Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 3 Apr 18:
1. Deuteronomy 31:3 – “The LORD your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them.” When the Lord sends you, He will bring the victory. Caution: His victory might not be your idea of victory.
2. Deuteronomy 31:5 – “…according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you.” God expects obedience in every area of life. How many times now has the Bible repeated this point?
3. Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Strength and courage come from knowing and trusting God.
4. Deuteronomy 31:9-11 – “Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests… you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.” In Old Testament times, God’s word was given to the priests, and they were charged with teaching it to the people and administering God’s laws. The Bible says that now, all Christians are priests, charged with knowing God’s word, living by God’s word, proclaiming God’s word, and teaching God’s word. We should endeavor to be experts on God’s word and the embodiment of God’s word.
5. Deuteronomy 31:12-13 – “Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” God wanted everyone to be instructed on God’s word, including visiting strangers, but particularly the small children. God desires that children learn to obey and honor God as soon as possible. God has given parents the responsibility to make sure children know and obey His expectations so they may serve Him and Love Him.
6. Deuteronomy 31:16 – “Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them.” God knows your temptation to make things a higher priority and influence in your life than Him, idols that cause you to break God’s commands, to stray away from Him, and to quench His Spirit in your life. Whenever we sin, it is because we have dethroned God in our hearts, at least for a moment – we still want Him as Savior, but we reject Him as Lord, committing cosmic treason. The Bible calls us spiritual whores at that point, worthy of stoning. If only we could see our sins the way God sees them, we would truly be “amazed by grace,” and start living accordingly.
7. Deuteronomy 31:20 – Prosperity can lead to complacency, dissatisfaction with God and departure from Him to substitutes for God — idols.
8. Deuteronomy 31:23 – Knowing you will often fail Him, God still fulfills His promises.
9. Deuteronomy 31:26 – God’s word witnesses against you when you depart from Him.
10. Deuteronomy 31:21, 29 – Departing from God brings evil, not prosperity.
11. Deuteronomy 32:6 – God does not receive from you the treatment He deserves.
12. Deuteronomy 32:6, 15, 18 – You exist only because God loves you and bestows His unmerited grace upon you.
13. Deuteronomy 32:27 – God’s work is done so you and those who do not worship Him may recognize Him at work.
14. Deuteronomy 32:30 – God allows the punishment that comes to you.
15. Deuteronomy 32:47 — “For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” For so many, the Bible is just empty words. But for the Christian, the Bible is the word of life which teaches the fear of the Lord which in turn produces wisdom (Proverbs 2:2-6), but most importantly, greater unity with Him. God uses His word to transform your heart (Proverbs 2:10) and to guide you along the right path in life (Proverbs 2:13-15). God’s word should be more valuable than silver, and its insights should excite you more than would finding a hidden treasure. Do you feel that excitement?
16. Deuteronomy 32:47 — “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.” Moses had come to the end of his service as leader of the people of Israel and to the end of his life. He gathered all the people to the edge of the Promised Land to give them his final words of wisdom as they prepared to embark upon their long-awaited historic conquest without him. It is impossible to imagine the emotion he must have felt at this moment. He had spent his whole life preparing to lead or leading his people, building them into a mighty nation. He had watched an entire generation perish in the desert through the process. He had given his all to his people; he had a genuine heart for his people, and there is no way to measure how deeply he cared for his people. So, from all of his experience and with all of his love, what were the final words Moses wanted to leave with his people — “Be strong and courageous,” and “be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life.” Of course this is the same message repeated throughout the Book of Deuteronomy — “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).” Jesus reiterated the importance of God’s word by reciting Deuteronomy 8:3 – “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).’” Of course, Jesus modelled dedication to the study and practice of God’s word. I believe that our nation, our world, desperately needs to see God’s people return to God’s word. The Defenders Reading Plan, and associated website and Facebook Group, was created for the sole purpose encouraging Christians to do just that. What a blessing that people are reading the Bible together and sharing with each other from across to globe! For those reading along this year, let me congratulate all of you who finished ¼ of this year’s readings. “They are not just idle words for you….”
– Thoughts from Henry T. Blackaby on Deuteronomy 32:47 — “It’s puzzling that so many Christians try to live the Christian life without reading their Bible, except for sporadic perusals of God’s Word, seeking a pithy thought for the day. The Word of God is not merely a source of helpful suggestions, preventative warnings, or inspirational thoughts: It is life itself! God gathered the children of Israel at the edge of the Promised Land to review their pilgrimage with Him. They had spent forty years in a desert because their parents had not trusted God’s word. Their parents died without seeing the Promised Land because they had not believed God’s word. Even the revered Moses was soon to leave them because he had not shown proper reverence for God’s word. Many of them knew those who had been put to death as a consequence of their disobedience to God’s word. Over the years God’s word had become the most important thing in the life of the Israelites. God commanded His people to bind His words on their hearts, to teach them diligently to their children, and to regularly discuss them in their homes (Deuteronomy. 6:4–9). So essential was His word that it was to hold a prominent place in the daily lives of His people. Our reverence for God’s Word is revealed not only by what we say but also by what we do. Spending more time reading and studying the words of people rather than the Word of God, reveals our hearts’ condition. To blatantly disregard God’s Word is to reject life itself. To obey God’s Word is the surest way to experience all that God has in store for us.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
17. Proverbs 3:3, 4 — “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” Both God and man value love and faithfulness. Love and faithfulness go hand-in-hand. Are you known for your love and faithfulness? Have you remained faithful before God and man?
18. Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Trusting in the Lord will require you to go against your own judgment.
19. Proverbs 3:11, 12 – “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Accept God’s discipline with trustful thanksgiving.
20. Proverbs 3:27 – “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” If you can meet someone’s need, meet it – trust God to meet your future needs. It takes faith to give.
21. Mark 11:1-10 – Christ revealed His Kingship by obeying Scripture, not by appealing to popular demand.
22. Mark 11:15-17 – “And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” There is a time for everything – a time for peace and a time for war. What determines the right response, what determines the validity of a person’s behavior, is God’s will. Fear and pride get in the way of righteousness. We like to think of Jesus as always peaceful, but in many places throughout the Bible, He is very confrontational, and this temple scene is the most well-known example of Jesus’ righteous anger. Jesus was at the center of God’s will. Avoiding conflict is often motivated by self-interest and fear. Jonathan Edwards said that there were two places in which we should never yield to others – if integrity is at stake, or if truth is at stake. Yet, Christians today often prefer to yield in these areas in order to avoid conflict; there is often a false humility attached to this pacifism, but in truth they are motived by fear and pride (I’m above this). Jesus was certainly not afraid to challenge the well-established, culturally accepted, corrupt practices of the day, even those that had been tacitly sanctioned by all other religious leaders. How about you?
23. Mark 11:18 – “And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.” Human religion, motivated by fear, leads us to hostility towards God’s plan.
24. Mark 11:25 — “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Do you think Jesus meant this literally? How does this relate to The Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us of our sins, as we forgive others who sin against us?”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 April: Before you pray to God, thanking Him for the unmerited grace that you have received and asking for His unmerited blessings in your life, give unmerited grace and blessings to those in your life who have somehow offended you. Forgive everyone unconditionally as you are far less worthy of justice than Jesus who gave up His rights to be justified that you would receive everlasting life. While you were still sinning, Christ died for you. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Don’t wait another moment. Forgive, and do it personally, face to face if possible. (Mark 11:25)