judgment balance

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Deuteronomy 14-17 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 1:14 “You answered1 me, ‘What you propose to do is good.’

Deuteronomy 1:15 “So I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and respected men, and set them over you as leaders: commanders for thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and officers for your tribes.

Deuteronomy 1:16 I commanded your judges at that time, and this is what I said: Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge ethically between a man and his brother or his guest.2

Deuteronomy 1:17 Do not show partiality when deciding a case; listen to small and great alike. Do not be intimidated by anyone, because judgment3 belongs to God. Bring me any case too difficult for you, and I will hear it.

judgment balance

Moses’ qualification list for judges concentrated on two positive traits and two negative disqualifying traits. A judge in Israel had to be personally wise and socially respected by his peers. He also had to be courageous enough not to be intimidated by others when deciding what is fair, nor partial for or prejudiced against someone who is different than he is.

Lord, make us wise and impartial, so that our judgments always reflect favorably upon you.

1עָנָה

2גֵּר

3מִשׁפָּט

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not enough chiefs

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Deuteronomy 1:9-13 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 1:9 “I spoke to you at that time, and this is what I said: I can’t bear the responsibility for you on my own.

Deuteronomy 1:10 Yahveh your God has so multiplied you that notice1 today you are as numerous as the stars of the sky.

Deuteronomy 1:11 May Yahveh, the God of your fathers, add to2 you a thousand times more, and empower3 you as he promised you.

Deuteronomy 1:12 But how can I bear your troubles, burdens, and disputes by myself?

Deuteronomy 1:13 Appoint for yourselves wise, understanding, and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will place4 them as your heads.

not enough chiefs

Moses found himself in the opposite situation of the old proverb. He did not have enough chiefs. He asked the tribes to elect their own leaders because God had blessed them with large numbers. He agreed to place them as heads to represent the groups. They were not to be dictators. Moses was to retain his position as leader of the nation. But wise leaders know how to build a team around them to share the load.

Lord, give us godly leaders who can represent us before you and guide us to do your will.

1הִנֵּה

2יָסַף

3בּרךְ

4 שׂוּם

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stayed long enough

 

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Deuteronomy 1:6-8 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 1:6 “Yahveh our God spoke to us at Horeb: and this is what he said: ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough.

Deuteronomy 1:7 Turn and set out and go to the hill country of the Amorites and their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the Judean foothills, the Negev and the sea coast – to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon as far as the great river, the Euphrates River.

Deuteronomy 1:8 See, I have given the land in your sight. Enter and take possession of1 the land Yahveh swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants after them.’

stayed long enough

God did not give modern day Christians the same mission that he gave the Israelites. We do not have a physical territory to invade and possess. But we do have a mission. There comes a time when we need a nudge from our sender because we have stayed long enough between the “do” and the “done.”

God has given us a permanent future, and a present mission. We have stayed long enough in our current position in between the deliverance and the assignment.

Lord, by your grace and power, we will move on.

1יָרַשׁ

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why we are in Deuteronomy

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Deuteronomy 1:1-5 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 1:1 These are the words Moses said to all Israel across the Jordan in the open country,1 in the Arabah opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab.

Deuteronomy 1:2 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir.

Deuteronomy 1:3 In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything Yahveh2 had commanded3 him to say to them.

Deuteronomy 1:4 This was after he had defeated King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and King Og of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth, at Edrei.

Deuteronomy 1:5 Across the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this instruction,4 and this is what he said:

why we are in Deuteronomy

We are camping out across the Jordon in the open country. We know the promised land is out there, but we have been striving for it for decades, and it still seems a distant dream. It is not that we don’t know what God wants. We have heard from him, and we know what he wants. It’s just that we have tried a few times and failed. We want to possess the land that God has promised us, but we have found out that simply striving in our own power will not cut it.

So, here we are again in Deuteronomy. We’re not going to hear many new things. But perhaps this time the truth will stick, and we will be able to make it over.

Lord, encourage us this day to rededicate ourselves to possess all that you have planned for us.

1מִדְבָּר

2יהוה

3צוּה

4תּוֹרָה

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the cycle of care and favor

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Ephesians 6:23-24 (JDV)

Ephesians 6:23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and care with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 6:24 Favor be with all who have an indestructible1 care for our Lord Jesus Christ.

the cycle of care and favor

Paul first pronounces a blessing of God’s care upon the recipients of his letter. Then, he asserts that God’s favor will rest on all those who manifest this care. He calls this care indestructible. What he describes is a cycle of care and favor. The care first comes from God as a result of prayer. Then, it flows back to God from the devotees. One of the results of this care for Christ is prayer for his church. This restarts the cycle.

Lord, we want to start the cycle in our own community, so we are asking you to bless our local church with an indestructible care for you.

1ἀφθαρσία

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information and encouragement

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Ephesians 6:21-22 (JDV)

Ephesians 6:21 Tychicus, our dearly cared about brother and faithful assistant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me so that you may be informed.

Ephesians 6:22 I am sending him to you for this very reason, to let you know how we are and to encourage your hearts.

information and encouragement

Paul needed the assistance of Tychicus. He was imprisoned and needed the help of this faithful brother. But he sent him with his letter because it was important to him that the churches who would receive this letter have information about his team and be encouraged by it.

When my wife and I were missionaries, we wrote regular newsletters to our supporters. But we also took furloughs every few years to go back and report in person to those churches. Since Paul could not do that, he sent his assistant (διάκονος) instead. Those who are praying for us need information about us.

Lord, help us to pray intelligently and accurately for our missionaries.

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would you pray for me?

Jefferson Vann -201711

Ephesians 6:19-20 (JDV)

Ephesians 6:19 Pray also in behalf of me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.

Ephesians 6:20 In behalf of which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough to speak about it as I should.

would you pray for me?

Paul asked his readers to pray for him.

Oh, wait… shouldn’t I be doing that? I don’t think I’ve ever done that. Can I ask you to pray for me?

Let’s see.. what should I ask you to pray for. There’s health, and a job so I can pay bills, and a church or school where I can serve. Oh, and one more thing:

that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.”

Most definitely.

Thank you!

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all about warfare

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Ephesians 6:16-18 (JDV)

Ephesians 6:16 In every situation taking up the shield of the faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Ephesians 6:17 Take the helmet of the salvation and the sword of the Breath – which is the statement of God –

Ephesians 6:18 praying during all seasons in the Breath with every prayer and request, and staying alert with every perseverance and request concerning all the devotees.

all about warfare

It is impossible to cover this amazing text briefly. There is just too much here. I want to highlight the five times Paul uses the word πᾶς (each, every, all).

  • every situation – spiritual warfare is fought one battle at a time.

  • all the flaming arrows – they may come in bunches, but the faith can extinguish them all.

  • all seasons – there is no vacation time for the prayer warrior.

  • every prayer and request – each prayer requires alertness and watchfulness.

  • all the devotees – the objective of warfare is not simply self-protection – it is protection and victory for your whole army.

Lord, open our eyes to the reality of the war going on around us, and make us capable soldiers.

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why we need the armor

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Ephesians 6:13-15 (JDV)

Ephesians 6:13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

Ephesians 6:14 Stand, then, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest,

Ephesians 6:15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.

why we need the armor

Paul appears to be hinting a reference to Isaiah 11:1-10 – a description of the Messiah’s ultimate victory and the peace that will result from it. In that context, taking up the armor of God makes us part of his army, which means we will be part of the winning team.


Isaiah 11:1 And a shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

Isaiah 11:2 And the breath of Yahveh will rest on him – a breath of what is wise and understands, a breath that encourages and makes strong, a breath that knows and fears Yahveh.

Isaiah 11:3 And he will inspire the fear of Yahveh. And he will judge not by what his eyes see, and he will correct not by the rumors his ears hear.

Isaiah 11:4 But he will judge the poor with righteousness, and he will decide for the needy of the land with integrity. And he will strike the land with the rod of his mouth, and he will kill the wicked person with the breath of his lips.

Isaiah 11:5 And righteousness will be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

Isaiah 11:6 And a wolf will live as an alien along with a lamb, and a leopard will lie down with a kid, and a calf and a lion and a fatling together and a small boy will be tending them.

Isaiah 11:7 And a cow and a bear will graze; their young ones will lie down together. And a lion will eat straw like the cattle.

Isaiah 11:8 And one nursing will play over a cobra’s hole, and one who is weaned will put his hand on a viper’s hole.

Isaiah 11:9 They will not do harm and they will not destroy on all of my mountain of holiness because the land will be full of people who know Yahveh, like water covers the sea.

Isaiah 11:10 And this will happen on that day: Gentiles will seek the root of Jesse, who will be standing as a flag to a people, and his resting place will be glorious.


But bear in mind, that time of peace which the prophet proclaimed is yet in our future. Wolves and leopards and lions and bears and cobras and vipers will not lie down peacefully beside us and play with our infants and toddlers. The evil day is today. That is why we need the armor.

Lord, give us the strength to put on your truth and righteousness, because even though we are part of the winning team, the war is not yet over.

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we don’t got this

stainless steel armor

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Ephesians 6:10-12 (JDV)

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the priorities, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the sky realms.

we don’t got this

Paul had been calling on the Ephesian believers to practice mutual submission in their interpersonal relationships, and it is in this context that he encourages them to get their strength from the Lord.

When it comes to interpersonal relationships, many of us have an “I’ve got this” attitude. Well, that’s just stupid. We don’t got this, and that’s why we need the Lord’s help. There is an army of demonic beings which seeks to undermine our relationships with each other. We might think we can handle simple relationships, but that is just why the army will concentrate its efforts there. If Satan can destroy my relationship with my wife and children, coworkers and employers or employees, he can render me ineffective. God’s armor is my protection against his attacks.

Lord, keep us from the “I’ve got this” attitude. Empower us.

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