To learn more about the details for activities happening during the 10 days, please read here. Each day we will be sharing a devotional here on the KCI Blog, which you can follow via RSS here or by signing up to the emails here. Read Day 8's devotional below.
Day 8, Focused On Our First Love
Today's reading is from Deuteronomy 11:16-17:
This is an interesting passage to start the day with. It’s always good to start the day with one of those ‘feel good’ verses to get you going in the morning!!
A bit of straight talk is actually good for us. Discipleship is about being shaped and formed by God. Sometimes that involves encouragement and inspiration and other times it involves challenge and confrontation. Proverbs 3:12 says, “the Lord disciplines those he loves.”
Psalm 23:4 says, “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” I’m not sure we associate a rod and staff with comfort but the truth is the Lord loves and cares for us enough to tell us some home truths!
This passage is a direct warning so that we don’t miss out on the rain of heaven, a fruitful life and the gift of God’s grace.
The first 2 words of verse 16 are “be careful.” And that is the heart of the 10 days of prayer and fasting. We are stopping to prayerfully and carefully consider the way we are living and what we are living for, to ensure we can experience the rain of heaven and see all the fruit we are believing to see.
The phrase ‘the Lord’s anger will burn against you’ is jolting. What does it mean? It is stating a Biblical reality as ‘the Lord’s anger’ burns against sin and all the power of the enemy. When mankind chose and indentified with sin over God, humanity stepped into the firing line.
The language of these verses reminds us of the story of Adam and Eve. They had the privileged position of intimacy with God, they were enticed to turn away from him and were separated from God and his favour as a result of their sin.
God gave mankind the ability to chose. He made people not robots. In short man rebelled against God which infected humanity and all of creation with a disease called sin.
Sin separates mankind from God. Sin corrupts the earth and everything in it. Genesis 3:17 tells us that the earth is “cursed” because of man’s sin. Sin corrupts and corrodes. Sin brings pain and brokenness. Sin perverts and poisons. Sin brings death. A reading of history is a reading of the impact of man’s pride and rebellion against a loving and generous God.
Colossians 2:13 teaches that people are literally “dead” in their sins and in need of a saviour. The Bible also likens sin to a prison. A supernatural prison that holds us captive and stops us enjoying the freedom and blessings of life. A life sentence that ends in capital punishment. Romans 5:12 explains, “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”
This is why God set in motion a rescue mission. God does not want us to have to face the consequences of his anger. He wants to see us restored in relationship, blessed and fruitful in life. Romans 6:23 explains, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So as today’s passage warns us, we need to be careful. The enemy is looking for every and any opportunity to get us to turn away from God so that he can destroy our lives and prevent our God given destiny from coming to pass. 1 Peter 5:8 also warns that we are to, “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Hebrews 12:1 encourages, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Ephesians 6:12 teaches us that we live in the midst of a great spiritual battle, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
In Matthew 6:13, Jesus teaches us to pray: “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Jesus wants us to be ever vigilent so that we do not fall prey to an enemy that tries at every turn to tempt us using intimidation and counterfeit blessing, robbing us of the rain of heaven and a fruitful life.
Again this is his message in Mark 14:38: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” This is the best advice especially through this time of prayer and fasting. The Message version of this verse is also helpful:
“Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don’t enter the danger zone without even knowing it!”
So as we come to the last few days of this time of prayer let’s determine that we will love the Lord with all of our hearts, mind, soul and strength. Let’s ensure that we never forsake our first love (Revelation 2:4). Let’s not just seek God in life, let’s seek God first because what you seek first shapes your life, your priorities and everything else that you seek.
As it says in Matthew 6:33 we will see God’s blessing and favour when we, “SEEK FIRST his kingdom and his righteousness.”
When God is your first love you experience the blessing and favour of God. 1 Samuel 2:30 makes clear this principle. God says, “Those who honour me I will honour.”
In the season ahead let’s show God our love by giving our absolute best to God just like Abel, Genesis 4:3-5, “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 But Abel also brought an offering – fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour.”
Let’s show God our love by putting Him first in our priorities like Moses, Hezekiah and Daniel:
- Exodus 40:1-3, “40 Then the Lord said to Moses: 2 ‘Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. 3 Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain.”
- 2 Chronicles 29:1-3, “Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them.”
- Daniel 10:12, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”
Let’s show God our love by putting Him first in our decision making like King Jehoshaphat and like the early church:
- 1 Kings 22:5, “But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, ‘First seek the counsel of the Lord.
- Acts 15:28, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”
Let’s show God our love by putting Him first in our family life like Joshua, Joshua 24:15, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’'
Let’s show God our love by putting Him first in the church. Let’s put relationship with Him over activity for Him. Let’s value the things that He values and commit ourselves to His commands.
When we begin with God something big is about to happen!! Genesis 1:1 certainly makes that point clear: “In the beginning God CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH.”
When the Lord is our first love and takes first place in our lives we will see the abundant rain of His blessing. So as a church let’s worship the Lord with all that we are. Let’s spend time in prayer building our relationship. Let’s put Him first and get ready for what is about to happen!!
Lord, thank you that you love me enough to warn me and protect me from the consequences of sin. Lord show me if I have made anything an idol in my life. Show me where I have put other things first before you. Lord cleanse me and heal me and lead me away from temptation. I want to seek you first. I want to love you with all that I am.
I was far off from God but have been brought near through the Blood of Christ.