Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Joshua Chapters 13-15

I am traveling in the morning and will try my best to comment later...please feel free to share your own thoughts on these chapters.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Joshua Chapters 10 - 12

Wow - this is some really tough reading. Three chapters of absolute genocide. What do we do with that? How do we react to it? Well, we start by remembering that God is good and just and always does what it right. Knowing that about God, we can approach these texts from a better perspective.

10:11 - Pretty weird reminder that God is the one who does all the work. Here he does the work with a bunch of death bringing hailstorms. All followers of God today, we should always do our best to serve Him passionately and effectively, but we can also put our trust in the fact that God is the one really doing the hard work. God is gonna fill in where our weaknesses would bring failure and God is going to do so much more with our lives and ministries than could ever be imagined.

10:13-14 - The Sun stands still so the Israelites can have more time to kill their enemies? Whoa. What happened there? Well, to be honest, we have no idea. Some people think that God just stopped the rotation of the earth, but scientists have never been able to find any discrepancies in space that would support that. Maybe He just slowed the earth down enough to make the day really long, yet it didn't cause any noticeable cosmic changes. Maybe God refracted light from the other side of the earth to make it seem like day stayed the whole time. Maybe God just created another source of light for the day - he can do that if He wants to. We just don't know for sure - we weren't there. What we do know is that Joshua didn't really care about the sun standing still. That is not what impresses him...what impresses Joshua is that God listened to him. Joshua prays for victory and it says that something happened that had never been experienced before or after - God fought on the side of human beings. He sided with Joshua and fought for him. That's what blows Joshua's mind!

11:4ff - When are these people going to learn? How many nations and kingdoms need to be wiped out before they figure it out. Thus far in Joshua, only one group has tried to make peace with the Israelites and those people are the only ones still living. It reminds me of us. When are we going to learn. We know how destructive selfish, sinful stuff is to our lives, but we keep going back to it. When are we going to give up trying to go our own way and offer ourselves humbly to God?

11:19-20 - It says that God hardened the kings hearts so that they would attack the Israelites. Why would He do that? If He left them alone, would they have maybe tried to make peace. I don't think so - remember that God is just and righteous. I believe that God is simply speeding up the timetable on their future rebellion so it fits within the time frame of His plan. If He can slow down the sun or make it stop, then I bet He can speed up the descent through which somebody utterly rebels against Him.

* So far in the book of Joshua, we see that every people group who have fought against the people of God are utterly wiped out. The one group that sought peace with His people are left alive. God is not randomly setting people up for genocide - He is protecting His people and doling out judgement. When people groups attack God, they pay for it (Later we see when the Israelites betray God and rebel against Him that they pay for that too).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Joshua Chapters 7-9

6:3 - Why all the pomp and circumstance? Why the trumpets and the marching? Because it needs to be clear that it is God that crushes the people of Jericho and not the Israelites by their own power. If they had attacked and scaled the walls, people might have thought it was human power not divine...with the marching and trumpets there is not doubt.

6:17 - God's judgement is never about ethnicity, it is about the condition of the heart. Everyone in Jericho had the opportunity to react as Rahab did, but they did not.

7:11-12 - Jericho was a sacrifice to God...Achan stole God's sacrifice, defiled the offering to God. That's generally not a good thing.

7:26 - In answer to defiling the sacrifice and stealing what was dedicated to God, Achan and his family have to pay the ultimate price. For her sins, they were sacrificed along with the things they stole.

8:5ff - I really like that God expects His people to be creative and wise. Did you notice that they don't just roll up to Ai and attack? they still use their intelligence and strategy to pull off an incredible victory. This is really good leadership insight. Leaders shouldn't just show up expecting God to do everything for them...God has gifted us uniquely for a reason.

8:26 - They are consecrating the land, making it holy by destroying he evil within it.

8:34 - I love that they never fail to remember who they are ad why they have had success. W can learn alot from that.

9:24 - Again, we see heart of God for all people. These non-Jewish people are spared because they believed in the power of God and they humbled themselves before Him.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Joshua Chapters 4 - 6

Please post your comments...

Joshua Chapters 1 - 3

Hey, I am slammed at work right now and cannot put a good blog in, so please feel free to comment and I will spend some time catching up tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Deuteronomy Chapters 31-34

Let's finish this bad boy out!

31:12 - The way Moses describes their gatherings reminds me of the mission of church gatherings. Why do we get together? We gather together so that we never forget who we belong to. We gather together to remind each other that we are the body of Christ...we gather together to encourage one another to live out our beliefs. Is that what is happening at our church? I hope so.

31:16 - Imagine you have spent a huge chunk of your life leading a people out of slavery, into a relationship with the one true God in existence and taking them to the Promised Land. Now imagine that when you are about to die, God tells you how these people you have given everything to are going to turn away from Him...they are going to destroy everything Moses has worked towards. Not very fun is it?

32:6 - How do you respond to the love of God? Do you repay God with obedience and honor or self-indulgence and rebellion? Very challenging words from Moses - "Is that how you repay the Lord?" It is foolishness to give God anything but your everything.

32:32 - When you are connected into something - rooted in something - that is where you get your sustenance. If we make sure our lives our rooted into God - if He is the vine we are connected to - we will get clean, pure, life-giving sustenance. If we are attached to the systems of this world, we will be filled with corrupt, toxic, death-bringing sustenance. And sustenance that does not sustain us is no sustenance at all!

32:51 - God loves Moses. Moses is described as a man of God...at the end of this book, he is described as a man who was closer to God than any human would ever be. Yet, there were still consequences for his sinful actions. Some people think that when they become Christian or give their life to God that all the things from their past will magically go away, but that is not how justice works. We need to be like Moses and accept the consequences of our actions, while living to honor God in the now.

34:9 - I know that something powerful and spiritual was taking place between God and Joshua to give Joshua the ability to lead that he would need. But I also believe that Joshua was able to lead because Moses did a really good job of mentoring him. We see throughout Deuteronomy that Moses always takes Joshua along with him when he is making big decisions...he walked Joshua through leadership step by step and trained up his replacement. Joshua was able to lead because Moses taught him how to lead. Joshua is a part of Moses' legacy. What is the legacy that you are leaving behind?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Deuteronomy Chapters 28-30

Whoa! There is some pretty intense stuff in there. Never accuse the bible of candy-coating anything...we get the raw in your face version of truth. If you follow God, things will go well for you. If you don't, well...

28:12 - Because Moses is talking to a people - a nation - I thought alot about America throughout these chapters. I know the fit is not perfect, because the Israelites were people in a covenant relationships with God...but there is still a great deal that is applicable to the U.S. - especially if you are talking about Christians in the U.S. who are in a covenant relationship with God! If a nation has been blessed by God with an abundance of resources - they should use that to help others in need. Wealth is not given to corrupt (It often does, but that is not the goal)...it is given so that the wealthy may be able to bless others.

28:25 - They became a "horror to all the kingdoms of the earth." I can't help but think about the poor countries of the world who look at the United States as vile and evil. I realize part of the issue is propaganda from the media sources in those countries, but some of it we bring upon ourselves. There are countries that have extreme poverty and sickness, yet they can look disgustedly upon the US because of the corruption they see coming from us. What can believers do to change that?

28:47 - This is an interesting verse. Do you think the abundance of things actually led the people away from God? Were they so blessed that they eventually rejected God? Is that what too much of a good thing does to you? Sometimes I think human beings are absolutely insane. When God allows people to be blessed...when He gives us more than we need...we start to think we don;t need Him anymore. The abundance of goodness can sometimes lead us to evil. Why do we do that?

28:55ff - These are some of the most disgusting verses in all of scripture. Moses is prophesying that there will come a time when people are so desperate for food that they will be hoarding the flesh of their children only for themselves! That is insanely repulsive! When people allow themselves to turn their back on God and serve only themselves - they walk the path of selfishness. The basest instinct of selfishness is survival at all costs...they reject God and they become like animals, thinking only of themselves and how to stay alive.

29:14 - This covenant was made for all the generations of Israel...even the ones who were not there or not born yet. I like this verse, because we are a part of those people who are not there. Through Jesus Christ we have been given access into this covenant...we are a part of the people of God and it is a beautiful thing.

29:19 - When you know what you are supposed to do and you do not do it, you heap curses and dire consequences on your life. How many times have I made excuses in my life for not doing what I know I am supposed to do? Listen to the person in the verse saying, "Hey, it's all right, I'm gonna be safe." They are walking in the stubbornness of their heart...walking away from God and thinking everything is perfect. That's a dangerous place to be.

30:18ff - This sums up everything in chapters 28-30 very well. The choice is right there for every one of us. What are you going to choose - life or death. It really is that simply. Yeah, there are a bunch of laws that are covered in the OT books we've read so far, but it all comes down to a simple choice - life or death. God or yourself. If you choose to give yourself fully to God, those other things are going to fall in place, and you will experience the abundant life that comes along with being connected to God. If you choose to serve yourself only, you choose the emptiness and death that comes along with that.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Deuteronomy Chapters 25-27

25:6 - I love that God cares about an individual person's legacy...God wants that to be held up and defended. Each individual life is important to God. God cares about the impact we had on this world and the impact that our lives had on eternity, and so should we. What kind of legacy is your life leaving behind? I want to leave behind a legacy of faith - I don't want my name to be blotted out because I failed to live up to my destiny in God.

25:9-10 - Being a part of the community of God means that you always build one another up. Anyone who claims they are a part of the family of God and yet tears down his brothers and sisters should be spit on ad slapped in the face with their on shoe! I bet that would really drive the point home, if we practiced that in churches today!

25:13 - I found this interesting, because it definitely applies to us. You never honor God by living dual lives...a life where you honor God and a life where you honor yourself. As followers of God there is only room for one self...you are either in or out - there is no middle ground in faith.

26:2 - Tithing is about giving you first and your best to God, it is not about giving Him your leftover budget table scraps.

26:4-11 - I love that! They use their offering as a time to remember their story...their testimony. They aren't recounting on the monetary wealth and material things God has given, but the priceless blessings He has poured out like protection, hope, freedom from slavery, etc. How healthy would it be for Christians today if they approaches the time of offering with the same heart? Offering is a time of joy and celebration!

27:2-3 - The first thing they do upon entering into the promised land is to remember how they got there. They don't throw a party first...they commit themselves to backbreaking labor. They move huge uncut stones into a pile and plaster over them. Then they painstakingly write the commands that God has given them out on the monument. They do all this because they know essential it is that they always remember who they are. They chisel into the stones and their hearts exactly what it means to be God's people. What do you do to make sure that is always at the forefront of your mind?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deuteronomy Chapters 22-24

You could comment on every single miscellaneous law given, but I just chose a few that stood out to me...

22:1-4 - You look out for your brother. If you can lend a hand and help a brother out, you do it. You don;t disrespect God and your community by ignoring their problem. This is what people who love God and love others do.

22:5 - This may seem like an insignificant law, but God is serious about His creation. He crated man to be male and women to be female and He doesn't want the two confused. Dressing up as the opposite sex messes with the sanctity of the created human form. If you blur the lines between right and wrong, eventually there is no longer any right.

22:6-7 - Again we see God protecting nature. God does not want to see the destruction of any species He created. If you want to eat, take the eggs and leave the mother, because the mother can continue to produce eggs and the bird population can safely continue on. I think we have really let God down when it comes to earth stewardship.

22:9-11 - Again we see that God even wants the species of grain separated. People in ancient times would often sow two types of seeds, because as the plants grew, they would feed off of one another and help to grow. God also may want the Israelites to sow only one type of seed because it is harder and He wants them to trust that He is the one providing.

22:12 - These tassels serve as a constant reminder that they are the people of the Most High God. What do you use as a reminder?

23:1 - This verse describes two common forms of castration in ancient times. Castration was associated with pagan rituals and foreign peoples - the Israelites are not know to have used any form of castration culturally. This means that God is prohibiting the influence of foreign people who have be deeply impacted by pagan cultures on the community of Israel. (We also need to understand that this is not referring to worshipping the Lord. People are not being restricted from honoring God...they are being restricted from being a part of the main assembly with was the ruling structure of Israel.)

23:9 - Something you need to recognize here - this is referring to a camp of war. A camp set up when the Israelites go off to war. The men are warned to be very conscious of their purity, so that they will stay focused on God...the camp had to holy because the Israelites were dependant on God for military victory. I think we would all be more focused on offering ourselves fully to God and setting ourselves apart for Him if we truly believed we needed Him to get by day to day. Don't balk - do you really live every day like you are in desperate need of God...that your every breath depends on Him?

23:18 - What is this fee of the dog thing? Well...(cough)...it is most likely a reference to male homosexuality. The offerings given from prostitution whether male or female were considered unacceptable to God. It's kinda like when we offer God scraps of our live...or distracted prayers...or worship Him with a heart set on others things...God wants the best and purest of what we have to offer.

23:19 - I love this. The Israelites are a community...they are a family and they do not try to make money off one another.

24:1 - We know from elsewhere in scripture that God hates divorce. We know that God only allowed divorce to take place because of the hardness of peoples' hearts. Early rabbis looked at this passage from Moses and tried to make the case that a man could divorce a woman for any reason at all - any reason! Later teachers of the law understood that a man could only divorce a woman fro something truly indecent, like apostasy, adultery, refusal of sex, etc. (Though not mentioned here...women would also traditionally have the right to divorce because of their husband's indecency.) We see through these laws that God, even when He allows the people to follow paths that go against what He made us for, always sets laws in place to protect the weak and the poor.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Deuteronomy Chapters 19-21

19:21 - Moses instructs that the punishment fit the crime as perfectly as possible. In this example if someone lies at a trial to try to get another person killed with capital punishment, the liar is to be put to death. He tried to have someone killed through the court system, so he is punished with death. Life for life. This goes for any intentional murders...unintentional killings are treated with grace as long as the killer gets to a city of refuge and is deemed innocent by the elders there. When we look at other verses we have read in the past, like Numbers 35, we see that there was a system of paying penalties monetarily instead if bodily. There was a price that could be paid for an eye, a hand, etc. But with regards to murder, there was only one price to be paid - life for life.

20:1 - Sometimes as Christians today, it seems like the spiritual war we are facing is insurmountable. All around we see Christians falling to the culture. All around we see evil and we see levels of brutality, hatred and selfishness that seem more powerful than the forces of good in the world. But we must never forget that the Lord is on our side. The ultimate battle has already been won by Jesus Christ. There is hope and resurrection, and no matter what the odds, when God is with us, we have the advantage.

20:10 - Here we see God instructing the Israelites to offer peace the the cities that lay siege on. If the cities accept, they are spared. So we know that God does not simply order the destruction of every people group that stands int he way of the Israelites. There must be something deeper going on when He does order absolute destruction.

20:14 - Even the people that fight back against the Israelites have their women and children spared. Merciful treatment in that day and age. Again, why do some peoples get mercy and others total judgement?

20:16 - Why is it different with these people? Because God as the ultimate judge has declared judgement on these people groups. These people have hardened their hearts against God and as described in previous chapters...they infect the Israelites with their pagan beliefs. These people are destroyed because it is a matter of life and death for God's people. These people have and will lead the Israelites away from God and when the Israelites turn away from God - they lose their protection...they face the wrath of God...they are judged. (See: verse 18)

20:19 - I thought this was interesting. This shows the responsibility that human beings have to nature itself. Moses tells the people not to destroy trees that bear fruit, because the trees cannot protect themselves. They cannot run into a city for protection like the people can. Often in these times, besieging armies would destroy every fruit bearing tree to utterly demolish the economy and livelihood of the people they were attacking. God doesn't want good fruit bearing trees destroyed, just because that is an easier path to take in their human ambitions. God has set us as the overseers of nature, something that most Christians don't take seriously at all.

21:9 - Blood guilt was something that polluted a community as a whole and had to be dealt with or God would remove His hand of protection from the people of Israel. Throughout these three chapters we see how important it is to God that innocent blood guilt be washed away - 19:10, 11, 19.

21:12-13 - Why the shaving of the hair and the removal of the clothes. These are parts of a person that can be removed and destroyed. This was probably symbolic of the gentile woman shedding her old life, so she could live as part of the Jewish community. We as Christians know a little bit about shedding the old life, huh? We are buried with Christ Jesus and rise in his resurrection life. Are there remnants of your old life that you are still clinging on to...things that need to be shed once and for all?

21:14 - In the Jewish commentaries, rabbis look at this story as a lesson in true love. Since this relationship was based purely on lust and beauty, Moses seems to imply that there is little hope for the fulfillment to last. Beauty is fleeting and a man who bases his love solely on that - is bound to find out quickly that beauty does not satisfy in the long run. We also see again the merciful love of God as He gives the woman rights to free choice, since it is not her fault that the man took her as his wife because he was blinded by beauty.

21:18ff - Wow - pretty intense stuff here! This passage speaks to children who are repeat offenders. Over and over they are corrected and punished and they refuse to change. They refuse to honor their parents and respect the community of Israel. It should be noted that the husband and the wife have to bring the child together...the husband does not have the right to do this alone in his anger. And you gotta figure, if a mother is willing to take her kid before the elders...this kid is crazy rebellious! What would you have to do to get a mom to take their son to a capital trial? And again, there is justice, the parents can't just kill the child...there is a trial that takes place. The elders preside over the situation and sentence death only as a last option to a completely obstinate and rebellious young man. We also see that the parents do not take part in the stoning. In every other case of offense, the offended party is the first to throw stones, but here we see the parents don;t take part. This is so the parents don't have to take part in the killing of their son. This shows that the whole process must be heartbreaking...this is only a last resort (And in all reality it may not have happened very often if at all - maybe the possibility of this being an option was enough to deter young people). The whole punishment process highlights the seriousness of respect for parents and authority in the Israelite world. It is a reflection of the ability to be humble and obedient before God and this respect was vital to the health of the community as a whole.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deuteronomy Chapters 16-18

16:3 - God knows that symbolism is so powerful for human beings...He frequently instructs His people to use symbols as reminders of who they are and where they come from. The Israelites use unleavened bread because when they were fleeing Egypt, there was no time for them to let yeast rise...they had to use flat bread that could be made quickly. When they celebrate the passover, they eat this flat bread to remember that the Lord brought them out of slavery. We use symbols to remember God's love too. The cross, the bread, the wine...we have to make sure that these things never become stale in our minds, but they exist as constant reminders of the incredible love of God.

16:12 - Again, the focus is on remembering where you came from. We were once slaves to sin...we were once absolute under the sway of sin and death - but Jesus Christ changed all that. If you don't take time to remember that you were a slave, you are bound to let yourself fall back into that slavery. Remember the brutality of our slavery to sin...remember the hopelessness...remember the confusion. What can you do as a reminder? The Israelites would fail to remember how horrible their slavery was and from time to time in the desert they would beg to go back to Egypt. They remembered the food and shelter and allowed themselves to forget the crack of the whip - the back-breaking labor - the horrible treatment. Don't allow yourself to candy-coat your slavery to sin. Again, what can you do to remember?

16:20 - As followers of Jesus Christ, we are the temple of God - the Holy Spirit lives within us. We are a part of the holy priesthood of all believers. We are living in the Promised Land, because we are living the life of freedom that Jesus promised us - freedom from sin! If that is who you are as a God follower, then justice should be a part of your DNA. God's people seek out justice because God is just. God's people do not allow injustice to run wild when they can do something about it.

17:7 - Have you purged the evil from your midst? What is it that is hanging around in your life, trying to drag you back to that slavery we talked about earlier? Have you taken drastic measures to go to war are the sin struggles that have plagued your life? God fearers do whatever it takes to combat sin - what is it gonna take for you?

17:16/17 - How shocking are these verses when you think about the kings of Israel like David and Solomon? Those guys were filthy rich! Solomon alone had thousands of wives and concubines! How did the kings of Israel react when they read the law about how kings were really supposed to act? A king of Israel was supposed to be a spiritual leader, not somebody who was gonna to get wealthy and take advantage of his position of power. What do you think Solomon thought when he read these verses? Flip that to us...what do we think when we read how differently our lives look from what Jesus throws out there in the NT? How do we react when we read about the life Paul was calling Christians to live? Probably the same way David and Solomon did - lame excuses.

18:2 - As Christians we are a priesthood of believers...should our attitude reflect that of the Levite priests? They were instructed to forget about an inheritance...their inheritance was found in God. The OT priests were not worried about the future...they were not worried about wealth and possessions...they we content in what God gave them. As priests of Jesus Christ we should be able to ignore the things of this world and find contentment in God (Phil. 4).

18:10ff - These verses talk about the abomination of a parent putting their children through fire - sacrificing them to false gods. Does this speak to the modern American system of putting your kids through the fire? We "encourage" (force) them into sports, music, school achievement, etc...pushing them to more and more practice/study...doing it "for their own good." So many parents are living out their dreams through their kids...so many parents are trying to find their own worth in their kids' achievements. Oh yeah, and in doing so they are sacrificing their kids to our culture.Is that evil? I would love to see parents following the example that Moses holds up in the Torah, of writing the word of God on the hearts of their kids. If we're gonna push our kids into something...why not something that is eternally meaningful...something that actually matters? (I'll get off my bitter little soap box now - and by the way, I have already been warring with the feelings of false personal fulfillment that come from my son's athletic achievements...so I'm speaking to myself as much as anybody)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Deuteronomy Chapters 13-15

13:1ff - There are going to be things that exist in this world that amaze - that boggle the mind - that seem to be miraculous - that seem to be fact or true...but if they lead us away from God, they are not good. God allows these things to exist to test our faith. We show that we love God with everything we have, when we can live in a world filled with things trying to lead us away from God, and stay true. I think we have all seen how convincing and tempting are the arguments that lead us from God...what's your biggest struggle along these lines?

13:10 - Are there relationships in your life that need to be ended (Not by stoning someone...just ended), because they keep drawing you away from God? We must always be vigilant about what is influencing us and what we are being influenced towards.

14:23 - Why is tithing important? Because it keeps your priorities straight. It's like we talked about last night, when you give your wealth away (especially if you are giving it to God's work) you are not going to be able to worship that wealth. Giving to God leads us to trust Him - we are saying that we trust He will take care of us. Giving to God means that we fear God - we want to keep Him central in our minds and remove any distractions, like wealth.

15:4 and 11 - How can he say in 4 that there will be no poor and then 7 verses later in 11 he tells us that there will always be poor around - have we found a contradiction in the bible? No, not really. Moses is saying that after the Sabbatical year there will not be any people who are poor because of debt...everybody will be on the same page - debt free! In verse 11 he wants us all to understand, that after the Sabbatical year, there are always gonna be people who get themselves into tough situations. There will be people who go through horrific loses and there will be people up to their eyeballs in debt - that will always exist. The point of saying that there will always be poor with us, is not to get people to think, "Well, if they'll always be here - why even bother trying to help them out?(I have known Christians who thought like this)" The point is that there will always be opportunities for God's people to be generous. God is a generous God who is pouring our His blessings on undeserving people every moment of every day - the least we could do as His followers would be to live out His example on earth and give generously, even when people don't deserve it.

15:8 - Moses is pretty clear here...as a God follower, you do whatever it takes to help somebody. Do not allow your heart to shut somebody out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Deuteronomy Chapters 10-12

10:12-13 - God is laying out beautifully our end of the covenant with Him...fear Him, love Him, serve Him, etc. At first glance, that may seem like quite a lot to ask, but think about it...if you love God and believe in what He has done for you, it all just falls into place. The belief will bring the fear and love ad service, and you will naturally follow His commands as faith is lived out in your life. And to top it all off, life is better when you serve God! So He is simply asking us to do what we were created to do and what brings us fulfillment and in return God remains eternally faithful to His promises and gives us everything we need and more - quite a deal!

10:15 - How cool is this? God created everything, is above everything, holds everything together, lives in heaven with creatures of beauty and power beyond our wildest imagination...and He chose to fall in love with us! His love is so amazing!

10:16 - Even in the OT, there was a clear picture of what the circumcision is really all about. It isn't about flesh...it is about the sinful, rebellious part of us being cut away to live in God's service. It is like baptism...baptism is not about some sort of magical water that cleanses your sins - it is a sacred act that signifies putting your old life to death and being resurrected into a new life in Christ.

11:16 - How many times has Moses warned the people about this. He says to stay on guard so that you do not get distracted by the things of this world and turn away from God. Its like Moses knows this is a problem with human beings or something. Luckily we are well beyond this kind of temptation today, right? Oh...wait...

11:27-28 - Your life will be truly blessed if you follow God and truly cursed if you do not. And buy blessings, don't let your mind go immediately to wealth from human perspective...the blessings are so much more incredible than something that temporary. Th blessings are eternal and life-changing. Look around and you can see the truth of this statement from Moses lived out. You can see people all around you living under a curse because they have rejected God...i is heartbreaking.

12:2-3 - It is clear from the NT that we as Christians do not need to be running into the secular world bringing destruction and hatred, but think it is clear that when Christians enter into the world we should bring positive change! We should bring healing and light. Yet so often it is the opposite that takes place. We enter into the culture and allow ourselves to be changed...we allow ourselves to look more like the culture than Christ. Don't let that happen!

12:8 - How cool is that? Moses is addressing moral relativism thousands of years ago - MORAL RELATIVISM! Even then, the followers of God could recognize the danger involved when each person simply follows his/her own way, and creates his/her own truth. Yeah, the OT is real irrelevant (dripping with sarcasm).

12:30 - In the NT Jesus encourages us to live out our faith among the lost - the secular peoples of the world, but we have to beware of our motivations as we enter into the cultures of the world. Are we really looking to bring truth and change? Are we looking o live out our faith? Or our we looking to see what the other side lives like? Are we looking to see if they really have it better - if that life is more satisfying? Are we trying to find out how they serve their "gods"? Don't belittle your faith in God by tempting yourself with the false "gods" of this world that offer you nothing but death and emptiness.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Deuteronomy Chapters 7-9

7:2 - Again, this sounds so harsh - "you must devote them to complete destruction," but it is necessary in the eyes of God, for His plan to be carried out. These people are God-haters and they will lead the Israelites away from God if left alone. Check my thoughts on Numbers 31 if this is really messing with your mind. We will also cover it a little more in the next two chapters.

7:7ff - God does not choose the Israelites because they were the most powerful people on earth or because they were the most innovative. He chose them because they were weak. He chose them because He has a heart for the oppressed. He chose them out of love...not because they deserved it. They could do nothing to save themselves, so God stepped in and took care of it - He brought them out of slavery. In the same way, we still see God's heart for the enslaved in our lives today. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves, yet God steps in and offers freedom. We don't deserve it...we didn't earn it...God just chooses to offer His love and grace.

7:26 - I think its a little bit scary how nonchalant we are about the destructive things we allow into our lives. Moses is adamant that the people cannot allow evil things into their houses...into their tribes...these things will destroy the Israelites from the inside out. Christians today seem to be bringing destructive elements into their homes and lives at an alarming rate. We assume its no big deal...we want to fit in culturally, yet we pay the price. We pay as we become more and more numb to sin in our lives and deaf to the voice of God.

8:2ff - God allows His people to go through hard times. He allows us to go through deserts...to experience brokenness, but He never leaves us. Through the hard times He is there carrying us through. He allows us to go through difficult situations, because it draws us to Him. In the garden, Adam and Eve had everything they could ever want. Life was perfect...they were connected fully with each other and God, yet it wasn't enough for them. When they had everything they wanted more and rejected God. God allows us to experience nothingness, so that we will understand how much we need Him and we will realize that we were made to be connected with Him.

8:5 - When my sons get in trouble, I always sit them down afterward on my lap and have a little talk with them. I tell them how much I love them and I tell them that I discipline them because I want them to grow up to be the best, godliest men that they can be. If that is my attitude with my kids, and I am a flawed, sinful human being who is still learning what it truly means to love...why would we ever think that God wouldn't discipline us. We are the children of God...because of His love for us, we are disciplined so that we can become the people God created us to be. He is a God of love, that is why sins have consequences...that is why we pay the price for our brokenness...so it will lead us to redemption.

8:20 - Read that verse. That seems to imply that the native people were given a chance to hear the voice of God and they rejected it. God is saying, "Hey Israelites - these people are being judged by me because they refused to hear my voice...they refused to humble themselves before me, and you are going to get the same if you reject me." This shows us that God is not a callous ruler who looks out only for the people of Israel...He is a God of justice who wants all people to hear His voice and come to Him. Unfortunately, there are consequences when we refuse.

9:4 - Again, God does not conquer these people because the Israelites are so holy...He allows these people to be conquered because they have brought judgement upon themselves. They are reaping what they sowed...they are experiencing the consequences of their actions. This is also a good lesson in humility for us. Don't look down on other people judgementally because of your faith...you didn't do anything to earn it. Salvation only comes through the free gift of God's grace...that is why you are saved, not because of anything you ever did. So live humbly and treat people graciously.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Deuteronomy Chapters 4-6

4:23-24 - Be very careful about what it is you worship. Our God is a jealous God. He is jealous for our love...He is jealous for our attention. And this is not sinful covetous jealousy...He is jealous for what He deserves - what He has committed to. My wife and I have a marriage covenant together...we told each other that no matter what happened in life and no matter what came our way, we would always love one another and commit ourselves to one another. If she absolutely ignored me for the attentions of another man, I would be rightfully jealous...I would burn with jealousy. Our covenant demands that we stay committed to each other...that is not wrong. When we enter into a relationship with God, we have entered into a covenant. He made us, loves us, paid the price for our screw ups and all He is asking in return is our commitment. He has every right to be jealous. The real question is not, "Why is God jealous?", but, "Why do I keep breaking the covenant?" What are your idols?

6:4 - This is the greatest commandment that Jesus refers to in the NT - love the Lord with all your heart, soul and might. Jesus also adds, and love your neighbor as yourself. But the understanding is that if you commit yourself fully to loving God, you will love your neighbor and you will keep the rest of God's commands...righteous living is a bi-product of loving God with everything you have. So get to loving!

6:7 - In every area of life, at all times, we should be living out our love for God. There are no breaks...there are no times when we can just do whatever we want and ignore God. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we should be reflecting the power of God's love and truth into the world. Ever moment is an opportunity to proclaim the awesomeness of God through our actions and words. We are always in a teachable moment, when we are always focused on God.

6:21 - I really like this passage. The author is telling us to always be ready to share our story...our testimony. You may not know absolutely everything about the bible or theological doctrine, but you know what God has done in your life. You know the power of the love of God...you know the resurrection that brings. Be ready to tell people your story...be ready to tell them, "I once was blind, but now I see." Who can argue with that. Christians should come into debates with a notion of winning...they should approach a discussion like by telling there story.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dueteronomy Chapters 1-3

Wow this stuff sounds really familiar! Moses is giving us a recap of the events that we have been reading about over the last few months. I am not going to rehash things I have already talked about, so I'll just pick out the nuggets that I really like. Feel free to do the same...whatever jumps out at you, leave as a comment.

2:25 - This says that God began to put the fear of the Israelites into people all over the world. They were becoming a feared nation because of God's protection. I think this may have something to do with the persecution the Jews have experienced over the years. People do not like to fear - have you ever noticed that. Many times the human reaction to fear is wanting to get rid of or destroy whatever has made them fearful. If the people's of the world began to see that God was protecting the Jews and that they were a force to be reckoned with...there was probably some hatred that built up that was passed down generation after generation. When the Jews later began to stray from their covenant and from God's protection...their bitter enemies jumped at the chance to make them pay for the fear they had instilled.

3:28 - I am in a mentoring class at Fuller right now and I have discipleship on the brain. What God is telling Moses to do here is to mentor Joshua. His instructions are a great picture of what discipleship is supposed to look like. Moses is supposed to charge Joshua, which means to give him a challenge or a mission to live out. That is a key ingredient to discipleship - giving a younger leader goals to run towards...a picture of what they can be in the future. God tells Moses to encourage Joshua. I would hope encouragement is going on in mentoring relationships. Young leaders need to be told when they are doing things well...they need to be encouraged so they don't lose their nerve to live for God before they ever really started living it out! Finally God tells Moses to strengthen Joshua. Again, this is something that has to take place is discipleship situations. Are the mentors giving the mentees the tools they need to lead. Are they strengthening their wisdom, their faith, their leadership. I hope so. God lays out a great picture of what discipleship should look like for us.