Archive for August, 2009

Deuteronomy 31

Deuteronomy 31 takes us to the transition of power from Moses to Joshua.  Moses is 120 years old now, and has led the people for many years but God tells him that his time is up.  It is time to pass the torch to Joshua who will lead the people into the Promised Land.  Check out the promise that God gives them: “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”  I love how God takes responsibility to handle things here.  It is not about the might and power of the people, it is about God and His power.  He alone will deal with the challenges that lie ahead.  And He promises that they can depend on Him as well.  He is striding ahead and has it all under control.  It is important to note that God knows they have a very short attention span.  He tells Moses to record all these words so they can be read “every seven years” as a reminder of His goodness: “read out this Revelation to all Israel, with everyone listening”.  Another one of those “remember” directives God gives us continually throughout scripture.  We have to look back and know all that He has done in the past to gain the assurance of what He will do in the future.  He is very clear this needs to be done for everyone, not just the kids growing up, but all people because we all have short memories.

 But God goes on to also describe how He desires us to live in regard to Him.  I love how it describes what our relationship should look like.  We are to “listen and learn to live in holy awe before God”.  We need to know our God and put Him in His rightful place.  He is not just another god, or one that we call on when we are in a bind.  He is God, our God and we need to put Him in the place He belongs in our lives.  He is the everlasting and eternal God who created it all and controls it all today.  We need to live in awe of Him.  He knows our nature and warns us of our tendency.  Even though He has delivered His people to this land flowing with milk and honey – “they eat and become full and get fat and then begin fooling around with other gods and worshiping them” – we will struggle to stay focused and faithful in our relationship with Him.  When we are experiencing His blessing, we tend to go on autopilot and ignore Him.  We can’t let that happen.  We must stay tuned in to Him constantly.  Remembering is the key to that.  Are you living in awe?  If not, remember……

Deuteronomy 30

Deuteronomy 30 is a chapter where we learn how to stay connected to God.  He begins by telling us what to do if we get separated from Him.  In a simple word, we need to come back.  He will be there with open arms.  I love what scripture says: “No matter how far away you end up, God….will get you out of there and bring you back”.  He loves us and never forgets us and will always welcome us back if we only repent and return.  We don’t have to be perfect and have it all together – we just need to come back.  Have you slipped away from God a bit?  I get a lot of emails from people who do – they drift away from their relationship with God and turn to thigns of the world and find very soon just how empty and lonely that leaves them.  God wants a deep relationship with us.  He wants to bless us indeed.  He is waiting for us to return with open arms.

But there is a catch.  The blessings continue to flow if we really focus on the relationship.  Check out what He says: “But only if you listen obediently to God….and keep the commandments and regulations”.  We are blessed when we obey.  It is consistent and constant in His Word.  We have to do it.  But it goes further here to tell us “nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God…totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back”.  Our relationship with God has to be all in.  It has to be 100% – no partial stuff.  He expects all of us all the time.  The message version puts it the way Nike does and in verse 14 says “Just do it!”.  That is to be our attitude – we need to just obey Him.  There really isn’t any deliberation we need to have.  We don’t really need to ponder whether we should obey.  It is clear that is the expectation and we need to just do it.  All day every day.  And if we do – if we “keep his commandments, regulations and rules” – then scripture tells us we will “really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God”.  Want to have a full life – be obedient to God and His commands.  Want to experience all you can each day – be obedient.  Jesus told us that He came that we may have life, and live it fully.  We can folks.  We can experience life so full that we won’t really know how to handle it all but for God’s grace.  But it all starts with our heart and our willingness to walk in obedience.  Are you living that way?  Are you walking in obedience to Him?

Deuteronomy 29

Deuteronomy 29 gets us ever closer to crossing over to the Promised Land.  Moses is talking Covenant here and begins with a history reminder.  There were several things that showed that God had been faithful on their 40 year journey through the wilderness:

  1. Clothes did not wear out
  2. Sandals did not wear out
  3. Lived well without bread and wine and beer
  4. Enemy…. primed for war but we beat them

God was faithful. He kept His part of the deal.  He was God and set the standard for their relationship.  Bottom line – God expects them to remember how He brought them to this place and they need to “diligently keep the words of this Covenant”.  So it all boils down to obedience once again.  This has been a very consistent requirement then, and it still is today.  We need to walk with God in obedience.

 But there is a warning that we need to keep in mind here: “Don’t let down your guard lest even now, today, someone….gets sidetracked from God…..thinking I’ll live the way I please, thank you”.  We really need to heed this warning.  We cannot afford to let our guard down.  That is how the enemy creeps into our lives, when we are not looking, or we think we are exempt from the attack of the enemy in certain areas of our lives.  We need to stay vigilant in our efforts to resist temptation.  If we are not always on guard, the odds of our failing in the area of obedience will increase significantly.  We cannot deal with sin alone.  We will fall and get sidetracked in our obedience.  We need to stay on guard, even in areas we think we are strong.  It is often there that we get blindsided with an attack and fall.  It is not often that affairs happen because people determine they want to cheat on their spouse.  They just aren’t careful to guard their heart and before they know it, sin happens.  People seldom really set out to sin, they just are not focused on standing firm and keeping the enemy away.  The enemy is very good at setting us up to fall.  And if we aren’t careful, we will buy into the attitude that it is all about me and I can do what I want.  That is not true.  God has expectations and requirements for our lives.  It is not about me, it is not ok to do whatever we want.  We have to watch out lest we fall flat on our face.  Are you guarding your heart?  In every area?  Watch out because the enemy wants to kill, steal and destroy!

Deuteronomy 28

Deuteronomy 28 gives us a perfect look into what happens when we obey God’s commands: “If you listen obediently to the Voice of GOD…. heartily obey all his commandments that I command you today, GOD, your God, will place you on high, high above all the nations of the world. All these blessings will come down on you and spread out beyond you because you have responded”.  Definitely one of those if-then moments in scripture.  We listen and obey – we receive God’s blessing.  But what does that really look like.  Well there is a very extensive list.  Check these out:


–          “GOD’s blessing inside the city

–          GOD’s blessing in the country

–          GOD’s blessing on your children

–          the crops of your land

–          the young of your livestock

–          the calves of your herds

–          the lambs of your flocks

–          GOD’s blessing on your basket and bread bowl

–          GOD’s blessing in your coming in

–          GOD’s blessing in your going out

–          GOD will defeat your enemies who attack you

–          GOD will order a blessing on your barns and workplaces

–          he’ll bless you in the land that GOD, your God, is giving you

–          GOD will form you as a people holy to him

–          GOD will lavish you with good things: children from your womb, offspring from your animals, and crops from your land, the land that GOD promised your ancestors that he would give you

–          GOD will throw open the doors of his sky vaults and pour rain on your land on schedule and bless the work you take in hand

But there is an equally long list of things that occur if God’s direction is not obeyed.  In fact, we are told “don’t swerve an inch to the right or the left”.  It is a very long list, much longer than the list above of the good things that God is going to do for the blessed.  But this chilling verse really tells us why we need to walk in obedience: “You will live in constant jeopardy, terrified of every shadow, never knowing what you’ll meet around the next corner”.   Disobedience causes all kinds of problems.  Real problems.  It makes life unbearable, and worse yet, it separates us from God.  Eternally.  Disobedience is a real issue that we need to seriously confront.  We need to repent from evil and get right with God.  This chapter tells us the price here on earth.  The real cost is where we spend eternity.  Are you walking obediently?

Deuteronomy 27

Deuteronomy 27 is a list of things that were given to guide the people in how to live in their new land. The Levites go through a series of things that were not acceptable. In each case, they had “all respond…yes….absolutely” to the commands given. People had to make a verbal acknowledgement of how they were to live. The commands are pretty clear and direct. It starts with “demeaning a parent”. Obvious how God feels about the structure of the family and the need for us to “honor your father and mother”. He did make that pretty clear in a few other places too. There is a very specific design for the family. No wonder we have some of the issues we do today based on how we treat the family today. Kids rebel, fathers leave, mothers don’t submit, grandparents vanish… much of what happens today is certainly not honoring but is demeaning. God isn’t into that.

The chapter contains many directives around how to live with neighbors and families and much of it focuses on sex. Problem then….problem today. We have to understand just how precious sex is in God’s mind. He created it specifically for a purpose and for most of the time the human race has struggled to keep it the way God intended. God doesn’t just look the other way. This chapter tells us it matters to Him how we live. And the final directive tells us we need to take His Words seriously and live them. The Bible is not just a book. It is the book of life and tells us how to live. God’s expectation is we know it and live it. All of it, not just what we pick and choose. All of it, every day, all day. It isn’t some optional thing we can choose which parts we want to follow. It is the whole picture of God’s plan. Are you living it?

Deuteronomy 26

Deuteronomy 26 tells us how God wanted the people to enter the land He promised them. And it was to happen immediately upon entrance: “Once you enter….take some….firstfruits…..worship him”. The first thing that God expected when they entered the promised land was to have them worship Him. Is that what you do when good things happen? Do you first worship Him? Do you first honor Him? Is He the one that gets your first response? Or do you just take the blessing and forget where it came from? God watns us to remember. He tells us “you will recite….say this” when we are in His presence. God wants us to let Him know that we realize He is the provider of our blessing. We need to recognize that “he brought us….gave us this land”. God is the source folks. He gives us every good and perfect gift, just like He gave this land to the people of Israel.

But along with worshipping Him, we are reminded again to do something: “What you commanded, I’ve done. I haven’t detoured around your commands, I haven’t forgotten a single one”. God is looking for complete and total obedience. No detours, no forgetting, just plain old fashioned do what He tells us to do. That is obedience. He goes on to clarify it even more: “do what he tells you in the rules, regulations, and commandments; and listen obediently to him”. It is very clear what He expects. Remember that this is to be done right after entering the land they have been waiting for 40 years to occupy. The first response probably won’t be to worship, and the second likely not obedience. But that is what God tells them to do. Human nature would probably cause me to run and check out the new place – to hurry along and find out what would all be involved. But we can’t lose sight of what God desires – our worship and obedience. The “me” part – comes after. God is to be the center. He is the source and deserves our focus. Are you putting Him where He belongs – in the center of your worship and obedience?

Deuteronomy 25

Deuteronomy 25 talks about how people should handle legal disputes.  There is guidance for responsibility in the family to carry on for a brother who dies.  God always has a deep feeling for the family.  It is core to His design for our world, and sometimes we miss just how important it is to Him.  He often speaks of the responsibilities we have for one another in the family – and how we need to be involved in helping keep the family name alive and prospering.  There is an old song that goes “he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”.  Sort of how I think God wants us to feel toward our kin.  It is a blessing to have family.  Sometimes we struggle with it, as it seems we tend to expect more from those who are related to us.  But God designed the world with the family as the central unit for survival and success.  We need to consider if we are doing what we should with our family.  As the saying goes “you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your relatives”.  God gives us what we need for family. It is up to us to learn to get along and grow together.

 This chapter also brings out the concept of being “true and honest” with our business dealings.  Ever wrestle with that.  Think of charging a bit more or paying a bit less than is really due.  Do you handle your time honestly?  Do you take things from your boss, or from your customers, that really is not your own.  It seems that many feel that work is a place they can bend or completely ignore what is right.  After all, they deserve this or that and the boss is the enemy.  Or companies feel they can take advantage of customers because they won’t know any different, or they are such a pain in the you know what.  God is clear that we are to avoid “all this corruption in business deals”.  We are to handle our affairs God’s way – fairly and honestly – and realize that He is paying attention and watches our every move.  The other consideration is that our testimony is really tied closely to the way we do business, either as the provider or customer.  The way we act, the way business happens, reflects the impact Jesus is and has had on us.  If we want to shine for Him, we can’t mess around with this area where people see our actions much more loudly than our words.  Are you doing business the way God intends – true and honest – or do you need to make some changes?  He knows.  Time to get it right!

Deuteronomy 24

Deuteronomy 24 has some very simple yet profound truths for us to remember.  I have always said that happy wife = happy life.  Well God seems to have that as a foundational truth as well.  Check out what He instructs about newlyweds: “He gets one year off simply to be at home making his wife happy”.  Can you imagine how much stronger marriages would be if people actually spent a year together focused on making each other happy.  Not sure what the significance is of the man being charged with making his wife happy.  OK – I probably do get it but as always – it seems a little one sided doesn’t it.  Well God doesn’t really always do it the way we might consider it to be fair.  Leadership in the home doesn’t seem fair – God lays that on the man.  Submission by a wife doesn’t seem fair does it?  Obedience by kids doesn’t seem fair, at least in their eyes.  Have you noticed that God isn’t into being fair.  He is into giving us direction and instruction and commands that make life work.  That is where we mess up.  We want to change His plan – He actually created us and wrote the Book on how things should work.  He actually knows better than we do.  And fairness isn’t the criteria – having life work is what He was concerned about when He drew up the plan.  So we can learn a lot from just being obedient and not worrying about what seems fair.  We can also get along a whole lot better if we focus on what we are supposed to do rather than worrying about how our husband or wife is acting.  It is not my job, or yours, to make your spouse do anything.  That is God’s task.  Our job is to make sure we do everything that God instructed us to do.  That is where we need to put our focus and energy.  If we do that, the other often takes care of itself.  Funny how that works – if people focus on their own obedience others do the same.

 The chapter also points to the reality that every person is responsible for the sin in their life.  “Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor children for their parents. Each person shall be put to death for his own sin”.  I have had many a conversation with parents who are all worked up about the choices their kids have made.  While we as parents certainly have a responsibility to train up and influence our kids – at the end of the day everyone is responsible for their own choices.  Sin is personal.  It is between you and God.  No one makes you sin and really only you can prevent yourself from it.  Sure there are plenty of influences that seem to lead us to that result – but the reality is that we sin only when we choose to disobey God.  That is the only way it happens.  And kids are responsible for those choices.  We can’t protect them from the consequences, we can’t prevent the results.  What we can do is train them up in God’s truth, model Christ Following living, and be available to help them when they are wrestling with choices to provide godly counsel.  But bottom line is that each of us are responsible.  So how are you doing in your walk of obedience?  Are you ready to stand before God and explain how you are living?  If not, time to confess and repent and get right.  That day is coming!

Deuteronomy 23

 Deuteronomy 23 talks about the day to day living.  God tells the people of Israel who should not be allowed into their congregation.  He gives them direction on how to deal with those around them, which to avoid and which to embrace.  He talks about keeping things clean and orderly.  And then this verse comes along: “Keep your camp holy; don’t permit anything indecent or offensive in God’s eyes”.  How are you doing with that in regard to your home or office?  Is there anything that shouldn’t be there – that causes you to be tempted or leads you to the potential of sin?  Would God be impressed with the things you have in your home?  Everywhere?  In drawers and closets and secret places?  How about on your computer?  Anything there you shouldn’t have or be looking at?  Are the words that flow in your home pleasing to Him?  How about attitudes and actions?  Are they filled every moment with love and respect, or are there things you need to deal with in how you speak to and treat your family?  Too often we think we get a pass at home.  We can do things “in private” that don’t really matter to God and the rest of the world.  Wrong answer.  What happens at home matters most… is what we do behind closed doors in private that reveals our true character.  What we do when no one else is watching.  But the reality is, Someone is always watching.  There are no hidden moments.  God knows and sees all.  So we need to clean it up and do it today!

 The chapter also talks about the importance of a vow.  “When you make a vow to GOD, your God, don’t put off keeping it; GOD, your God, expects you to keep it and if you don’t you’re guilty…..If you say you’re going to do something, do it”.  I remember some strong teaching about vows and God’s expectations around them some years ago at a Promise Keepers event.  God does take what we say very seriously.  Far more so than we seem to today.  God expects us to do what we say, and what we are supposed to do.  There is a reason they call the words we speak at a wedding our wedding vows.  Vows are not something we can just ignore.  They are not something we can change on a whim or try and make fit our circumstances.  God takes them as they are intended – to be words that we will live up to and keep forever.  We need to be people of our word.  We need to do what we say.  We need to live what we speak.  And we need to do that today.  Bottom line is that God expects action from us.  When we say we are going to do something – we need to do it.  And not just with Him, but with all those we speak with and give our word to each day.  Words do matter.  They are not simply things we can ignore.  Are you a person of your word?  Do you keep your vows?  God is watching……

Deuteronomy 22

Deuteronomy 22 has a lot of rule for how people are to live.  There are rules about the way we are to look out for the well being of each other.  When there is lost property or we come upon something that is not our own, we are to take care of it until it can be returned.  There are rules for planting and plowing – some good farm and dirt rules.  God has direction on clothing and how the people were to dress and take care of themselves.  This chapter covers a broad spectrum of areas that impacted living day to day in the real world.  So we should never feel that God doesn’t care about what is happening – he absolutely does.  He cares about the details of life.  He knows the nitty gritty stuff that is happening, and He has a plan for us.

 But the majority of His instruction in this chapter has to do with relationships and specifically around men and women and sex and marriage.  It covers the rules regarding rape and inappropriate sexual relationships.  And God is pretty clear just how seriously He looks at all these areas.  “You must purge evil from among you” and  His idea of purging was to stone people or require certain behaviors.  In several of the scenarios He instructs that after making an incorrect choice and having sex a man was required to “keep her as his wife and can never divorce her”.  Wow.  Can you imagine the screaming if people actually were required to stay married?  I got a great reminder email yesterday that said the issue with marriage today is that we lose sight of the fact that our marriage vows are a covenant to spend the rest of our lives together.  And those should not be taken lightly or broken.  God has that as the foundation for marriage.  How can we take it any other way?  How can we just decide to ignore what has been committed to and go a different way?  God has a number of situations listed in this chapter where divorce is not even an option – it isn’t on the table at all.  And that is really how marriage should be – divorce shouldn’t be the first response when it gets tough – covenant should.  We can learn a lot from God’s truth on the subject of marriage and relationships.  Staying together and working through things is definitely His plan.

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