Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 8 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 4:1, 2, 6, 9, 15, 35 — “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules… do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession…. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you…. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’… Take care, and keep your soul diligently…. Watch yourselves very carefully…. To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.”
“By grace [we] have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) We weren’t saved by our good works; we were saved for good works. We weren’t saved so we could continue to live sinful, ungodly, defeated lives and yet go to heaven when we die, but rather so we could be free to live victorious lives in Christ, enjoying Him and bringing Him glory on this earth. Stop now, and read Romans 6 for more.
Picking up from yesterday’s readings, Moses continues his theme of ‘listen, obey, live, overcome the world (take possession), and glorify God.’ This is a message of victory, not victimization and failure. We are called to obedience grounded in love which is the greatest commandment of all –
- Luke 10:27 — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
- 1 John 4:12 — No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
- 1 John 5:3 – “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
However, none of us are perfected in love; our motives are often mixed, but if we obey with a humble desire to grow in love, we will grow through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel is the good news that we have been freed from the PENALTY of sin through Christ; we are being freed from the POWER of sin in Christ, and we will one day be freed from the PRESENCE of sin when Christ returns to make all things new. The process of being freed from the power (influence) of sin in our lives is known as sanctification –
- Romans 6:19 — I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
- Romans 6:22 — But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
- 1 Corinthians 1:30 — And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption….
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3 — For this is the will of God, your sanctification….
- Romans 8:29 — For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
The path of sanctification, of discipleship, is one of continually growing obedience. Consider again the Great Commission – “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20) Teaching them to what? “To observe (or obey) all that I have commanded….”
Today, Moses warns the people not to add to God’s word or take away from God’s word. Since the original sin, people have manipulated God’s word in an attempt to justify their own sin – “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1) We attempt to adjust God’s word to our behavior rather than adjusting our behavior to God’s word. We add caveats or modifiers to God’s clear commands, or we downplay commands that we would rather not deal with in our lives. Consider what sins rarely come up in sermons or in Christian conversations today because they are so widely accepted among God’s people, all in the name of grace as an excuse for complacency, complicity, and compromise.
Also, pay close attention to what Moses says — “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” Note that Moses addresses both what people will see from our behavior but also what they will hear from us. In other words, we must proclaim the Gospel and the Sovereignty of God in BOTH word and deed.
Many Christians have convinced themselves that they don’t need to publicly proclaim the truth, only serve as a visible, silent example of the truth. However, we have been entrusted with both the ministry and the message of reconciliation. (See 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19) Sometimes silence is appropriate, but too often, it is a comfort-based decision motivated by fear or complacency. What did Jesus model for us in his public ministry described in the books Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Not just healing – “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14, 15) “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” (Mark 1:38) Jesus’ message was repent and believe. Is that your message? How many times will you hear the word repent this year?
God commands us to obey. Jesus said obedience was the indicator of our love for Him (John 14:15), and the Bible commands us to proclaim His Gospel to all. Sharing the Gospel is an obvious command, a “no-brainer,” since love would never withhold the message of forgiveness and eternal life from anyone. And the Gospel message begins with a call for repentance, which is never an easy message; but it ends with grace through faith, which is a magnificent message — it is a two-edged sword that cuts and heals, that reveals both God’s judgment and God’s offer of grace and salvation. How well are you doing on your God-given command and ministry of reconciliation?
- Psalm 105:1 — Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
- Isaiah 12:4 — Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.
- Ezekiel 3:17-19 — “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.
- Luke 12:8 — And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God.
- Acts 1:8 — But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
- Acts 13:47 — For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
- Acts 20:24 — But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
- Romans 10:10-16 — For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel.
- 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 — And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
- 2 Corinthians 5:20 — Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
- 2 Timothy 4:5 — As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
- 2 Peter 3:9 — The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Deuteronomy 4:5 – “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.”
Moses only taught what God had commanded him, nothing more and nothing less. He taught the people to obey. Jesus has given us the Great Commission – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Obedience has always been central to God’s plan for His people. Is that what you are teaching others?
Deuteronomy 4:6 – Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’
“Wisdom is not what you know about the world but how well you know God. Human reasoning will not make you wise. It may even lead you to reject the ways of God (1 Cor. 1:18-25). God’s purpose in creating a nation for Himself was to demonstrate His wisdom to the world through the obedience of His people (Zech. 8:23). As the Israelites followed God, He would bless them, and the wisdom of obeying God would be evident to all.
God gives you the same opportunity to base your life on His wisdom. When unbelievers make important decisions, they must rely on their own knowledge and understanding. You, as a Christian, have access to God’s wisdom. God’s Spirit is within you to guide you (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit will open your eyes to the truth of the Scriptures so that you can see things from God’s perspective. Only God sees the future, so only He can accurately lead you to make correct decisions today.
As you allow God to direct your life, those around you will see true wisdom, wisdom not of the world but of God. Others will be confused about what to do in our complicated world, but God will guide you safely to the correct choices for you. Your family will be blessed because you make wise decisions. Your friends will have a wise counselor to come to for help. Your obedient life will demonstrate the wisdom of allowing the Holy Spirit to be your Guide.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Deuteronomy 4:9 – “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.”
Fidelity not only requires great personal diligence but also a commitment to teach the next generation.
Deuteronomy 4:15 — “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire.”
Living spiritually is not ‘natural’, it is ‘supernatural’, it is beyond the natural and beyond our six senses. We are called to be led by the Spirit, not our own understanding. However, we have a tendency to hang onto the natural, physical world and our own knowledge. We have a tendency to define God in a way that makes sense to us rather than conforming our senses to the ultimate reality of Him. We must be very careful not to plot our own course while telling ourselves that course is where God is leading us. We must be careful not to find an idol (a substitute for God) that seems to meet our temporal needs.
Deuteronomy 4:19 – “And beware lest you…. be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.”
Your idols will control you. Following idols makes you unspiritual, just like all the unbelievers.
Deuteronomy 4:24 – For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
“Our God is a consuming fire. He is satisfied only when His love totally consumes us. We usually think of a jealous person as someone resentful and suspicious, but the Lord’s jealousy on our behalf is something that should be precious to us! He has the complete right to our lives. He gave us life, and He wants to protect us from anything that could harm us. That is why He has commanded His children to worship no other gods, allowing nothing to distract us from His consuming love.
The Lord opposes anything that hinders our relationship with Him (Deut. 6:15). He knows the danger of other gods, how they will lure us away, deceive us, and leave us empty. He will tolerate nothing that takes precedence over our love for Him. Our faithfulness to God assures us of the abundant life He wants to give us. If we reject Him, He will pursue us until we return to Him.
We should not resent the fact that God wants to guard our relationship with Him. It should bring us comfort. Our relationship with God should be our top priority. It should dictate how we spend our time, our money, and our energy. If certain people or our possessions separate us from God, we must reexamine our hearts and give our devotion first to Him, as He commands. God wants each of us to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30). Our love for God should extend to every corner of our lives. God loved us so much that He gave us His own Son. Let us respond by giving Him our highest devotion in return.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Deuteronomy 4:30 – “When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice.”
God’s plan involves allowing you to learn from your own mistakes. You must learn to choose Him and to be faithful to Him, casting out all substitutes.
Deuteronomy 4:35 – “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you.”
God gave you His commands, knows you will disobey them, and will discipline you that you will grow in Christ-like character. Do not despise the Lord’s discipline.
2 Corinthians 9:6 – The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
“You are called to be intentional about your Christianity. You must be determined to experience the fullness of God in every area of your Christian life and never to settle for a shallow, lackadaisical relationship with almighty God. God will bless you according to how you respond to His invitations. If He finds in you a generous heart that willingly and freely gives what it has to others, then God responds toward you in like manner.
When the apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to help the Christians in Jerusalem, he promised them that if they would sow generously, they would reap a generous return from God.
This truth holds life-changing potential for us. If we invest everything we have in our relationship with God, we will experience the full dimensions of being children of God. If our desire is to know God more intimately, and if we spend ample time studying His word, God will generously enrich our relationship with Him. If we discipline ourselves to remain in prayer even when praying is difficult, He will reward us with a deeper, more powerful prayer life. If we reconcile any broken relationships and prepare our hearts before worship, and if we participate fully and reverently in every part of worship, God promises that we will meet Him and our lives will be changed.
Why is it that some Christians grow rapidly in their Christian faith and others remain unchanged year after year? Our Christian maturity is deeply affected by what we sow. Let us choose to sow generously in everything we do in our Christian lives. The harvest we reap will be Christlikeness.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
The daily disciplines of discipleship will produce an abundant harvest. If you sow sparingly, you will also reap sparingly. Specifically, this verse applies to giving. Those who give to others position themselves to receive abundantly from the Lord.
2 Corinthians 9:7 — “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
People are motivated to do “good deeds” for many reasons — guilt, fear, pride, duty, etc. Many do the right things for the wrong reasons, and the Bible calls these deeds “filthy rags,” straw that will burnt in the fire. Charitable deeds that are not motivated by genuine love are valued by people but not by God. Seek a heart that gives out of love.
How you view God’s gift of grace to you, the life of His Son Jesus Christ, determines how much of a heart you have for giving to others. Are you truly amazed by God’s grace? Then, are you an amazing giver and forgiver, known for your unreasonable hospitality, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, peace, and joy? How you give and forgive reflect the genuineness of your relationship with God. There are givers, and then there are truly cheerful givers.
“God loves a cheerful giver.” Any questions?
2 Corinthians 9:8 – “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
Do you have an abundance mentality? God is abundant in His grace. How much grace is God able to make abound to you? “All grace”! The grace God gives you is sufficient under what circumstances? “In all things at all times”! Why does God provide you all grace? So you may abound in every good work. Not that you can abound in everything, just in what He intends for you – good works. If God called you to do it, nothing can stop you.
“When you relate to God you always deal with abundance, for God does nothing in half measures! This is true regarding His grace. The Lord is not miserly when it comes to providing grace to His servants. When you seek to perform a good work that God has asked you to do, you will always find an ample supply of God’s grace to sustain you. If you begin to lose heart in the work you are doing, God’s grace upholds you and gives you the love for God and His people you require in order to continue. When you face criticism and are misunderstood, God’s grace enables you to forgive your accusers and to sense God’s pleasure even when others do not understand what you are doing. When you make mistakes in the work God has appointed you to do, God’s grace forgives you, sets you back on your feet, and gives you strength to continue the work. When you complete the task God gave you and no one expresses thanks for what you have done, the Father’s grace surrounds you, and He reminds you that you have a heavenly reward where everything you have done in the Lord’s service will be remembered.
God does not promise to provide all you need for your dreams and projects. He does assure you that, for every good work you attempt, you will never face a shortfall of His grace in order to successfully complete the task God has given you.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
2 Corinthians 9:13 – “…they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ.”
The quality of our lives will be measured by how much we spread the gospel and how much we cared for the needs of others in the Name of Jesus.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 8 June 22: Let nothing stop you today from obeying God and fulfilling your calling as Christ’s ambassador to the people around you. (Deuteronomy 4) Pray that God will make you a more cheerful giver and forgiver. Give to others today as an act of gratitude for what God has given you; give to others the way you want God to give to you. (2 Corinthians 9:6, 7)