Monthly Archives: March 2016

March 21 -A Matter Of Choice

Deuteronomy 30-31

So often you hear people questioning God when bad things happen. Some have walked away from God when they don’t feel God has treated them fairly. But I heard God say something to Moses today that got my attention.

God told Moses, “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity.” (30:15)

Now, before I go any further, let me make something very clear. God was speaking to Moses about the land He had promised Israel. It was, and is, a place on the map. But I wholeheartedly believe if we limit God’s Word to the material, we miss so much of what God intended for us to know.

God had promised the Israelites that there was the potential for unimaginable blessings there across the Jordan. A land full of milk and honey, abundant crops, plenty of water, and peace. But there was also in that land, the potential for war and sickness and death.

These verses are God’s promise to His spiritual kingdom as well. And it’s an existence so much sweeter than mere milk and honey. He’s promised a walk during this lifetime of joy and peace and strength and blessing with Him living right in our hearts.

So when I read what God said to the Old Testament Jews about the land, I picture my own relationship with Him and know what He said to them, He’s saying to me. God has set before me life and prosperity – the riches of His glorious grace! He has also set before me death and adversity. And He says, “Choose Me, Connie. Love Me. Walk in My ways, keep My commandments so I can bless you today and eternally.”

Scripture tells me that if I choose obedience, I am blessed beyond what I can ask or think. If I choose disobedience, my relationship with Him will die. And I think a lot of the bad things that happen to us are a direct result of that dying relationship caused by disobedience.

Once again God is laying it all out there. On one hand you have life and love and blessing. On the other, death and separation from God. On one hand you have obedience. On the other, a life of sin.

The choice seems pretty clear to me, a no-brainer. What is your choice today?

March 20 – Warning! Warning!

Deuteronomy 28&29

When I read God’s curse on His people should they disobey Him, I find it hard to think of an aspect of life that wouldn’t be effected. The curse would touch them in the city and the country, their food, their children, their livestock, their minds, bodies, health, marriages, their ability to win wars, whether they are coming in or going out. I could go on. Read it for yourself in Deuteronomy. I’m just glad I wasn’t alive back then.

But wait. Did God get that specific with the Jews for their benefit only? Or is He speaking to me today?

Doesn’t my own disobedience hit me where I live? Doesn’t it effect my mind, my soul, my joy, my relationships, perhaps my health, and my ability to fight my own wars against Satan?

And isn’t our country – our entire world- feeling the effects of disobedience through hate, and disease, and unrest, in violence, and persecution?

It should come as no surprise that the effects of sin are devastating. It’s not like we weren’t warned.

March 19 – Blurred Lines

Deuteronomy 24-27

Moses told the Israelites that when they entered the Promised Land they were to get large stones, coat them in lime, then write the law distinctly on the rocks. Then they were to build an altar.

I don’t know how many times the Law, or part of it, are repeated in Scripture. I don’t know how many times Moses himself reminded the people about the laws God had given him for the Jews to obey.

But reading the Old Testament certainly emphasizes the importance God places on obedience. And God’s Laws are black and white.

Sadly, we live in a grey world. People have mistaken God’s grace as a softening of the rules He laid out to Moses there on the mountain. In fact, the opposite is true.

Jesus fulfilled the Law, and offers forgiveness for us because we are unable to keep the Law. But beyond that, Jesus said we sin if we even think about it. Who can measure up to that standard?

Moses told the people to write the law distinctly, clearly so there would be no question. God, as He inspired men to write His Words in Scripture did the same.

There need be no question concerning sin. The lines are drawn. And they are anything but blurred.

March 18 – Integrity

Deuteronomy 21-23

Reading these chapters in Deuteronomy today had me thinking about integrity. God’s laws for His people seem to sit under that umbrella.

I asked Siri for a definition of the word “integrity” and she gave me this: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, moral rightness.

God spelled out His moral principles in the pages of Scripture. Rather than skimming over the parts that have to do with finding my neighbors cow wandering around because my neighbors don’t even own a cow, I asked myself what is the moral principle God wants me to know?

I’m not building a house so worrying about a parapet doesn’t apply to me, right? I don’t have a vineyard or standing grain, so can I just skip over those laws? Or are there  moral principles in these examples that do apply to me?

I hope you’ll read these chapters today and ask God to speak to you about your own integrity. Are you living according to God’s moral principles?

He’ll let you know if you ask Him.

March 17 – A Question Of Spirituality

Deuteronomy 17-20

Is being “spiritual” enough? What about consulting so-called mediums? Does it matter who you worship so long as you worship?

Sure, God told the ancient Jews not to practice witchcraft, cast spells, or call up the dead. But is that still the case today?

Jesus came to fulfill the Law. Does that wipe out the Old Testament rules for living?

One thing is clear, whether you are reading the Old Testament or the New, there is one God. One. He demands to be worshiped at the exclusion of all else. He demands to be obeyed – for His children to be holy according to Scripture.

When the Bible says something is “detestable” to God in the Old Testament, I don’t see where suddenly those things are acceptable after Jesus.

It is a serious sin to dabble in anything other than that which is written in the Bible. Maybe even watching a TV show with a bubbly little medium who makes her money telling people their long lost great-grandma is proud of them.

So, no. It’s not enough to be “spiritual.” It is wrong to consult a medium or try to speak to the dead. And any worship except the worship of the God of Scripture is false. Anything that contradicts the Bible is a lie.

March 16 – Homeless and Hungry

Deuteronomy 14-16

I had an interesting conversation over lunch yesterday with some of my church friends. Of course, in this election year it’s hard not to talk about  politics. Have I told you how much I love talking politics?

Not!

Our conversation got stalled a bit on the topic of jobless and/or homeless people. Do you give money to the man standing on the street corner with a sign that says, “Homeless and Hungry?” What if he is smoking a cigarette? Does that change your opinion?

I used to be a church secretary and I couldn’t begin to count the number of calls I received from strangers trying to get some money. As a school counselor, the number of people asking for assistance was astronomical.

Who is responsible for caring for our poor? Is it the government? Is Bernie right to promise free assistance for everybody? How did we get to the place in this country where it is ok for needy people to receive handouts from the government, but flipping burgers is beneath them?

Today as I read these chapters in Deuteronomy, I hear God saying there will be no poor among you. He says if there is a poor man, open your hand freely to him. Be generous.

Here’s where I think we have failed as a nation and as the Church. There should be no needy people in our church fellowships. Yes, it’s our responsibility to care for our own, to lend a hand. But I don’t see the Bible saying the government should have any part of it.

Personally, I don’t hand out money to strangers, even if they parade their children in front of them like the man I saw yesterday outside Walmart. But if there is a family member who needs some help during a hard time, or someone in my church with a need, I want to obey God and open my hand freely.

I’d much rather have a say as to where my help is directed, rather than having someone in government deciding. I don’t think they’ve done a great job with the money I already give. How many trillions are we in debt? And, besides, I don’t see government assistance is anywhere close to being God’s plan for us.

Father God, I pray for people who have no home, who are jobless and hungry. God, I pray that the people close to them, that church fellowships will reach out to them and help them get back on their feet. I pray for jobless people. Open doors to employment that will begin to pay the bills. I pray that needy people will see Your hand at work in miraculous ways. And I pray for this election. I pray that Christians will not stay home on voting day because they don’t happen to like the candidates. I pray that our voices will be heard against government control of every detail of our lives. It’s up to us as Christians to be vessels through which you can defeat Satan’s control in our land.

March 15 – Don’t Forsake The Levites

Deuteronomy 11-13

Moses is talking to the Jews about how to handle sacrifices once they cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. He told them where they could offer sacrifices and where they could not. He told them what they could eat, and what was forbidden them to eat.

Then, kind of randomly, he said:

Be careful that you do not forsake the Levites as long as you live in the land. (12:19)

The Levites were in charge of the spiritual welfare of the children of Israel. Like our pastors today. And this verse has me asking the question: Do I forsake my pastor?

I’m blessed to be a part of two amazing fellowship of believers. As a snowbird, I worship in one church in Ohio, and in another when I live in Georgia. And I am blessed to sit under the teaching of two Godly men who share the Truth according to Scripture every Sunday.

But one of my pastors is grieving the loss of a friend whose death was sudden and unexpected. His young daughter has a medical condition that can be life threatening, and there are some questions still unanswered about her condition. Plus, our church has started a building campaign. Yet he continues to preach, to teach, to counsel, to visit, with enthusiasm and a passion for reaching the lost.

My other pastor’s dear wife has medical challenges, and our congregation is so small he has to work another job. But that doesn’t stop him from spending hours in preparation for Sundays, teaching Sunday School, preaching two sermons on Sundays, and a study on Wednesday night.

I don’t know either man really well, so I am sure there are things on their hearts I do not know. They carry an enormous weight on their shoulders. Yet they both greet us every Sunday with sincere smiles, share what God has laid on their hearts in a meaningful and passionate way. They both challenge me and bless me every time I am privileged to worship with them.

I pray for them both. But do they know I appreciate them? Have I encouraged them, thanked them? I know October is Pastor Appreciation Month but shouldn’t we always appreciate these dear men who have answered God’s call to be our shepherds? Shouldn’t we let them know?

I hope you are worshiping in a church with a Godly pastor. I know there are some who take that job who are not as gifted as my pastors, or who aren’t preaching God’s Truth. If that is your experience, I am praying that God will give you wisdom, and bring about a solution that honors Him.

But for those of us who appreciate our pastors, let’s tell them so. Let’s not neglect or forsake them in their very difficult job. And don’t forget their wives and children. They are in this with him, too.

If you are a pastor reading this blog today… Thank you! God bless you. And may I encourage you to hang in there. We need you. And what you do in Jesus’ name is not going unnoticed.

Father, I pray for the pastors out there who love and obey You. Thank you for the hours they spend pouring over your Word, listening to your voice, praying for guidance, praying for us. I pray that they would have clarity in their study. Give them the words that would help us understand what it is You want us to know through them. I pray for their health, their energy, their commitment, their focus, their patience, their passion, their joy. May you grant exactly what they need, and then some. I pray for their families, those dear ones in their homes who love them and challenge them. Grant patience, wisdom, and genuine love. I pray for their marriages. Keep them strong. May their marriages be sources of joy and refreshment. Surround the shepherds of your sheep with protection. And may your sheep let those shepherds know how much they are loved.

March 14 – Our Awesome God

Deuteronomy 8-10

Now Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? (10:12-13)

Moses has been reminding the Jews all the things God has done on their behalf. Now he wants to remind them WHO God is. I hope you read Deuteronomy 10:12-22 today, and let yourself worship this awesome God of ours.

God created the heavens and earth, yet set His affection to love us. God who loved us so much He sent Jesus, so that anyone who believes in Him will live forever with Him. (John 3:16)

God is the God above all Gods, Lord of lords, great, mighty, and awesome.

He is our praise and He is our God.

Amen!

March 13 – blessingsandobedience

Deuteronomy 5-7

Someone sneezes, and you hear, “Bless you.” When you’re in the south, the words, “Bless your heart” are used in sympathy or to acknowledge a kindness. I, myself, have intentionally eliminated the word, “lucky” from my vocabulary and replaced it with the word, “blessed.” And if you part company with a loved one, you might find  yourself saying to that person, “God bless you.”

I believe the Bible clearly reveals that God loves to bless people. Look around. Nature is a blessing. Family is a blessing. Freedom is a blessing. Health, money to pay bills, our jobs are blessings

But God is interested in blessing us with more personal blessings, too. And I think, from what I read in the Bible, those intimate and precious blessings are tied to obedience. They go hand in hand. It’s like one word all fused together.

These chapters in Deuteronomy give us several examples of this:

Obey God’s commandments so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. (6: 1-2)

O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you (6: 3)

You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you (6: 18)

So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. (6:24)

Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments. (7:9)

Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. (7:12)

Now don’t misunderstand me. Obedience isn’t the magic key that opens the door to getting what we want. It’s the key that opens the door to receiving what God wants for us.

May you obey our Lord today… and be blessed.

 

 

March 12 – Unlikely Warriors

Deuteronomy 3&4

As I was reading Moses’ recap of the events the Jews had experienced in the past forty years, it occurred to me that the people who had crossed the Jordan, who had defeated armies, and confiscated property, had been slaves in Egypt. They made bricks and built things for hundreds of years. There probably wasn’t a trained soldier among them, nor would they have had state-of-the-art weaponry. They were a bunch of homeless people, herding their families and livestock toward a distant land.

If I had been a king at that time, and saw this ragtag group coming toward me while I sat in my walled city, protected by an army of first class soldiers holding shiny swords and shields, I’d probably have that second cup of coffee.

Now these Jews were preparing to enter the Promised Land. And after reminding them how their ancestors had defeated those kings who thought they were safe in their fortresses, Moses encouraged them by saying, “Do not fear them (the people living in the land), for the Lord your God is the one fighting for you.”

God didn’t use the great armies of kings to reveal Himself to the world. He used the unlikely group of former slaves to defeat the enemy. He used regular people. And no one could deny it was because God fought FOR Israel that the Jews were successful in their battles.

God works the same way today. He doesn’t expect us to be super-heroes, or perfect people, or dynamic preachers. He is really good at using regular people who are yielded to Him, who obey Him, trust Him, and allow Him to do great things in and through them.

Don’t fear the enemy. Don’t hold back from sharing Christ with your neighbor because you don’t know what to say. Don’t refuse to sit on that committee at church because you think you have nothing to contribute. Our enemy, Satan, would keep us slaves in Egypt.

But he is nothing next to God. And remember, it is God who is fighting for us! That already makes us the winners!