Archive for March, 2016

A Different way of life (Deuteronomy 17-20)

March 16, 2016

“The Lord your God will raise up for a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers-it is to him you shall listen.”  Deuteronomy 18:15

This days readings came very early in my day.  It was 2:30 AM, Eastern Standard time when the Lord awakened me and brought me to my familiar chair to read.  Before me were assigned chapters to read, Deuteronomy 17-20.  As I first scanned the headings in these chapters I wondered, “What will God say to me today?”

As I was considering this, I was reminded of this textual fact: “Chapters 12-26 allow us to get a view of God’s directions for His people’s lives.”  R.C. Sproul comments: “Moses continues to expound the covenant way of life.” Cited from Pg. 262, “Reformation Study Bible”

Suddenly my viewpoint was brought to a spiritual High Definition as I considered how different God’s way of living was from the ways of the world around Israel.  Consider a few illustrations from our readings:

  • The nations worshipped many Gods, but Israel was to worship the one true God, 17:2-7.
  • The nations served kings who lifted up themselves and thought only of their gain.  However, Israel was to have a king who lifted up God, 17:14-20.
  • The nations practiced all kinds of abominations that ranged from offering their children as sacrifices to praying to the dead.  However, Israel was to be blameless before the true and living God, 18:9-14.
  • The nations practiced retribution and hot anger, but Israel practiced reconciliation and refuge, 19:1-10.

These are just a few of the difference between Israel and the world.  Israel was called to live a different kind of life.

Question:  “Has God called you and I to live a different kind of life?”  Answer, “Yes.”

We are to live a life that has been set before us by our King!!!

This King came to live among us as predicted by Moses in 18:15-20!!!

He would lead us to three clearly different practices:

  1.  We were to love God alone, Matthew 22:37
  2. We were to love each other, Matthew 13:34
  3. We were to love our neighbor, Matthew 22:38

These clearly different practices come to be our way of life as we listen and obey the same king who’s Father directed Israel in all her ways!!!  As I approach my day, this will make all the difference!!!

Different (Deuteronomy 14-16)

March 15, 2016

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.”  Deuteronomy 14:21b

“I admit it, I am a people watcher.”  Yes, it is true, people are always on my radar.  And boy are people oh so different from each other.

Recently, while traveling with my lovely wife, I spotted someone who was different.  This person stood out from the crowd.  They caught my attention.  They were so different that I found myself making a judgment about them based upon their obvious desire to be different.

Brothers and sisters, “God has called us to be different from the world.”

This is so clear in God’s direction to his chosen people in Deuteronomy 14-16.  Here is an outline of the chapters:

  • God directs his people to be different in the matters of eating and giving, Deuteronomy 14.
  • God directs his people to be different in the matters of the Sabbatical year and in the matter of the firstborn, Deuteronomy 15.
  • God directs his people to be different in the matters of The Passover, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Boots, and justice, Deuteronomy 16.

In each of these matters God says, “Stand out from the world.”

In chapter 14 we discover the purpose of a selected diet was to show the world the need for holiness.  In this same chapter we discover the purpose for having a kind heart in giving was for the care of the poor.

Consider this fact:  “Ours is a world that engages in every kind of unholy practice including the lack of care for the poor.”

As a Child of God we have been called to be different in all that we do.

Today, it is not dietary laws that distinguish us from the world, it is our holy practice in the world, Acts 10:17.  Today, it is not just our practice of every seven years in forgiving debt, it is our daily care for the poor around us, I John 3:17-18.

Only as we have a new heart in Christ are we able to be genuinely different because we are now different (II Corinthians 5:17).  Dear Father, “May I live this new life you have given me so that the world will know you are God alone!”

Be Careful (Deuteronomy 11-13)

March 14, 2016

“You shall be careful to do all the statutes and the rules that I am setting before you today.”  Deuteronomy 11:32

Though the years, one of my wife’s favorite and heartfelt directives to the family is simply, “be careful.”  She genuinely cares so much about us that she wants to make sure we are careful in everything.

Brothers and sisters, we serve a God who genuinely cares about us!!!  His care is seen in multitudes of ways.  One of those ways comes out in Deuteronomy 11-13.  Here is our context:  “Moses is giving directions to God’s beloved people in how they are to conduct themselves as they come to take the Promised Land.”  In these chapters we see three “be careful’s.”

  • In chapter 11 we are directed to be careful in “only obeying the true and living God.”
  • In chapter 12 we are directed to be careful in “only worshipping the true and living God.”
  • In chapter 13 we are directed to be careful in “only listening to Godly teaching.”

These three “be careful’s” point us to the amazing care of God.  Consider these truths:

  1.  If we are not careful we will live careless lives that will lead us to the judgment of God.  11:26
  2. If we are are not careful we will worship false Gods that will cost us everything. 12:31
  3.  If we are not careful we will listen to false teachers that will lead us to certain destruction, 13:3-4.

Fact: “If I only live watching what I am to be careful not to do, I will be very joyless.”  However, If I live carefully loving God, obeying God, and resisting wrong, I will have a joy filled life.”

I think this was what Jesus had in mind in Matthew 22:37-38 and what Paul had in mind in Philippians 4;4-8.

 

A glorious glimpse (Deuteronomy 3-4)

March 11, 2016

“O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand.  For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours?”  Deuteronomy 3:24

There are moments when it happens without us even knowing it was going to happen.  In theses moments we are not prepared for what is about to happen.  But there it is: “A glorious glimpse of God.”

Did you see it when you read today’s readings?  It’s right there in front of us!  It is truly glorious.

As Moses continues in his first farewell speech, we read words that give us a glorious glimpse of God.  Look again at chapter 3 and gaze at the glimpse:

  • A glimpse of His greatness, 3:23-29

We serve a God who is truly great.  In chapter 4 we see the greatness of our God in that he is worthy of all honor, 4:2.  He is the God whose name will be great in all the earth, 4:7-8.  He is the Great God whose mercy is beyond our ability to understand, 4:31.  He God alone, Vs: 34-40

  • A glimpse of His mighty works, 3:1-21

When you look into chapter 3 you see Him as the Great God who has given us victory over our enemies, Vs: 2 and daily fights for us,  32.

  • A glimpse of the Promised Land, Vs: 25

Moses would be able to look over into the earthly Promised Land.  But he could not go.  Brothers and sisters, you and I have been blessed to see a glimpse of the Promised Land in Revelation 21-22.  But the half has not been told, I Corinthians 2:9.

These glimpses so encourages us in the midst of trials and they challenge us to honor the God who is so great and mighty.  Read the following truth given by Paul in II Corinthians 4:16-18

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[a] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

I praise the Lord for His glimpse and I look forward to what is ahead.

 

Don’t make the same mistakes (Deuteronomy 1-2)

March 10, 2016

“Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God.”  Deuteronomy 1:26

It is finally here, the day I have been looking forward too!!!  You ask, “What day are you speaking about?”  The day we start reading the book of Deuteronomy.

This is the last book of the Law written by Moses.   This is God’s second giving of the Law.  Before us will be three major addresses by Moses in the days just before his death and the big D day invasion of the Promised Land.

We will see Israel’s past and her present.  She will be instructed in how to defeat her enemies and how she is to live in the land of Promise.  We will read the law and we will read the laws of daily life.  We will receive a final charge from Moses and we will finally set our sights to God’s people’s promised Land story ( i.e. the book of Joshua).

In chapters 1 and 2 we read of both a tragic mistake (Chapter 1) and the glorious news of a New day (Chapter 2).

For our time I want to focus on chapter 1 as we hear the cry of Moses: “Do not make the same mistakes.”

  • Moses reminds Israel of her grave mistake in disobeying God’s command, Vs: 1-33
    • God said:
      • See; go; take possession; and do not fear. Vs: 30
    • Israel said:
      • We do not trust you Lord.

 

  • Moses reminds Israel of Gods judgment for Her mistake, Vs: 34-46
    • All over the age of 20 will die in their rebellion.

This chapter leads me to realize how my past was filled with rebellion.  This chapter leads me to rejoice in the grace of God that led me to see the correct way to live.  This chapter leads me to be resolved to never go back to a life of rebellion.

This was David’s realization and resolve in Psalm 51:10-13

Psalm 51:10-13New American Standard Bible (NASB)

10 Create [a]in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew [b]a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will [c]be converted to You.

In Christ we are brought to a clean heart (II Corinthians 5:10).  In Christ we experience the grace of God even when we fail (I John 1:9).  In Christ we experience the conviction and direction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:9-11).  In Christ we are empowered to teach others the way (I Timothy 1:15-16).

The place for me (Numbers 35-36)

March 9, 2016

“These six cities shall be for refuge for the people of Israel, and for the stranger and for the sojourner among them, that anyone who kills any person without intent may flee there,” Numbers 35:15

Throughout my life I have been blessed to travel to many places around the world.  In most of those places I was honored to be able to carry the gospel as I was going.  Several times I have thought while visiting certain places, “I would love to live here.”  Even a few times I have thought, “This has to be the best place for me.”

Question, “Where is the best place for a person to live?”

If you would have asked the Levities, they would have said, “in one of the 42 cities given to us by the Lord.”  We see these cities in Numbers 35:1-8.

If you would have asked someone who had committed unintentional murder, they would have said, “one of the six cities of refuge.”  We see these cities in Numbers 35:9-34.

If you would have asked the people in Numbers 36, they would have said: “in the land of our inheritance,” 36:1-13.

Consider the significance of these cities:

  • These cities protected the person who committed an unintentional crime.
  • These cities provided for honest judgment of the person who committed an unintentional crime.
  • These cities projected a picture of the hope of the nation.

The fact is, the best place to live is in the place where your sins are atoned for by another (Death of the High Priest).  The one who committed the crime had to stay in the city for protection and he or she could only leave after the High Priest died.

Consider this reality, “There are no cities in our world where you get a free pass.” 

But there is a city where those who have come to Jesus Christ (who died to provide atonement for our sins) can live in peace and happiness forever.   This is the place where I long to live.

Take time to read how the Apostle John describes this place for us.  I have copied Revelation 21:1-8 for you:

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

 

Living with our choices (Numbers 33-34)

March 8, 2016

“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.”  Leviticus 33:55

There he sat, dejected and facing a dismal future.  The prognosis was not very good.  The man asked his doctor, “Why am I facing this?”  His response, “You have made poor health choices throughout your life, and now you are going to have to live with your choices.”

The above illustration should be one that awakens us to this reality: “Ever choice has implications.”  And even more awakening reality is: “There are no redoes in choices.”

This morning I was brought to the above realities as I walked through Numbers 33-34.  Here is the outline of the chapters:

  • In chapter 34 Moses reminds Israel of her journey from Egypt to the edge of the Jordon river.  40 plus years have passed as God has been gracious to Israel despite her poor choices.
  • In chapter 34 Moses gives instructions for Israel’s battle plan for the conquest of the Promised Land.
  • In chapter 35 Moses leads Israel to plan ahead for both the borders of their battle as well as the dividing of the land.

This is extremely important for us:  “Israel was at a moment of choice.”

Here was her choice:  “Obey or disobey the battle plan set by the Lord.

I.  Consider the battle plan, Vs: 52-53:

a.  She was to drive out the inhabitants of the land.

b.  She was to remove all marks of idolatry from the land.

c.  She was to take possession of the land.

2.  Consider the implications of the wrong choice, Vs: 55-56:

a.  She would face the daily pain of seeing her enemy in her sight.

b. She would have thorns in her side as she faced and endured captivity.

c.  She would be judged by God.

For a deeper understanding of Israel’s failed choices, I challenge you to read Psalm 106:34-48.  I also point you to Hebrews 4:1-13.

God was being very clear with Israel and God is very clear with us.  We cannot possible have rest apart from doing the will of God, His way.  We cannot possible enter into eternal rest apart from His Son Jesus Christ.

May this chapter remind us to seek the right choice every day in obeying God’s battle plan!!!

 

Did you see it? (Numbers 31-32)

March 7, 2016

“and said to Moses, Your servants have counted the men of war who are under our command, and there is not a man missing from us.”  Numbers 31:49

For many years I was an extreme Kentucky Basketball fan.  Still today I am a fan, but no longer a fan that has made the team a God.  When God dealt with my heart about this fact, I began to detox myself from the pull of the sport.  I can remember one morning when I received a call from a fellow UK fan.  The beginning words of our conversation were in the form of a passionate question:  “Did you see it last night?”  My response was a question, “Did I see what?”  Their response was, “Duh, the game.”

Brothers and sisters, “What is deep in our hearts always gets the most attention with our eyes.”

As we read Numbers 31 and 32 we see with our natural eyes, the progression of God’s people headed toward the days of battle in the Promised Land.  We see Israel’s victory over the Midianites in 31:1-12.  We see God’s command to purify the camp, Vs: 13-20.  We see God’s people being given the prize of victory in Vs: 21-33.  However, did you see the miracle?

The people of war did not lose one person in battle.”

No way around it, this was a miracle from God!!!

Did you see it when you read this chapter?  Brothers and sisters, “Every Word of God is of great importance to our lives,  II Timothy 3:16-17.  Brothers and sisters, “Ever day God is working miracles in our lives,” James 1:17; Hebrews 12:3-4.

On this Monday I want to challenge each of you to spend some time, meditating on the miracles of the past week. This may take some time in asking God to bring to your heart what He has done.

I also want to challenge you to a renewed focus on every Word of God.  His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, Psalm 119:105.

Balaam’s story (Numbers 22-25)

March 4, 2016

“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.  He has said, and will he not do? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”  Numbers 23:19

As we continue to walk along with Israel on her way to the Promised Land, we find ourselves reading about what was happening surrounding the people’s journey.

Yesterday we were introduced to the people of Moab who feared Israel (22:2-3) and enlisted a pagan prophet, Balaam, to pronounce a curse against God’s people.  Balaam was happy to do this.  However he was put in his place by a sovereign Lord who used a donkey to awaken him to the true God (There is a message here in itself).

In chapters 23-24 we see Balaam’s attempts to pronounce a curse.  Each time, what the king wanted him to say was what he did not say.

  • He seeks to proclaim a curse, but instead he proclaims a blessing.
  • He seeks a second time to proclaim a curse, but again he proclaims a blessing.
    • In this second speech, he proclaims the truth about the one and only true God:
      • He does not change His mind.
      • He does not lie.
      • He keeps His promises.
    • No wonder James writes what he does about God in James 1:17 “there is no variation or change in God.”
  • The third speech by Balaam is one that amazes me in that here is a pagan who proclaims the truth of our God:
  1.  He is the God who conquerors our enemies, 24:3-9.
  2. He is the God who is coming to conqueror, 24:17-18.

Here this pagan prophet gives witness to the coming of Jesus Christ, Colossians 2:15; I Corinthians 15:25-26; Revelation 20:10,14.

Balaam’s story reminds me to both watch out for false prophets, Jude 11; and to fully trust God’s sovereign reign over even the toughest of moments.  Israel does not even know God is fighting for her.  But He is.

This same God is for all of His people today.  Romans 8:31  You can be assured that God is really in control even though people like Balaam are looming over us.  God will win in the end.  Trust Him for He never breaks His word.

 

What Can We Do? (Numbers 21-22)

March 3, 2016

“But the Lord said, do not fear him, for I have given him into your hand and all his people, and his land…” Numbers 21:34

Recently I read the comments of a very concerned Christ follower.  Here is an exert from what they said: “I am very concerned about the upcoming election.  Please be in prayer.” I would add, “Amen,” to what this person said.

Within a few hours of reading these comments someone else said, “I get really concerned about the future of our country.”

I realize there are many different nations that read this blog, but each can identify with the state of your nation politically, economically, and spiritually!!!

Israel could identify as she was on a journey.  The last 40 years had been spent in the wilderness of God’s judgment.  Now she is headed home, as the children of Israel have grown up in the wilderness.  Now they  are moving forward.  Two things stand out:

  • There will be victories in battle.

In chapter 21 we see no less than three victories.  God’s people would experience the power of his leadership.

  • There will always be a vicious battle.

The battle I am referring to is the battle of the flesh.  These people were often inpatient, Vs: 4.  They were judged for their impatience.  They needed constant reminders to look to God.  Jesus reminded us, when he walked among us, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,” John 3:14.  Jesus went to the cross to purchase our freed from the vicious battle.  Only when we follow Him do we have life.

Here is where I want us to make the connection concerning what we should do!!!

When Christ rose from the dead, He did not build a kingdom here.  The opposite is the case.  He returned to heaven (Acts 1:11) with the promise of coming again to claim his people for a kingdom to come.  Israel’s journey reminds us of this fact, “This world is not our home.”  Israel’s journey reminds us of this fact,” God will see us through every battle.  It will become vicious, but victory will be ours.”

Paul’s words come to mind.  I leave them with you to enjoy:

20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.  Philippians 3:20-21