THINK: Have you ever gotten into something or taken on a responsibility before you were truly ready or before the time was right? What happened? Chances are, things didn't turn out so well. In the process, you probably got frustrated, discouraged - even humiliated. Perhaps you still have regrets about the whole situation. Then again, you may have learned some valuable lessons about patience, purpose and depending on God. As you grow in your relationship with Jesus, you'll realize that He knows exactly what you need to do and when. You can trust Him to give you things and lead you to places at just the right time. You don't have to be anxious or apprehensive about what's ahead, because you follow the One who knows what's out there and has been there before you.
RESPOND: What evidence do we have elsewhere in the Bible that Deuteronomy is a message from God? (See 1:1 note.) Why do you think God allowed so much time to elapse (many centuries) before bringing Israel to the point of inhabiting the promised land? For what purpose did Moses choose leaders from each tribe? What kinds of people were chosen and why (1:9-18)? Why hadn't Israel entered the promised land before this time? In what way did Israel rebel against God when the people first reached that land decades before? (See 1:26 note.) How did they demonstrate their unfaithfulness in how they interacted with each other (1:27)? How and why do Christians today often do the same thing amongst themselves? How can such behavior delay God's purposes in our lives or even cause us to miss out on things He intends for us? How did God's response to those who disobeyed Him differ from His response to the few who trusted Him? (See 1:35 and 1:36 note.) How were God's mercy and faithfulness evident even during the Israelites desert wanderings? (See 2:7 note.) What can you learn from your past experiences with God?
PRAY: Give God thanks for bringing you into things in His perfect timing and not before you're ready. Repent of any way in which you've grumbled or shown a lack of trust in God's plans or power.
ACT: Don't complain about any of your current circumstances, as if God has abandoned you or cannot accomplish His purposes from where you are now. Make a list of five faith-inspiring things God has done for you or brought you through in the past. Keep it in your Bible or post it where it will remind you to trust God more in the future.
THINK: Do you ever feel that God is distant - like He doesn't see what's going on and He's nowhere to be found? You know better, but it's difficult to escape this feeling during tough times. Many of the godliest people throughout history - including the Son of God-experienced an intense feeling of isolation from the Father. Yet, regardless of how we feel, God always knows what's going on with us. He's particularly near whenever we pray to Him (4:7). Through prayer, we have access to God and experience intimate companionship with Him. As you remain close to God through consistent time in prayer, His character, compassion and purposes will become more evident to those around you.
RESPOND: Why do you think God allowed Israel to defeat kings Sihon and Og before crossing the Jordan into the promised land (2:24 to 3:10; 21-22)? (See 3:22 note.) When has God given you a taste of victory in preparation for something bigger? Why did the Reubenites and Gadites have to cross the Jordan and fight with the other tribes before settling into their own land on the opposite side (3:18-20)? Why do we need to help others even though we already have what we need? What conditions did God place on the Israelites for retaining His blessing in the promised land? (See 4:1 note.) Why is it such a serious offense to add to or subtract from God's Word? (See 4:2 note.) In what way might people mishandle God's Word, and how can we guard against this? What would following God's laws show the nations around Israel (4:6-8)? (See 4:6 note.) How can Christians set a similar example? In what way is the Lord near us when we pray (4:7)? What's the primary way that the Israelites were to pass on God commands and teachings? (See 4:9 note.) How can failure to do this affect individuals and families? Why didn't God reveal himself to the Israelites in any specific form (4:15-18)? What does it mean that the Lord is "a consuming fire"? (See 4:24 note.) What would happen if Israel abandoned God after settling the promised land? ( See 4:26 note.) How can those who stray from God experience His mercy again (4:29-31)? What does it mean to "find God," and how can we do this? (See 4:29 note.)
PRAY: Give thanks for past victories. Ask God to help you live by His Word so others get an accurate picture of Him.
ACT: Help and encourage someone who is currently dealing with something God has already brought you through. If you've defied God or simply become complacent in your relationship with Christ, ask Him to forgive you, then devote yourself to a renewed and passionate pursuit of Jesus' companionship and purpose for your life.