Archive for the ‘Deuteronomy’ Category

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WARNINGS OF THE OBVIOUS – April 22

April 22, 2014

“If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting.”   Deuteronomy 28:1-2

I am dismayed by the litigious world that we live in. I know of no better example of our society’s misplaced responsibility than the absurd labels manufacturers place on their products in hopes of avoiding a lawsuit. I am inclined to think that these labels are necessary for a special type of consumer.

dumb-and-dumber

Here are a few that made me laugh from the website:
Things People Said: Warning Labels.

“Eating rocks may lead to broken teeth.”
On a novelty rock garden set called “Popcorn Rock.”

“Caution: Hot beverages are hot!”
On a coffee cup.

“Do not eat toner.”
On a toner cartridge for a laser printer.

“Do not drive with sunshield in place.”
On a cardboard sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard.

“This product not intended for use as a dental drill.”
On an electric rotary tool.

“Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking.”
On a toilet at a public sports facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“For external use only!”
On a curling iron.

“Warning: knives are sharp!”
On the packaging of a sharpening stone.

“Remove plastic before eating.”
On the wrapper of a Fruit Roll-Up snack.

“Turn off motor before using this product.”
On the packaging for a chain saw file,
used to sharpen the cutting teeth on the chain.

The sad reality is that these labels are needed. People will do stupid things because they think  they know best. Their foolishness will cause them to ignore the obvious.

I want to believe that these warning labels for the obvious are not necessary for me but then I read the Bible. I read of Moses’ warnings to God’s chosen people and they read like warning labels for the obvious.

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)

If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)

These warnings of the Bible are pretty simple. God, Creator of heaven and earth, will be for those who love and follow Him with their whole heart. Those who are in Christ will know Him as Father and be adopted as children of God. He will grant upon them love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and eternal life.

However, it is going to go bad for those who refuse to love and obey the One, who holds the stars in place. God’s wrath will fall on those who stubbornly cling to their rebellion against the King of kings. God will discipline those who are His, to bring them back into a right relationship with Him as any loving parent will discipline their child.

I read these warnings and they seem so obvious – it is better to be with God than against Him.  Yet…Dumb_and_Dumber_To_39522

How many times do we continue to live in disobedience?
That is like trying to sharpen a chainsaw without turning the motor off.

 How many seasons have passed without opening the Bible or kneeling prayer?
That is like trying to get nutrition from a snack pack without opening the wrapper.

How regularly is the filth of entertainment consumed?
That is like drinking recycled flush water from a toilet and not expecting to get sick.

How eagerly is a conversation turned to gossip?
That is like pouring a cup of coffee on our lap and being shocked that we get burned.

 How long is anxiety coddled?
That is like grinding our teeth away on rocks and hoping they don’t break.

 How casually are the passions of lust titillated?
That is like juggling knives without being lacerated.

We often deny the obvious warnings of God because we think we know better. However, our rejection of God’s warnings simply proves that we are not any wiser than the intended audience of manufactures’ most ridiculous product warning labels.

God warns us for our good and because He loves us. Let us not foolishly ignore the common sense warning of the obvious – it is better to be with God than against Him.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my foolishness.  Forgive me for thinking that warnings do not apply to me.  Thank you for your warnings.  Thank you for loving me and working good for me by disciplining me.  Thank you for not leaving me as I am.  Help me to follow you as a child – in loving obedience.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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DRAMA MONKEY – April 5

April 5, 2014

“At that time I said to you, ‘I am not able to bear you by myself. The Lord your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heave. May the Lord, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you! How can I bear by myself the weight and burden of you and your strife? Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.’” Deuteronomy 1:9-13

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…but what if it is your Circus?
…And what if they are your monkeys?

 I finished reading through the book of Numbers in my daily Bible reading plan. I would very much like to have seen the Israelites traveling through the wilderness. I would have liked to have stood beside Balaam at the top of a peak to see what a fraction of God’s people looked like.  However, I read the chronicles of the grumbling and intrigue of that people and wonder at what a circus it was. The faithful provisions of God, sustaining His people, delivering His people, guiding His people, did not stop all of the sinful drama.

Circus Smrikus TentYet, I know that the drama of the Israelites in the wilderness is matched by the drama of the Nation of Israel in the Promised Land, which was matched by the drama of the Pharisees and Sadducees. It was all a circus.

I also know that the redemption of God’s people by the saving work of Jesus Christ did not cure us from this circus of sinful drama. There was drama amongst the disciples; drama in the 1st Century church; drama in the Church of the Middle Ages; drama through the reformation; and drama to this day.

I was speaking with a co-worker who was explaining the chaos of a church split where he had previous attended – it was a circus.

If you have ever been a part of the leadership in a well-establish community Church – it is a circus of meeting needs and quelling the disgruntled.

If you have ever been a part of a Church plant – CIRCUS.

The functioning of God’s people has always been a circus. The Church is a circus because it is filled with monkeys. The Church breeds drama because we all are drama monkeys in one degree or another. No one is sin free. We are all progressing in our sanctification. Therefore, we all bring our sanctified selves and our drama monkey selves to whatever we do.  You don’t have to look hard to see the effects of Church monkeys.

The Donkey Kongs (Donkey Kong)
The Church monkeys who continually
puts obstacles and barricades in the way of others.

donkey kong

The Georges (Curious George)
The innocent and naïve Church monkeys who do not listen
to anyone and continually get themselves into trouble and danger.

george

The King Louies (Jungle Book)
The Church monkeys who live amongst blessings, but crave something
different and manipulate others through their discontentment.

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The Clydes (Every Which Way but Loose)
The Church monkeys who are just ornery and
have a bad habit of hurting people.clyde

The Caesars (Rise of the Planet of the Apes – 2011)
The Church monkeys who covet position and prestige
through the instigation of rebellion and discord.

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The Rafikis (The Lion King)
The Church monkeys who appear wise
but no one really understands anything they are saying.

Rafiki

The Church is filled with a variety of drama monkeys. I don’t want to be a drama monkey but I know that I am. I hope that I am less monkey than I used to be but I know there is still a drama monkey within me. Thankfully, God’s work in my life is not done. Yet, I am always disappointed when my drama monkey escapes to play in the sinful circus of relational drama. I am disappointed when that happens because I know that I have just played a role in making the Church the circus that it should not be. I hate that.

I long for the day when the Church will be drama free but I don’t expect to see it until Christ returns. I lament the fact that those outside the Church recognize the hypocritical nature of our chaos and strife ridden circus.  However, everything that sinful man touches turns into a circus – government, councils, civic clubs, unions, commissions, work groups, boards, sports teams, associates, …everything has the relational drama of a circus.  Every organization composed of people will be fraught with drama because we are drama monkeys.

We should not be surprised by the fact that our churches have drama. They contain people who are still progressing in their sanctification. Therefore, circuses are bound to occasionally break out due to unrestrained drama monkeys. Yet, I love the Church because it is the only place on Earth where the circus is being removed. It is not perfect and it is not complete but it is where God’s people come together and wherever God’s people come together, the Spirit is at work.  And wherever the Spirit is at work, God is sanctifying us from our drama monkeys.

That makes the Church the Greatest Circus on Earth. 

That makes it my Circus.
And all those drama monkeys, are my monkeys.
And I am theirs.  

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for making a circus out of your Church here on earth.  Forgive me for all of my monkey drama ways.  Continue your work in me.  Continue your work in your Church.  May you be glorified in our imperfect works and flawed attempts to live with one another.  Lord, may your Spirit abound amongst us.  Help us to look past the monkey drama of our brothers and sisters and love them as you do.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

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FEELINGS, A WAYWARD GUIDE TO BLESSINGS – Jan. 10

January 10, 2013

“…For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” Deut. 22:7

English: New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton ...Sean Payton signed a five-year contract extension yesterday to be the head coach of the New Orleans Saints through 2017.  The Saints general manager said, “Sean has been a critical part of our success, getting him signed to a long-term deal is very important to our organization.”  That makes a lot of sense to me – it confirms what I know about how my world works.  If you do well, you will receive rewards.

We saw the opposite side of this principle at work on December 31 – black Monday.  That is when seven NFL teams fired their head coaches.  These teams had decided that their head coach had played a critical role in their organization, only it was not a critical role in their success.  It was a critical role in the team’s failure.  I understand these actions also.  Whether I agree with them or not, I understand that an organization will take actions to start getting the results that they want.  It confirms my understanding of my world – if you do badly, you will not get rewarded and often you will be punished.

All of these types of experiences have fed into a world view that is difficult for me to overcome.  I struggle with associating blessing with good things and no blessing with bad things. It is not a good default to have.

I am blessed with an incredible spouse.

Does that mean I am not “blessed” if my wife were to be lame?

I am blessed to have a great job.

Does that mean I am not “blessed” if I lost my job?

I am blessed to be healthy.

Does that mean I was not “blessed” when I got cancer?

No! God’s blessings are not based on the good things. All good things are gifts from God, but just because we don’t have one or more of those good things doesn’t mean that God loves us less or has un-blessed us. God was still blessing the Israelites even while they were wandering in the wilderness. He had a greater purpose for keeping them in that wilderness but he was still providing for all of their needs. He was still blessing them even while He was punishing them.

It was just in a manner that they may have had to look harder to see. The blessings of “good things” during “good times” are easy to see and understand. The blessings during “wilderness times” are much harder to see and appreciate.  It is very easy to see the things that aren’t the way we want them and feel abandoned by God.

It shouldn’t surprise any of us that God doesn’t work the way this world works.  Our world-view of associating “good times” to our successes and “bad times” to our failures is not how God does it.  God isn’t any closer to us when we are being “successful” in our faith.  Likewise, God hasn’t gone anywhere when we stumble. God’s blessings and His faithfulness are still there when things aren’t the way we thought they would be. God’s blessings are still all over me even when God is disciplining me.

It is in those times when we don’t feel “blessed” that we need to look closer to see how faithful God is actually being to us..

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for being such a good Father to me.  Lord, thank you for continuing to show blessing to me even while you might be disciplining me or pruning me or using my discomfort for your greater purpose.  Thank you for never leaving me or forsaking me.  Lord, keep me from being discouraged when I don’t feel your blessings.  Teach me to cling to your promises and truths.  Help me look beyond my feelings to the reality of what you are actually doing in my life.  Amen

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A MERE SPIN MASTER OF THE RIGHT – Nov. 20th

November 20, 2012

“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…” Deut. 30:19

The US presidential election is over but that has not stopped the political pundits from continuing the “spinning” of their party. I realize that intelligent people can mine data for salient facts. However, the simple answer can be pushed aside in all the analysis. My analysis of the election – people voted for the candidate that they feel will provide the best future for themselves and their families. We will find out if it was a good choice. The only other arena with as much advocate “spinning” is religion. 

There is an on-going battle raging between secularists & religion; atheists and God-believers. I am typically cast on one side of the debate. However, is it a debate that I should be having? Christians often get caught up in debating issues that we are convinced will affect our lives and the lives of our family.  We forget our purpose. We cast as foes the very people that we are sent to reach. We alienate, through the pursuit of our own self interest, the people who need the clear choice of the gospel presented to them.

I don’t want to be a mere spin-master of the right. I want to cut through all the spin and distraction of religious issues to clearly speak what I believe about the choice before every person. I want to be like Moses and be able to say that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.  I want my “foes” to know that they are not my foe. I want them to know that I desperately want them to choose life. That is my message, spin free.

PRAYER: Father, Thank you for giving us a clear choice. Thank you for providing a way of escape from death and curses.  Lord, give me wisdom to know what debates I should engage in. Give me the strength to be willing to sacrafice my own self-interests for the purpose of your gospel. Open my eyes to those who feel like foes and love them as you do.   Amen

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HAVE YOU BEEN PUNKED BY THE LAW? – Nov. 16th

November 16, 2012

“Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the Lord your God. You shall therefore obey the voice of the Lord your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you today.”   Deut. 24:9-10  

I have had the chance to watch government function at the local level as part of my job. Governments are very good are making laws and ordinances to solve problems. I  have never really been “delighted” by legal code. I have known some lawmakers to be rather self-righteous in their conviction of the laws that they pass. Until, they’re affected by those laws. I have seen many a government official struggle with their own ordinances and standards when their adherence is expensive or inconvenient. It is a statement to a lawmakers lack of integrity when they exempt themselves from their own laws.

God is a lawmaker. God’s law can be very daunting until we consider that God does not exempt himself from his own law. God is not punking us with his law. He did not play some cosmic joke on us by giving us a law that we could never fulfill. God is revealing to us who he is by giving us a law that He will not break. The laws tells just as much about God as it does about ourselves. The law gives us a deposit that we can take to the bank about our incredible God: 

  1. There will never be another god that comes along who is greater than he is. He is the only game in town. If that happens, then God breaks his own law.
  2. God will never serve or worship anything other than himself. If anything is ever above God, then God breaks his own law.
  3. God’s glory is a big deal. It is very important; he will never consider his own name as unimportant. If that happens, then God breaks his own law.
  4. God is holy and will always maintain his holiness. If He allows the holy to become unholy, then God breaks his own law.
  5. God is due all honor and will respond appropriately to maintian His honor. If he allows himself to be dishonored, then God breaks his own law.
  6. God will never take an innocent live. The innocent have nothing to fear from him. If God unjustly takes a life, then God breaks his own law.
  7. God will never break his covenant with his people. If he were to abandon us for another, then God breaks his own law.
  8. God will never cheat us. He will never do an unfair deal with us. His scales will always be fair. When God offers us something, we should take it because it has to be a good deal. If it wasn’t a good deal, then God breaks his own law.
  9. Everything that God says is true. We can trust what he tells us. If God tells us something untrue, then he breaks His own law.
  10. God will never desire something that is not his. When God covets our love and obedience, it is because it is already his.  It is due him. If it wasn’t due Him, he would be breaking his own law.

 God’s law tells us what we can take to the bank about him. This is why we can delight in God’s law. It tells us what an incredible God we have.

PRAYER: Lord, you are incredible. Thank you for your law and what you have communicated to us through your law. Write it upon my heart. Make it a part of me as you change me more and more into your image.  Help me to delight in your law, as I delight in you.   Amen

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FAITH LIKE A STONE WALL- Nov. 12th

November 12, 2012

“Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.” Deut. 20:3-4     

The Confederate General, Stonewall Jackson, got his nickname at the 1st Battle of Bull Run. As the battle raged, he calmly sat astride his horse. Gen. Bee rallied his troops by shouting, “Look, men! There is Jackson standing like a stone wall! Let us determine to die here & we will conquer.” Where does courage come from; why is it that some do not lose heart? You may think that is a theoretical question since it is not likely that you will find yourself on battlefield today. However, we need to remember that we are in a spiritual war. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that we have an adversary, the devil, who is prowling around, seeking someone to devour. That is who we are up against. Our battlefield is the mind for the control of our hearts. Defeats take the form of compromise, indifference, denial, timidity…why don’t we always stand like a stone wall in our faith? Why do our hearts faint in the face of temptation? It is when we forget who is fighting for us and try to wage the war in our own strength that we get into trouble. Just like the Israelites, God is the one who fights for us against our enemy. We are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs of Christ.   There is no need to fear or panic or anything to dread. The victory is ours – we just need to let God fight the battle and stand like a stone wall.

PRAYER: Lord, I thank you for fighting for me. Thank you for the victory that I have only through you. Help me this day to live in that victory. Help me, a man of little faith, when I begin to faint in the face of the swirling concerns of this life. Lord, continue to set my feet on firm ground. Make my faith a stone wall.  Amen

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THE UNWINNABLE POVERTY WAR – Nov. 10TH

November 10, 2012

MEDITATION VERSE:

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” Deut. 15:11 

LBJ declared war on poverty in 1964 by creating the modern welfare state. According to the CATO Institute, the US gov’t has spent nearly $15 trillion, at a current rate of $1 trillion/yr, with no mearsurable result. Poverty is still with us. We can make it to the moon but why can’t we eradicate poverty? Poverty is a permanent fixture of our society because it is not an economic problem. It is spiritual. This is why both Jesus & Moses said that we will always have the poor with us. Deut. 15:4-5 explains poverty’s origin as a refusal to obey the voice of the Lord our God; not being careful to do all that is commanded. A successful war on poverty must be waged at the individual heart level. That is a war only God can win. This is why God’s people are the greatest poverty fighting force in the world. It is through our generosity, hands held wide open, to our brothers, accompanied with the gospel, that the poor will be transformed both materially & spiritually. The loving of my neighbor as myself reaches way beyond this physical world. It is when Believers are willingly following God in obedience in all areas that we will see a dent in the spiritual & material poverty of our land. A great examination for our heart is to see where & how we spend our money. Are you generous; do you give liberally to you brother? Do you even care? Let’s make today a that the war on poverty becomes effective.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving me riches beyond my wildest dreams; thank you for freeing me from the poverty of my own soul.  Father, give me eyes to see my neighbors as you; give me the ability to know their true poverty.  Lord, change my heart to that of compassion and generosity so that you will be clearly seen in all that I do.        Amen

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