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)

 

An eternal sin

Read: Numbers 3-4, Mark 3:22-35

Mark 3:28

It’s a nice thought, knowing that all of our sins and blasphemies will be forgiven us. On this verse alone, we could hinge our very existence. Jesus said it, after all. But that’s not all he said.

But whoever blasphemes against he Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.

Mark 3:39 (NIV)

Yikes! We tend to believe that nothing we could ever say or do is beyond forgiveness, but apparently there’s this one thing that would earn us eternal damnation. Why? Why is this one sin so much worse than anything else we could possibly do? Once we understand who the Holy Spirit is and what his purpose is in our lives, the answer becomes very clear. Let’s start with what Jesus had to say about the Spirit.

If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 14:15-17 (NIV)

In Jesus’ own words, he describes a Helper that will come to live with and in us. So we have a Counselor, a Helper. Great. Why is it such a big deal to speak against the Holy Spirit?

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Jon 14:26 (NIV)

Oh! Are you starting to get the picture? Without Jesus, in phyical form right in front of us, we need something or someone to give us a nudge in the right direction and remind us the right path we need to take. But there’s more!

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NIV)

Not only does the Holy Spirit help us, but he comes bearing gifts. Good gifts. No, not just good, great. Great gifts. The Spirit gives us gifts of wisdom and knowledge, faith, healing and miracles. Gifts of prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation. Without the Spirit none of these things exist. And, without the gifts of the Spirit, how can the body be edified?

For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

1 Corinthians 12:13 (NIV)

And there’s the verse that wraps it all together. Why is speaking against the Holy Spirit so unforgivable?

  1. The Holy Spirit was sent to help us when Jesus’ time on earth was complete. Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, Jesus prepared the way for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is there to help us, to guide us, and to remind us of all Jesus taught and commanded us.
  2. The Holy Spirit is here for our edification. He gives us these incredible gifts so that we can communicate better with God and do His amazing works on His behalf.
  3. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, the Holy Spirit is what holds us all together as one body. To blaspheme the Spirit is to speak against God, against Jesus, and against the entire body of Christ.

God has given us all that we need to succeed in the path He has set out for us, the Holy Spirit being our guide and Jesus, the Word, being the lamp that lights the way. Let us not fall into sin by reaching for one gift and not another, but let us take every advantage available to us so that we can live the full life intended for us.

Commemorate

Read: Exodus 13-15, Matthew 19:1-15

Both in Canada and the United States our mints—the place where physical currency is made—like to commemorate things. Watch television late at night and you’ll probably see a commercial offer for a commemorative coin. These coins serve to honour or celebrate a particular person, place, event, or institution.

Roughrider Loonie

Of all Canadian commemorative coins, this loonie (one dollar coin) celebrating 100 years of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, is my favourite.

Our governments do a good job of helping us to remember certain things. These memories live in our purses, our pockets, our nightstands, our change jars. We need money to make it in our world and, what better way to immortalize something than to put it in the hand of every person in the country?

When something spectacular happened to God’s people, Moses asked Israel to do something similar.

Exodus 13:13

The Israelites were serious about their commemoration. Even today, phylacteries (small, black, cube-shaped leather boxes) are often worn by Orthodox and other conservative Jewish males aged thirteen and older. The purpose of these objects are to remind the Jewish people of God’s deliverance and of their duty to remain faithful to His commands. Thousands of years after the fact, these people are still commemorating their deliverance.

The Israelites celebrated their deliverance every year at the same time with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As their children grew, they would tell the story of how God brought them out of slavery and into the Promised Land. And then their children would tell their children who would tell their children. You get the picture. Stories of God’s greatness were passed down from generation to generation along with an object and traditions that would be a perpetual reminder.

Most of us have never been enslaved. We’ve never had to be delivered to the extent that Israel required. But God has done something for every one of us. He has delivered us all from something and brought us into His promise. So what do we do to remember that?

Several years ago, my pastor preached a message series called All In. Every person in attendance was given a poker chip with the words All In printed on it. Ask anyone who was in the congregation that day about their chip and most everyone could tell you where theirs is. Mine is in my work belt. I know that my pastor keeps one in his pocket. Our youth leader keeps it in his wallet. Like a commemorative coin, we all have a reminder to give our all when it comes to our relationship with God.

What do you keep to remind yourself of God’s grace and goodness in your life? Whether it be a phylactery, a coin, or a poker chip, it is worth keeping a memento so that you can keep in mind—even in the hard times—God’s faithfulness. Believe it or not, I even have a tissue (unused) tucked in a particular Bible that reminds me that I have the mind of Christ (Jesus in no way relates to a Kleenex, but the illustration worked and the reminder is there).

How can you commemorate the mighty hand of God in your life?