ID: Your Identity in Christ: April 22-30, 2019 (Mon-Tues): Read through Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Ephesians

Everyone has an identity, but how would you identify yourself? Many people identify themselves by what they do. You may be a carpenter, an accountant, a teacher, a preacher, a clerk, or a salesman. I’m not asking what you do. You can change what you do, but you can’t change your identity. I used to be a public school teacher. Now I’m a minister. My mom used to be a beautician and then a school bus driver, but she’s been a nurse for many years now. You can change what you do, but you cannot change your identity. Now don’t start rattling off your social security number. We don’t want any identity theft going on.

Your identity is who you are. So who are you? The two main identity groups in the world are children of the devil and children of God. If you’re a child of God, then you have an awesome identity. Now get a hold of yourself. You can’t take credit for it. God did it. He gave each believer a jaw-dropping identity, and you’ll read about it in this last reading in April.

Ephesians is one of the greatest books of the Bible (in my opinion), and each of its six chapters is power-packed with pieces of your identity in Christ. You want to know who you are? Look below. I’ve personalized these truths from Ephesians. If you’re a believer in Christ, say each one of these with confidence and conviction. Don’t just take my word for it. Read God’s word.

ID: Your Identity in Christ:

If you’re a true believer in Christ, I pray that you will truly grasp your identity in Christ, who you really are, and live in confidence that God has made you this. You’re not hoping to attain this. He has already given you this identity.

This week you’ll read…

Deuteronomy 22-34: “This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach. It is not in heaven so that you have to ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ And it is not across the sea so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it. …I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Joshua 22-24: “Therefore, fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord. But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.” (Joshua 24 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Psalms 52-60: “ When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Ephesians 1-6: “Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 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 in The Christian Standard Bible).

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A Lover and a Serial Killer: April 15-21, 2019 (Mon-Sun): Read through Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ezra, and Romans

Sin is drop-dead gorgeous, a lover and a serial killer, giving pleasure and then poisoning.

Sin is a mentor and a predator, growing its prey and then pouncing to kill.

Sin is a comforter and a peace-robber, helping mask the pain yet increasing the anxiety.

Sin is an emancipator and an enslaver, throwing off all restraint and then chaining in a prison of bondage and regret.

Sin exudes happiness and kills joy, calling for the pursuit of happiness while strangling inner joy.

Sin is a truth-teller and a liar, using truth when it forwards its agenda and using lies for the same.

Sin is a comrade and an enemy, an old friend with whom we’re comfortable and a foreign spy betraying our best interests.

I’ve been sin’s buddy and victim. You have, too. We’ve been duped by the promises and trapped by the emptiness. We’ve been enticed by the glow and burned by the fire. We’ve let sin reign in our mortal bodies in various ways because we’ve swallowed the lie and set God’s ways aside. We’ve failed in our thoughts, actions, and omissions. Lest you forget, sin isn’t just for the addicts of alcohol, drugs, and sex. Sin doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, and gender. Sin can be right in the middle of our occupations and preoccupations. Sin is found in the most conservative churches and in the most faithful of families. In less than ten honest seconds, you could name a sin which trips you up, and in ten minutes, you could make a list which would start discouraging your soul. When it comes to sin, we can be smart and then so stupid. Every person has proven to himself and God why humanity is in need of a Savior. I’m so glad the Father sent the Son to redeem mankind so that by the Spirit we can be unshackled from sin and rescued from the mouth of hell.

Regarding this week’s reading, you’ll see Ezra being struck by the sin in and around him. “O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to You. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin” (Ezra 9 in The New Living Translation). Earlier during the reign of King David, a man after God’s own heart, we hear the broken cry from David after he was confronted with the sin in his life after he’d stolen Bathsheba through adultery and murder. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51 in The English Standard Version). May we find contrite hearts after seeing the sin in our hearts and experience the incomparable mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God.

This week you’ll read…

Deuteronomy 15-21: Moses gives a little prophecy which comes about in the days of Samuel the judge. “When you enter the land that God, your God, is giving you and take it over and settle down, and then say, “I’m going to get me a king, a king like all the nations around me,” make sure you get yourself a king whom God, your God, chooses.” (Deuteronomy 17 in The Message Bible). When the people refused God as king in Samuel’s day, God was not surprised. He gave them their heart’s desire—Saul, a good-looking man but not kingly material. David, a man after God’s heart, would follow.

Joshua 15-21: After much conquering, the Israelites settle in the Promised Land, and each tribe receives its inheritance, or allotment of land.

Ezra 8-10: “My dear God, I’m so totally ashamed, I can’t bear to face You. O my God—our iniquities are piled up so high that we can’t see out; our guilt touches the skies. We’ve been stuck in a muck of guilt since the time of our ancestors until right now” (Ezra 9 in The Message Bible).

Psalms 46-51: “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46 in The New Living Translation).

Romans 15-16: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15 in The New International Version).

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on

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NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on

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Decepticons: April 8-14, 2019 (Mon-Sun): Read through Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ezra, and Romans

(Bumblebee movie spoiler alert): In the late 1980s in the sci-fi world of the Transformers, the Decepticons are taking over Cybertron, but the Autobots are a resistance group trying to preserve a decent society. An Autobot named B-127 (Bumblebee) is sent to scout out Earth to hopefully establish a haven for the Autobots in an attempt to regroup and eventually save Cybertron. A couple Decepticons find out that Bumblebee is on Earth and go there to root him out in hopes of finding the other Autobots and ridding the universe of them. Through deception, the Decepticons gain access to the USA’s communications system and transform it to create the inception of the internet as they search for Bumblebee. During their deception, U.S. Agent Burns questions the general in charge of the communications system saying, “They literally call themselves Decepticons. That doesn’t set off any red flags?”

People deceive for various reasons: to advance in position, power, or possessions; to protect themselves; and to destroy opposition. Of course, there may be other reasons, but these will do for now. I realize that deception has been used against evil men such as Corrie ten Boom and her family deceiving Nazi soldiers and sympathizers as the ten Boom family hid Jews in their home during WWII. They felt it better to preserve lives than to be honest and forthcoming in their situation. That’s a blog for another day.

As you read Joshua this week, you’ll encounter a shrewd band of travelers who deceived Joshua and the leaders of Israel. The Gibeonites posed as faraway voyagers who were in awe of the Israelites’ God and wanted to make a treaty with Israel after hearing of the military victories which their God had won for them. However, these people lived right down the road. They were neighbors, and they feared that Israel would decimate them as they did the armies in the wilderness and Jericho and Ai. Through deception, they brokered a treaty with Israel.

Do you know why Israel fell for this deception? They depended on their own reasoning and didn’t seek the Lord. “The men of Israel looked them over and accepted the evidence. But they didn’t ask God about it” (Joshua 9 in The Message Bible). What about you? Have you ever been snookered by some slick words because you didn’t seek God and godly counsel? As you read the account in Joshua, you may think, “Joshua, dude, look at all these red flags. They literally call themselves Decepticons. Don’t do it!” But he already did it, and we fall prey as well when our own ingenuity and reasoning, when our business sense and worldly-mindedness rule our minds and not the word of God and the Spirit, when we don’t seek Him in all things. Follow the proverb that says: “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track” (Proverbs 3 in The Message Bible).

This week you’ll read…

Deuteronomy 8-14: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases Him, and love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul. And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good” (Deuteronomy 10 in The New Living Translation).

Joshua 8-14: Bad news, Joshua. “Three days after making the treaty, they learned that these people actually lived nearby!” (Joshua 9 in The New Living Translation).

Ezra 4-7: Not only does the enemy waylay us with deception, but he also uses straight-up, in-your-face opposition. In your reading, you’ll see God’s work get sidelined with politics and legal affairs. Sounds like today.

Romans 8-14: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12 in The Christian Standard Bible).

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CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on

Be With Him: April 1-7, 2019 (Mon-Sun): Read through Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ezra, and Romans

All 66 books of the Bible are inspired by God and are profitable for us, but some are more easily understood and more readily digested and loved than other books. Books like Leviticus from last month require some background study to get the most out of them. After all, we don’t live in the Middle East thousands of years ago. I know that we should rely on the Spirit working in us to understand (2 Tim. 2:7; 1 John 2:27), but studying is a biblical concept, too (Ezra 7:10; 2 Tim. 2:15).

Relying on the Spirit is a neglected way of life for many, but so is studying the Bible. We may read the Bible, but that is only the beginning of studying. Studying involves rereading and mulling over Scripture. We need to meditate on and memorize Scripture, and we may read what others have learned and contemplated in their own studies. However, all of this must be coupled with seeking God and being still and waiting on Him to speak through His word. I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s much easier to read the word, ponder it a bit, and move on to something else, not because we don’t like the word or God but because some of us feel that we ought to be doing something. (As if waiting on God is not doing something.) After hearing Jim Cymbala speak at an event, I feel the need as I have so often to be still and wait on God, but it’s not easy for me. One of Cymbala’s points was that Jesus didn’t first call His disciples to preach or drive out demons. He first called them to be with Him. “Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those He wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed twelve, whom He also named apostles, to be with Him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons” (Mark 3 in The Christian Standard Bible). I pray that you’ll be with Him this week, really be with Him.

This week you’ll read…

Deuteronomy 1-7: Deuteronomy is Moses’ reiteration of the Law, or his second-telling of the Law. If you read through Exodus and Leviticus in February and March, you’ll recognize some parts of Deuteronomy but maybe summarized and told differently. Moses now has a new generation who will enter the Promised Land, and the old, faithless generation has died off.

Joshua 1-7: Along with Deuteronomy, you’ll read Joshua and enter the Promised Land and begin the conquest with Joshua, Israel’s next leader.

Ezra 1-3: Alongside these books, you’ll also read Ezra written by the scribe Ezra who writes hundreds of years later after Judah (Israel’s Southern Kingdom) was taken captive and then allowed to return.

Romans 1-7: You’ll also read Romans which is arguably the greatest book of the Bible.

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on

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NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on