Sunday, April 19 2020
Christians know that we are to gather others to Jesus or we will scatter (Matt 12:30). When Christians think of sharing the gospel with others, we often reflect on Jesus's parable of sowing the seed and the types of soil. Some ground was hard, rocky, or thorny and so not ready to receive the seed that is God’s Word. Jesus taught, "As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15 ESV). However, we either are surrounded by hard hearts, restricted by social expectations and, or have limited connections. We are wise to get more info and ask others what they think.
An effective approach to evangelizing is to ask questions in a restrictive environment or a difficult circumstance to get others thinking. Anytime that someone comments on a current event whether you agree or not, you can ask, "Why do you think that?" to gather information about how they support their position. Another way to say this is: "How did you come to that conclusion?" If someone says that she does not believe in talking about religion, you can ask her, “How did you arrive at that conclusion?” Then you can start a conversation by asking her to clarify why she does not talk about religion and that can lead to a friendly discussion about faith.
The question that Christians should constantly ask those who differ is "Why?" to draw out the person’s thinking and reasoning (if they have thought about why they believe what they believe). Whatever the discussion in any environment even if others expect you not to talk about your faith in God and Christ, you can sincerely ask this question of others and then listen without being confrontational.
Immediately after Jesus fed the 4,000, some Pharisees came testing Jesus asking for a sign from heaven. Jesus replied, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation." What fruit would come from Jesus asking that question? They did not understand that they just missed a sign from God. After this occasion, Jesus's disciples were discussing not having bread other than one loaf while traveling on the sea (Mark 8:14–16). To get them to think, Jesus asked, "Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" (Mark 8:17–19). A simple goal is to get others thinking about God, Christ, and their actions.
Jesus was always asking challenging questions turning the tables over on those challenging His authority. Likewise, Christians can follow His example and ask others to explain their position. Jesus responded to unbelievers, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:46–47; cf. John 8:43; 14:9).
You can also start a conversation about salvation with a believer by asking, "How were you saved?" and listen. Then, you can respond if there is disagreement, "I wasn't saved that way," and most likely open the door to tell them how God saved you by raising you from baptism. If someone claims that baptism is not the essential moment of salvation, then we can ask, "Why do you believe that?" They may assert that baptism is a work. Again, we can ask, "How did you come to conclude that […baptism is a work]?" This is really repeating the same question. The Christian can follow this with "Can you clarify what you mean by that?" and eventually come to ask an ultimatum like, "You say baptism does not save, but Jesus and Peter say baptism does save. Who is right?" When the chief priests demanded an account of authority for Jesus cleansing the temple, and Jesus responded, "I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” (Luke 20:3–4). A question as an ultimatum is a good conclusion to leave someone thinking.
As the church, we can imitate Jesus by asking questions that will draw out the thinking of others or cause them to pause and reconsider. Furthermore, Christians should sincerely ask for the reasons for what others believe and listen so that we all honestly seek and find the truth that God has revealed.
Friday, April 17 2020
Actions have consequences. Deuteronomy may make that more clear than any other text of the Bible. After Moses delivered God’s Law to Israel, the prophet continued by God’s guidance to warn of Israel of the blessings and the curses that await those who do not obey God. The conclusion of God’s Law to Israel is the conclusion of a brief study of observations about the nature of God from Deuteronomy.
God promised to set Israel high above all nations of the earth if they obey God’s voice and carefully did all that God commanded (Deut 28:1–2). Moses described in the details of blessings for obeying God in this life and in the God-given land granted to Israel (28:1–6). Moses relayed that God will bless Israel on the battlefield, in the farmland, and give great prosperity (28:7–14). The prophet revealed, “And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you” (Deut 28:11 ESV).
In contrast, God warned that if Israel did not obey God’s voice, then all the curses will overtake them (Deut 28:15–18). God promised the coming of curses, frustration, and confusion on those who do not obey His words (28:20). God would allow pestilences, diseases, and droughts (28:20–24). Moses described maddening curses as the people become helpless with no one to saved them because they abandoned God (28:25–35). Israel will become a horror among the nations for rejecting their God (28:45–47). The events become so appallingly disastrous that another nation will besiege this wicked Israel and they will survive by eating the fruit of the womb — their sons and daughters (28:51–57).
In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John revealed, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Rev 22:18–19). In the Christian Testament, God is still the God of just wrath. Paul taught, “For those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Rom 2:8; cf. Eph 5:6). Furthermore, Jesus taught, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 13:41–42).
The actions of many parents today devour their own children. Blessings of prosperity exist for married parents for their children (2 Cor 12:14b). Obeying God’s commands keep profanity out of the home and words of hate out of the ears of children. The apostle Paul taught, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:29). Believers who diligently follow God do not provoke their children to wrath by passing on prejudice (Eph 6:4). Children need homes filled with a father’s love for the children’s mother, and the mother’s respect for her husband (Eph 5:33).
God’s commands are not arbitrary. God’s commands are for the good of everyone. When God gives His people commands, they should do everything they can to obey Him. Thank God for His instructions that are for our own good! Great blessings come by submitting to the One who created you.
Moses concluded, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days,” (Deut 30:19–20b).
Thursday, April 16 2020
You will remember what you give to support. God wants His people to give and remember the source of blessings. Moses commanded Israelites to give their first fruits from the ground to God, because they harvested it from the land that God gave them (Deut 26:1–2). The Israelites were to take a basket of their first fruits to a priest in the place bearing God’s name — the altar — and declared to God that they have come to the land that God promised (26:2–4). Furthermore, the Israelite was to declare briefly the history of Israel from Abraham through Egypt to entering the land (26:5–9).
Furthermore, by giving their first fruits, faithful Israelites remembered to worship God. Moses instructed, “And you shall set it [offering of first fruits] down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you” (Deut 26:10b–11). The tithe, one tenth, for giving went to help those teaching the Law, the traveler, the orphan, and the needy widow. The tenth was a “sacred portion” that one had to remove from one’s house (26:14). Knowing the curses on those who did not obey God’s commands, the faithful Israelite is very wise to remove the tenth that was to be given in remembrance and worship of God’s blessings.
Giving in worship to God declares that Yahweh is your God and that you are obedient to God’s voice with all your heart and soul (26:16–17). God treasures His people who are those who keep His commands to be a people holy to the Lord (26:18–19). Today, giving a tenth is not commanded in the New Testament but a tenth is a precedent in the New Testament of giving by faith as Abraham gave to Melchizedek before Moses delivered the Law (Heb 7:1–10).
Giving is an act of faith as the faithful believe God will give back to more in this life and the next. Jesus taught, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). Those who give will receive. The apostle Paul wrote, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. […] 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” (2 Cor 9:6, 8). Do you believe that God will give you more?
When believers remember what God has done, then we remind ourselves of why we worship God. The writer of Hebrews expressed, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat” (Heb 13:10). When Christians partake of the communion supper, we remember what God has given to us through Jesus Christ. Jesus commanded, “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:23–26).
God gives over those who do not honor and thank Him to sin and its consequences (Rom 1:18–34). Remembering God and Christ is essential. How else can someone take the cross daily (Luke 9:23–24)? Giving reminds us of the Creator and the Christ. Jesus taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b).
The Book of Deuteronomy is rich in wisdom and only the fool would ignore God’s words to the nation of Israel. No follower of Jesus should neglect to give and keep back what belongs in offering to God. Give to spread the gospel, to encourage teaching, and relieve the Christians who are in distress. When you do it, thank God for His blessings. “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Heb 13:16).
Wednesday, April 15 2020
“The law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” are the words of Paul (Rom 7:12 ESV). Principles of wisdom fill the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses anticipated abuses of customs, institutions, and laws. Christians should consider and apply God’s wisdom to their life, home, business, and politics. Consider the wisdom from Deuteronomy 24:
Military Benefits — Moses instructed that man in his first year of marriage or betrothed should not go out with the army and be liable to public duty but to remain free at home with his wife (Deut 20:7; 24:5). However, this is a humanitarian law giving the man time to start a family. Men did not have to go to war if they built a house that they have not dedicated or planted a vineyard that they have not enjoyed (Deut 20:5–6). These are simple benefits that the military should have today.
Marriage and Divorce — Moses commanded that any man who gives his wife a certificate of divorce because she does not find favor in his eyes, and she marries another man who divorces her or dies, then the former husband cannot marry her again (Deut 24:1–4). One can foresee the abuse of the marriage institution especially if a man divorced his wife so that she would marry another and he would take her back to receive the second husband’s inheritance. The Pharisees used this passage of a certificate of divorce to justify divorce for any reason in the time of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus taught that God’s creation of the institution began when God created one man and one woman to become one flesh and no one should separate what God has joined together (Matt 19:4–6). For this reason, Jesus concluded, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality [extramarital sex], and marries another, commits adultery” (Matt 19:9).
Justice — The Law of Moses took a hard stance against the evil of human trafficking. God commanded through Moses, “If a man is found stealing one of his brothers of the people of Israel, and if he treats him as a slave or sells him, then that thief shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst” (Deut 24:7). Furthermore, the Law stated, “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death” (Exod 21:16). The consequence of enslaving others should still be death.
Ethics — Moses also taught not to take a millstone or upper millstone as a pledge from a man because such is the same as taking his life (Deut 24:6). In other words, the poor may pledge their millstones that they needed to grind their grain to eat. The bottom millstone was flat and curved inward and about 100 pounds and the top stone by about 5 pounds that fit in one’s hand (IVPBBCOT, 198). Furthermore, Moses commanded that no one give a loan and go into someone’s house to take a pledge or to sleep in a man’s cloak given as a pledge (Deut 24:10–13). God commanded employers to pay their needy workers on the day of their labor (Deut 24:14–15). The Law of Moses protected the rights of those in need.
What would happen if these rules existed in societies of today’s world? Many people think of modern humanity as more civil and just than were ancient people. However, Moses’s Law was not perfect although God authored the Law. God wrote the Law specifically for the people of Israel. Israel was lacking and certainly not God. Jesus declared, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt 19:8). The Pauline writer of Hebrews affirmed, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second” (Heb 8:7). Thank God that we have Christ and His eternal covenant (Heb 13:20–21).
Saturday, February 29 2020
“An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.” Back in the 20th century, many world leaders have reflected on this sentiment to encourage peace and mercy when everyone bore some guilt. The idea is that returning evil for evil accomplishes nothing but a bloody field and destruction. Paul taught, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Rom 12:17 ESV). For this reason, Paul taught that love fulfilled the Law (Rom 13:8–10). However, the quote among so many is a misinformed mockery of the Law of Moses outside of its biblical setting.
Whenever someone carelessly hurt a pregnant woman to cause her to miscarry her child, Moses commanded, “But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exod 21:24). Moses wrote that the person who lied and slander should receive the punishment that he intended to bring upon another (Deut 19:19–21). For this reason, Moses commanded justice for the judges to decide and instructed the people, “Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deut 19:21; cf. Lev 24:20). This is to be done for “the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you” (Deut 19:20). Discipline that causes fear is a good thing for everyone, and it belongs to the governing authority and to a moderate extent in the home.
Jesus gave further instruction upon this command, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth” (Matt 5:38). Christ was revealing that the individual did not have the right to inflict one’s own personal justice. Instead, Jesus taught, “Do not resist the one who is evil” (Matt 5:38). Much good can come enduring injustice before others. Evil is exposed and authorities have reason to take action. Therefore, Jesus taught to turn the other cheek, give away your cloak to whoever takes your tunic, and go the extra mile with the person who compels you to go one mile (Matt 5:39–42).
“An eye for an eye” belongs to justice in a civil society. However, “an eye for an eye” does not belong to your own personal vengeance. Paul taught, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” (Rom 12:17). How does God justly avenge? Paul revealed about the governing authority, “For he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom 13:4). Christians must trust God to bring about vengeance through the governing authority on those who do wrong or trust God to come with providential wrath upon the governing authority when they do wrong. “An eye for an eye” belongs with God’s minister of justice — the governing authorities.
The context of “an eye for an eye” came with instructions from God to the ancient republic of Israel to maintain justice by cross-examining witnesses to any crime. Moses taught, “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established” (Deut 19:15). That is justice fairly applied. The same standard stands among most civilizations and in the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, trust God’s plan.
Following these words from the Scriptures can be difficult because this is an act of faith. The person who endures a beating does so trusting that God will accomplish a greater good (1 Pet 2:19–25). That is a lot to believe to do what most others would never consider doing. Thank God for His mercy and justice. Trust Him to resolve injustices.
Saturday, February 22 2020
How does the media shape the way that we see the world? Many unknowingly accept the culture and the world as the media presents it. Their presentation of how reality is in movies, shows, and series presenting people living Godless lives without displaying the horror of abuse, hate, greed, and depression of reality in the shadowing of a hopeless life and death. Watching this distortion of reality can persuade us to consider satisfying our wants and goals with “what if I…,” so that now even our friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors have bought into thinking that Godless living isn’t that bad. Mature Christians see this deception, but the naïve think the previous generation is foolish. Some think that maybe human rights have everything to do with not offending others and nothing to do with the absolute morality that cannot exist without God's holiness.
Consider Moses’s warnings about Godless influences affecting the people of Israel:
1. God allows false prophets to speak for good reason. If a prophet or dreamer gives a sign or a wonder and urges you to follow other gods, Moses instructed Israel not to listen to their words (Deut 13:1–2). God allowed such false prophets to test the love of the people of Israel (Deut 13:3). God commanded Israel to react by putting false prophets to death civilly (Deut 13:5). Jesus warned of the coming of false prophets, and the New Testament writers also depicted the false works of false prophets (Matt 24:24; 2 Thess 2:9; Rev 13:13–14). Today, Christians are to examine themselves to pass the test (2 Cor 13:5–8). Will you continue to choose Christ or will you choose just once to deny Him? What affect could one sin have on the rest of your life and eventually the hope of eternal life? Maybe you'll be like Peter and repent or maybe you'll be like Judas.
2. God opposes the worship of false gods for good reason. All other gods are false gods. Why recognize lies as though equal to the truth? Other religions are not equal to Christianity and have no place in comparison. Moses taught Israel to put to death by stoning anyone including brother, mother, son, daughter, wife, or friend who try to entice Israel to serve other gods secretly (Deut 13:6–11). To draw someone away from the true God is to draw people away from the only standard of morality and righteousness. To follow other gods is an absurdity for choosing to follow the inventions of ignorant people.
3. God commanded the destruction of everything connected with false gods for good reason. If some deceived a city to go after other gods, then Moses commanded Israel to inquire diligently to prove it true (Deut 13:12–14). If a city had gone after other gods, then Israel must devote them to destruction by the sword (13:14–15). God commanded that all the spoil of the city be burned as an offering to God (13:16). Moses instructed that Israel take nothing from the spoil so the LORD may show mercy and compassion on Israel. God would not multiply the nation if they did not obey the LORD, keep His commands, and do what is right in His sight (Deut 13:17–18).
For the Christian, God commands His church to withdraw from false teachers (Rom 16:17–18; Titus 3:10; 2 John 10–11). While Christ ate with sinners, His closest friends were His disciples. Christians may eat with sinners to bring them to Christ, yet God also commanded by Paul, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor 6:14–16). God commands His people to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the LORD, and touch no unclean thing” (2 Cor 6:17).
Thank God that He is not a distant impersonal watchmaker. God is not far from any one of us so that we can find Him anywhere (Acts 17:26–27). God has warned us repeatedly of the lies in the world. Thank God that He has given us Christ as the cornerstone and rock of our faith.
Saturday, February 15 2020
“For your eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD that He did” (Deut 11:7 ESV). Moses reminded Israel of God’s discipline when He brought them out of Egypt by signs before Pharaoh including destroying Pharaoh’s army by the waters of the Red Sea (Deut 11:3–6). What signs have you seen that God has done? Consider every cooing baby and all the life on the earth, and look at every starry nightfall and glowing daybreak that displays the creation of the universe. What is the enduring purpose of it all but signs in an amazing display of creative power in every work of God?
Have you seen signs in your life as God has brought you through times that you couldn’t imagine facing? Consider God’s discipline of His people of Israel:
1. Those who love God and keep His commands see how God disciplines His people (Deut 11:1). God disciplines His people with an outstretched hand. God brings His people through difficult trials to make them better people. This is true for His people of Israel in the Old Testament and for His people, the church, in the New Testament. The writer of Hebrews revealed that God disciplines His people for their own good (Heb 12:7, 10). God’s discipline for His children is not pleasant but produces “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb 12:11).
2. Those who keep God’s commands become strong (Deut 11:8). When people are obedient to God and keep His whole command, then God gives them strength. God told Israel that they would be strong to overcome the inhabitants of the land of Canaan by remaining obedient to His commands (Deut 11:8–9). Furthermore, God blessed Israel by giving them a promised land that flows with milk and honey receiving heaven’s rains upon its hill and valleys, because God cares for the land and His eyes are on it throughout the year (11:11–12).
3. God provides for those who love Him and keep His commandments (Deut 11:13). For this reason, Moses taught Israel to serve God with all their heart and soul, because God did not want Israel to be led away by other gods (11:16). God warned Israel that they would face the curse of His anger if they went after such gods. God promised the curse of shutting up the rains of the heavens. Pagan gods are evil invented for the worship of mammon and lusts leaving their worshipers without pity to sacrifice their own children in fire.
4. God’s words are to be on one’s heart and soul (Deut 11:18). God’s words are to be like a sign on the hand or on the frontlets of the eyes. In other words, God’s people must put God’s words before them in all they do with their hands and perceive with their eyes. The Word of God will change the believer's perception when it is foremost in one’s life. For this reason, the believer should teach their children when sitting, walking, rising, and laying (Deut 11:19). God’s words belong written on our doorposts and gates as a constant reminder of going in and out (11:20).
Everyone who comes near our homes should know where we stand with God. Imagine posting Scriptures above the doors of your home and over the gates of your fence. No one in your home will escape the priority of God’s words in your lives. Furthermore, think about what causes you to be encouraged and talk about your faith. Keep following that route and continue to read and share those scriptures with your family. Don’t keep it shut up from your children.
God set before His people of Israel both a blessing and a curse (Deut 11:26–28). Today, this is true for all people. Rebellion against God is a cursed life, but a righteous life is a blessing. We may not have the individual power and influence to change the world by politics and edicts, but we can change the world around us by the strength given to us by God's Spirit (Eph 3:16). We can affect change in the people around us by obeying God with all our heart and soul and so love others with the love that God has poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Monday, February 10 2020
Forty years after God spoke from the fire of the cloud on Mount Sinai, Moses again instructed God’s people of Israel on the east side of the Jordan River. They were preparing to cross over into the Promised Land. They completed their wilderness journey and were set to engage in conflict with the wicked nations of Canaan. Within this setting, Moses’s preparation was to remind them of God and His Law for them. Moses reminded Israel of the Ten Commands given from Mount Horeb (Deut 5). God gave the Law to Israel so that they may live (Deut 5:32–33).
Today, few people think about God before doing what they plan to do. James wrote, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” (Jas 4:15 ESV). Christians can gain great insights about God from Moses’s teaching in Deuteronomy 6. Moses is the archetypal leader of a people who proclaims values of justice and love based upon the nature of the Creator of the universe. Israel represents the nature of humanity to wrestle with God. Some live by faith and others rebel. Within our families, we see foolish rebellion after growing up in Christian homes and the faithful immerging from desperate circumstances.
1. Obeying God’s commands ensures receiving God’s blessings (Deut 6:1–3). God gave the blessings of life, freedom, and land to Israel according to His promise to Abraham who received them by faith. Neither Israel nor their patriarchs earned God’s favor but received His gifts. God gave commands to live in a way that ensured the safety and welfare of the people of Israel. Today, God’s commands are for the betterment of those who obey Him. Life is better according to God’s way.
2. Love Yahweh God with all your heart, soul, and strength (Deut 6:4–6). The rebellious heart responds, “Why should I? Who is God?” God gives everyone life, breath, and a world within to live. The foolish support rebelling against the God who gives life, offers to prolong life, and gives eternal life to the faithful. Therefore, God is more than worthy of love, admiration, and worship.
3. Teach and talk of God’s commands especially to your children (Deut 6:7–9). The fool teaches his children while judging others and not recognizing that he is a sinner too who must come to repentance. Moses’s command was not to teach their children only on special occasions or only when asked but to teach children diligently when one sits, walks, lies down, and rises up.
4. Do not forget the LORD (Deut 6:10–19). People forget what gifts they received last year and who gave them the gifts. Moses warned Israel not to receive the land and forget their God. People live life not thinking about the God who gave them life. Few consider their lives and the world in which they so happen to fit and survive has a greater Cause, purpose, and meaning then to live as one wants.
5. God gives commands for the good of His people (Deut 6:20–25). God’s commands are not arbitrary or selfish. His commands reflect His loving nature for His people — the faithful. Moses taught, “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day” (Deut 6:24).
Saturday, February 08 2020
Look at the horizon. That’s what I do to rest and see the beauty of God’s Creation. This amazing world is the setting of our journey and conflicts. As Christians, we have the mission to pull down the walls and destroy the castles set against the knowledge of God and take thoughts captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 10:4–6). Proclaiming God is a part of sharing the Gospel in the world and making disciples. The apostle Paul proclaimed “the living God” those who wanted to offer sacrifices to Barnabas and him in Lystra. The apostle spoke that God created the heavens, the earth, and the sea, and God gives the rains and the fruitful seasons (Acts 14:14–18).
Being a Christian means coming to know God — the Creator of the universe. A person’s salvation is dependent upon knowing God (2 Thess 1:7–9). One must have a zeal for God according to knowledge (Rom 10:2). For this reason, one must study and learn to know God and perceive the attributes of God throughout the Bible and as displayed in the Creation. Deuteronomy reveals much about God’s nature. Consider these observations about God from Deuteronomy 8:
1. God wants His people to be careful to keep His whole command and so live (Deut 8:1, 6). Jesus revealed that His words are spirit and life (John 6:63). No one has a “spiritual life” without the words of Christ. John wrote, “And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it” (2 John 6 ESV).
2. God humbles His people through the trials of life to bring them to live by God’s Word. God humbled Israel while in the wilderness (Deut 8:2–3, 16). God wanted Israel to hunger and be fed with manna from Him to know that “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deut 8:3). Likewise, Christians suffer with Christ and that produces endurance, character, and hope (Rom 5:3–5; 1 Pet 4:13).
3. God disciplines His people as a father disciplines his son (Deut 8:5). Moses revealed, “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you” (8:5). Likewise, God disciplines those whom He loves as a father who delights in his son (Prov 3:12; Heb 12:6).
4. The faithful thank God for the good that God has given them (8:10; 8:17–18). Moses warned Israel not to credit themselves for the good that has come to them. “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deut 8:17–18). God will give those who do not thank and honor Him over to lusts and passions of dishonor (Rom 1:18–28).
5. A person forgets God by not keeping His commands (8:11). Moses warned that if Israel forgot God and served other gods then they will perish (Deut 8:19–20). Those who forget God cannot obey Him. Many people live without much thought of God today and they will perish (2 Thess 1:7–9). The same is true for believers who leave God to worship wealth, recreation, influence, and lusts.
Thank God and humble yourself before Him. Obey God’s Word and live in His commands because His commands are for your good. Remember all that He has given you.
Saturday, December 28 2019
From the creation of the earth, the formation of light, the earth bringing form life, and God creating humanity in Their likeness, people have wonder with imagination about the genesis of the heavens and the earth. Because of the existence of the universe, humanity can observe the attributes of its cause — the Creator. The biblical writer, Paul declared, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom 1:20a). Everyone is able to see God’s attributes plainly in the creation. The Book of Deuteronomy aligns perfectly with God’s attributes of reason and wisdom revealed in God’s creation for humanity to observe.
In Deuteronomy, Moses revealed much about God:
5. God spoke directly to the people that He has chosen. God gave Israel the highest moral ethic and national sense of justice that set Israel apart from the nations of the world. God spoke the Ten Commandments out of the fire upon Mount Horeb instilling the fearful expectation of divine justice for breaking away from the standard of impartial justice (Deut 4:9–14). God did this so that only Israel can demonstrate the fact that God spoke to them from the fire of Mount Horeb (4:32–33). God chose the nation of Israel delivering them through many wonders and signs as occurred in Egypt and all the world can observe the attributes the Creator of the universe (Deut 4:34; cf. 4:36–38).
6. God has no form of a body. No one saw any form of God on Mount Horeb (Mt. Sinai). For this reason, God warned and commanded that Israel not to make any carved image in the form of a male or female person or of any living thing, because “you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire” (Deut 4:15–16 ESV). Moses warned that such images would lead them away from God in idolatry. Furthermore, Jesus revealed that God is Spirit, and later, Jesus observed that spirits do not have flesh and blood (John 4:24; cf. Luke 24:39).
7. Everyone can find God. God warned Israel not to make idols because God in His anger will drive them out of the land to live among the nations and worship their gods. God promised that they will seek God again and find Him. Moses revealed, “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut 4:29). God has set all peoples in all nations to seek and find Him, because God is not far from anyone (Acts 17:26–27; cf. Rom 1:19–20).
8. God is Yahweh — the only God — the God of the universe. God spoke to Israel from the fire of Mt. Horeb, because God loved their fathers who were faithful to God (Deut 4:36–37). By God, Moses attested, “To you it was shown, that you might know that Yahweh is God; there is no other besides Him” (Deut 4:35). God sets the standard that can unite a nation. Therefore, a nation can survive who declare and live by “In God we trust” (Isa 36:7). God had shown Israel great signs and wonders taking them out of slavery and into a land where God will drive out the inhabitants before them (Deut 4:33–34, 36–38). Moses declared, “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Deut 4:39).
Everyone can know that the Creator of the universe is not far from anyone. God has given commands as wisdom and understanding to help us. In these last days, God “has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb 1:2).
Come join us for Bible Club!
Every Wednesday night 7-8 PM, we have Bible lessons, crafts, games, and snacks for grades K-6.