The Lord your God

Read: Deuteronomy 8-10, Marik 12:28-44

On the eve of Israel’s move to the Promised Land, Moses takes a few moments to set some reminders for his people.

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8:18 (NIV)

Israel had a terrible habit of forgetting about God and the covenant they had with Him. In the morning they’d be picking up manna and by the afternoon, they’d be complaining that God brought them out of Egypt only to kill them in the wilderness. Moses knew he’d been leading a stubborn group of people. They only existed because of his intercession on their behalf. After all the trouble he’d gone through, he wanted to be sure they got things right once he was gone.

Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.

Deuteronomy 9:6 (NIV)

The Promised Land was not a reward for good behavior. If God were to reward His people according to what they deserved, He’d have to send them back to Egypt. But because of His covenant and Moses’ prayers, Israel would take possession of the land promised to their forefathers.

This possession was not without its trials. God had already let the people know that they would have to fight. And it would be a long fight. The land would only be cleared of its inhabitants as Israel was prepared to occupy it. God would fight for them, but they still had to go into battle. God would make them prosper, but they would still have to do the work.

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to you forefathers.

Deuteronomy 8:1 (NIV)

The promise to possess did not come without conditions. God wanted the obedience of Israel and He wanted their love.

When asked which was the greatest of all the commandments, Jesus replied:

Mark 12-30-31.jpg

I believe that we, too, need the reminder, like Israel did, that the Lord is our God. And, if the Lord is our God, we should love and obey Him. Twenty-four times, Moses used the words the Lord your God in Deuteronomy 8 through 10. It must have been important. Important enough for Jesus to used the very same words when speaking of the greatest commandment.

If Israel remembered the Lord their God, loved Him, and obeyed Him, all would go well for them. The very same goes for us.

And we know that in all thing God works for the good of those who love him. He appointed them to be saved in keeping with his purpose.

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

 

Multiply

The world is loud. Really loud.

There are things being shouted at us from all directions at all times.

The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive and knows nothing.

Proverbs 9:13 (ESV)

Foolishness is loud. It stands up and shouts an invitation and most people see the appeal in it and will follow the louder voice. But that voice leads nowhere but to shame and destruction.

It is the quiet voice that needs to be lifted up.

Does not wisdom call?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud.

Proverbs 8:1-3 (ESV)

Where foolishness leads to destruction, wisdom, that quiet voice, leads to so much more.

Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

Proverbs 9:9b (ESV)

For by [wisdom] your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.

Proverbs 9:11 (ESV)

A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 10:4 (ESV)

Read through Proverbs 9 and 10 and ponder the words associated with wisdom. These are the things we should be looking for – not the temptation that comes from foolishness, but the enduring benefits of wisdom:

  • increase
  • multiplied
  • glad
  • blessings
  • receive
  • life
  • wealth
  • pleasure
  • joy

I don’t know about you, but that list looks pretty good to me.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:1-32

Continually

Have you ever mentioned a problem to an unbeliever and they look at you aghast as though you, a Christian, should be living a life free of trouble, pain, and/or difficulty? It is a sadly common misconception that Christians can and should live completely perfect lives.

Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come.

Psalm 71:3 (ESV)

Note that David doesn’t say that he stays at the rock of refuge, but that he continually comes to it. Again and again. He didn’t run to the rock once and then everything was good from there. If you’ve read through David’s history, you know that he was plagued with trouble, both of his own making and of those conspiring against him.

But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.

Psalm 71:14 (ESV)

If God only saved you once, how much would you praise Him? If He saves you again and again, how much more will you praise Him?

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.

Psalm 71:20-21

Again and again and again. David saw more trials and tribulations than any one man should, yet God saw fit to bring Jesus out of David’s lineage. If believers were meant to live perfect lives, don’t you think God would have done something for David? Instead, David’s faith was continually increased and each time trials came, he turned to God. God gave him increase in every area of his life.

The issue is not whether or not we will experience difficulties, but rather what we do when they come. Do we wallow in self pity or stand up and proclaim that God is greater than our circumstance and He is always well-able to see us through?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 70-72; Romans 4

Increase

Many may believe that, in times of persecution, those who are being persecuted should be quiet and hide until it is safe once again to come out in the open. If that’s you, that’s fine. If you want to take your faith and hide, go ahead.

But who will stand? Who will stay and fight? How will the Church grow if we’re all in hiding?

In the Book of Acts, the Church was under persecution. In the first verse of chapter 12, it says that the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. James was killed by the sword and Peter was put in chains.

You don’t have to search very long in the news to see that similar things are happening today – even in the West. We are not at all immune to persecution and, perhaps, it’s even worse here because the changes are subtle and churches are believing the little lies until they no longer believe the Truth.

So what did the church of Acts do? Did they hide? No! They prayed. They went out and brought the Gospel to those who could not or would not come to them.

But the word of God increased and multiplied.

Acts 12:24 (ESV)

It is easy to speak the Word when no one is against you, but the words have more weight when you speak them even though the world may be against you.

Daily Bible reading: Job 29-30, Acts 12

Basics

Getting back to the basics is a phrase I’ve often heard in church. But is it biblical? Is it right? Should we always be getting back to the basics?

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become more mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.

Hebrews 6:1 (NLT)

At what point am I mature enough as a Christian to move beyond the basics? I should not be content to stick with the simple teachings of the Christian faith. Otherwise, what’s the point of my faith at all? If it’s not increasing, it’s diminishing. A diminished faith will soon become a non-existent faith.

You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement. And so, God willing, we move forward to further understanding.

Hebrews 6:2-3 (NLT)

There I have it. After receiving the teaching that brought about my realisation of my need for salvation, it’s time mature. It is time for me to learn – to crave – the deeper teachings of Jesus. It is time for me to work to increase my faith and not to let it diminish to nothing. It is time for me to put into practice those teachings and to be able to bring others into a spiritual maturity. It is time for me to make my faith my own rather than expecting the faith of others to carry me through.

It’s time for me to grow up.