Wednesday, February 19, 2020

What God Expects of Us

Moses tried to help the new generation of the People of Israel know how to live so they would experience God's favor and have a good life. God made it very clear to Moses, so he could explain God's expectations to them. God wanted His people to live in His presence in holy reverence. He expected them to follow the road He set out for them. God loved them, so He expected them to love Him back and serve Him out of that love with everything they had in them. Finally, He gave them His commandments and regulations for their good, and He expected them to keep them, just as Moses told them. All of this would add up to living a good life. (Deuteronomy 10:12,13) I do not believe God's expectations for us today are any different because God has not changed.

What better way to live than to live in God's presence? We must enter His presence daily in holy reverence, and then stay close to Him. We must follow His path for us as individual believers in order to have a good life. Doing God's perfect will for us in His power is the best life. When we love Him and serve Him with everything in us, body, soul, and spirit, God sees our heart and blesses us. Also, when we obey His commends and regulations, we miss the road blocks and wrecks that keep us from the good life. I pray we all will consider what God expects and do it, so we can live joyful lives full of fruit from the Lord's work in and through us.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Deuteronomy 12-14.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The strength to Produce Wealth

The People of Israel were going to inherit the land of Canaan. God promised it to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now, the new generation of the descendants of Jacob were ready to go in and take the land. Moses instructs them what to do to keep God's commands. Then, he warns them about their attitude after the conquest is over, and they enjoy the land flowing with milk and honey. If they begin to think they did it all by themselves, they will be all wrong. If they begin to think they are rich, and they own it all, their arrogance will destroy them. He reminded them to always remember that it was the Lord their God who gave them the strength to produce the wealth, so they could fulfill their part of the covenant. (Deuteronomy 8:17,18) This reality is still true for all of us today.

It is easy to give ourselves credit for the money and the possessions we accumulate. This comes from pride after we work hard and save. The problem is that we start to think that we are rich because of our own hard work, and we not only did it all, but we own it all, too. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God gave us life. He enables us to breathe and to have strength to do whatever we do. We do nothing on our own. We only do it in the power God gives us. Also, we do not own anything. God is the Creator and owner of everything, but by His grace He generously gives us even more than we need, as we trust Him and fulfill our covenant with Him through knowing Jesus and living for Him. Therefore, pride should never be a factor. We should humbly confess to God that we know He gives us the strength to produce wealth. We should give Him thanks for that daily, and acknowledge that it all belongs to Him, while we use what He gives us for His glory.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Deuteronomy 9-11.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Using God's Name Irreverently

God gave the People of Israel 10 basic commands that we call the Ten Commandments.  They are recorded in Exodus 20 and in Deuteronomy 5. This is only fitting to have them repeated here, since Moses was going over the law a second time for the new generation after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. One of the commands is broken all of the time by unbelievers and by believers, too. Many times people do it without even thinking, because it is such a natural part of their speech. However, God has commanded us not to use His name in curses or silly banter. He will not put up with us using His name in an irreverent way. (Deuteronomy 5:11)  This is a very serious offense to God.

We do not usually use God's proper name, YAHWEH, when we speak. The People of Israel would never use that name out of fear of using it irreverently and breaking this command. However, we use the name Jesus or Jesus Christ, and we refer to God in various ways. I believe any of those ways of speaking about God is what this command is warning us about. If we talk about God in an irreverent way, we are giving a bad witness to others about who God is. He is not a word to use to swear or cuss. He is not a God we should joke about in silly banter. He is the God over all of the universe, and we are to approach Him and His name very seriously and show great reverence to Him. That is why God warned us not to use His name in the wrong way. He wants us to know Him, to love and worship Him. He wants this for every person, but using His name irreverently leads people away from seriously turning from their sins and trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior. When we do that, we bring God down, instead of exalting Him to His proper position. Let's all determine to only speak of God in a humble, worshipful way, no matter what word we use to refer to Him.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Deuteronomy 6-8.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

God is Relentless

Moses began the book of Deuteronomy by recounting the story of how Israel had failed to take the Promised Land the first time, when the 10 spies brought back a bad report from the land, and the people would not go in and take it. He told the new generation how angry God was because of this sin. He sentenced that entire generation to die in the wilderness before their children would go in and take over Canaan with His help. God was relentless against His sinful people until the last one had died. (Deuteronomy 2:14,15) We need to hear this lesson loud and clear.

We cannot get away from God. There is no place we can hide from Him. This is especially true when we have sinned, and He is out to punish us. God hates sin. He will not let us get away with sin without His righteous penalty being imposed on us. He will not forget. He will not give up. God is relentless, not because He hates us, but because He loves us. His punishment is His way of drawing us to Himself. We need to confess our sins as soon as possible and throw ourselves on His mercy. Then, He can forgive us and bless us. However, He doesn't have to take away the consequences of our sin when He forgives it. Just like all of the unfaithful generation died, we have to take what we deserve. The good thing is that once we confess and repent, God gives us extra grace to deal with the consequences, so we are blessed even in our time of punishment. What a wonderful, relentless God we have!

Tomorrow, I intend to read Deuteronomy 3-5.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Anger and Hatred

Many terrible things happen because of anger and hatred. One of the worst things that happens is when a murder takes place because of one or both of them. An innocent life is snuffed out in an act of rage or hatred that could have been avoided. It is all so senseless. That is why the Lord gave Moses instructions about murder, and the cities of refuge were set up as places of protection for those who killed someone, but it was not a murder situation. However, God made it clear that any killing from anger or hatred was murder, and it was punishable by the death of the murderer. (Numbers 35:20,21) I believe this is still true for us today, because God still values human life, and He does not mean for us to take a life without the ultimate consequence.

Jesus was very clear in the Sermon on the Mount. He knew the danger of being angry with other people. That is why he said that not only was murder wrong, but it put a person in danger of judgment to be angry with someone without a cause. He knew that anger could lead to murder, so He warned us to stay away from all anger. (Ephesians 4:31,32) Also, Jesus said in the same sermon that we are not to hate our enemies, but to love them. (Matthew 5:43,44) Hatred just makes our situation with other people worse. It does not solve anything. If it gets bad enough, it can lead to murder, as well. We must decide to love those who hurt us and hate us, so that we pray for them and seek to bring them to know the Lord. Then, we can have a close friendship, instead of just making things worse.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Numbers 36 and Deuteronomy 1-2.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Keeping Our Word

God intends for us, as believers to speak truth and to keep our word when we vow to do something. This is part of being like the Lord Jesus. He is the Truth, and He always does whatever He says He will do. Every time I read this part of Numbers I am convicted about all of the times I have not spoken the truth or I have failed to keep my vows to God. (Numbers 30:1,2) It grieves me, but I know I must be more committed and more careful about what I say and how I say it. I think we can all relate to the importance of this truth.

If people can't trust what we say, we will not be a good witness to them. If they can't trust us to tell the truth, we will not be able to have close relationships with other people. This is a huge detriment to living like Jesus and having real fellowship as God designed for us. All of this is magnified when we do not tell the truth to God, or we do not keep our vows to Him. There is nothing we do that He does not know our heart and exactly what we are thinking and doing. Therefore, falsehood and insincerity or lack of commitment are huge red flags to God. Again, we can't have a close relationship with the Lord, if we fail to mean what we say and say what we mean with Him. I pray we will all resolve to repent of any sins the Holy Spirit brings to our minds in these areas and commit to keeping our word consistently with God and with others. Our lives will be much better if we do this.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Numbers 32-35.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Like Sheep Without a Shepherd

I am sure most of us have heard that sheep are not capable of taking care of themselves very well. They do not have a way of protecting themselves from predictors. They can't run very fast, either. They are not very smart. They need someone to lead them to water and to food. All of these things are reasons that we have shepherds for sheep. When they sheep have a shepherd, they are happy and productive. They live to contribute their valuable wool for clothing. They produce lanolin, too, which is good for our skin. All of this is why Moses used sheep and having a shepherd to ask God for new leader for Israel when He was about to die. (Numbers 27:15-17) This is very applicable to believers and church today, so let's learn from this.

We, as believers, are God's sheep. Jesus is our Good Shepherd to lead us and protect us from Satan and His attacks. (John 10) When we follow Jesus in a deep relationship we can bear much fruit by abiding in Him. (John 15:1-11) However, without Jesus people are lost. They are destroyed by Satan and the evil of the world around us. They are defenseless. We all need Jesus to be our Lord, Savior, and Shepherd. Then, when we come to know Him, we need to be a member of His Body, the Church. That is God's way for us, as sheep, to be together in flocks to learn and grow together. The pastor is the Under-Shepherd of the flock of God. God gives us good pastors to protect, defend, and teach the flock, so we can all grow to be like Jesus and to bear much fruit for Him. I pray we all understand these truths and experience life to the fullest, instead of being like sheep without a shepherd.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Numbers 28-31.