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They Are Stronger Than We (Thursday, November 2, 2017)

Numbers 13:26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.

Introductory Thoughts

During times of battle, the people of God typically find themselves cast as the underdogs. The enemy is often stronger and wiser and more desirous of gaining victory at any cost. When the Israelites spied out the land of Canaan, God instructed them to view the fruit of the land because that was the area in which God had given them promise. Instead, the Israelites focused upon the reputation of the enemy and considered the insurmountable odds they faced. In like manner, today’s believer faces superior foes: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Faith, however, refuses to retreat and trusts that God dwelling within each believer can and will give the strength necessary to overcome any superior foe (1 John 4:4).

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Read about these seemingly hopeless situations and the men who knew God was their strength: Deuteronomy 5:15; 1 Samuel 14:6, 13; 1 Samuel 17:37; 2 Kings 6:15-17; 2 Chronicles 32:7-8. We are safe in God’s hands (John 10:27-29).
• (For everyone): In what ways are you no match for the world, the flesh, and the Devil? What should your inferiority drive you to do? Should you hide and refuse to fight?
• Why can a believer have hope for victory in spiritual warfare, while unbelievers are merely subject to be servants to their own ungodly desires?

Prayer Thoughts

• Thank God for being your strength in times of battle.
• Ask God to remind you of the importance of faith in warfare.

SONG: FAITH IS THE VICTORY

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Spending Your Strength in Vain (Tuesday, October 31, 2017)

Leviticus 26:18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
20 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.

Introductory Thoughts

Man’s strength is far from limitless. This is why it is so important for man to spend his strength on things that matter and spiritually make a difference. The Lord cautioned His people in Leviticus that their labour would not result in an increase because of their rebellion. The harder they worked, the more vain the outcome. Unfortunately, man tends to expend far too much of his limited strength upon vain things. For instance, man spends much of his strength labouring “for the meat which perisheth” (John 6:27). Additionally, he spends his strength labouring without the help of God (Psalm 127:1). Both of these are unfortunately common and wasteful. Man must focus his energies upon the right things while working through and by the power of God.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): When God’s people stopped working on His temple, they laboured in vain (Haggai 1:3-7; Haggai 2:15-17). We should work with the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1a). The work we do for Him is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
• (For everyone): Are you spending your strength in vain? Are you labouring in things that have no eternal value? Are you labouring apart from the help of the Lord?
• What are some things upon which men spend their strength that could be considered vain or empty? How many of these things consume your strength on a regular basis?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to help you labour with His help.
• Ask God to help you labour for things that have eternal value.

SONG: GOD OF OUR STRENGTH

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Made Strong By the Hands of God (Monday, October 30, 2017)

Genesis 49:22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)

Introductory Thoughts

The Lord is the strength of His people. The scriptures repeatedly verify this truth. In the prophecy concerning Joseph, the hands of the Lord are said to have made the hands of Joseph strong (Genesis 49:24). Joseph was hated and repeatedly persecuted, yet the Lord was his helper. This interaction by the Lord is not limited to the life of Joseph but was the constant testimony amongst the people of God. The mighty king David understood his need for the Lord and declared it with statements like “God is my strength and power” (2 Samuel 22:33), “the LORD is my strength and my shield” (Psalm 28:7), and “thou art my strength” (Psalm 31:4). Nehemiah understood these truths as the brave cupbearer prayed, “O God, strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9).

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Read the prayer and praise of others who knew God was their strength: 1 Chronicles 29:12; Psalm 46:1-3; Psalm 71:18; 2 Timothy 4:16-17. What can you learn from their statements of praise?
• (For everyone): What does it say for your need for God’s strength when Joseph, David, and Nehemiah all required God’s help? How did Nehemiah seek the Lord for such help?
• Genesis 49:24 indicates that Joseph did what he could do before the Lord added the necessary strength. What practical lessons could you learn from this truth?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to strengthen your hands.
• Ask God to show you your need for His strength.

SONG: HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION

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If a Man Shall Steal (Saturday, October 28, 2017

Exodus 22:1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.
3 If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
4 If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double.
5 If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man’s field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution.
6 If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
7 If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double.
8 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods.
9 For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.
10 If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it:
11 Then shall an oath of the LORD be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good.
12 And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof.
13 If it be torn in pieces, then let him bring it for witness, and he shall not make good that which was torn.
14 And if a man borrow ought of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.
15 But if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good: if it be an hired thing, it came for his hire.

Introductory Thoughts

Sin has consequences, but equally as important is the truth that sin brings responsibility. If a man steals, he is to make things right. If he steals another man, he can only make it right by suffering capital punishment (Exodus 21:16). If he steals another man’s animals, he can make it right by restoring them with a penalty (Exodus 22:1). Unfortunately, the heart of man “is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), and many men will do anything to avoid taking responsibility for their sin. This, however, should only be a trait of the wicked. A man who gets right with the Lord should naturally look for ways to restore that which he has stolen (Luke 19:1-10).

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): It is never right to sin no matter what the reason. A man who is hungry has no right to steal. If caught, he must repay (Proverbs 6:30-31).
• (For everyone): Have you stolen anything without making the proper restoration? Is there an opportunity to restore what has been stolen at this point?
• Why is it not enough to stop stealing? How could it be a good testimony for the Lord if you repaid the things that you have stolen, even if those things were stolen years ago?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to remind you of things you need to restore.
• Ask God to help you follow through on what needs restoring.

SONG: ‘TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS

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Whoso Is Partner With a Thief (Friday, October 27, 2017)

Proverbs 29:24 Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.

Introductory Thoughts

Unfortunately, many people are deceived into thinking that guilt is only the burden of those who personally commit sin. The reality is that consenting to wickedness is equally as bad as personally committing the sin. According to the fiftieth Psalm, it is the wicked (Psalm 50:16) who “sawest a thief” and “consentedst with him” (Psalm 50:18). According to Proverbs 29:24, “Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul.” By comparison with the latter part of Proverbs 29:24, it appears that partnering with a thief occurs when one witnesses another individual stealing and remains silent. It is not enough to close one’s eyes and hide in the presence of wickedness. It must be condemned.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Consent means to agree with. We are not to consent to any sin (Proverbs 1:10). Jacob consented to his mother’s evil plan to steal Esau’s blessing in Genesis chapter 27. Ahab consented to Jezebel’s plan to steal Naboth’s vineyard. (Read First Kings chapter 21.)
• (For everyone): Have you witnessed others stealing and chosen to remain silent? Are you willing to bear the guilt for their sin? What steps should you take to make something right?
• Have you partnered with thieves? Have you consented unto theft? Have you hurt your own testimony by not confronting the one who stole?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to give you the boldness to do right.
• Ask the Lord to forgive you for not taking a stand in times past.

SONG: LIVING FOR CHRIST

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The Thief Cometh (Thursday, 27, 2017)

John 10:7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Introductory Thoughts

As a sin of selfishness, stealing does not care for the well-being of those whom it victimizes. The thief cares for himself and only himself. He will steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He will strip a man of his raiment, wound him, and leave him to die (Luke 10:30). He will break up homes and families. This is true of a man who steals material goods, people, animals, money, affection, or any other thing that can be stolen. A thief is a thief. Selfishness causes him to take something that does not belong to him, and selfishness will deceive him into thinking he deserves those things at any cost. Many times the thief has been hurt so he wants someone else to hurt, die, or be left desolate.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): A woman who stole another’s baby cared nothing for the baby or its mother. God gave Solomon wisdom to show her true heart (1 Kings 3:16-27). Consider the cruelty in Proverbs 1:11-13. Jesus became angry at thieves in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13).
• (For everyone): Are you a thief? Do you try to justify the things that you steal? How many people have you hurt in order to take the things you have taken? Have you ever gone back to those people to try to fix the wounds you caused?
• Have you been hurt by a thief? What did you lose when someone stole from you? How hard was it to regain what was lost?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to show you the hurt caused by thieves.
• Ask God to show you the selfishness of stealing.

SONG: ALL THE WAY MY SAVIOUR LEADS ME

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Out of the Heart (Tuesday, October 24, 2017)

Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Introductory Thoughts

Sin develops, plots, schemes, and finalizes its dastardly deeds within the heart of the guilty long before the sin manifests itself to the eyes of others. Before a man steals the heart of an individual not belonging to him, he determines to do so within his heart. Before a man breaks into the home of another man and takes something that does not belong to him, he decides to do so in his heart. Before a man steals time or supplies from his company, he chooses to do so in his heart. Before a man determines to keep back something belonging to God, he premeditates the act within his heart. Therefore, a man should determine to get right with God before the sin of his heart manifests itself to the hurt of others.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): The things we choose to do begin in the heart (Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 23:7a) and everyone’s heart is wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). For instance, the Bible says that a thief marks his house beforehand (Job 24:14, 16). Only God can help us do right (Psalm 119:11; Proverbs 4:20-27; Jeremiah 4:14).
• (For everyone): Why is it important to realize that sin originates within the heart? How does this enable a man to change his mind and direction before he performs the act of his heart?
• Are you presently taking something that does not belong to you? How long has that sin been festering in your heart? Will you get it right and stop taking what is not yours?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to slow the process between the hidden and visible sins.
• Ask the Lord to keep you from the sin of stealing.

SONG: COME TO THE SAVIOUR NOW!

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Thou Shalt Not Steal (Monday, October 23, 2017)

Exodus 20:15 Thou shalt not steal.

Introductory Thoughts

According to God, it is a sin to steal (Leviticus 19:11; Deuteronomy 5:19)! To steal is to wrongfully take something that belongs to someone else and place the stolen goods amongst one’s own possessions (see Genesis 31:19; Joshua 7:11). Stealing also can involve the act of obtaining something through falsehood or deceit. This most often relates to materialistic things but can also be the wrongful pursuit of the hearts and affections of others (2 Samuel 15:6; Proverbs 9:17). Stealing is the act of selfish men who are often willing to do much more than steal in order to have things that rightfully belong to others. Perhaps this is the reason why the scripture says that “Thou shalt not steal . . . is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Romans 13:9).

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): There will be nothing unrighteous in heaven. That includes thieves (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Saved people should never take part in theft (Ephesians 4:28; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Peter 4:15-16; Malachi 3:8).
• (For everyone): Have you ever stolen something? Have you ever pursued the heart or affection of another that did not belong to you? Have you repented of this wicked and selfish sin?
• Why is “Thou shalt not steal” comprehended in the saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”? How could obedience to the second command naturally yield obedience to the first?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to bring to your attention anything you have stolen.
• If you have stolen, confess your selfishness to God and repent.

SONG: TAKE MY LIFE, AND LET IT BE

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