Encouraging Devotions Blog

"A Promise to Come"

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As the Israelites were preparing to enter the promised land, Moses recounts all the history of the past 40 years to remind this new generation of God's faithfulness towards them and His expectations for them. In chapter 26 of Deuteronomy we see the command pertaining to first fruits. This giving of the first fruits was an opportunity for the Israelites to proclaim God's faithfulness in their past and trust Him for their future, all while simultaneously providing for the Levites. In this small section is a gold mine of beautiful truth that stands as a reminder to us today that as we give God the first part of our most precious commodity and time, He will faithfully provide for us and sustain us.

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
"When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you take possession of it and live in it, you must take some of the first of all the land's produce that you harvest from the land Yahweh your God is giving you and put it in a container. Then go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to have His name dwell.

When you come before the priest who is serving at that time, you must say to him, 'Today I acknowledge to the Lord your God that I have entered the land the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.' "Then the priest will take the container from your hand and place it before the altar of the Lord your God. You are to respond by saying in the presence of the Lord your God: My father was a wandering Aramean.

He went down to Egypt with a few people and lived there. There he became a great, powerful, and populous nation. But the Egyptians mistreated and afflicted us, and forced us to do hard labor. So we called out to Yahweh, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our cry and saw our misery, hardship, and oppression.

Then the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with terrifying power, and with signs and wonders. He led us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. I have now brought the first of the land's produce that You, Lord, have given me. You will then place the container before the Lord your God and bow down to Him. You, the Levite, and the foreign resident among you will rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given you and your household."

When the Israelites were to finally settle in the land and produce their harvest, they were instructed to give their first fruits to the Lord. The first fruits were the first of their labor that was ripe and ready to be harvested. Now, the first fruits were not necessarily the sweetest, choicest of the yield, but it was the first to arrive. The remaining crops would ripen and be ready for harvesting in the coming days and weeks. To give this portion to God was to trust that the rest of the harvest would come and there would be enough provision to sustain them after giving away the first. It is no surprise then that the word for first fruits is translated "a promise to come." This command to give of their first fruits was a call to trust God in a big way.

As my week starts anew, I look at all the things I desire to accomplish. I have many responsibilities, all of which I am excited and blessed to have. But I have to be careful to give God the first of my labor because He deserves it. He has provided my employment and He deserves all that comes from it. If I am to cram all of my duties into this small period that we call a week, then I have to be diligent. It seems counterproductive to waste time. However, I have found that when I stop and give God the first of my labors, He provides so much more productivity then I could have imagined. He sustains me and provides for me in ways I could not have imagined. Without giving God my first fruits, I would miss out on the "promise to come."

Notice, as they were giving their offering to the Levitical priest, the Israelite was to recount, out loud, how God saved them from slavery and lead them to the Promised Land. What is impressive is that this command comes before they even stepped foot in the Promised Land.

Carefully notice what Moses is instructing them to do. God had already delivered them from Egypt. They can look back on that as a fact. But God had yet to bring them into this Promised Land. They had to look forward to that in faith. The Israelites find themselves directly in the middle of a faithful deliverance and a promised inheritance. Until Jesus calls us home, this will be our story as well.

Look back on your life right now and remember all of the faithfulness God has shown you. Remember how He has brought you through things that had you doubting. Times that you thought you would never fully recover have been made new all because of God's faithfulness to you. And indeed, there is a promise or two that God has given you that has not yet been fulfilled. Be certain today that God knows. Be sure that His ear is not deaf to your needs and desires. Be confident that you have a loving Father that seeks to do beyond anything you can ask or think. Trust Him with the first fruits of your labor and see the "promise to come" again and again until He comes returns.

“Did You Try Turning It Off And On Again.”

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Have you ever had an IT expert diagnose your computer problems by telling you to simply turn off your computer and and then restart it? It seems so simple, but disconnecting and reconnecting power often wipes out whatever issue we are having. In a similar way, God prescribed a re-setting of His people’s lives in Deuteronomy 15:1-2

Deuteronomy 15:1-2
“At the end of every seven years, you must cancel debts. This is how to cancel debt: Every creditor is to cancel what he has lent his neighbor. He is not to collect anything from his neighbor or brother, because the LORD’s release of debts has been proclaimed.”

Every 49 years, on The Day of Atonement, the Israelites were to proclaim The Year of Jubilee. Every debt was canceled, every slave was set free, and all land returned to its original owner. This was a massive economic reset for the Israelites. Considering that most people would only experience this once in their lifetime, you can be sure this year of jubilee was highly anticipated. Sadly, we have no record of this year of jubilee ever happening. The land would remain out of their reach, slaves were hopelessly trapped in servitude to their Israelite brothers, and every debtor would continue to know the weight of their debt. The joy of freedom that God meant for the Israelites to experience became mere words on a scroll because they disobeyed God’s Word.
It would have taken an incredible amount of trust in God to obey this command fully. The people survived off what they planted and harvested, and indeed, they needed all the help they could get to work the land. Having land and slaves was their source of income and livelihood. To give all their land away, release slaves, and forgive debts meant taking a hit to their pockets. Certainly, they questioned if God would provide for them if they followed through. It is apparent they did not trust that He would sustain them. Instead of seeing the miraculous from the hand of God, they saw the mundane through the works of their hands.

How often do we miss out on seeing God do amazing things because we don’t trust what He says? The Year of Jubilee was all about forgiving, releasing, and letting go all with the purpose of restoration. I cannot help but think God wants to accomplish miraculous restoration during this time, but we have to trust that He will sustain us as we release our grip. If we continue to hold tight what God says to release, we will miss out on seeing the fullness of His promises to us. His promises will just be words written long ago.

And so I ask, what do you have a grip on that God desires you to release?

Do you harbor unforgiveness?

Will you release that today so that God can restore your relationship?

Are you holding tight to how things used to be so much that you are striving to keep things as normal as possible?

Will you release that today to see the new things God wants to accomplish in your relationship with Him and others?

Are you spending all your time working to sustain yourself that you give no time for God or family?

Will you give your time to God, trusting that there is peace in seeking Him?

Today, let us begin to prove the greatness and goodness of our God as we reset our spiritual economy and trust Him for the miraculous.

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