Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 11 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 7:2 — “…you must devote them to complete destruction.”
God does not compromise with sin. When God forgives you and frees you from sin, He expects you to completely remove that sin from your life; this involves removing, as much as possible, those things in your life that would tempt you to sin. You might actually need to turn that TV and radio off. You might have to choose Christian friends. You might have to limit your social media viewing. You might have to change habits in your life that you know are destructive. None of it is hard to do, but sometimes your divided heart makes these things seem impossible. The jelly doughnut doesn’t cause you to break your diet; it is the desire within you that does. Until you get better control of your desires, don’t bring home the jelly doughnut. When you get control of your desires, you no longer want to bring home the jelly doughnut.
Deuteronomy 7:3, 4 — “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.”
The purpose of marriage is the raise up godly children. (Malachi 2:15) Since a person’s primary purpose in life is to know Jesus (be one with Him) and make Him known (John 17), since the marriage is intended to represent to the world Christ’s love for His church, since God calls a man and woman to be “one” in marriage, and since the marriage is to serve as God’s primary institution for discipleship of the next generation, a Christian must marry a person who will partner with them wholeheartedly, in mutual support, to know Jesus, make Him known, and to raise up godly children.
Deuteronomy 7:6-8 — “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you.”
God chose you to be holy, not because of who you were but because He loves you. So, in response to His unmerited love, be holy.
Deuteronomy 7:9, 8:6, 8:11 — “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God…. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him…. Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes.”
Notice how much emphasis the Bible places on the criticality of obeying God’s commands, a mandate repeated over and over again. God knows our weaknesses and gives us clear guidance and direction, along with the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin. We give in to temptation and sin when our “Yes” is bigger than our “No,” when the thing in front of us is bigger, more real, more powerful in our minds than the awesome reality and power of God. At the moment of decision, we make God small, insignificant, irrelevant, distant, or non-existent. We dethrone the LORD and worship the idol of our passions. For at least a moment, we forget God. The last “fruit of the Spirit” is self-control which comes from the reality of Christ in our lives. The power of self-control comes from truly knowing that the Lord our God IS God, from truly knowing Jesus, by glorifying (magnifying) Him in our hearts, by making Jesus bigger than any temptation or idol out there. We must walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh, practicing the presence of God. We must truly understand the implications of having the Spirit within us, of being the Temple of God. You are holy ground. God’s love is not determined by our obedience, but our obedience reveals our love for Him. God knows we are not perfected in love, and gives us His commands, in part, to reveal to us (not to Him – He already knows) where our hearts are still not right. God’s commands are intended to draw you closer to Him, not further away. Grace enables us to fail forward, always confident in God’s unchanging love for us.
Deuteronomy 7:13 — “He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you.”
Blessings are the natural result of obedience to God.
Deuteronomy 7:21 — “You shall not be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.”
One of the most, if not the most, repeated commands in the Bible is, “Don’t be afraid.” Fear is the opposite of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Deuteronomy 7:22 — “The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you.”
The challenges you are experiencing are there for a bigger reason you cannot understand, working together for good (Romans 8:28). Trust God’s plan through personal crisis. When life gets hard, get closer to Jesus, and keep your spiritual eyes open. God is doing something big in your life.
“When God led His people into the Promised Land, He did so step by step. If He had allowed them to annihilate their enemies at once, the land would have been too difficult to manage. So He allowed some of the enemies to remain for a time in order to maintain the land and suppress the wildlife. In doing so, God taught His people to trust Him step by step. He gave them only as much responsibility as they could handle at one time.
As God leads you in your Christian growth, He will allow challenges that match your character and relationship to Him. God will not totally change your character at once when you become a Christian. Rather, He will lead you through a process to become more like His Son. He will keep working in an area in your life until it is controlled by the Holy Spirit. You may eagerly desire maturity in every area of your character, but steady, gradual growth is more lasting. God will not take shortcuts in His process of making you like Christ. He sees your life from eternity and will take as long as necessary to produce lasting spiritual growth in you.
Do not become impatient while God is producing Christ-likeness in you. Do not seek more responsibilities than those He has given you. Obey all that you know He has asked, and He will lead you at a pace that fits your present character and His purposes for you.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Deuteronomy 7:25 — “The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire.”
God does not respect other religions, nor should you. Yes, we treat people with respect, and respect a person’s right to have a viewpoint, but we don’t respect false claims. We should always treat everyone with love, but that doesn’t mean we placate false narratives from false gospels. If you truly love someone, you must speak the truth to them in love.
Listen to this message from John Piper on Evangelism and Missions from Psalm 67 — https://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/light-heat-2011-national-conference/evangelism-missions
Psalm 67 — God blesses us primarily to reveal Himself to a watching world, not simply so we can have what we want for our own comfort and security.
Psalm 67:2, 3 — “…that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!”
Your goal should be that people see God’s power in your life and praise God, not you.
Psalm 67:7 — “God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!”
Our goal is that our lives would be used by God to turn the whole world to Jesus Christ. Don’t let anything about you distract people from Jesus. It is not about you. It is all about Jesus.
Proverbs 11:1 – “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.”
We don’t take dishonesty as seriously as God does. “Abomination” is a very strong word.
Proverbs 11:2 – “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
It takes humility to turn to God. Many people are stuck in pride though.
Proverbs 11:4 – “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”
Riches won’t help you stand before God. Compare Proverbs 11:4 with Matthew 16:26 — “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
Proverbs 11:9 – “With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.”
Advice from the ungodly will only destroy you. Seek the counsel of someone close to Jesus. (see also vs. 11 and 14)
Proverbs 11:16 – “A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches.”
Wealth is empty without respect.
Proverbs 11:18b – “…but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.”
“There are many ways to invest our lives, but none offers greater reward than devoting ourselves to the pursuit of righteousness. Every area of our lives should reflect the holiness of God that is ours by salvation: our thoughts, so that nothing we think about would be inappropriate for a child of God; our actions, so that our lives demonstrate that we serve a holy God; our integrity, so that we are above reproach in all our relationships.
Are you taking God’s righteousness in your life for granted? Righteousness is something you must allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life. Instead of sowing holy thoughts, are you allowing evil and sinful thoughts to grow in your mind? Are you allowing lust to grow unchecked within you? Does enmity, bitterness, jealousy, or unforgiveness remain in your life? Jesus said if we seek first God and His righteousness, everything else will follow (Matt. 6:33).
There is great reward in sowing righteousness. What are you presently doing to plant holiness in your life? (1 Pet. 1:15). How are you putting righteousness in your mind so that your thoughts are holy? How are you cultivating righteousness in your relationships so that you maintain your integrity? Are you instilling righteousness in your activities so that your life is above reproach? If you want to harvest righteousness in your life tomorrow, you must plant seeds of righteousness today.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Proverbs 11:20 – “Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those of blameless ways are his delight.”
Behavior reflects the heart.
Proverbs 11:24-26 – “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.”
Again, you can expect God to treat you how you treat others. (see also v. 31)
Proverbs 11:28 – “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.”
Riches are not security. Fidelity to God is.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 June 22: Today, clean house. Eliminate from your life the things that are unholy or impure — the things that might misrepresent God’s character and truth or that might tempt you to sin. Set the conditions in your life for fidelity and holiness. If you are like most today, you will have to change your habits of entertainment. (Deuteronomy 7:2) Finally, in all that you say and do today, point to Jesus. (Psalm 67)