it”? Samson’s story reminds us that no matter how much we stray from God’s plan for our lives, no matter how dark things might seem to be, He can always use us. The Lord loves us and wants to fit us into His plan for our lives and the lives of those around us. There is no such thing as a lost cause. Talk to God honestly about your shortcomings. Ask Him to forgive you and show you how you can be used in His plan. Then, move forward and leave the mistakes of the past there, in the past.

Day 186 – July 5

Judges 13

What does it say?

An angel of the Lord told Manoah’s wife she would have a son who would be a Nazarite. Samson’s parents were given special instructions about his upbringing.

What does it mean?

Samson was separated to the Lord as a Nazarite from the time of his conception. Manoah believed his wife’s report about the angel’s message but wanted to know more. He wasn’t asking God for an easier task or trying to make excuses. Manoah was already determined to obey even though the task ahead was daunting. He asked to hear from the angel of the Lord personally because he was excited to obey and wanted to do it right.

How should I respond?

There is one basic decision in life that makes every other decision easier – “I will gladly obey whatever God asks me to do.” It’s just a matter of working out the details once you’ve made that determination. What is your first response when the Lord prompts you to do something you’ve never done before? Do you ask for an easier task? Some responsibilities can be intimidating if approached from a human standpoint. But God will never leave you without everything you need to complete the job. Begin by expressing your desire to obey; then ask Him to tell you more!

Day 185 – July 4

Judges 11:29-12:15

What does it say?

Jephthah made a vow to God: if God gave him victory over the Ammonites, he would sacrifice whatever greeted him first when he returned home from the battle.

What does it mean?

Faced with the possibility of war with Ammon, Israel begged God for a leader. Jephthah agreed after making certain that God was in the plan. Jephthah, listed in the Hebrews 11 “hall of faith,” evidenced true faith in the living God as one of Israel’s judges. But his human nature caused him to make a rash vow. Theologians differ in their interpretations of how he fulfilled his vow: Did he sacrifice his daughter to God’s service, or did he sacrifice her as a burnt offering on the altar? One thing is certain – Jephthah carried out his vow in some way. Whatever the outcome, this account addresses the serious nature of making a vow.

How should I respond?

In moments of extreme stress we have a tendency to “bargain” with God. When was the last time you told God that if He would answer a prayer in a certain way, you would offer something in return? This type of “foxhole negotiation” usually happens when we’re threatened with a dire situation. Perhaps you’re facing a life-threatening illness, a financial crisis, or a great personal loss. You may be willing to promise God anything to solve the issue. Ask yourself, “If God chooses not do this, will I still love and follow Him?” Rather than rashly bargaining with God, determine to submit your will to His.

Day 184 – July 3

Judges Judges 10:1-11:28

What does it say?

After 45 years of godly judges and peace, Israel once again turned to the worship of idols. They were taken into slavery as the result of turning away from God.

What does it mean?

Israel’s obedience to God’s laws was inconsistent. Gradually the pagan idol worship of neighboring nations crept into their lifestyle. God judged their sin by allowing oppression and bondage at the hands of the Philistines and Ammonites. Unlike other times, their cries for deliverance reflected genuine repentance, which touched God’s heart. He used an outcast, Jephthah, and his notorious band of men to free them. Amazingly, the elders of Israel sought out this man of low social status to lead them.

How should I respond?

Do you go through cycles of faithfully serving God followed by periods of inconsistency? The Lord will always discipline His children for disobedience. Take a quick inventory of your attitudes and actions. How are you allowing yourself to be influenced by the world? In what area are you inconsistent in your obedience to God? Choose to confess those things to Him right now with genuine repentance. What lifestyle changes would help you stay on course spiritually? God says He has no use for a “lukewarm” Christian (Revelation 3:16). Does that describe you? He loves you passionately. Will your life reflect the same commitment for Him at the end of each day?

Day 183 – July 2

Judges Judges 9:22-57

What does it say?

After three years, the men of Shechem had grown to hate Abimelech, and a battle resulted in his death.

What does it mean?

The men of Shechem eventually saw Abimelech for the abominable man he was but his power made getting rid of him difficult. However, God had not forgotten the atrocities he had brought on his brothers. The Lord had warned the city of Shechem through Jotham and had given them three years of grace. Now it was time for God to intervene, bringing judgment upon the sinful leader and the sinful city. Abimelech and the people of Shechem were held accountable for their actions. Abimelech was killed in battle but not before causing the death of many of his own subjects.

How should I respond?

Many countries today are ruled by harsh men who neglect the well-being of their citizens and, in some cases, even harm them. What accounts from the news immediately come to your thoughts? How should followers of Christ respond to that kind of evil in the world? First, pray for people whose leaders are cruel and uncaring. Put visual reminders on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Then, look for opportunities to support mission trips and relief efforts to those countries. Your actions might be the answer to their prayers.

Day 182 – July 1

Judges Judges 9:1-21

What does it say?

After the death of Jerubbaal (Gideon), Abimelech persuaded the people of Shechem to anoint him as king. He then killed his 70 brothers; only Jotham survived.

What does it mean?

Greed, pride and a craving for control led Abimelech to manipulate the idol-worshipping men of Shechem to anoint him king. Abimelech’s lust for power jaded his thinking to the point that the lives of his own family meant nothing to him. Jotham, the only brother to escape, spoke to Shechem through a parable that rebuked the decision the leaders had made. If they had acted with integrity in appointing Abimelech and with fairness toward his brothers, then they should rejoice. However, if their actions were not based on God’s will, Abimelech’s reign would be a curse that would bring destruction on them all.

How do I respond?

It’s easy to be persuaded to turn from God’s will when we’re not connecting with Him daily. Without God’s wisdom, discernment and judgment can become clouded with the world’s thinking. In what area of your life are you initiating action without first going to the Lord? No detail is too small to bring to God for His guidance. Scripture and prayer are the keys that open the door to wisdom in all our actions. Determine to worship God alone. Then, ask Him to help you recognize influences that pull you off course. Examine today’s decisions in light of this passage. Will your choices bring rejoicing or regret?

Day 181 – June 30

Judges 8:22-35

What does it say?

After refusing to be king, Gideon made a golden ephod from the Midianite plunder and set it up in his hometown. The Israelites there worshipped it as an idol.

What does it mean?

Even though Gideon refused the request to rule over Israel, he proceeded to live as if he were a king. We can’t be sure why Gideon decided to make the ephod from the Midianite gold and display it in his hometown. Whether it was to remember God’s deliverance or to exalt his own victory, the end result was the same. The ephod became a spiritual pitfall for Gideon, his family, and the children of Israel. God had allowed the Midianite oppression because of Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him. But after He delivered them, the Israelites quickly fell into the same sin and started worshiping idols again.

How should I respond?

Any success we have ultimately comes from the Lord. But when we don’t give God all of the credit for what He allows us to accomplish, we create an obstacle, not only for ourselves but for others as well. Ask yourself, “How might I be taking the glory for things God has done in my life?” How can you encourage others to praise and acknowledge God for what He has helped you to accomplish? Determine today to humble yourself before the Lord and look for an opportunity to give Him the glory He so rightly deserves.

Day 180 – June 29

Judges 8:1-21

What does it say?

Gideon pursued the last of the Midianite kings, inflicting vengeance on the leaders of Succoth and Peniel.

What does it mean?

Gideon was transformed from a fearful wheat farmer to a fearless, diplomatic judge. Yet the events of this passage reveal a proud and vengeful side to Gideon’s character. God had mightily used Gideon and his band of 300 men, but pride and personal vengeance crept into his life. The leaders of Succoth and Peniel were, in a sense, allying themselves with the enemy when they refused to give aid. However, God didn’t instruct Gideon as He had previously. Gideon chose to be ruthless against his own countrymen rather than respond with diplomacy. Under God’s direction, Gideon was a mighty warrior. Without it, he resorted to pride and brutality.

How should I respond?

Even God-given success can become a root of pride. It’s very easy for pride to sneak into our lives; if left unchecked, it can have disastrous effects. Have you ever let success go to your head? If God is using you, be quick to give Him all the credit and glory. Take a moment and give yourself a spiritual checkup. What changes in your attitudes or recent actions might indicate a character flaw? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any pride that might be hiding in your heart. Commit now to seek God’s leading rather than resorting to your own judgment.

Day 179 – June 28

Judges 7

What does it say?

God instructed Gideon to select an army of only 300 Israelites to fight against the Midianites. Gideon and his army ambushed the Midianites in a nighttime battle.

What does it mean?

When Gideon’s troops were first gathered together, there were about 32,000 men. However, God whittled down the number to 300 because He did not want Israel to brag that they won this battle by their sheer size. God could have simply spoken a word, and the Midianites would have been defeated on the spot. But God chose to accomplish His plan through a small group of soldiers and sent over 99% of the army home before the battle began. It took tremendous faith to go into battle with only trumpets and pitchers. The result was one of the most amazing victories in all military history.

How should I respond?

How have you prepared yourself to do the work God has currently put in front of you? Our idea of preparation and God’s can be drastically different. At times it seems God has allowed the very things we need to accomplish the task to be dismantled. But God’s plans are accomplished in God’s way. What is your level of faith in God right now? Are you willing to trust Him with your current situation? Take a few minutes to talk to God about how He wants you to proceed. If your faith needs strengthening, ask Him to help you believe as the 300 did.

Day 178 – June 27

Judges 6

What does it say?

God spoke to Gideon through an angel. Gideon had been chosen to lead an army against the Midianites, who had been oppressing Israel for seven years.

What does it mean?

Gideon was the youngest child in his family, and his family was the least important in their tribe. It made no sense to Gideon that he, of all people, would be chosen by God to deliver Israel from the Midianites. However, God sometimes chooses the underdog to prove a point: it is God’s power, not the person’s, that defeats enemies. Gideon wanted to make absolutely sure that this message was actually coming from God, so he asked for a few signs, which God provided. So Gideon prepared for battle by first destroying an idol’s altar among his people.

How should I respond?

It’s intimidating to approach a task for which you feel under qualified. Whether it’s at work, home or in ministry, it’s important to know that our direction is coming from the Lord. So, how can you be certain God is calling you to accomplish something big for Him? Here are three answers. First, pray. Go straight to the Source, and ask God to help you learn to hear His calling. Second, keep reading the Bible. You will see patterns develop through which God often calls people to action. Third, ask people who know you and know God what they think about God’s calling in your life. They may see strengths where you have insecurities. Take the first step – God will take it with you!

Day 177 – June 26

Judges 5

What does it say?

Following their defeat of the armies of Sisera, Deborah and Barak sang a song to commemorate their victory, give glory to God, and call out those who did not fight.

What does it mean?

Amidst the several cycles of disobedience, slavery, cries of repentance, deliverance, and peace, Deborah and Barak suddenly break into song. This military anthem contains further details of Israel’s bravery and apathy, God’s provision, and Israel’s ultimate victory through the bravery of Jael, a lady living in a tent. This part of the book of Judges might remind us of a musical—the kind in which an event is punctuated with a song. The song does tell a story, but it also tells us how the story made Deborah and Barak feel. Israel commonly put their history, their worries, and their praise to music.

How should I respond?

It’s been said that music is the universal language. It has the power to move us emotionally, especially when we identify with the message of the lyrics. God gave us a mind to comprehend the big events in life and a heart and voice to express our feelings about them in song. What songs about the Lord speak to your heart? Which worship song is particularly encouraging to you in your current circumstances? Follow Deborah’s example and sing your praise to God both in private and corporate worship. Whether recent events in your life have been happy or sad, expressing your dependence on the Lord through song can be both uplifting and healing.

Day 176 – June 25

Judges 4

What does it say?

Deborah, a prophetess and the judge of Israel, called Barak to lead an army of 10,000 foot soldiers against Sisera, the Canaanite, with his massive army and 900 chariots.

What does it mean?

After Moses and Joshua – but before there were kings in Israel – judges heard and made decisions on disputes between Israelites. They also called up troops to overthrow the Canaanite rulers who were oppressing Israel. Deborah was specially equipped as a judge because she was also a prophetess, receiving messages straight from the Lord about His people. Her influence was so great that when she called Barak to raise an army and fight against the superior Canaanite army, he refused to go unless she went with him. Was Barak frightened? Sure he was! However, he did something wise in that moment. He asked for Deborah’s help.

How should I respond?

God sometimes calls us to serve Him in difficult circumstances. Will we experience fear? We sure will, but take comfort that the same God who granted Barak victory will also be your strength. Has God asked you to do something that seems overwhelming? In what area of your life do you need help? Start praying about who God may want to come alongside of you. Then, trust God and approach that person. Asking for help from others isn’t a sign of weakness. Knowing when and whom to ask is evidence of wisdom.

Day 175 – June 24

Judges 2:16-3:31

What does it say?

Israel went through cycles of disobedience, slavery, cries of repentance, deliverance, and peace. God’s deliverance came in the form of a judge who delivered Israel.

What does it mean?

Israel seemed to live out the now-commonly-quoted warning that “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” The same cycle of sin showed up time after time. When things were calm and peaceful in the land, Israel would drift away from their commitment to God and worship other gods instead. Rather than thanking and worshiping the God Who blessed them, they grew ungrateful and bored, seeking fulfillment in the false gods of their neighbors. God demonstrated His frustration with the Israelites, but also His mercy and patience.

How should I respond?

God is genuinely saddened and angry when His people sin. However, today’s passage teaches us that no matter how badly we mess up or how far we stray, our Father is waiting for us to return (Luke 15:11-24). What sin do you seem to repeat in a cycle? Are you trying to find fulfillment in something or someone other than the Lord? The first step to breaking the cycle is to get things right with God in prayer, accept His forgiveness, and forgive yourself. What guardrails do you need to establish to avoid falling back into the cycle? Learning from your own history will keep you from repeating it.

Day 174 – June 23

Judges 2:1-15

What does it say?

In the generations of Israel that followed Joshua, there was a gradual deterioration of loyalty to God. God therefore used the remaining Canaanites to punish the Israelites.

What does it mean?

Fifty times in the Old Testament, God reminds Israel that He delivered them from slavery in Egypt and therefore expected them to be loyal and worship only Him. Yet in today’s passage we see a gradual turning away from the Lord. He made a promise to the earlier generations to be their God. However, now that the later generations had received the blessings of this promise, they began to turn their backs on the Lord and worship the gods of the Canaanites. Ironically, God then allowed the Canaanites to overthrow the Israelites and send them back into slavery.

How should I respond?

When we are faithful to God, He blesses us in many ways—not just as individuals but as His people in general. But what about the next generation? How can we help them continue to understand God’s ways and respond correctly in their lives? Here are three suggestions. First, read the Bible together. It is the very Word of God and will always bring results in our lives (Isaiah 55:10-11). Second, pray together. Talking to God with others puts your hearts and minds on the same page. Third, go to church together. Worshiping God together and connecting with others in a local church will help build a lasting legacy of faith.

Day 173 – June 22

Judges 1

What does it say?

Following the battles led by Joshua, the tribes of Israel conquered the Promised Land, but they failed to drive out all the previous residents completely and lived among them.

What does it mean?

God had two purposes in sending Israel to conquer the land of Canaan. First, God promised this land to Israel as a place in which He would bless them and use them to bless others (Gen. 12:1-3). Second, God was punishing the Canaanites for their wicked behavior (Gen. 15:16). All Israel had to do was trust and obey God. By doing so, they would become the instrument of judgment on the Canaanites and heirs of God’s promise to Abraham. However, Israel’s failure to drive them out would be a problem throughout the era of the Judges. Since the remaining Canaanites continued in their wicked ways, they influenced the Israelites to follow them and serve other gods.

How should I respond?

At some point you’ve probably learned the importance of instructions by purchasing something that said, “Some assembly required.” Every step of instruction has to be followed for the object to perform as designed. Likewise, God gives us purposeful instructions and the ability to follow His commands, just as He did with Israel. Is there anything in your life that God classifies as “wicked”? He will enable you to eradicate it through prayer, Scripture and the encouragement of other believers. No sin in your life is too hard for the Lord to conquer. Allowing sin to linger will only cause trouble.

Day 172 – June 21

Joshua 24

What does it say?

Joshua led the people in a renewal of their covenant with God. Following Joshua’s example, all Israel promised to follow and obey God alone.

What does it mean?

At 110 years of age, Joshua had an impressive résumé. First, his leadership skills were developed under Moses – perhaps the greatest leader the world has ever known. Then, Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, conquering nation after nation by God’s power. But Joshua is mainly remembered for one sentence at the end of his life, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The fact that Israel served the Lord under Joshua’s guidance is a testament to his personal commitment to God as well as his leadership. Not satisfied with personal obedience alone, Joshua challenged others to serve and obey the Lord he loved.

How should I respond?

God’s unfailing faithfulness can be seen in the lives of those who trust Him. How has God been faithful to you? Along life’s journey, He uses people to lead you toward spiritual maturity and meaningful service. Who has God used as a spiritual example in your life? Have you made the same commitment to love and serve God? How do your daily choices illustrate the reality of your commitment? Joshua’s life demonstrates how to spend a lifetime honoring the Lord. Each day he chose to love and serve the Lord. Before your feet hit the floor each morning, will you commit to love and serve the Lord? If so, your life will be a testimony to God’s faithfulness.

Day 171 – June 20

Joshua 23

What does it say?

Joshua gave the leaders of Israel final instructions. They were to continue driving out the inhabitants of the land and obey the laws given to them by Moses.

What does it mean?

Like Moses before him, Joshua wanted to make sure the people of Israel continued to follow God after his death. Once again, the Israelites were reminded of God’s past faithfulness and were urged to follow all of His commands. Their obedience and God’s blessing went hand in hand. Joshua laid out a compelling argument: if God had been faithful to keep His “good promises,” then He would also keep His promise to discipline His children for disobedience. God always keeps His word. Joshua linked courage and obedience to watchful, diligent love for the Lord.

How should I respond?

With God’s blessing comes responsibility. God expects those who belong to Him to be different from the unbelieving world around them. Human tendency is to love the things of the world and to be like the world. What motivates you to intentionally obey God? As you experience God’s faithfulness, learn about God in the Bible, and spend time with Him in prayer, your love for Him grows. When you love someone, you want to please that person. The Spirit of God shows you what pleases Him and enables you to obey. In what area do you need courageous obedience to live in a way that acknowledges and honors God? God faithfully keeps His word. He honors those who live to honor Him.

Day 170 – June 19

Joshua 21;43-22:34

What does it say?

God kept His promises, and the Israelites had rest from their enemies. But when the eastern tribes returned home, conflict arose over an altar they built next to the Jordan.

What does it mean?

As soon as the Israelites were no longer at war with the nations of Canaan, an internal conflict arose. The tribes west of the Jordan feared that the eastern tribes had turned their backs on God by building a pagan altar. Knowing the wrath of God would fall on all, the western tribes were determined to stop the other tribes and prepared for war. But rather than attack their brothers with only circumstantial evidence, a delegation went to talk to the eastern tribes. Discussing their individual fears and concerns averted greater conflict. God gave wisdom and gentleness of spirit to preserve unity within the tribes.

How should I respond?

Good intentions can be misunderstood. Even when we as believers are trying to please God, we can have serious differences with one another. How do you respond when you find yourself in conflict with another Christian? Do you judge harshly or go to that person to discuss the issue? Could misunderstanding be part of the problem? Open discussion can lead to reconciliation. Ask God for wisdom about the way to begin the conversation. You may not agree with others on every point, but you can commit to work toward greater understanding. Your conflict can be a place where God reveals His faithfulness.

Day 169 – June 18

Joshua 14

What does it say?

Caleb claimed the land promised to him by God through Moses, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.

What does it mean?

The men of Judah came to receive their portion of land from Joshua. Caleb took the opportunity to remind Joshua of Moses’ promise to him. Forty-five years earlier Caleb came back from spying out the land and reported back to Moses, “We should go up and take possession of the land.” He had no doubt God would give it to them. But because of the disobedience of others, Caleb had to wait 45 years to receive the land of Hebron. Yet he didn’t allow himself to become bitter. How? It is noted three times in this passage that Caleb “followed the Lord … wholeheartedly.” And, at 85 years of age, Caleb was still strong enough to drive out the inhabitants and claim his inheritance.

How should I respond?

Sometimes we suffer consequences when others fail to follow God’s instructions. How have you been the victim of another person’s bad decision? How are you responding? Your attitude will largely depend on where your focus is. Determine right now to “follow the Lord wholeheartedly” while you wait for Him to make the next move. Scripture promises that even in the worst situations, God is still in control and has your best interest at heart (Romans 8:28). But greatest of all is the knowledge that God can be glorified, even through human error!

For further reading: Joshua 15-21:42, Cities allotted to each tribe

Day 168 – June 17

Joshua 13

What does it say?

The Lord told Joshua that there was still land He would deliver into their hands. Joshua was to divide the land up among the nine and a half tribes west of the Jordan River.

What does it mean?

Joshua was about 100 years old by the time the nine and a half tribes finally got their allotted inheritance. God confirmed what Moses had done with the two and a half tribes who didn’t want to cross the Jordan (Numbers 32). Although the Levites received no tract of land as an inheritance, there would be cities set aside for them throughout Israel. The Levites served in the Tabernacle and were allowed to eat portions of sacred offerings. Their position required trusting God to meet their every need. The Lord, Himself, was their portion and inheritance.

How should I respond?

It’s much easier to put our security in things we can see and touch rather than in the unseen. However, not many things in this life stand the test of time. To what are you looking to satisfy your needs: physical things that will pass away or the Lord Himself? Romans 8:17 says that if we are children of God, then we are also “joint heirs with Christ” – giving us the greatest inheritance possible, the Lord Himself. Every earthly inheritance and retirement account will eventually be gone. But we can say with the Psalmist, “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).

Day 167 – June 16

Joshua 10:1-15

What does it say?

Joshua and the Israelites came to the aid of Gibeon when five area cities joined forces against them. Joshua called on God for help, and He responded miraculously.

What does it mean?

God encouraged Joshua and promised victory over the five cities that joined forces against Gibeon. God caused confusion among the opposing armies, sent hailstones against the enemy soldiers, and responded to Joshua’s request for the sun and moon to stand still, giving them more daylight to finish the task. Although Israel was outnumbered, they fought hard, trusting God to intervene on their behalf. Joshua moved forward in unswerving faith, believing God and depending on Him for victory. He knew that God could do anything to make it happen – and He did.

How do I respond?

How often do you think, “I can’t ask God to do that for me”? You may not need the sun to stop in the sky, but the same omnipotent God can still intervene on your behalf. What impossible situation are you facing? Is your faith as big as your God? Boldly ask Him for what you need, and expect God to intervene on His timetable and in the way He deems best. Keep praying, placing your faith in the character of God rather than the outcome you desire. God can do anything when His followers display unswerving faith.

For further reading: Joshua 10:16-12:24, Defeat of Canaanite tribes

Day 166 – June 15

Joshua 9

What does it say?

The Gibeonites deceived Joshua into making a peace treaty so they wouldn’t suffer the same fate as cities already conquered by Israel.

What does it mean?

To save their city, the people of Gibeon used an elaborate ruse to trick Joshua. God’s instructions permitted Israel to make an offer of peace with distant cities, but demanded annihilation of the seven neighboring Canaanite nations. Joshua tried to discern the truth but neglected to ask the Lord’s instructions. Without prayer, he lacked the wisdom to spot the enemy standing right in front of him. When the truth came out, Joshua had no choice but to honor the treaty. The Gibeonites were allowed to live as servants “for the house of God,” where they learned firsthand about the powerful God of Israel. God graciously turned their judgment into a chance to have a relationship with Him.

How should I respond?

“The men of Israel…did not seek the Lord’s counsel” (vs. 14). How often has that been true in your circumstances? You likely regret the outcome of a decision made without prayer. We usually recognize the obvious enemies of our faith. But without prayer we lack the wisdom to detect the more subtle lies Satan uses to interfere with our spiritual progress. Praise God for His grace! He is able to turn our failures around for His glory – even though He may allow us to live with the consequences of moving ahead without Him. Seek the Lord’s counsel; ask for wisdom about each decision you face throughout the day.

Day 165 – June 14

Joshua 8

What does it say?

God’s favor towards Israel was restored, and a plan to conquer Ai was pursued. Victory was given, and Joshua encouraged them to renew their covenant vows to the Lord.

What does it mean?

God reminded Joshua that He had not given up on him or the people. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Joshua had heard those words at least three other times. What better way to go into battle than with God’s reassurance echoing in his mind and heart? God gave them the battle plan, promised a victory, and rewarded them with the spoils. Joshua built an altar and made sacrifices to the Lord. He then copied the law onto stones and read the whole law to the entire assembly as the Lord had commanded (Deuteronomy 11:29). Since the Israelites didn’t have the written Word, corporate reading was the only way to hear it.

How should I respond?

How many times do we have to hear or read something before it affects the way we live? Like Joshua, we sometimes need to be reassured before a major undertaking. At other times we need to be reminded of God’s instructions or commands. James 1:22-25 tells us to be doers of the word and not hearers only. In order for head knowledge to cause a change in lifestyle, you have to put into practice what you hear on Sunday morning and what you read in your daily devotions. What has God said to you this week as you’ve read His Word? How can you act on it today?

Day 164 – June 13

Joshua 7

What does it say?

Israel suffered a bitter defeat in the battle of Ai because Achan took some of the spoils after the battle of Jericho and hid them.

What does it mean?

Their first battle to claim the Promised Land had been a wonderful experience for Joshua and the nation. Before that battle, the Lord had made it clear that no one was to take any of the “devoted things” in Jericho. After 40 years of wearing the same clothes and shoes, the Israelites would have to resist the temptation of taking anything for themselves. But Achan didn’t resist, and the whole nation suffered for it. He finally confessed but only after he was directly confronted. Achan didn’t come forward and repent on his own. He confessed because he was caught.

How should I respond?

Confession and repentance are two different things. Repentance goes a step further than merely stating what one has done wrong – repentance involves a complete change of the mind and will. God is Holy and commands His people to be holy. Because Jesus took our punishment, God freely bestows His grace on those who repent. What secret sin is buried in your heart? Confess it to the Lord and then head in the opposite direction – His direction. He will forgive, pardon and cleanse you! The consequences of being unrepentant can be devastating for both you and your family.

Day 163 – June 12

Joshua 5:13-6:27

What does it say?

The Lord told Joshua that Jericho had been delivered into their hands. He and the Israelites were to walk around the city for seven days; God would give a great victory.

What does it mean?

God wanted to show the people of Israel as well as the people of Canaan that He had brought Israel into this land. Even before God gave Joshua the plan, He assured him of victory. The instructions didn’t sound much like a battle plan, but God’s commands are often counterintuitive. Throughout the journey to the Promised Land, God proved that He was able to provide everything His people needed. The only thing the Israelites had to do was trust God and start walking. The Battle of Jericho was no different. God instructed them to simply walk in faith, and He would take care of the rest. They walked and shouted and the walls fell.

How should I respond?

What is your first instinct when faced with a dilemma? Often, our minds begin to plan, calculate, and even manipulate to come up with our battle plan. Then we ask God to bless our plan and give us the outcome we desire. But God’s path to victory is usually quite different from ours; sometimes it seems to make no logical sense at all. But just like the Israelites, God asks us to trust and walk in faith. What personal plans do you need to release to the Lord? How has He proven Himself trustworthy in the past? There may be enemies and walls in your life today, but just keep moving forward and trusting God. He will take care of the details.

Day 162 – June 11

Joshua 5:1-12

What does it say?

The Lord told Joshua to circumcise the Israelite men. Afterward, Israel celebrated Passover. As the people ate the produce of the land, the manna stopped coming.

What does it mean?

God required the generation of Israelites born and raised in the wilderness to be identified with the covenant He had established. As this generation of Israelites prepared to claim the Promised Land, they renewed their covenant with God by circumcising the males and observing Passover. God wanted those who crossed the Jordan to begin their lives in the Promised Land with a fresh commitment to the covenant given by God to their forefathers. God had sustained them with manna for 40 years, but it ceased as soon as God allowed them to eat from the abundant produce of Canaan.

How should I respond?

Significant life events are the perfect time to examine our relationship with Christ. Any change means leaving some things behind and looking forward to new opportunities to serve the Lord. What change is on your horizon – marriage, retirement, a new job, or a move to a new city? Reflect on how God has prepared and sustained you for each transition. How is He providing in different ways now? Resolve to renew your commitment to the Lord and start this new part of your life with a fresh perspective.

Day 161 – June 10

Joshua 4

What does it say?

God instructed Joshua to set up 12 stones from the Jordan to memorialize the miracle God performed when He allowed the entire nation to cross the river on dry ground.

What does it mean?

God’s first instructions to the Israelites on the other side of the Jordan involved remembering and telling what He had done for them. The memorial stones Joshua set up were a physical reminder of how God had once again provided a way for His people. Seeing the stones was meant to keep God’s faithfulness fresh on their minds. As time passed, their children would see the stones and ask why they were there. Each time, a new generation would be told how God miraculously led Israel across the Red Sea and the Jordan River. Both the miracles and the memorial stones showed God’s power to the entire world and encouraged His people to fear Him.

How should I respond?

God is with us in every circumstance we face. Looking back, in what challenging time in your life did God show His presence in a special way? What serves as “memorial stones” regarding that time in your history? Setting up physical reminders of God’s past faithfulness is still a great way to prompt the telling of those stories to your children, family, or friends. It could be photos taken right after coming through a serious illness. Or, it could be small rocks taken from a location where God gave you much needed direction. Use those reminders to tell your corner of the world how awesome and powerful God is.

Day 160 – June 9

Joshua 3

What does it say?

The Priests carried the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan River as commanded by Joshua. God stopped the flow of water so the Israelites could walk across on dry land.

What does it mean?

Crossing the Jordan River was no small event for the Israelites. It represented God’s promise to their forefathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Lord’s presence and power to claim the land was evident as the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant touched their feet at the water’s edge. Immediately, God provided a supernatural path for the whole nation to cross on dry land. As the Israelites began their campaign to possess the Promised Land, God confirmed Joshua’s leadership of Israel just as He had done for Moses. The priests and the Ark led the way because the people had “never been this way before.” A new chapter had begun.

How should I respond?

New chapters in life can be both exciting and challenging. Some chapters may be initiated by a job change or the death of a family member. Others are simply a result of entering a new stage of life. What new chapter is being written in your life? No matter what it is, God wants to lead the way through His presence and by the power of His Word. Meditate on Scripture and ask God to show you the path He wants you to follow. Even though you “have never been this way before” – that’s okay; God has, and He knows the way.

Day 159 – June 8

Joshua 2

What does it say?

Joshua sent spies into Jericho and learned that the inhabitants were afraid because of the God of Israel. Rahab secured the future safety of her family by helping the spies.

What does it mean?

Rahab had heard of the God of Israel, the living God of Heaven and earth, and she had placed her trust in Him. She demonstrated her faith by hiding and protecting the spies, allowing them to escape and communicate with Joshua. In return, the spies promised safety for Rahab and her family if she tied a scarlet cord to the window. Ultimately, Rahab the prostitute became an ancestor of Christ. Her decision to believe God stands today as a great act of faith (Hebrews 11:31), showing that God’s grace and forgiveness are available to all those – whether Jew or Gentile – who have placed their faith in Him.

How should I respond?

Life is a series of choices. Some are insignificant while others can change the course of your life. Not all decisions are easy, but factoring God into the equation always leads to better choices. What difficult decision is looming in front of you? Like Rahab, think about what you know to be true about God. What choice would honor Him and be obedient to His Word? Pray for wisdom and, if needed, seek godly counsel. Faith is the result of acting on truth. Demonstrating your faith will increase its strength and give you courage to take your next God-directed step.

Day 158 – June 7

Joshua 1

What does it say?

After the death of Moses, the Lord told Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. He commanded Joshua to be courageous and fully obey His law.

What does it mean?

The leadership of Israel was transferred from Moses to Joshua. God reminded Joshua that the secret to victory was to be rooted in His Word and promises. The message was clear: “Be strong and very courageous” because of God’s unchanging character and continual presence. Then, God would give the land to the Israelites. Their years of wandering were over. Joshua reminded the tribes that they would soon take possession of the land. The Israelites received Joshua’s message with enthusiasm and repeated the Lord’s words to their new leader: “Be strong and very courageous!”

How should I respond?

God knows the battles we will face – spiritual battles involving fear, uncertainty, and discouragement. Just as Joshua needed the repeated admonition, so we also need reminders to move forward with strength and courage. In what area of your life are you asking God for victory? The first step is to be rooted in His Word and believe His promises. Jesus promised that He would always be with those who follow Him (Matthew 28:20). How does that truth give you strength and courage for the “battles” you’re currently facing? God’s character has not changed; you can count on His continual presence, and you can be assured that He fulfills His promises.

Day 157 – June 6

Deuteronomy 34

What does it say?

Moses climbed Mount Nebo and saw the land of Canaan, which the Israelites were now ready to possess. Moses died there and was buried by God.

What does it mean?

Moses’ work on earth had come to an end. Although known as a great prophet, humble leader, and friend of God, perhaps his greatest legacy is that he was the “servant of the Lord.” At first, Moses hesitated to accept God’s call, protesting that the Israelites would not listen to him and that he was not qualified to lead them out of Egypt. He eventually responded to God’s call and experienced the great reward of being used by God. Now, the Lord showed him the land that was promised to Abraham’s descendants. Many years later, Moses would stand with Elijah and the Lord Jesus in the Promised Land (Matthew 17:3). God remembers!

How should I respond?

We all want good things said about us when we die. What tribute could be greater than being called a “servant of the Lord”? But that doesn’t happen by accident; we have to start intentionally. The first step is simply a willing heart. Where is God prompting you to serve Him? Do you, like Moses, feel unqualified? When God directs you, He also provides everything necessary to accomplish His plan. He loves to use ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. What else has caused you hesitation to serve God? Stop now and ask God to give you a willing heart and confidence in His plan. Your obedience today will determine what is said at the end of your life. Will you hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23)?

Day 156 – June 5

Deuteronomy 32:48-33:29

What does it say?

Moses spoke a blessing on the Israelites before his death.

What does it mean?

Moses proclaimed God’s blessing on the nation of Israel, a nation that stood at the doorway of a new home accompanied by the presence of Almighty God. The blessings were words of promise and words of hope – reminders that they were a people with a special relationship with the God who loved them, provided for them, strengthened them, and guided them. As a nation, as a tribe, as a family, they were taking part in God’s plan for the entire world. After leading and teaching them God’s ways for over 40 years, Moses had an understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and uniqueness. From that knowledge, he declared a prophetic blessing specific to each tribe with the hope that they would remember and share what God had done for them.

How should I respond?

Followers of Christ often talk about feeling or being “blessed.” But today’s passage gives us a better understanding of what it means to be blessed by the Lord. Believers who experience God’s blessing recognize that He is present and actively at work in their lives. How do you see God’s blessing in your life? Scripture promises blessing on those who live by faith – those who hear and obey the Word of God (Gal. 3:9; Luke 11:28). God’s blessing is a call to action. If we take part in God’s grace, we should take part in His plan. How are you fulfilling that responsibility?

Day 155 – June 4

Deuteronomy 32:1-47

What does it say?

The Song of Moses reminded Israel of their history with God. He challenged the people to fully obey God’s law because it is life.

What does it mean?

The Song of Moses was a reminder of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites. It reiterated how God had met their needs whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Moses also refreshed their memories regarding God’s jealousy for His people as they lapsed into idolatry. Moses was keenly aware of the consequences of living in disobedience to God’s Word. These words were alive and vital to the life the Lord intended for His people. He challenged the Israelites to instill these truths in future generations.

How should I respond?

We live in a world full of “idle words” – so much of what’s said or written doesn’t really matter at all. However, God’s Word is more than words on a page. It is filled with life-changing truths that can be passed on to your children and their children. Scripture reminds us of God’s faithfulness and His ability to keep His word. How have you been reminded of God’s faithfulness this week? What area of your life needs to be brought to life by truth? Internalizing God’s word is essential to living a vibrant Christian life.

Day 154 – June 3

Deuteronomy 31:14-30

What does it say?

The Lord revealed that His people would eventually rebel against Him after Moses’ death. Disaster will come on those who chose to do evil in the sight of the Lord.

What does it mean?

As they prepared to step foot into the Promised Land, the challenges of wilderness living would easily be forgotten. The Israelites would no longer be dependent on God for their quail and daily manna; food would be plentiful. The abundance they would receive would present them with opportunities to act independently of God. Their worship of people and things would lead them into difficulties and disastrous consequences. Moses was directed to teach them a song, warning the people about the dangers of disobedience.

How should I respond?

It’s second nature to turn to God when you’re faced with overwhelming challenges. But when life is good and there is no crisis, dependence on God can quickly fade. When you feel as though you can handle whatever life brings your way, you can easily begin to rely on your own strength. How do you keep your focus on God when life is manageable? What steps have you taken to guard against worshipping the blessings of God instead of worshipping God, Himself? Set aside time to get to know God’s thoughts and plan: (1) Read God’s Word daily to keep your mind filled with truth. (2) Express your gratitude through prayer, every day. (3) Find a place to serve the Lord. Helping someone else will keep life in perspective.

Day 153 – June 2

Deuteronomy 31:1-13

What does it say?

Moses gave his parting instructions and announced to Israel that Joshua would soon take over the leadership of the nation.

What does it mean?

Taking over the leadership of a large group of people who were known for their grumbling and complaining could intimidate a new leader. Moses recognized the importance of affirming Joshua in front of the people as God’s chosen man to lead them into the Promised Land. As their new leader, Joshua needed the reassurance that God would help him and never abandon His people. What God had promised to Moses would be fulfilled even in Moses’ absence. As the transition of leadership began, Moses personally wrote down the law and entrusted it to the priests to ensure that all generations would know God’s words.

How should I respond?

Change is not always a welcomed friend, especially when it relates to a change in leadership. A new boss, teacher, pastor, or government official can set off our anxiety radar. The uncertainties of how they will lead us, make decisions, and interact with us can spiral into a negative mindset. How do you handle leadership change? What lessons can you learn from the way Moses prepared the Israelites for a major change? Our loving God has allowed every authority in our lives. We can trust and rest in His ability to use all things for His purposes. How can you encourage a new leader in your life today?

Day 152 – June 1

Deuteronomy 30

What does it say?

Moses explained the path of repentance for those who turn away from God. Their choice to love and obey God or to reject Him was actually a matter of life or death.

What does it mean?

Restoration, not punishment, is the driving force behind God’s discipline. When the Israelites chose to disobey His commands, they would face persecution. Hardships and losses would overwhelm them. But if they listened to God’s voice and followed His commands, they would flourish in the Promised Land. A long and fruitful life would be their reward for demonstrating their love for God. Ultimately, God left the choice of reaping His blessings or experiencing His curses up to the people. Nothing He asked of them was too hard, and He promised that His words would guide them.

How should I respond?

Every person has free will to choose whether he will obey or disregard God’s Word. God presents you with an opportunity to freely demonstrate your love for Him by choosing to do as He says. He will never force you to obey, but you will miss out on God’s best if you resist. However, if you acknowledge your sin and turn back to God, you will receive His compassion and restoration. Nothing the Lord asks you to do is too hard, especially since He promises to guide you to the truth through His Word. What is God prompting you to turn away from today?

Day 151 – May 31

Deuteronomy 29

What does it say?

Moses reminded the Israelites of the Lord’s covenant with them and urged them to obey its laws so that they would not experience its curses.

What does it mean?

Renewing His covenant with the Israelites, God warned them of the devastating consequences of choosing to follow the lifestyles of the Egyptians or other countries they passed through on their way to the Promised Land. Worshipping gods from other nations would have the same affect on Israel as poison in a person’s system. Choosing to live outside of God’s law would cause God’s hand to come against them just as He had come against the Egyptians. Since God revealed these truths to Israel, they had no excuse for abandoning their covenant with God.

How should I respond?

Even when your heart desires to follow God, you may feel pressured to go with the crowd rather than stand up for what you believe. How are the lifestyles of your family, friends, or co-workers different from God’s instructions to His followers? Some of God’s “don’ts” may look enticing at the outset, but the poisonous effects of wrong priorities or sinful choices leave lives in shambles. What precautions would protect you from giving in to pressure to disobey God? Resolve today to be a godly influence, inspiring others to follow God. Remember, peer pressure can go both ways!

Day 150 – May 30

Deuteronomy 28

What does it say?

The Israelites were given a series of great blessings and serious warnings.

What does it mean?

God takes disobedience very seriously. He gave this exhaustive list of terrible curses to help Israel take sin seriously, too. God wanted them to understand the dire consequences of disobeying His commands. There are 14 verses of blessings and 54 verses of curses. Many of the curses are exact, word-for-word opposites of the blessings. Israel had a choice: obey and live in God’s blessing or disobey and receive the opposite – God’s chastisement.

How should I respond?

Does this chapter leave you feeling that God is harsh and unkind? He is none of those things. Because He is God, He sees sin as it actually is. He never excuses or marginalizes our sin. We do. If God, who knows all things, gave 54 verses of terrible warnings, then read them as if they are the most loving way He could possibly handle sin. God is the perfect Father. He knows that disobedience will ultimately harm you and put distance in your relationship with Him. What attitude or habit is standing between you and your heavenly Father? You have the same choice as Israel: obey and live in God’s blessing or disobey and receive His discipline.

Day 149 – May 29

Deuteronomy 27

What does it say?

God gave the Israelites instructions for an altar upon which all of God’s laws were to be clearly written.

What does it mean?

God instructed the Israelites to create monuments as reminders of His mercy, grace, and justice. The altar He commanded them to build would take hard work but would be a visual reminder for them as well as for future generations. After reciting a list of laws, they were to write them all on the altar. They heard the word of God. They recited the word of God. Then they made a representation of the word of God. This is a timeless memory technique. The Lord was training His people to hide His word in their hearts. He is a great teacher!

How should I respond?

God knows that if we are faithful to Him, we will discover greater and greater joys that can only come from being close to Him. That’s why scripture memorization is so important. Start with one verse on an index card and place it where you’ll see it. Read it often and repeat it out loud. Ask God to teach you the meaning of the words and show you how to apply them to your life. Once you begin to memorize His word and surround yourself with reminders of God, you’ll realize the comfort, joy, and guidance that come from hiding His promises in your heart and mind.

Day 148 – May 28

Deuteronomy 26

What does it say?

God set Israel aside as His special nation and put the tithe in place as a continual reminder of His deliverance, provision, and love.

What does it mean?

God wanted to remind the Israelites that He had brought them to this land and had given them the prosperity they currently enjoyed. Some of the first fruits of the land were to be placed in a basket and taken to the priest at the place God had chosen as a dwelling. As part of the ceremony, their deliverance from Egypt and the journey to the Promised Land was recounted. The ceremony was a public acknowledgment of the fact that they were serving a truly good and loving God who deserved their trust, love, and obedience.

How should I respond?

God is the Provider of everything we have. In return, we can offer back to God a portion of the time, money, and energy He gives us. How would your feelings about giving or volunteering at church change if you first stopped to recite all the ways God has been good and loving in your life? Start a list of things God has done to free you and lead you in your personal journey. Put it on your dashboard or on your closet door where you will see it before you head out to church. When we’re reminded of just how much we have to be thankful for, giving back to God is an easy thing to do.

Day 147 – May 27

Deuteronomy 19

What does it say?

God set rules concerning manslaughter, property lines, and perjury.

What does it mean?

This passage communicates the value God places on justice and civil order. “Safe” cities were placed at regular intervals to limit personal vengeance. Any citizen could put himself under the protection of the city elders until he was found either guilty or innocent. Those causing an unintentional death would thereby not be subject to the same punishment as one who premeditated murder. Similarly, God established consequences for dishonesty in court and in the community. Judges ensured that dishonest persons suffered precisely the consequences they were trying to inflict on someone else.

How should I respond?

God is just, always seeking to protect the innocent. It stands to reason that His followers should pursue justice and fairness in their role as citizens and in their personal relationships. Are you retaliating against someone, even though the harm that person caused was unintentional? How have you laid claim to something that doesn’t belong to you and, in essence, moved the boundaries? Have you led someone to believe something that isn’t true? Ask God to give you His sense of justice. Look for opportunities to stand up and protect the innocent today.

For further reading: Deuteronomy 20-25, Regulations and miscellaneous laws

Day 146 – May 26

Deuteronomy 18

What does it say?

God warned Israel against those who practiced sorcery or posed as spiritual authorities. He also promised to send prophets who would speak God’s word.

What does it mean?

God warned Israel about the various pagan practices of nations in the land they were about to enter. The Lord knew that some of their customs would intrigue the Israelites, enticing them to do deplorable things. While God declared that those nations would be driven out, He also added a promise: prophets would come who would speak His words directly to His people. A true prophet of God would be easily recognized – what the prophet of God spoke would come true. God would hold anyone directly accountable who didn’t listen to His prophet.

How should I respond?

There are influences in our culture that could lead us away from God, even if we don’t realize it. That’s why it’s so important to set aside time to read Scripture daily. We also benefit from the wisdom of those who have a greater understanding of the Bible. Which God-ordained authority are you listening to for direction in life? Check what they say against Scripture – does it match up? Make sure you’ve aligned yourself with those who speak God’s truth, not their own ideas or agenda. The more familiar you are with God’s Word, the easier it will be to spot those preaching error.

Day 145 – May 25

Deuteronomy 16:18-17:20

What does it say?

God defines His standards for administering justice.

What does it mean?

As the government in Israel was being set up, Moses explained God’s principles on how justice was to be administered among His people. Since God’s justice was based on His law, obeying Him was the central principle. Judges and officials were to be appointed in every town to administer justice and enforce God’s laws without partiality. Making right decisions came as the result of understanding and explicitly following God’s commands. The expectation to “follow justice and justice alone” was directed to every member of the community – from king to judge to servant – regardless of the circumstances.

How should I respond?

After a highly publicized court case, the public often debates whether or not justice has been served. Many times it’s hard to tell. As followers of Christ we have the comfort of knowing that God will ultimately administer justice wherever needed. To truly understand God’s justice, we need to invest time in learning and observing Scripture. Our job as Christian citizens is to follow the laws of the land and obey God’s commands. As you take a stand for what God says is right, you will be part of administering His justice in the world.

Day 144 – May 24

Deuteronomy 16:1-17

What does it say?

Moses reviewed instructions for the celebration of Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

What does it mean?

The feasts of Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles were significant national events to the children of Israel. Three times a year the nation would come together to participate in specific acts of corporate worship. Focus was given to what God had done and what He was going to do. And, as a part of these events, each man would travel to a central location in Israel to bring offerings to God. These feasts were an opportunity to worship, reflect, and celebrate. They also served to keep the nation’s attention on the One who delivered them and the future that He promised.

How should I respond?

Failing to reflect on what God has previously done for us can hinder our ability to recognize what He is doing right now. The busyness of life often crowds out time to refocus, examine our priorities, and give God the recognition He deserves. How can you purposefully refocus your attention on God? What specific provision can you thank Him for? How has His love, mercy, grace, or holiness been evident to you this year? Starting right now, make spiritual reflection a regular practice. Then celebrate what God has done and worship Him for Who He is.

Day 143 – May 23

Deuteronomy 14:22-15:23

What does it say?

God’s people received instructions regarding tithing, debts and servants.

What does it mean?

God’s financial plan for His people was defined by unbridled generosity. In the economy God created, the needs of every person were met in abundance. Giving was not just an expectation, but also the cornerstone of the nation’s financial practices. The poor were provided for and given the opportunity to prosper. Being soft hearted would result in being openhanded with their wealth and possessions. And, unlike any other culture or civilization, ongoing debt was not allowed. God’s plan for financial prosperity was based upon His standard of perpetual and abundant generosity.

How should I respond?

Too often financial success, both personal and corporate, is measured solely on how much is acquired. For many, the concept of generosity is not an essential part of their lifestyle. But ask yourself: is this what God intended? His people were taught that prosperity and generosity were interwoven, not independent. Obstacles like debt can make prosperity and generosity seem an impossible ideal. How closely is your life aligned with God’s financial principles? How are you regularly practicing generosity? Determine today to make His standards the cornerstone of your financial life.

For further reading: Deuteronomy 14:1-21, Laws reflecting the holiness of God’s People

Day 142 – May 22

Deuteronomy 13

What does it say?

God’s expectation for dealing with idolatry is made clear. Those who encouraged the Israelites to worship pagan gods were to be stoned to death.

What does it mean?

The children of Israel knew well that idolatry was a violation of the First Commandment. Because of the serious danger of idolatry to the entire community, mere avoidance of the pagan religious practices was not enough. Every individual had personal responsibility to make sure that any form of idolatry was eliminated. God expected His people to confront and remove anything that detracted from worshipping Him – no matter the source.

How should I respond?

There is a world of difference between avoidance and elimination. Allowing anything that draws you away from God to remain in your life leaves the opportunity to be tempted by it. What things has the Lord prompted you to eliminate completely? Do certain entertainment choices cause sinful thoughts? Which friendships put you in situations displeasing to Christ? Resolve to remove any hindrance to your relationship with God or your worship of Him. Don’t delay – the time to act is now.

Day 141 – May 21

Deuteronomy 12

What does it say?

Israel received instructions on how to prepare for worship and celebration of God.

What does it mean?

As the Israelites prepared to enter Canaan, Moses reminded them to worship God alone and resist all forms of idolatry. Too often they had gone astray on their journey only to find death and destruction. God desired the focused, sincere worship of His people, and the first requirement was very simple: eliminate everything that would hinder their relationship with Him. The land they were about to enter was filled with people who worshipped false gods. He did not want His children lured away. With the distractions removed and His commands followed, the Israelites could finally come together and celebrate in the worship of God the way He wanted and deserved.

How should I respond?

We are bombarded every day with countless opportunities, circumstances, and technologies – all of which fight for our attention. Even the regular stuff of life can divert our attention from our relationship with the Lord Jesus, diminishing our trust in Him. Our personal wandering is too often the result of refusing to remove anything that draws us away from God. What things in life are you allowing to lure your time and attention away from Christ? Ask God to help you eliminate them so that you can experience the joy of worshipping Him the way He deserves.

Day 140 – May 20

Deuteronomy 11

What does it say?

Moses called on the Israelites to remember the mighty works God had done on their behalf, observe His commands, and teach His statues to their children.

What does it mean?

Moses reminded the people of all that God had done to bring them out of Egypt and to sustain them throughout their years of wandering. In order for future generations to avoid the kind of rebellion that brought about God’s judgment, it was important to recount God’s gracious actions on their behalf. After all, it wasn’t their children who had seen the miraculous wonders God had performed. But the parents’ responsibility didn’t stop with telling their children about the Lord. They were also to demonstrate how to follow Him faithfully by keeping God’s Word in their hearts and minds. As long as they were faithful to the Lord, they would live prosperously in the Promised Land.

How should I respond?

What stories from your family history do your children or grandchildren love to hear? What accounts of God’s past faithfulness and provision do you include? The responsibility to teach our children about the Lord is evident throughout Scripture. Communicating experiences regarding your faith will encourage faithfulness in those who come after you. What can you do today to train the next generation to wholeheartedly follow Christ? It all starts with filling your heart and mind with God’s Word. Then, demonstrate how that truth makes a practical difference in all aspects of your life.

Day 139 – May 19

Deuteronomy 10

What does it say?

Moses told how God had renewed the covenant with Israel by rewriting the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. He called on the people to recommit to God.

What does it mean?

Moses’ oral history of Israel is continued from the last chapter. After being reminded of God’s law in the Ten Commandments, the people were instructed to love and serve Him with all their heart and soul. God didn’t desire a simple outward compliance but obedience that resulted from genuine love and worship. Just as circumcision was an outward sign of the covenant God made with Abraham, Moses told the people to make sure that inwardly their hearts were also in covenant with God.

How should I respond?

As followers of Christ, we sometimes confuse what we do with who we are. It’s possible to maintain the outward appearance of serving God while our hearts are actually serving other things. Keeping up appearances may impress other people, but God sees straight into our hearts. Reread verses 12 and 13. What part of your life, service, love, or obedience needs to change? In what ways are your heart and actions out of alignment? Recommit today to love and serve God with all of your heart and life. Regardless of appearances, you’ll begin to live a new way – abundantly, righteously, genuinely – His way!

Day 138 – May 18

Deuteronomy 9:13-29

What does it say?

Moses described instances in which the people of Israel rebelled against God, and he reminded them of the intercession he made on their behalf in order to prevent the judgment they deserved.

What does it mean?

Moses gave an oral history of Israel’s past to show the people that God’s grace was the only reason they were able to enter the land. God was faithful to His covenant even though the Israelites were rebellious and unfaithful to Him. Moses recalled how he fasted and prayed to spare their lives in spite of their sin. The words “once again” demonstrate that Moses was in the habit of praying for the people he led. This intercessory prayer showed his love for God and for the Israelites. He wanted all the nations to know that Israel served a merciful God.

How should I respond?

We can easily become stuck in a rut of self-serving prayer. The concerns and busyness of our own lives can become all consuming. Moses gives us an example of habitual prayer on the behalf of other people. What person has God placed within your circle of influence? Who has He given you to lead? Maybe someone you love is living in disobedience to the Lord. Praying for God’s mercy and guidance is both a responsibility and a privilege. Such prayers are humble reminders that we too are sinners in need of God’s mercy. Who do you need to intercede for today?

Day 137 – May 17

Deuteronomy 9:1-12

What does it say?

Moses addressed the people of Israel, telling them they were not entering the Promised Land because of their own righteousness, but because of the wickedness of the Canaanites.

What does it mean?

Through Moses, God wanted to make sure that the people of Israel were moving forward with humility and full reliance on the grace and mercy of God. Moses reminded them that they had been complaining and grumbling since they had left Egypt. He wanted to make sure the Israelites were fully aware that it was God’s grace making a way for them in the land of Canaan and not because of anything they had done. God was honoring His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

How should I respond?

We can be tempted to think that we are entitled to certain things, such as getting a promotion or being treated a certain way. We may even think we’ve earned forgiveness for our sin. But like the Israelites in today’s passage, we have no righteousness of our own. If not for the grace of God, salvation would be impossible. Sometimes pride prevents us from humbly turning to God in thankfulness. Is there something you feel you deserve? How might your pride be involved in those feelings? Take a moment to reflect on the grace and mercy of God. Thank Him for everything He’s provided, both spiritually and materially. Ask God to promote your cause in His time and for His reasons.

Day 136 – May 16

Deuteronomy 8

What does it say?

The Israelites were not to forget all God had done for them.

What does it mean?

The Israelites had wandered in the desert for 40 years because of their lack of trust in the Lord (Numbers 14). God used the years in the wilderness to test them. Could they learn to be obedient? Would they trust Him to fulfill all of their needs? Although God knew the heart of His people, the time in the desert was necessary to bring the Israelites to an understanding of their need for God. Providing food, water, and shelter, He completely sustained them. Their shoes didn’t even wear out! Moses urged them not to forget all they had learned once they entered the Promised Land and were enjoying the blessings of God. Deterioration of faith begins with forgetting God’s provision and love.

How should I respond?

The struggles of life will never be too far away. We tend to realize our utter dependence on God when it seems our world is crashing down around us. Remembering the ways God has taken care of us before is the best way to get through today’s difficulties. How has the Lord provided for you in the past? What did you learn in those moments of desperation? Remembering those lessons will strengthen your faith and keep you reliant on the Lord. The next time you’re tempted to focus on your struggle, remember that God is your Provider and Protector – yesterday, today and always.

Day 135 – May 15

Deuteronomy 7

What does it say?

The Lord promised victory over the seven nations living in the Promised Land. Any involvement with the current inhabitants would turn their hearts away from God.

What does it mean?

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they needed to rid the land of all enemies. Even though other nations were more numerous and powerful, the Lord promised to fight for His people, just as He had done in Egypt. God’s command to completely destroy the land’s inhabitants and everything they possessed is shocking but just. By doing so, Israel would carry out the Lord’s judgment on those who had aligned themselves against the one true God. Anything that the Israelites allowed to remain would be a snare for future generations. They needed to preserve their holiness by decisively removing everything that would tempt them into idolatry.

How should I respond?

How seriously do you take personal holiness? Are you ruthless when it comes to ridding your life of anything that displeases God? It’s dangerous to hang on to any type of sinful attitude or behavior, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Eventually, it will become bigger than you can handle. What sinful habit or indulgence has entangled you? How could that same habit ensnare your children? Anything that is contrary to Scripture should be treated as the enemy and removed completely. You are not alone. Obey what God tells you in Scripture and trust Him for the victory. He is all-powerful!

Day 134 – May 14

Deuteronomy 6

What does it say?

Moses spoke to the Israelites regarding their need for complete obedience.

What does it mean?

Love for God is demonstrated by obedience to His commands. The Israelites were instructed to love God completely – with every part of their being – and to express that love in every aspect of their lives. God’s law was to be in their hearts, to be constantly in their thoughts as a reminder of how He wanted them to live. Only then would it influence everything they said and did. Parents were instructed to use daily opportunities to teach and equip their children, the next generation, to know God and to love and obey Him.

How should I respond?

Obedience to God is not just a Sunday thing. Genuine obedience is motivated by love that honors God with your entire life – everything you say and do, every day. But no one is perfect; we all mess up. Like the Israelites, we constantly need to be reminded of what God’s Word says. How can you allow Scripture to influence more aspects of your life? Consider having a family devotion time during dinner one night a week. Listen to worship music in the car. Index cards or sticky notes are perfect for keeping Scripture in view. Read the Bible, write verses down, and talk about them. Once Scripture permeates your heart, it will affect your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors.

Day 133 – May 13

Deuteronomy 5

What does it say?

Moses summoned the children of Israel and reviewed the Ten Commandments given by God. He again challenged the children of Israel to follow God’s laws.

What does it mean?

Reviewing each commandment, Moses wanted to ensure that the people didn’t forget the relationship God had established with them. The fact that these former slaves of Egypt were about to enter the Promised Land was proof of God’s faithfulness to His people. He had gone before and behind them every single day, leading and guiding them in the way to go. Now God desired that same faithfulness from the people so they would experience the best life possible. By learning and carefully following God’s specific instructions on how to relate to Him and how to interact with others, the children of Israel would prosper and prolong their days.

How should I respond?

Learning is an ongoing process whether you’re in the classroom, at home, or at work. Each day presents new opportunities to apply God’s truth as you face difficult situations and as you interact with others. Life experiences are a great teaching tool because you gain insight on what works and what doesn’t. What lessons has God been teaching you recently? In what ways has your relationship with God grown through your victories and struggles? God is faithful, and He will guide you each step of the way if you listen for His voice and obey His commands.

Day 132 – May 12

Deuteronomy 4:15-49

What does it say?

Moses warned the people about worshiping anyone or anything other than God.

What does it mean?

Living as slaves in Egypt, the children of Israel were exposed to all kinds of man-made gods of wood and stone. However, none of these gods could match the mighty deeds God performed to rescue them. Moses knew it would be tempting to make an image of God or to worship His creation rather than the Creator. The hardships of Egypt would fade away when they moved into the Promised Land and received their inheritance from God. Moses reminded the people that God’s miraculous signs and wonders were strategically done so that they would know that the Lord is God.

How should I respond?

The priorities you set reveal what or whom you really worship. What takes top priority in your life – your job, money, or possessions? Even family and friends can incorrectly take a place in our hearts that should belong only to God. Anything or anyone that consumes your thoughts or controls your life can become an idol. While you cannot see God visibly on this earth, you might be tempted to worship the benefits God has provided rather than God Himself. However, the blessings that God desires for your life are contingent on your worshipping Him alone. What steps do you need to take to ensure that no one or anything takes the place of God in your life?

Day 131 – May 11

Deuteronomy 4:1-14

What does it say?

Moses urged the children of Israel to obey the commands of God and teach them to future generations.

What does it mean?

Obedience to God’s commands was not optional if the children of Israel wanted to enter the Promised Land. Moses knew there were no exceptions, so he warned the people about adding to or subtracting from God’s words. He reminded them of the day they stood at Mount Horeb and heard the voice of God declaring the Ten Commandments. Remembering what God had done and who He is was crucial to their continued success. By examining their lives and training future generations to respect God’s laws, the people would experience the benefits of a close relationship with God.

How should I respond?

Knowledge plus obedience is the perfect formula for spiritual success. When you study God’s word and apply His principles, you’ll make wiser choices and avoid the pitfalls that occur when you try to live your own way. It’s easy to twist God’s truths until it fits what you want, but doing so will set you up for difficult consequences. What principles from God’s Word do you need to apply to your life? What changes do you need to make? How can you share these life lessons with your family? When you rely on God’s strength, He will enable you to make the necessary changes to create a lasting legacy for future generations.

Day 130 – May 10

Deuteronomy 3:23-39

What does it say?

Moses begged God to let him enter the Promised Land, but his request was denied. Instead, Moses was instructed to prepare Joshua to lead the Israelites into the land.

What does it mean?

God had already told Moses that he wouldn’t be allowed to enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience (Num. 20:12). However, recent events had renewed his hope. Moses’ bold request is evidence of the intimate nature of his relationship with God. While God chose to deny the request, He lovingly allowed Moses to see the land with his own eyes. Despite his disappointment, Moses’ respect for God’s authority enabled him to encourage and strengthen his assistant, Joshua, to be the new leader of the people.

How should I respond?

It’s not easy when God says, “No” – especially when your hopes and dreams are affected by the decision. It’s even more difficult if God allows someone else to have what you’ve been denied. You may even find yourself begging, pleading, and bargaining with God to change His mind. Regardless of the outcome, you can trust that God’s love for you will always be the motivating factor in His response. What bold requests have you brought to God? Are you living in obedience to Him so that you’re positioned to receive God’s very best? A mark of spiritual maturity is accepting God’s authority to answer however He sees best.

Day 129 – May 9

Deuteronomy 3:1-22

What does it say?

Moses gave an account of Israel’s conquests during the journey toward the Promised Land.

What does it mean?

As Moses spoke about the people and lands that were conquered, the Israelites were reminded that they were successful only when they stayed close to God and allowed His presence to go before them. The victories they experienced were due to God’s power that was with them. Although they were often outnumbered or lacked weapons and strategy, they defeated their enemies because they listened, obeyed, and allowed God to have complete control of the situation.

How should I respond?

Life is full of “battles.” However, Moses’ final words to the people of Israel, “Do not be afraid….for the Lord your God will fight for you,” still ring true today. No matter what we are facing, if we want to overcome enemies or adversity, we must not try to do it alone. Find your confidence in God’s strength; He already knows what’s ahead of you. The challenges will be real, but there is no enemy or situation too big or too strong for the Lord. What adversity are you facing right now? In what practical way can you let God’s strength be your strength? In what ways have you already seen God fight your battles? You may be outnumbered or lacking in strength – but God is not!

Day 128 – May 8

Deuteronomy 2

What does it say?

Moses recaps the Israelites’ wandering.

What does it mean?

The people of Israel had demonstrated distrust in God’s ability to give them the land He promised. They disobeyed, trying to do things their own way. As a result, the Israelites found out that rebellion against God has unpleasant consequences. Although He never abandoned them, God did not allow that generation to enter the land He promised to give them. Instead, they wandered in the desert for 40 years without any permanent residence. Through their experiences in the wilderness, God was teaching His people to trust and obey Him.

How should I respond?

Loving parents don’t let disobedience and rebellion go unchecked. Ultimately, it’s bad for the child. Likewise, your heavenly Father loves you enough to discipline you when necessary. Even though it’s unpleasant at the time, the lessons learned through this loving discipline should bring us to a place of better understanding and even thankfulness. What consequences have you faced as a result of demanding your own way? What lessons have you learned? Are you able to view discipline from God as a blessing? God desires the best for you and loves you enough to correct you when you stray from it. Ask God to show you any form of rebellion lurking in your heart today.

Day 127 – May 7

Deuteronomy 1

What does it say?

Moses spoke to the people of Israel, recapping their exodus from Egypt and rebellion against God.

What does it mean?

The Israelites needed to be reminded of how their rebellion affected their path toward the Promised Land. By not trusting God and not allowing His presence to be their guide, they delayed being given the land God had promised. Moses knew he would not be going with them into the Promised Land. So, he used this last opportunity to speak to the people about what they had been through in the hope they would learn from it. Only then could they move forward properly.

How should I respond?

No one likes to be reminded of past failures. Messing up is bad enough when it happens. The last thing we want to do is rehash the details. But sometimes it’s necessary if we hope to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. Just as the Israelites missed out on the blessing of God, we too will miss out on what God has for us if we continue to demand our own way. What mistakes have you made? How can you use these past mistakes to help with future decisions and actions? Sometimes, we have to recall the past before we can move forward.

Day 126 – May 6

Numbers 35

What does it say?

The tribe of Levi received 48 cities throughout the land. Six were to be designated as cities of refuge for anyone who caused the accidental death of another person.

What does it mean?

God puts a high value on human life; therefore, atonement must be made for the taking of a person’s life. Yet God in His mercy knew there would be times when accidental deaths would occur, so He required Israel to set up cities of refuge. The cities provided protection and a fair trial for anyone who caused an accidental death. If the leaders found the person innocent, he stayed in the city until the death of the high priest. In essence, the priest’s death would provide atonement. God’s holiness demands justice – at the same time, His compassion offers mercy.

How should I respond?

You are extremely valuable to God. The book of Hebrews refers to Jesus as the believer’s High Priest whose death on the cross atones for our sin. Those who have “fled to take hold of the hope” offered in Christ Jesus have a place of refuge forever (Hebrews 6). The cross of Christ demonstrates both God’s justice on sin and His mercy toward the sinner. Have you accepted the gift Jesus gave to you by His death on the cross? What does the price paid for your sin tell you about your value to God? While He cannot overlook your sin, God has provided a way to redeem you from it. Take a moment to see yourself through His eyes – precious!

Day 125 – May 5

Numbers 33-34

What does it say?

Moses wrote down the stages of the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land. When they entered Canaan, they were to drive out the inhabitants and destroy their idols.

What does it mean?

The children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, and God wanted to set them up for success. First, the Lord gave a record of their past wandering to remind Israel of all He had done. Those fresh reminders allowed them to face the battles before them with confidence in Him. The purpose behind driving out the land’s inhabitants and their idols was for Israel’s protection. For Israel to remain God’s holy people, they had to serve Him alone. The casting of lots for each tribe’s portion of the Promised Land gave no room for argument. They had to remain focused on the task ahead.

How should I respond?

God has designed a plan for you and wants you to succeed in it. But often, we’re not quick to remove temptations that would sidetrack that plan. God has given each of us clear areas that are our responsibility to protect: family, finances, time, talents. How are you protecting your relationship with God and what He has given you? What enemies to those areas do you need to “drive out”? Start by remembering how God has guided and protected you before. He wants the best for you and will help you fight current battles against temptations. They will become a snare in the future if you don’t protect your borders today.

Day 124 – May 4

Numbers 32

What does it say?

Two tribes asked Moses if they could remain where they were rather than crossing the Jordan. A specific agreement was made which would allow them to settle in Transjordan.

What does it mean?

When the tribes of Gad and Reuben asked to settle in Transjordan, Moses was concerned that their request could cause disunity and discouragement to the other tribes. The motive behind the request was paramount; doubting God’s ability to give victory would cause the destruction of Israel. He reminded them of the Lord’s punishment on the previous generation’s disbelief (Numbers 13-14). They assured Moses they were ready to fight alongside the other tribes to take possession of the Promised Land. Then, they would come back and settle east of the Jordan. Moses listened and agreed to a compromise.

How should I respond?

Often, compromise is necessary to settle difficult issues. Many misunderstandings could be avoided by calmly looking at the matter from another person’s point of view. What relationship in your life has suffered because you were adamant that you were right? Ask God for wisdom to understand the other person’s perspective; then take the necessary steps to make amends. Don’t let a misunderstanding come between you and someone you love. Determine to listen rather than assume you have all the answers.

Day 123 – May 3

Numbers 30

What does it say?

Moses relayed the Lord’s commands concerning vows.

What does it mean?

God always keeps His word. So, it stands to reason that anyone associated with His name should reflect His character and be honest and trustworthy. Men were expected to keep the vows they made. In the culture of the day, husbands and fathers were also responsible for vows made by their wives and unmarried daughters. If a man didn’t voice an objection when he heard about the vow, the vow would stand. As the God-ordained leader in the household, God held him accountable for the decisions that were made. A vow made by a widow or divorced woman would also have to be kept.

How should I respond?

Trust is earned. It’s difficult to re-establish trust once it has been broken, whether at home, school, work, or church. If someone doesn’t keep his word about one thing, it can be hard to believe what he says the next time. As Christians, our character should demonstrate the honesty and trustworthiness of Christ. Are you a person who can be counted on to keep your word? What do you need to do to follow through on a promise or commitment you have made? Being true to your word might be just the thing that attracts someone else to Christ. God always does what He says…and so should we.

Day 122 – May 2

Numbers 27:12-23

What does it say?

The Lord reminded Moses that he would not enter the Promised Land. Joshua was chosen to succeed Moses and lead the Israelites.

What does it mean?

Moses struck the rock for water at Meribah when God told him to speak to it (Numbers 20). As a consequence, he was prevented from entering the Promised Land. Moses knew the Israelites needed a strong, God-fearing leader to take them into the land God promised them. The Lord told Moses to commission Joshua as the new leader in front of the entire community. Moses was also instructed to give Joshua some of his responsibilities so the Israelites would start to follow him. Everything was put in place before Moses died so that he could prepare and mentor Joshua in his new role.

How should I respond?

Teaching and training someone to serve the Lord is a privilege – especially one from a younger generation. What names or faces come to mind right now? How could you encourage them in their spiritual gifts? Ask a teenager or younger adult to help you at church or in a local ministry. Encourage that person to go on a mission trip with you. Maybe you could come alongside a friend and host a Bible study together. Many people are hesitant to volunteer, but a gentle nudge from you might set them on the path of service. Who will be your “Joshua”?

For further reading: Numbers 28-29, Laws concerning offerings

Day 121 – May 1

Numbers 27:1-11; 36

What does it say?

The daughters of Zelophehad were not given their father’s inheritance when he died because they were not sons. The five women went before Moses to plead their case.

What does it mean?

Five daughters of Zelophehad, from the tribe of Manasseh, boldly went before the whole nation to plead their case: why should they be denied the inheritance of their father because they were women? These women were very brave to stand up together for what they believed was right. Moses brought their argument before the Lord, and He agreed. The Lord said that if a man dies and has no sons, his inheritance would go to the daughters. The condition was made later that those daughters would have to marry within their tribe to keep the inheritance from transferring to another tribe.

How should I respond?

It’s not always easy to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. It takes courage to stand your ground and defend what you know is right. But there is strength in numbers. Which friends would you call on to stand with you in a tough situation? In what situation would your presence give someone courage? If no one comes to mind, remember that the best way for followers of Christ to find like-minded friends is to get connected at a local church. Difficult situations will arise; be prepared. Find friends you can count on, and let them know they can count on you.

Day 120 – April 30

Numbers 26:1-4; 62-65

What does it say?

The Lord instructed Moses and Eleazar, the priest, to take a second census of men twenty years of age and older who were able to serve in Israel’s army.

What does it mean?

The first generation of Israelites who had left Egypt during the exodus died, except Joshua and Caleb. A second census was taken to find out how many men in each tribe would be available for battle. The Lord knew that Israel would face many conflicts as they set out to claim the land He promised them, and they would need to be prepared to face those battles. The information was also used to determine the amount of land each tribe was given. The tribe of Levi was not included in this census. They were a tribe of priests, not soldiers. God had promised that He, Himself, would be their inheritance.

How should I respond?

We face spiritual battles every day and need to be prepared for the struggles, temptations, and choices that come our way. How do you prepare yourself each morning? Do you start the day reading God’s Word and committing your day to Him? Periodically, take a self-evaluation of areas where you need to be better armed for the task – a spiritual census. What tools and resources would better prepare you as a spouse, parent, or friend? Ask the Lord to make His battle plan clear and give you the grace to follow that plan.

Day 119 – April 29

Numbers 25

What does it say?

The men of Israel worshipped Baal and gave in to sexual immorality, bringing God’s punishment. Phinehas acted to carry out God’s judgment on Zimri’s blatant sin.

What does it mean?

On the doorstep of the Promised Land, Israelite men succumbed to the temptations of Moabite women and made sacrifices to their gods. The ensuing execution of the leaders and punishment of the people involved were required by God as the price for the severity of the sin. Then with contempt and defiance, Zimri openly brought the sin into Israel’s camp. Phinehas’ zealous act, as an extension of God’s punishment, showed how seriously this priest took the violation of God’s law. His righteous act served as atonement and stopped the plague.

How should I respond?

Though society has its own view of right and wrong, God still takes our sin and commitment to Him very seriously. In order to maintain a vibrant relationship with Christ, believers have to live very different lives from those around them. What ungodly attitudes and behaviors have you adopted? How often are you asking God to help you see sin that may be hindering your relationship with Him? God always disciplines sin in the lives of His children. Consider how seriously God looks at your sin, and act with zeal to eliminate it.

For further reading: Numbers 31, God’s judgment on the Midianites

Day 118 – April 28

Numbers 23-24

What does it say?

Balak’s attempt to curse his enemy backfires. Israel is blessed three times, and destruction is proclaimed on their enemies.

What does it mean?

Fear of Israel had taken hold of the people of Moab. Balak enlisted the help of Balaam, a local diviner, because he understood there was a spiritual element behind Israel’s victories. However, instead of issuing a curse, Balaam proclaimed blessing over Israel in the presence of the enemy leaders. Not only was that the opposite of what Balak asked Balaam to do, it also put him in a position of great danger. Regardless, Balaam said exactly what God told him to say. Balaam understood who God was and that His message had to be spoken.

How should I respond?

There are many places in the world where it’s dangerous to speak the name and message of Jesus. In our culture Christians aren’t imprisoned or put to death for following Christ, but the fear of disapproval can still be paralyzing. Think about the last time God prompted you to talk about your faith. Did you speak up with boldness and confidence, or did you hold back because of the audience? Ask God today to show you where you need to speak His truth. You can be confident that if you honor Him with your heart, He will give you the right words to honor Him at the right time.

Day 117 – April 27

Numbers 22

What does it say?

Balaam followed after riches and accolades, but God used a donkey to intervene.

What does it mean?

Some of the nations were beginning to fear Israel because of their large numbers and victories in battles. Balak wanted to destroy Israel through a curse by Balaam, a well-known diviner. Balaam’s words seemed to comply with the Lord’s instructions, but God saw what was in his mind and heart during the journey. Balaam’s resolve appears to have been affected by the lure of promised wealth and importance. Using extreme measures to get Balaam’s attention, God showed him the reckless path he had chosen. God graciously corrected Balaam’s foolish course of action.

How should I respond?

Following Christ should make many decisions in life easy. God clearly lays out right and wrong in His Word. In Christian circles, we’re quick to nod our heads in agreement, but God knows when our hearts are not in full compliance. What temptation have you continued to entertain because of its appeal? How has God tried to get your attention? Don’t wait for God to intervene! He may correct your actions, or He may allow you to continue and suffer the consequences. Take time to ask Him what selfish desires could lead you on a wrong path – and let them go. No matter how alluring the potential gain, the peace that is found in obeying God is beyond compare.

Day 116 – April 26

Numbers 21:4-9

What does it say?

The Israelites’ impatience brought God’s punishment by way of venomous snakes. God healed anyone who looked at the bronze snake that Moses put on a pole.

What does it mean?

The people of Israel had entered the Promised Land. God mercifully delivered them from their enemies and gave them victory in battle. Instead of showing gratitude for His blessings, the people gave in to impatience. They persisted in their complaints, and God sent severe punishment in the form of venomous snakes. Even so, God showed His mercy in giving them a way to be healed. A snake was placed on a pole and erected in the camp with a simple command given: “Look at it and live.”

How should I respond?

The venom that inflicted the children of Israel is an excellent picture of sin’s destructive effect on our lives. And, just as with Israel, we have the same opportunity to “look and live.” The serpent on the pole was symbolic of the cross. In the New Testament Jesus referenced this story to help people understand what He was sent to do and what it would mean (John 3:14). Christ died on a cross for the sins of all mankind. However, unlike the temporary healing Israel experienced, Christ’s selfless act gives permanent life to all who receive Him. Have you “looked” to the cross of Jesus? God’s life-changing gift is waiting there – if only you choose to embrace it.

Day 115 – April 25

Numbers 20:22-29

What does it say?

Aaron, his son Eleazar, and Moses ascend Mount Hor. Moses placed Aaron’s priestly garments on Eleazar. After that, Aaron died on top of the mountain.

What does it mean?

Aaron served God faithfully while Israel wandered in the wilderness. He was appointed the first high priest, and God gave Him the responsibility of managing all who served in the Tent of Meeting. He was a minister to the people – a representative whose every action was meant to reflect the very heart of God. Even so, God could not ignore Aaron’s failure to trust God at the “waters of Meribah” – Aaron would die before the Israelites entered the Promised Land. God graciously allowed Aaron to see his son, Eleazar, take his place. Fittingly, all Israel mourned for the loss of their spiritual leader.

How should I respond?

The end of Aaron’s life is a powerful reminder of just how seriously God looks at each of our actions. Every life has highs and lows, frustrations, and tragedies. Even the ordinary things of everyday life can seem so difficult. The way you respond to each of today’s challenges will determine the life you will reflect on in your later years. No one wants to look back at a life of bad choices. What consequences will result from your decisions and reactions this week? Regardless of the circumstances, focus today on making Christ-centered decisions that leave no room for regret.

Day 114 – April 24

Numbers 20:14-21

What does it say?

Israel asked for help from Edom. Instead of help, they found opposition.

What does it mean?

Israel’s request to use the “King’s Highway” was reasonable. This route, commonly used by many for travel and trade, provided safety and shortened the north/south journey. Edom had the opportunity to help their “brother” Israel in a time of great need. These two nations were descendants of brothers, Jacob and Esau. But what should have been a helping hand became a threat of violence. Israel faced the sting of rejection along with the harsh reality that their difficult journey would be much longer.

How should I respond?

There are times when each of us encounters opposition for no apparent reason. Even when our motives are pure, the actions and attitudes of others can seem to conspire against us. Are you facing rejection that you do not understand? What unexpected opposition is making a difficult situation even worse? Regardless of the source, consider that God has allowed it to happen. We don’t always know why, but the Lord often uses obstacles to shape and mold us to be more like Him. What have you learned about God in your current circumstance? What have you learned about yourself? How do you need to respond in order to accomplish God’s purpose for you and for the other person?

Day 113 – April 23

Numbers 20:1-13

What does it say?

God provided water for His people despite Moses’ disobedience.

What does it mean?

For decades, Moses faithfully followed God while the Israelites complained, even though God consistently met their needs. In a moment of frustration, Moses became angry with the people and disobeyed God. Rather than doing as God instructed, Moses rebuked the entire community and reacted in anger. Moses had a responsibility to demonstrate God’s mercy and grace. Instead, he chose to give in to frustration. Consequently, Moses and Aaron lost the privilege of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. God’s charge was that they “did not trust” or “honor me as holy in the sight of the people.” The momentary lapse had devastating consequences.

How should I respond?

We all experience moments of frustration, but too often we blame events and circumstances for our responses. Our obedience and our reaction is our choice. When you feel yourself growing impatient or angry, you have to decide whether you’ll give in to how you feel in the moment or demonstrate God’s love and mercy. Who frustrates you? What response to that person would be obedience to God? What response would be disobedience? Regardless of the circumstances, we are meant to be examples of Christ. Choose to show Christ’s example in every interaction today.

Day 112 – April 22

Numbers 17-18

What does it say?

God confirmed that he had appointed Aaron and his sons to serve in the priestly office while the other Levites were to assist the priests in the care of the Tent of Meeting.

What does it mean?

The previous chapter records an open rebellion against Moses and Aaron. Even some Levites openly challenged the position of their God-given spiritual leader. The budding of Aaron’s staff showed the Israelites that God had chosen him to be the high priest, putting an end to the public challenge of his authority. Aaron‘s affirmation by God shows the seriousness of His call to action and how abundantly He equips those He calls for His work.

How should I respond?

Have you taken time to consider what God has planned for you? Regardless of your role or responsibilities, God has designed you for a purpose and is preparing you to fulfill that purpose. God’s equipping comes through both the opportunities He gives and the challenges He allows you to face. Are you going through opposition at the moment? How is God using it to stretch your limits? What affirmation have you been given by the Lord? Look for opportunities to use your natural and spiritual gifts. You may find that God has equipped you in ways that you never realized.

For further reading: Numbers 19, Laws of purification

Day 111 – April 21

Numbers 16

What does it say?

God passed judgment on a group of community leaders who led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron’s authority. Even so, the Israelites continued to grumble.

What does it mean?

God had already confirmed that Moses was the leader He had chosen to deliver the Israelites from slavery and lead them into their own land. However, rather than submit to Moses’ God-given authority, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram formed a rebellion in order to promote their own positions within the community. They were more interested in their own agenda than God’s plan. The Lord’s answer was swift and unquestionable. But less than twenty-four hours later, the Israelites opposed Moses again, bringing even more judgment. Challenging Moses’ authority was a challenge to God’s authority.

How should I respond?

Who has God placed as an authority in your life? What is your attitude toward the people who make decisions in your community, church, and home? There’s no doubt that not all leaders are cut from the same cloth as Moses. We’re bound to have differences of opinion and even disagreements with people in positions over us. In those times, ask God to reveal any signs of rebellion in your heart. How might you be trying to promote yourself and your own agenda? Look for opportunities to talk about issues that come up in a way that shows respect for a leader’s position. How can you show support for God-given authority today?

Day 110 – April 20

Numbers 14

What does it say?

Moses’ intercession for the Israelites held back God’s immediate wrath. But when they tried to enter the land on their own, the Amalekites and Canaanites defeated them.

What does it mean?

God had never once failed to take care of His people, yet they constantly displayed a lack of faith when challenges arose. Looking back on His faithfulness should have given them the trust needed to go into the land He promised them. It was only after judgment was passed on their defiance and on the ten who spread the bad report about the land that they admitted their sin. But rather than repent, the people rebelled against God’s judgment and tried to take control by entering the land against the advice of Moses. As a result of being outside of God’s will, leadership, and protection – they were defeated.

How should I respond?

You have two options when challenges arise: trust God or take control. Like the Israelites, we sometimes sit on our hands when God tells us to move, or we try to make something happen when He wants us to wait or stop. In what current challenge do you need to trust God more? How have you tried to manipulate the outcome on your own? Think back on how God has been faithful and trustworthy in the past. Allow those times to strengthen your faith and obedience for today’s challenges. Ask God to reveal any evidence of rebellion in your life. How will you display trust in God today?

For further reading: Numbers 15, Covenant statutes

Day 109 – April 19

Numbers 13

What does it say?

Moses sent twelve men into Canaan who returned with a report of the land. Most of the men were fearful, but Caleb encouraged the people to take possession of the land.

What does it mean?

Having reached the land God had promised, the people should have been praising God for His faithfulness in meeting all their needs for so many months. Instead, they allowed a small group of ten men to influence them with a disheartening report. Joshua and Caleb were the only two of the twelve who continued to trust God, knowing that He would enable them to overcome any obstacles in the land. How different the outcome would have been had all of them trusted God and realized He would continue to be faithful just as He had been in the past.

How should I respond?

Standing alone for God and His Word is never an easy task. What fearful or discouraging situation do you find yourself in today? Are you the only person standing firm in your faith at home, work, or school? God has not changed. He is able to overcome any and every situation; even the ones that make you feel small and weak. What fear is holding you back from believing God and taking Him at His word? Trusting Him to do a mighty work when you can’t see the result is true faith. He will always help you accomplish any work He wants you to do. What action do you need to take today?

Day 108 – April 18

Numbers 12

What does it say?

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses, causing Miriam to be struck with leprosy for seven days. God reaffirmed Moses as His chosen servant and friend.

What does it mean?

The issue of Moses’ marriage was not the root cause of Miriam and Aaron’s complaint. They had become envious of his relationship with God and his authority to lead Israel. Their jealousy overflowed into a tirade against Moses, pointing out their own contributions. They never imagined that God Himself would come to Moses’ defense. The incident offers unique insight into the relationship between God and Moses. God forgave their sin of coveting Moses’ position, but Miriam bore the consequences.

How should I respond?

Proverbs 13:10 says that pride leads to quarrels. Take a moment to look into your heart. How often is your anger at a sibling, co-worker, or friend rooted in pride and envy? Do you crave the attention or position currently given to that person? God has given us different levels of responsibility within our family, church, and community. If you are in a leadership role, like Moses, commit to following the Lord whole-heartedly so that your words and actions will be blameless. Those in supporting roles should consider the value of encouragement, assistance, and prayer for those in God-given leadership positions. What issue of pride do you need to deal with today?

Day 107 – April 17

Numbers 11

What does it say?

The Israelites complained about food, and Moses complained about the people. As a result, God sent quail and judgment into the camp.

What does it mean?

Two complaints received two very different responses from God. He took extreme measures to deal with the constant complaining of the people. They completely lost perspective of the Lord’s deliverance by wishing to be slaves again, just to eat what their bodies craved. At the same time, Moses had reached an emotional breaking point from carrying the responsibility of the nation on his shoulders. But rather than reprimand Moses, the Lord saw his heart and immediately offered a solution while reminding him that it was God carrying the people. Any work for God must be done in His strength.

How should I respond?

Followers of Christ are not immune to pressure, stress, or disappointment. The question is – what goes on in your heart when you’re overcome with negative emotions? Do you suddenly crave things that were part of your old life, or do you take your feelings to the Lord? It’s not wrong to express frustration to God; He already knows what’s going on in your head and your heart. The pressure is greatest when we attempt to face life in our own strength rather than rely on His strength. Where have you reached your breaking point? Check your heart, be honest with God, and look to Him for wisdom and guidance.

Day 106 – April 16

Numbers 10

What does it say?

God instructed Moses that it was time to begin the journey toward the land of Canaan. Moses compelled his brother-in-law, Hobab, to journey with them.

What does it mean?

God had everything in place for Israel to embark on the journey that would fulfill His plans for them. He gave Moses detailed instructions for every facet of the trip so there would be order rather than chaos. God had even given Moses the names of the men who would lead each tribe -Num. 1. Moses invited Hobab, who had knowledge of the terrain, to go with them on the journey and share in “whatever good things the Lord” promised to Israel. The journey would not be easy, but God had planned every aspect to guide and protect His people.

How should I respond?

God has a plan and purpose for you, just as He did for the Israelites. What life journey are you embarking on right now? God sees every aspect before you take a single step and wants to prepare you for what’s ahead. What changes do you need to make to bring order to your life so you can better follow His plan? Are your finances and family in good standing, allowing you to obey God’s direction at a moment’s notice? Who is the spiritual head of your family – the one you can look to for help as you navigate the road ahead? Ask God to use this journey to develop Christ-like character and deepen your dependence on Him.

Day 105 – April 15

Numbers 9:15-23

What does it say?

God put a cloud over the Tabernacle by day and a pillar of fire by night. When the cloud moved or stayed, the Israelites would move or stay with it accordingly.

What does it mean?

In those days, Israel lived in tents. They had no houses yet. They could move from place to place quickly. Their mobility would help them find food, avoid enemies, and adjust to diverse living conditions throughout the year. They always knew where God wanted them to go. He gave them a visible sign by day and night. From anywhere in the camp they could see if it was time to stay or time to leave. They never had to wonder what God’s will was for their lives because He spelled it out in great detail through Moses and led them from place to place during their time in the wilderness.

How should I respond?

Do you ever wonder what God wants you to do with your life? For that matter, do you wonder what God wants you to do today? Just like the Israelites looked toward the Tabernacle every day to see what God wanted for their day, so we can look to God in prayer daily. Another way we can connect with God daily is to read the Bible. It is His letter to us, and it is full of great instructions for how we can live our lives. When we read Scripture it’s like listening to God talk, and when we pray we’re talking to God. He wants to lead you day to day. Are you having a daily conversation with God?