Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 5 April 2022:
Listen to this message from R.C. Sproul on Deuteronomy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyyg6hsgHqI
Deuteronomy 1:6 – The LORD our God said to us in Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.
“If God allowed us to live on the “mountaintop,” we would not experience trials, but neither would we achieve any victories. The Israelites had gathered at the foot of Mount Horeb while God spoke to them and gave them His law. It was a breathtaking experience! Fire and smoke covered that awesome mountain; lightning flashed, and loud trumpet sounds pierced the air in a deafening crescendo! The ground at the foot of the mountain shook, and the people trembled in fear (Exod. 19:16-25).
As important as it was for God’s people to have this inspiring encounter with Him, their Lord had not rescued them from Egypt in order for them to settle around a mountain in the wilderness. God delivered them so that they could conquer the Promised Land. God wanted to demonstrate His power to the Israelites so that they would trust Him in their conquest of Canaan. Finally, God announced that they had been long enough at the mountain; it was time to go to battle.
The mountain is an enticing place to set up camp. Peter, James, and John were prepared to reside on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus, but their Lord knew that a demon-possessed boy needed their assistance down below (Matt. 17:4, 14-18). At times God will graciously provide you a mountaintop experience. These times come in many settings: during your time alone with Him, at a Christian conference, by reading a Christian book, or at a prayer meeting. You may wish you could spend the rest of your life basking in the glow of your encounter with God. But remember, these mountaintop encounters are God’s way of preparing you for the battles that await you.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Deuteronomy 1:21 – See, the LORD your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
“One of the paradoxes of the Christian life is that God’s gifts often require labor on our part. God brought the Israelites to the Promised Land and told them He was going to “give” it to them (Num. 13:2). The gift of the Promised Land sounded great to the Israelites until they realized that, with the gift, came battles against giants and fortified cities! Perhaps they assumed God was going to obliterate the inhabitants of the land before they entered. Ideally for the Israelites, they could then have entered a vacant land with houses and cities already built and ready to inhabit.
Instead, God said they would have to fight for it. They would not have to fight in their own strength, however; God would be present to fight for them. God would bring down the walls of cities, give them strategies to defeat their enemies, and empower their warriors to fight. The Israelites would have a divine advantage over anyone they fought, but they would still have to fight.
It would be wonderful if, when we become Christians, God would fill our minds with a complete knowledge of the Bible and with Bible verses already memorized. It would be easy if God would instill in us a delight in spending hours in prayer each day and a fearless desire to share our faith with others. But God doesn’t relate to us that way. Instead, He gives us the free gift of His salvation and then tells us to “work out” our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12b). Are you discouraged because the Christian life is more difficult and challenging than you expected? Don’t be. God’s gifts to you are perfect because, through them, God makes you perfect as well (Matt. 5:48; James 1:17).” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Deuteronomy 1:43-45 – “You would not listen; but you rebelled against the command of the Lord… presumptuously…. And you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord did not listen to your voice or give ear to you.”
Deuteronomy is the Bible book most quoted by Jesus. Deuteronomy means “second law” and is a retelling by Moses of the teachings and events of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, expanding upon the Ten Commandments. It is Moses’ farewell address to the next generation as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. Try to imagine how important this message was to Moses, his final message to his people after all they had been through together and as he realized he would no longer be there to guide them. His basic message to the people was love God wholeheartedly, listen to Him intently, obey Him unconditionally, and live a life of blessings rather than curses, shining as a light to other nations for God’s glory. The Greatest Command was/is love. Moses understood that Love had to be the motivation for obedience. Without love, the people wouldn’t obey – laws could never be a substitute for love; and actions compelled by fear of punishment or self-righteousness are certainly no substitute for graciousness compelled by mercy, compassion and kindness. And when the people refused to obey, it was simply because they did not love God and others as they should, as they were created to do. Moses will warn the people he so desperately loves, ‘Choose life and blessings rather than death and curses’ by living in love rather than living in selfish pride, greed and lust. Unfortunately, he knows they will fail, but God will use these failures to point to grace and the saving work of Jesus Christ, the only name by which anyone can be saved. “’Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matthew 19:25, 26)
Today, Moses reminds the Israelites of their history of presumption, when they refused to listen to the Lord and obey Him and when, subsequently, He refused to listen to them or dry their alligator tears as they faced both the natural consequences of their sin and the Lord’s mighty arm of discipline. He reminds them that they can’t defy God in unrepentant sin and then expect God to be with them and bless their efforts, even if they ‘dedicated’ their vain efforts to the Lord. Christians should take heed, lest we take the form of religion but live powerless lives because we dishonor the Lord presumptuously in word and deed and quench the Spirit, grieve the Spirit, and get out of step with the Spirit. What does God say? “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8) “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:3) God forbid that we should treat grace as a cheap thing, losing sight of the blood of Christ which paid the penalty of our sin. Demonstrate your love for God through obedience – “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
- Romans 2:4 — Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
Perhaps you have presumed upon God’s grace by remaining complacent in sins you justify as “no big deal.” Repent. Don’t let compromise hinder your relationship with God and others –
- 1 Peter 1:14-16 — As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
- Hebrews 12:1-4 — Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Psalm 65:4 – “Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!”
God chose you before you chose Him. Godliness is, in no small part, being completely satisfied with God Himself, regardless of external circumstances.
You are blessed by God when you go to church. However, if you are a Christian, your body is also the temple of God, and you are always in His presence; so why wouldn’t you rejoice always?
“We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house….” Do you know anyone who is never satisfied with how the church services is run? Criticism reveals more about the critic than it does the critiqued. Do you know anyone who is never satisfied with their situation, even though the Sovereign Lord has allowed it to happen out of His perfect love for His purposes, His glory, and for the very best for His children? Again, criticism only exposes an ungodly heart. As Proverbs 13:25 describes, the righteous are always satisfied with what God has provided, but the unrighteous are never satisfied.
Psalm 65:5 — “By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation.”
Our God is a righteous God who reigns in perfect righteousness. In our gratitude for His mercy and grace, we must not make light of His righteousness. Today we read that Ahab considered it a “light thing” to walk in sin and “did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” (1 Kings 16:33) We must never consider sin to be a “light thing” and in so doing mock, test, and dishonor our God. God will always deal with unrighteousness. Today, David says, “Come and hear, all you who fear God and I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me! (Psalm 66:16-20) If you are cherishing sin in your heart, deal with it today through humble repentance.
- Hebrews 10:26-31 — For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Psalm 65:6-13 — Consider how God has richly and perfectly provided for mankind. How could we not praise Him?
Psalm 66:10-12 – The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven. May the LORD, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you! How can I bear by myself the weight and burden of you and your strife?
God will allow you to go through great trials to refine you like silver. Trust Him. Don’t resent His discipline.
Psalm 65:13-15 – Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.’ And you answered me, ‘The thing that you have spoken is good for us to do.’ So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and set them as heads over you, commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, commanders of tens, and officers, throughout your tribes.
The more you truly appreciate God, the more you want to worship and obey Him.
Psalm 66:18 – “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
Don’t let sinful desires hinder your prayers. You cannot choose sin over God and expect to have a meaningful relationship with Him.
Proverbs 5: The adulterer. According to polls, adultery remains the leading cause for divorce in America (followed by broken communication, abuse, and finances). Proverbs 5 is a good chapter to review for the sake of marriage. However, in context to the who Bible, Proverbs 5 has a larger application: The Bible describes sin against God as adultery, as we are the bride of Christ, set apart for God. We cannot “love” the World while married to God. Read Proverbs 5 again from this perspective and observe the spiritual metaphor.
Proverbs 5:1-6 — My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.
Wisdom enables discretion which gives us the self-control to resist the temptation for instant gratification now in order to preserve our greatest possible future. Wisdom is never short-sighted but rather can see the long-term implications of even the smallest decisions.
“…that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.” (Proverbs 5:2) Have God’s words on your lips, ready for the moments of decision when you need God’s word to keep from being deceived by your natural passions and desires and from doing what you want to do rather than what God commands you to do. If there is an area in your life where you know you are easily tempted, memorize Bible verses on that topic and recite them to yourself regularly, particularly in moments of weakness.
“For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.” (Proverbs 5:3-6) Sin is selfishly choosing pleasure and self-gratification over love, faithfulness, and obedience, with no consideration of the consequences or the inevitable destruction to follow. The sinful are blind to the reality of sin because their eyes are not on God, and they aren’t viewing things from God’s perspective. All sin, even secret sins, hurts both the sinner and others. Sin hardens the heart of the sinner and leads to further sins which grow. All relationships are based on trust, and sin destroys trust. Sin says God can’t trust you to do what is right, you can’t trust you to do what is right, and therefore, others can’t trust you to do what is right. This creates an environment of distrust (first internally and then externally) which causes defensiveness, division, deception, and dispute, destruction, and death.
“She does not ponder the path of life.” (Proverbs 5:6) Sinners do not stop to truly consider the seriousness of their sin or what they are doing
Proverbs 5:7, 8 – “And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.”
Laws and social moral codes cannot keep you from sin, only faith, hope, and love can. Faith gives more value to the unseen than the seen. Faith is more motivated by God’s word, which cannot be seen or handled, than the appealing physical things right in front of us. Faith trust God to do the right thing now, and hope trusts God with the future outcome of that decision, and love puts God and others above self and is the only motivation which is stronger than self-gratification. Ultimately, rules and regulations will not keep you from doing what you really want to do, and when in your heart you desire to sin, you will eventually sin. However, love truly desires not to sin and, therefore, doesn’t need the restraint of regulations or external reinforcements. Love does what is right naturally out of a passion for God and others. Do you believe God and His Majesty is more real and more wonderful than the ‘shiny apples’ at your fingertips? Do you love God and others more than the forbidden fruit of temptation?
“Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” (Proverbs 5:8) If you know that certain things or certain situations entice you to sin, then the best thing you can do is stay far, far away from them. Don’t be complacent with or toy with temptations. We must choose to stay very far from all sin. Sin is nothing to take lightly and nothing to play with. I am not sure how it is possible to maintain this principle and watch TV today.
Proverb 5:11, 12 — “And at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!'”
You will reap what you sow, and when you do, you cannot change what you planted and cultivated in the past, and you cannot make up for a lack of investment. Whatever you plant and cultivate (or fail to plant or cultivate) will eventually and inevitably produce fruit of consequences and character for all to see. “…. and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed.” People choose between two pains: the constructive pain of discipline (self-control) today, or the destructive pain of regret tomorrow. Successful and godly people carry the light burden of discipline daily to avoid the crushing load of disappointment, disillusionment, depression, and defeat in the future.
Today is a great day to start doing what you should have been doing. Don’t worry about the past – it’s over. Don’t worry about tomorrow – it is out of your control. Today, is in your hands – make the most of it, joyfully, thankfully, energetically, courageously, and obediently. This is your best way to correct what has been done and promote a positive tomorrow. As the Chinese proverbs says, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second best time to plant a tree is today.”
Proverbs 5:15 — “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.”
Much sin starts with dissatisfaction over the gifts God has given you. Be grateful for that content with what God has given you, and do not compare your situation with that of others.
Proverbs 5:17 – “Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you.” Protect and take care of what God has given you, rather than worrying about what God hasn’t given you. You are only ready to receive more when you can prove faithful with what you already have.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 5 June 22: Pray that God will convict your heart of sins which might be hindering your right relationship with Him, and pray that God will give you the love to obey Him with passion and joy, as your heart’s true desire. Choose God over self and over sin today. Give it all up to God today in appreciation for what Jesus has done for you. Live in joyful obedience today. (Psalm 66:18)