Monthly Archives: December 2012
I think that it is sometimes easy for Christians to feel like we have some sense of entitlement. Because we try our best to follow the will of God, everything will work out well because God owes it to us. God has great plans for us as I always point out from Jeremiah, but those plans are not a result of our goodness.
That kind of attitude was taking root with the Israelites as well in Deuteronomy chapter 9. Moses was warning them not to think that they were receiving the Promised Land because of their own goodness.
Deu 9:4 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
This is a major problem with Christian culture today as well. There are many Christians that forget that we are still sinners who are saved by a merciful God. Becoming a Christian does not mean becoming perfect. If that was the proof of our salvation, we all would fall short.
Yes, we absolutely strive for perfection because we are trying to emulate Jesus, and as we all know, He was perfect. However, we are still going to make mistakes, and we will still need forgiveness.
1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1Jn 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
So, I think this is the challenge for all of us as we begin the New Year tomorrow. Yes, we do have something special because we have God living within us. That absolutely sets us apart.
However, we are still sinners saved by grace. God doesn’t give us our Promised Land because of how good we are. It is only by the grace of God that we can have our inheritance.
God leaves little room for negotiation when it comes to our obedience especially in Deuteronomy chapter eight.
Deu 8:19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.
Deu 8:20 As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.
These are strong words, but they explain the high value that God places on our obedience.
Now, there is an interesting implication of this passage.
It is obvious that there are millions of people in the world today who give God virtually no value and follow their own idols.
Does this passage apply to them as well?
One thing that we can safely assume from this passage is that we are not talking about physical death here. After all, it is not like people immediately die because they are not followers of God.
It could mean that He is talking about nations that either follow God or do not. That seems to be the general theme of the chapter here. There are several nations around the world that are not Christian and are thriving, but I think that Israel was held to such a high standard because they had witnessed God firsthand.
This nation had been blessed in so many ways beginning with their miraculous escape from Egypt and continuing through the years of wandering in the desert. They had so much proof that God was looking out for them that to leave at that point would at the very least be ungrateful.
So, even though it seems as if at this this passage is clearly pointing to the nation of Israel, I do think that there can be an application on the individual level.
If you look at this from a spiritual perspective, if we do not live in obedience to God by putting our faith and trust in Him, there will be a spiritual death. I know this is not a very happy thought to end on, but I think that the encouraging part lies in the fact that the spiritual depth can be avoided.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
It is pretty simple.
I think that it’s sometimes easy to worry. They’re are plenty of reasons for worry after all, and I think that we all are pretty good about finding each and every one of them when we want to.
However, Deuteronomy chapter seven reminds us yet again that worrying is essentially useless.
Deu 7:17 If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?
Deu 7:18 Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the LORD thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt;
Deu 7:19 The great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the LORD thy God brought thee out: so shall the LORD thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid.
The people of Israel were afraid that they would not be able to claim the Promised Land because there were other people who are already there. Not only that, but the people who were there had at a larger armies than Israel.
Isn’t everyone a little bit afraid when they go into what seems like a losing battle?
The thing is, when the battle is what God wants us to engage in, He’ll also give us the strength to overcome that challenge. That is what Moses is trying to emphasize.
Just for purposes of clarity, I am not just talking about literal battles. There are plenty of different types of battles to fight in life, but I thought that I would throw this disclaimer in here.
I like to think of Jesus in this situation. He essentially took on the entire religious institutions in Israel, but because of strength from God, He was able to persevere and accomplish His God-given mission. At the time, no one would have thought that one man could radically change history, but Jesus did.
When we are in the will of God and are doing what He wants, we will be given the power we need to overcome any obstacles. It might be challenging of course, but with God on our side, there is nothing that we cannot do.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Going to church on Sunday is a great thing, but if that is all that our Christianity is based upon, we have a problem.
In Deuteronomy chapter 6, Moses was encouraging the Israelites to put God first in their entire lives.
Deu 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
Deu 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Deu 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
Deu 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Deu 6:8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
Deu 6:9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
As you can tell, all of the words of God should permeate the lives of the Israelites. Moses wanted them to think about the word of God wherever they went.
Even though we don’t exactly do everything that they did in Israel at that time today, I think that the point is still clearly applicable.
Following God shouldn’t just be a Sunday activity. Yes, it is a great thing to pray in church, but we also need to keep in touch with God throughout the week.
1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Our lifestyle is supposed to reflect our Christian faith. Like Moses said, the word of God should be in our hearts, and Thessalonians encourages us to speak with God all of the time.
This relationship is a good thing, and it is worth cultivating.
Deuteronomy chapter 5 features a recap of the Ten Commandments. However, I want to take you to a verse that is a little bit later.
Deu 5:24 And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.
They say that seeing is believing. The Israelites recognized all of the obvious truth before them and decided that God must be real.
They evaluated the evidence and realized that God was intimately involved in their lives. They realized that He does talk to humans and does indeed alive in heaven.
You and I are faced with a similar choice.
First, we need to evaluate what we know and make a choice to either accept or reject God. We have proof that at the very least the Bible is an accurate historical document, and if that is true, why not trust it for spiritual matters as well?
We also have the evidence in the lives of those around us. Perhaps you know people who had really been making some bad decisions, but when they answered the call of Jesus, they made a complete turnaround. You wonder what happened to them. What possibly make that big of a change in someone’s life?
God can do that, and he had been in the business of doing that for a long time. Look at Paul. He was in the business of hunting down Christians, but after he encountered God, he became one of the most well-known Christians of all time.
I know that this is not nearly an exhaustive list of all of the reasons that people have stated for believing in God. I know that there are many more, but it all comes down to that choice.
Do you believe that God is who He says He is, and what are you going to do about it?
Deuteronomy chapter 4 is basically a 49 verse long passage where Moses is telling the Israelites to continue following God and living under His law.
Deu 4:39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
Deu 4:40 Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.
I think that the second verse contains a vital truth about Christianity. Yes, there are millions of people around the world including myself who believe that the Bible is truly the Word of God and Jesus is truly the Way, the Truth and the Life.
However, I think that this is a good reminder of how living a Biblical lifestyle is not only good for us spiritually.
For one thing, our relationships with others will be better when we treat them the way that Jesus would.
Php 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
When we treat each other with love and respect, it logically follows that people will get along better.
Also, and I don’t want to sound like I am preaching some type of health and wealth gospel, but I would argue that our physical health could also be better when we are respecting our bodies the way that we should.
1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
I think that this verse emphasizes that we do have a responsibility to take care of ourselves in such a way that we will be able to be of service to God. We should not demolish our bodies, but we are supposed to respect them and use them to glorify God. If we make choices that cause great harm, we will reduce the capacity that we could use to serve God.
The most important feature of our Christian walk is our spiritual relationship with God, but there are some nice side effects that will help us with our journey here on earth. We should treat each other with respect and respect ourselves. Both of these practices help us to glorify God and show the world what Christians really act like.
Merry Christmas! I hope that you all have an excellent holiday and remember the True Reason for our celebration!
Deuteronomy chapter 3 might not seem like a very Christmasy passage, but I assure you that it is. After all, isn’t Jesus everywhere in history? He might not have physically been on earth in His earthly body, but He has been intricately involved with everything for all time. God is as active and alive today as He ever was or will be.
Still, to returned to Deuteronomy, we are being reminded by Moses how the power of God was exhibited through the Israelites.
Deu 3:4 And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan.
Deu 3:5 All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many.
Through the power of God, the Israelites were able to overtake all of these seemingly insurmountable foes. They took down fortresses through His divine might.
Now, we are called to also take on an enemy that might seem overwhelming. Just like the Israelites, we need the power of God to conquer our opposition.
Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
As we are attacking the gates of hell, we know that we will win. In fact, we know that we will win because the Rock that the church is built upon is salvation through Jesus Christ. Because Jesus died, we have been given the gift of salvation, and through that salvation, we are no longer slaves to sin.
How were we given this gift?
Jesus needed to die on the cross and take on the sins of the world, but He needed to be born first.
That is why we celebrate Christmas.
The miraculous virgin birth started a sinless life that qualified Jesus as the perfect Sacrifice capable of atoning for every mistake you or I have ever made. We don’t deserve mercy, but we have been given it.
I encourage you to think about this as you celebrate today. The festivities are fun, and I think that we all can say that we love spending time with family or friends.
However, I would encourage you to think behind the tinsel. Think about how God came to earth to provide the final blow to Satan. Just like the Israelites conquered their enemies, Jesus was born to conquer Satan and death. That is why we will never forget this day.
Deuteronomy chapter two is interesting because the wandering could have stopped at any time. God could have had the Israelites displace the children of Esau. After all, God certainly has enough power to do whatever He wants.
However, God had already given parcel of land to those people, and He knew that He had a specific place for the Israelites.
Deu 2:4 And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore:
Deu 2:5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.
Then people must have wondered where God was taking them. If God was so powerful, why couldn’t He just help them stop now and stop this bothersome wandering? 40 years is a long time to spend in the desert.
I think that we have all been in this situation at one time or another. Times might get tough, and we wonder where we are supposed to be. Are we actually going in the right direction?
There are a few answers that God has for this question, and one is right here in Deuteronomy 2.
Deu 2:7 For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.
Mat 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Mat 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Whenever we wonder where we might be or where we are supposed to be, God has the answer. He will provide for us and help us anything that comes our way.
Welcome to Deuteronomy. In chapter 1, we are met right away with a speech from Moses that provides an overview of the wandering in the desert that we read about in Exodus.
Deu 1:20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.
Deu 1:21 Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
This was the first time that the Israelites got near the Promised Land, but you know the story. God told them that the land would belong to them, they sent spies in, the spies brought back a fearful report and the people decided that they didn’t want to go in because they were afraid.
How many times does this really happen in everyday life? How many times is that something that we should do but are afraid to do it?
I believe that when I wrote about this event in Exodus I mentioned how we need to live out the Great Commission more substantially.
I don’t want to rehash all of that, but I do want to expand on it. I want to touch on why we should not fear. Moses just said do not fear. Why do we not have to fear?
2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2Ti 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
2Ti 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
We do not need to be afraid because God has known our entire life experience ahead of time. He knows what will happen to us, and He is always looking out for us. Like the verses say, we are called by His purposes, so it is perfectly reasonable to expect that He will take care of us.
After all, that has been promised to us as well.
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
If you put these together then, we do not need to fear because God has a plan, and the plan that God has for us is a good plan. I think that that makes sense.
Well, we made it to the final chapter of Numbers. It is always exciting to get to the end of another book!
Today, in Numbers 36, we have a few parting thoughts for the people of Israel about their inheritance.
Num 36:9 Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.
Before this verse, God is outlining how inheritances will be handed down through families and emphasizes that each tribe is to keep their own land that was given to them by lot. I think this speaks to the purpose of God.
He divided the land of Israel into perfect parcels of land for every tribe. He knew where He wanted to place each and every one. He had a reason to divide the land the way He did, and in the aforementioned verse emphasizes that humanity should not try to mess that up.
This kind of makes me think of the political marriages that would happen in European cultures. Royal children from two different countries would get married to perhaps enhance an alliance or make some type of political gain.
In Israel, by deciding that people should marry within their tribe, those types of situation would not happen. Everyone would inherit what God intended their tribe to have.
Since this is our final day in Numbers, and I feel like looking forward, it will be interesting to see what how all of these purposes play out. One that immediately comes to mind given that we are in the Christmas season refers to the fact that Jesus was prophesied to be born from the tribe of Judah in the town of Bethlehem.
Of course, God can make anything happen, but that purpose must have been already thought of at this point. God knew what piece of land Bethlehem would be on and knew that Jesus would be born there. He orchestrated all of that ahead of time.
God has a purpose for everything He does, and even if we don’t understand it at the time, when we look at the history of the Bible, it is interesting to see how everything works out.