Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 24 Mar 18:
1. Deuteronomy 11:1, 2, 8, 13, 16, 17, 18, 26-28 — “You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always. And consider today.., consider the discipline of the Lord your God…. You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today…. And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul…. Take care lest your heart be deceived… the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you…. You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes…. See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am
commanding you today.” We are saved by faith, not by works. Yet, God still demands obedience, still disciplines, still holds His people accountable for their actions, and still allows the natural consequences of sin to occur. His Name remains Holy. God does not desire for us to suffer the consequences of disobedience, and so He gives us clear warning. “Take care lest your heart be deceived.” Do you want to experience blessings or curses in life? In John 17, before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed for our “oneness” with Him. Sin hinders that oneness, it quenches the Spirit, grieves the Spirit, and gets us out of step with the Spirit. Our sin doesn’t separate us from the love of God, but it does rob us of the fullness of joy Jesus wants us to have in His love. God’s greatest commandment for us is love. Jesus said if you love Him, you will obey Him. 1 Timothy 1:5 says, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Love emanates from 1) a pure heart, 2) a good conscience, and 3) a sincere faith. Sin, all sin, is unloving. One last time: Deuteronomy 11:1 – “You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.” To love God is to obey Him.
2. Deuteronomy 11:8 – ““You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today.” Partial obedience is disobedience.
3. Deuteronomy 11:13 — “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season.” Most people today would consider it absurd for you to believe that natural occurrences or that seemingly random circumstances were actually orchestrated by God to bless or to punish, but the Bible says that God punishes nations with weather, foreign armies, corrupt governments, financial crisis, plaques, etc. The same God and made and controls the natural laws to reflect His character also made the moral laws to reflect His character and His requirements. Defying either set of laws has devastating consequences.
4. Deuteronomy 11:16, 18-20 – “Take care lest your heart be deceived…. You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” The word of God is our best defense against deception. Not only must we be continuously immersed in it, we must be careful to teach our children who are easily deceived and who need to be grounded in the word at an early age. God calls all Christians to think not just about the next generation but about many generations to come.
5. Deuteronomy 11:26 — “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse.” Obedience is your choice, but consequences belong to God – you do not choose your consequences. Obey God and be blessed.
6. Deuteronomy 12:19 – “Take care that you do not neglect the Levite as long as you live in your land.” The Levites were not given an inheritance of land that they would be fully dedicated to their roles of spiritual leadership. Therefore, they depended economically on the faithfulness of the people. We will read later, unfortunately, that the people do end up neglecting the Levites. Of course, God knew that would happen, but He called the Levites into their dependent positions nonetheless. God is faithful when no one else is. He calls us to reflect His character by making our fidelity unconditional too. Love others who don’t love you back. Forgive the unforgiving. Give to the ungrateful. Display the love and faithfulness of Jesus. It won’t be easy, but it will be joyous if you are motivated by love.
7. Deuteronomy 12:2-3 – God wants you to remove every obstacle to total devotion to Him.
8. Deuteronomy 12:10-11 – God wants to give you rest and joy which comes from obediently following Him.
9. Deuteronomy 12:30 – Victories bring new temptations. Be careful not to become prideful. God has a plan to remove all pride from your life. Notice is the Bible that God allows people to fail in their strength areas in order to humble them, to help them see their total dependence on God’s grace. Abraham was known for his faith, but he lied about his wife being his sister and had Ishmael with Haggar. Moses was the humblest man of his day, but his pride and anger kept him out of the Promised Land. David was known for his integrity, but then Bathsheba. Solomon was known for his wisdom, but he destroyed the kingdom and ended his day writing of his woes in Ecclesiastes. Peter, known for his courage, denied Jesus three times. You get the point. Our best will never be good enough. God will tear down our pride idols so that we can learn to rest in Him and Him alone.
10. Deuteronomy 12:29, 30 – “When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them.” Christians, living as ambassadors for Christ in a foreign land, must be very, very careful not to conform to the morals and habits of society. In most matters, the faithful Christian will stand in stark contrast to the general population, as a bright light. But the unfaithful Christian will look and act like the world around them.
11. Proverbs 24:1 — “Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.” Be very careful who you admire, who you seek to emulate, who you partner with, and who you befriend. Don’t let personality, popularity, prestige, talent, or skill blind you to the character flaws in others. If Jesus isn’t the center of their life and their priority, they will lead you astray. How many times have you heard a Christian say about an ungodly friend, “…but (s)he is really nice.” “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33) 1 Timothy 1:5 says, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” A person with an impure heart, a guilty conscience and an insincere faith cannot love you as you would desire, no matter how fun or interesting they are to be around for a time.
12. Proverbs 24:5 — “A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might.” Intellectual strength is greater than physical strength; emotional strength is greater than intellectual and physical strength; and spiritual strength is greater than them all.
13. Proverbs 24:10 — “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Strength is developed over time when you don’t need it but revealed when you do need it. If you didn’t invest in your strength during peace, you won’t have it when you need it in crisis. When your faith is tested, then you will reveal how much you have invested in personal spiritual development.
14. Proverbs 24:11, 12 — “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” God has given you the responsibility to intervene in the lives of those around you to help keep them from the destructiveness of sin. If you do nothing, God will hold you accountable.
15. Proverbs 24:16 — “…for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.” The righteous fall too, but their response glorifies God by revealing His strength in them.
16. Proverbs 24:17, 18 — “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.” If want those who in some way offend you to “get what’s coming to them,” you have lost sight of the grace you have received and have made the Cross a small thing; you have denied your mission of reconciliation; and you have placed yourself in opposition to God.
17. Proverbs 24:19 — “Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked.” From the beginning of the Bible through the end, God warns us not to be concerned by or enamored with the ungodly — treat people with the respect that they deserve, but fear and respect God first and foremost.
18. Proverbs 24:21, 22 — “My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise, for disaster will arise suddenly from them, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?” God expects you to obey the law, unless that law would cause you to disobey Him.
19. Proverbs 24:24, 25 — “Whoever says to the wicked, ‘You are in the right,’ will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.” Do not compromise the truth simply to get along with others. Be willing to rebuke those who are wrong.
20. Proverbs 24:26 — “Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.” The loving thing to do is to tell the truth in love — this is “true love”.
21. Proverbs 24:27 – “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” A biblical principle is to do the hard thing first. Always do what you have to do before what you want to do. This is a good rule to live by and helps avoid procrastination. Have you ever considered procrastination is unbiblical?
22. Proverbs 24:29 — “Do not say, ‘I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.’” Leave your personal justice to God. Be a minister of mercy and grace. As the recipient of mercy and grace, you have no right to do otherwise. Civic justice is another matter.
23. Proverbs 24:32 — “Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction.” Be wise enough to learn from the mistakes of others rather than having to learn the hard way from your own bad decisions. Wisdom, in part, is understanding what you haven’t personally experienced.
24. Psalm 34:1 – “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Try doing this today and everyday, regardless your apparent circumstances. Rejoice in the Lord is a command. As someone once said, “It is impossible to play a sad song on a banjo.” It is really hard to be miserable or to make other miserable if you are constantly, vocally praising God.
25. Psalm 34:3 – “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” God wants you to worship in relationship, with other like-minded Christians, again, everyday and continually.
26. Psalm 34:4, 5 – “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” You must seek the Lord from your heart to get the answers for which you are seeking, and when you experience the Lord, you will live life with an obvious joy. If you are not radiant, there is a reason.
27. Psalm 34:13, 14 – “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Following God and remaining close to God includes changing what you look at, what you think, what you say, and what you do.
28. Psalm 34:15-17 – “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” God does play favorites.
29. Psalm 34:18 – “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Relationship with God requires constant humility.
30. Psalm 34:19-22 – “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all…. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” Everyone goes through life’s afflictions, but God delivers and saves the Christian while all who reject Jesus are ultimately destroyed and condemned.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 March: Consider what remains in your life that might be limiting your total devotion to God and eliminate it. Remove the idols from your life. (Deuteronomy 12)