Bible Devotions

A Look at Deuteronomy 27:11-26

And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying, “These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin; and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. Deuteronomy 27:11-13 NKJV

Read Deuteronomy 27:11-26 NKJV.

At first glance this list of curses may seem out of place.  Why command them to recite these curses rather than the actual Ten Commandments given to them earlier in Deuteronomy 5: 6-21?  As we study this further, we see these verses may be practical, real-life, re-statements of the Ten Commandments.

Let’s look at the curses and the Ten Commandments in table format, as well as categorize each.

Category

Curse

Commandment

# of Ten Commandment

God

Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image

You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;

2

Family

Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

5

Neighbor

Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.

You shall not steal. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

8, 10

Neighbor

Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9

Neighbor, Justice

Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9

Family, Personal Integrity, Sex

Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s bed. Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal. Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother. Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. You shall not commit adultery.

5, 7

Neighbor

Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9

Neighbor, Justice, Personal Integrity

Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.

You shall not murder. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

6, 9

There are several things that come out of this analysis.

First, I don’t see a reference to commandments three and four:  “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.  Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.”  I wonder why?

Second, there are four curses regarding sex.  If God repeated this one four times, I’m pretty sure He wants us to remember this one.   This one seems to be about honoring father, mother, family members and self by not joining our self inappropriately.

Third, analyzing the categories makes it clear family and neighbor relations are very important to God.  He wanted the children of Israel to live in relationship with one another.  If everyone did their part, surely none of these curses would be a problem.

Sadly, we learn throughout the Bible the people were not able to refrain from such abominations.  There are plenty of examples of how these commandments were broken and not just in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament.  Here are just a few to get you thinking:

  • Exodus 32:1-10 NKJV – “They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’”
  • 2 Samuel 16:21-22 NKJV – “And Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you are abhorred by your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strong.” So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the top of the house, and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.”
  • 1 Corinthians 5:1 NKJV – “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!”
  • Matthew  26:14-15 NKJV – “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.”

So what does this mean to us today?   God gave His Word to us as instruction, correction and training in righteousness.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV  says “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Therefore, what can we learn from this reading?  What needs to change with in our thoughts, attitudes, behavior and relationships?  Ask God to reveal all the reasons you do not obey His voice.   Thank Him for completing the good work which He started in you.

Lord God Almighty your plans and purposes are wise and just.  You lead us by your Spirit and Truth.  Equip us with your word.  Give us a pure desire for you.  Reveal anything in us that offends you.  Thank you, Jesus, for cleansing us from all unrighteousness.  In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Responsibility within a Family

Then Moses and the priests, the Levites, spoke to all Israel, saying, “Take heed and listen, O Israel: This day you have become the people of the LORD your God. 10 Therefore you shall obey the voice of the LORD your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.” Deuteronomy 27:9-10 NKJV

God choose the children of Israel to become His people.  They were to live differently from the surrounding nations.  They were set apart to God.  They were to reflect God’s character to others by obeying His voice and observing His statutes and commandments.

They were about to enter “the promised land flowing with milk and honey.”  God was about to fulfill His promise to those He loved.  God did not want the children of Israel to think this was the end of the journey and become complacent in their new home.  Rather He wanted them to remember to listen to Him and observe His ways.

Think for moment about a family with parents and children.  The children belong to the parents.  They are responsible to listen and obey all their parents say.  The parents are responsible for providing for, teaching and correcting the children so they may have healthy, productive lives.

The parents are not responsible for their neighbor’s children.  They don’t walk in their neighbor’s house and start instructing their neighbor’s children what to do.  The neighbor’s children are not responsible to them, so they have their own parents who they are responsible to.  Likewise, our children are not responsible to our neighbor’s parents because we are their parents.

In order for this responsibility to kick in, one must first become part of a family.  Some are physically born into a family and others are adopted into a family.  Once you’re in a family you become responsible to the parents and their commands.

When we live in family, we start looking and acting alike.  Ever notice how the children look much like their parents.  Even adopted children who come from different birth parents, start looking and acting like their adoptive parents.

That’s what is going on here in scripture.  The children of Israel have become part of God’s family.  As a result, they have the responsibility to listen and obey God’s commands and live different from those who are not part of God’s family.  The children of Israel’s lives were to show the world around them they were in fact part of God’s family.

How about you?  Have you become part of God’s family yet?  All you need to do is trust Jesus through faith and God’s grace will activate.  If you haven’t done this yet, there’s no time like now.  Simply ask Jesus to forgive your rebellion and He will.  God will send His Holy Spirit to live in you so you’ll know you are His.

So you are part of God’s family by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Does your life reflect God’s character?  Have you stepped up to the responsibility to God and His commands?  If not, ask God to show you what and give you a willing heart to change.

God Almighty who loves us and wants us to become part of His family, thank you for making it possible through Jesus Christ.  May we accept your work on our behalf.  May we become your children and responsible to your voice and commands.  Enable us this day to live for you.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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More than just about Tithing

Deuteronomy 26 is more than just about tithing, although many seem to pick that out of the entire chapter, more often that not.  While it does describe how the tithe should be distributed to the Levites, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, there is more going on in this chapter than just that. Continue on only after you have read Deuteronomy 26.  Let’s take a look.

Step 1 (verses 1-3): The children of Israel had to recognize God’s work in their lives.  Remember what God says, God does.  Their job was to recognize when He does it.

Step 2 (verses 2-4): They gave back to God from what He gave them.  They were blessed to bless others.  Offering to God what God gave them helped them realize it all comes from Him in the first place.

Step 3 (verses 4-10): They began to worship.  With their eyes firmly fixed on God and His mighty works in their lives, their response is worship.  Only God could do what He has done!

Step 4 (verses 11-16): Obedience was their next step.  The children of Israel were careful to observe all God commanded, even distributing our tithes to the Levites, the strangers, the fatherless and the widows.

Step 5 (verse 17): They made a commitment to God.  They proclaimed Him to their God.  They committed to:

  • Walking in His way
  • Keeping His statutes, commandments and judgments
  • Obeying His voice

Step 6 (verse 18-19): Look at what God does in response to their obedience.  God keeps His promises.  He enabled them to keep His commandments.  He sets them high above all nations in praise, in name,  and in honor, so they will be a holy people.

God is good and His ways are right.  This process works in our life too. It has happened just like this in my own life.  When we choose to trust and obey Him, He will bless us too!

How about you?  What area of your life do you need to obey Him more completely?

Lord, thank you for your word.  Thank you for being true to your word.  Help us walk in your way, keep your statues, commandments,  judgments and obey your voice this day by the power and authority of Jesus Christ working in us.  We come in His precious name, Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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The Compassionate God of Old Testament

Oh the Lord is good and compassionate towards His people. Dueteronomy 24 describes how the people should live and respond to each other in various situations of life. At first glance, you might think its just a list of rules and regulations.

Just reading the chapter you might miss the care God outlines for His people. Therefore, to help you discover God’s grace in the Old Testament try this approach:
as you read, make three column list. In the first column list all the “when or if” statements you find. In the second column list the response the people were to follow. In column three list the reason the people should follow it.

When/If Response Reason
Reap fields and forget a sheaf Don’t go back to get it It shall be for the stranger, fatherless, and widows that the Lord may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Review the table you created after you read the chapter. You will begin to see God commanded the children of Israel to do or not do certain things, for the benefit and care of the people.

If you thought the God of the Old Testament was hard and condemning, with the help of the Holy Spirit this technique may help you see Him in an entirely new light. The God of Old Testament is the same God of New Testament. He is loving and compassion and caring.

He knows what is best for us. His ways are higher than ours. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His plan and purpose is to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a future and a hope.

Lord, thank you for revealing your compassion through your word. Help us see you on every page we read. Let us cling to you. In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Five Words of Encouragement

I am with you always. Matthew 28:20 NKJV

Who knew five little words could bring such encouragement, empowerment, and confidence!

He is Trustworthy – First consider who is speaking these words.  The God of the Universe says He is with us always.  God can not lie, so if He says His is with us than He means it.

He is Capable – God, who is omnipresent, is the only one who can actually be in all places at the same time.  Therefore, we know He is capable of backing this promise.

He is Willing – God is on our side.  He is our biggest fan.  He wants us to live abundantly.  He wants us to overcome our hurts, fears, insecurities and doubts.

He is Intimate – No human can be with us every moment of the day or night. There are certain times when no human can be with us. For example, in a hospital, while sleeping, using the restroom, while at work or school, etc. But God can.  God isn’t just with us as in beside us.  No, He is within us.  That means He is where ever we are.  We carry Him around inside of our physical body.

He is Our Confidence – The God who loved us even enough to die for us, lives in us. The all powerful God who can raise the dead or heal the incurable resides within us.  This should bring great confidence.  Like Paul said in Philippians 4:13 NKJV, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

He is Committed – God has told us in many places in the Bible He is committed to us.  He says I will never leave you or forsake you.  He tells us that our names are written in His Book of Life.  He says our names are inscribed on the palms of His hands.  Paul tells us nothing can separate us from His love in Romans 8:38-39 NKJV.  Life can’t, death can’t, not even the powers of hell can come between God and His love for us.  God is completely, 100% sold out committed to us.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your willing sacrifice and unending love.  Thank you for your encouragement from your word and Spirit in us.  Thank you for being trustworthy, capable and committed to us.  Thank you for desiring intimacy with us.  Thank you for supplying the confidence we need this day.  In your perfect name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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A Lesson in Prayer

One night while praying with my four-year-old at bedtime, I learned something about prayer.  As I prayed “Lord be with us as we sleep”, my son gently interrupted me.  He said, “But mom, God is always with us.”  Pausing long enough to let that powerful truth sink in, I responded “you’re right. It’s kind of silly praying for something we already have.  Maybe we should change our prayer to thank God for always being with us.”

This experience revealed how our prayers had become automatic flow of words.  It is sad when our communication with the Creator of the Universe become routine.  We hardly notice what we’re saying.

Have you stopped to consider what and how you pray? Are you stuck saying a memorized or routine prayer each day?

Take a lesson from a four-year-old, God is with us.  Stop asking for what we already have and start thanking Him for it instead.  Remember all He has done for us and all He’s given us already and thank Him.

Think about conversations you have with your best friend.  Do you talk about the same thing every time you speak to them?  Probably not.  Do you constantly replay the same scenario over and over? I doubt it.  So why would we with God?

How can we change up our prayers so we are more engaged with God?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make a gratitude list.  Think of what you are thankful for and then praise God for it.
  • Think of others around you.  What problems are they facing?  Pray for God’s will in their lives.
  • Think of the toughest problem you’re facing. Ask God for wisdom and discernment and guidance on what you should do about it.  He is waiting for you to ask for help.  He will gladly help you.
  • Try asking God to show you what needs to change in your life.  Like David said in Psalm 26:2 NKJV “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.”

Don’t think you need to do all of these suggestions at once.  Rather pick one and try it.  See if it helps open you up to God.

Lord help us to seek you as humble as a child would.  Teach us to pray that our relationship with you would grow each day.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word. 

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The Measure of Christ’s Gift

But to each one of grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Ephesians 4:7 NKJV

How much grace is that?  All the grace we need.

What is the measure of Christ’s gift?  Well think about Jesus’ life on earth.  What did He go through so we could be forgiven of our sin?

  • He gave up His heavenly home to live as a humble human being.
  • God who deserved to be served by us, served us instead.
  • He patiently taught the people and His disciples, even though they didn’t comprehend the message.
  • He was misunderstood.
  • He was falsely accused.
  • He was betrayed.
  • He was rejected by the people He came to save.
  • He was mocked.
  • He was constantly tested by the scribes and Pharisees.
  • He was arrested, jailed without cause.
  • He was beaten and spit on.
  • He was physically tortured.
  • He was forced to carry a heavy wooden cross to the place of His execution.
  • He was crucified. Nails were driven into His hands and feet.  A spear was rammed through his side.

Remember, this is a partial list.  The more we study His life, the more we grasp how much He sacrificed for us.

What does this grace mean for us?

  • We are forgiven of our sin.
  • The judgment for sin was satisfied by Christ.  We are not held responsible for our own sin.
  • We are purified, cleansed from all unrighteousness.
  • We are made new and given another chance.
  • We are set free from bondage of sin.  We are no longer obligated to sin, instead we are empowered to live a godly life.
  • Our place in heaven is secured for all eternity.
  • We are given gifts to use for building God’s kingdom.
  • The mysteries of God are revealed to us.
  • We are adopted into god’s family.
  • We are given God’s Holy Spirit as a guarantee for all this.

Again, this is a partial list.  Let me ask you what does this grace mean to you personally?  I’m not asking for a textbook definition of grace.  I want to know how it affects your heart, your soul and your mind.

If after considering all Jesus has done on your behalf, you are not stirred in your inmost being, let it be a warning to you.  Something is amiss.  Ask God to reveal Himself to you.  As you begin to see Him, you will begin to see your need.  Then accept His gift.  Receive Jesus into your life. Be changed forever by His magnificent grace and unending love.

Lord Almighty how deep is your love for us.  Thank you for going to the extreme so we might be saved.  In your precious name Jesus we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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