Saturday, July 31, 2010

God is your dwelling place

The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, Destroy. So Israel lived in safety, Jacob lived alone, in a land of grain and wine, whose heavens drop down dew.
Deuteronomy 33:27-28

This blessing was uttered by Moses as Israel prepared to enter Canaan and by divinely led conquest, take the land that God had promised to them. God had prepared the nation to possess the land. These words are in the last recorded speech of Moses in the Pentateuch. In it, Moses has a signature blessing for each individual tribe, and then, in this passage, he is issuing an overall blessing the entire nation of Israel, with the intent of encouraging them to be a people of the covenant who keep God's Law and are blessed in relationship with God.

He reminds them that the land is only one of God's gift, but their relationship with God Himself is the REAL blessing. God is the true dwelling place for Israel, not the land itself. God's powerful arms will undergird the nation. God created the means for the Canaanites to be vulnerable and for Israel to come in to possess the land of Canaan.

God also kept them in the land He gave them. Israel would be safe in this land of blessing and plenty because God had brought them there and kept them. The land would produce crops because He controlled even the dew of heaven. If they followed His commands, the a land would provide for them. The covenant blessings extended to family, to farm, and to homestead.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Friday, July 30, 2010

No Empty Words

For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.
Deuteronomy 32:47

When Israel was a people who submitted to the Word of God, this was no minor promise. It wasn't about revering the marks on a scroll or the letters of their alphabet arranged into discernible language and syntax. It was about the God of the Word and reverencing the Word of their God.

And today that truth still holds as strong and as vital as it did then. I am supposed to worship the God of the Word. And His Words are not just empty sayings or inspirational emotional wishes. They are life. They are meant to sustain, teach, train, instruct, help, and create life in me.

God has always made promises about the effectiveness of His Word. God accomplishes His purposes with His Word. They are not empty words and they do not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:10-11). God's Word is always worth the effort to follow and obey. There is reward in keeping them, knowing them, and living to the demands of scripture.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Learn to Fear the Lord your God

Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.
Deuteronomy 31:12-13

Regular and consistent exposure to the reading of the Law of God was meant to be part of regular life in Israel. The Feast of Booths was to be celebrated yearly. In it the people commemorated the wilderness wanderings by living in "tents" made of palm branches. During that time when the routine was purposefully shaken up, emphasis was placed on God's Law. Every seven years, this feast centered on the public reading of the Law (perhaps just the book of Deuteronomy) from cover to cover.

The goal of this was twofold: it served as a reminder AND it passed on a commitment to a new generation. Twice in this passage this is explained by the phrase "learn to fear the LORD your God." The Law existed as a means to understand and relate to God.

I believe Christians ought to have constant exposure to the Bible for the same reason. And in a culture as literate as mine is, I think such exposure is a daily necessity. Taking the time to reflect on God's Word shows where we learn to respect and trust God.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Very Near You

But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
Deuteronomy 30:14

Thank You, Lord
that Your Word is very near
I can hold it dear
to my heart and there
it changes me.

I know, Lord
that Your Word is very near
it is more than what I hear
but what I do is clear
by Your truth.

I live, Lord
with Your Word very near
and commands now steer
this heart to where
You want me.

I love You, Lord
for Your Word is very near
in Jesus You are here
leading, guiding, showing clear
love to me.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Location:Thompson Dr,De Soto,United States

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Responsibility with revelation

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29

This often quoted (at least the first phrase of it) verse from Deuteronomy sets the stage for a commitment renewal ceremony in Moab where a fresh generation in Israel commits to keeping the Law. The wording anticipates the promise the nation will make. It reserves to God the right to be God and yet to reveal more of Himself still to His people. There are secret things that still belong to Him. In faith and obedience His people accept this mystery.

But the God Who knows all has revealed some to us. That is the beauty of revelation. We see God in what He says. Israel saw God in the covenant and the knowledge of God found there belonged to them and to their children forever. And the responsibility to do what God has revealed follows in the knowledge of God's revelation of His will.

So there is a functional part to God's truth of His revelation that looks something like this:

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Overtaken by blessing

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 28:2

I love the way this promise reads, particularly since it is sandwiched between two passages of warnings about the curses of disobeying the Law (Deuteronomy 27:9-26; 28:15-64). God would rather bless His people than punish their sin. It is the nature of God to bless.

The image of being "overtaken" by blessings is fun and unexpected. It is as if blessings are waiting I'm the bushes, ready to waylay us. God is Tigger, bouncing out of the sidelines to embrace us and tackle us to the ground, as we are bowled over by His joyous love. I'd much rather be overtaken by blessing than be felled by the punishing effects of my sinful choices.

And an entire army of blessings has overtaken me. I have an awesome home with a loving, faithful wife. I have kids who are unique blessings: talented, healthy and smart. My immediate family are all people who know the Lord. I have a church home that challenges and supports me as I minister within it. God has graciously supplied my family's financial need during this current depression with work for Joni as well as additional part-time employment for me that have helped us survive the last two salary cuts. We have never missed a payment on anything nor have we gone hungry. Blessings have overtaken me and I appreciate and worship the God of outrageous joy and blessing!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why punishment exists

"'Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'
Deuteronomy 27:26

The Law was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing in that it was the revealed will of God for Israel. By it, Israel could please God. In it, they had the mind of God. Through obedience to it they could live pleasing to God. It was a blessing because it created a society that benefited all, even the poor and disenfranchised. It was a blessing because God was glorified in it by a people who obeyed, followed, and worshiped Him.

But there was a downside for any disobedience. The curse of the Law came to those who would not obey and follow it. And the nation was bound to experience this negative side along with the benefits. Because individuals would disobey God and His Law, the curse would come. Eventually the entire nation would forget it.

This is always true with God's Word. He entrusts it to people. That is where we can experience life in obedience or pain and death in our failure to obey it. Every gift that God gives in His revealed will carries with it a responsibility for us to be true to it. God is worshiped by obedience. Disrespect to Him by callous disregard nor direct defiance will be punished.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A cycle of obedience

Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Deuteronomy 26:15

This was the response that Moses recorded for Israel to give to God in a cycle of grace and dependence. God graciously led Israel to the Promised Land. He empowered them to take the territory by military conquest. He instructed them on the spiritual commitments, civil actions, and mutual responsibilities in the Law. He blessed them as they obeyed Him.

Now, after they experienced His gracious overflow throughout the blessings of bumper crops, livestock in abundance, natural resources, and true life in the Promised Land, they came to worship with tithes and offerings. As they freely blessed the God Who blessed them through the offering of their gifts, He responded with even more joy and blessings upon them. Obedience to God brings joy upon joy.

The Law was meant to train this kind of relationship. A cycle of obedience where God's people responded in giving back in appreciation and obedience to Him and His blessing was meant to give perspective. God gave even more to them as blessings fell from heaven. It is true: you cannot outlive God.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Location:Moraine Ave,Estes Park,United States

Friday, July 16, 2010


For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 25:16

You are truth
Your words are true
You do not lie
In all You do
You are the Truth

But we believed The Lie
and now dishonesty
is everywhere with us
the truth is hard to see
because we believed The Lie

You call us to truth
and You change us within us
so that righteousness can be known
as we find truth and life in Jesus
You call us to truth

We know the Truth
You set us free from sin
so that honesty can be known
and truth can flow from within
We know the Truth

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Grace in the past shaping the present

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.
Deuteronomy 24:22

God wanted Israel to remember her past. Both here and just a few verses up in Deuteronomy 24:18, God jostles the memory of Israel's past slavery in Egypt. There the nation was impoverished, a minority, and discriminated against by cruel slavery. That memory was to inform them in their treatment of the poorest of the poor (see Deuteronomy 24:17-18). and in the creation of a means by which the impoverished could work diligently to provide for themselves (Deuteronomy 24:19-22).

God's insistence upon this was not just so that Israeli society would not be blighted by poverty. There was a lesson of national trust and grace and salvation to tell. And by appealing to their past, God was helping them to realize that greater spiritual reality. Helping the poor by providing sustainable work that would meet the basic needs of the impoverished showed God's grace. God cared enough to rescue slaves from Egypt. They should care for each other with that kind of rescuing love and grace.

It is good for me to look at my present through the lens of my past. God has given me a lot from my simple roots. And I must invest my life and my time with the same grace He has blessed me to share with others. It is no bother to help others when you realize just how much God has helped you!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Promise

You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.
Deuteronomy 23:23

A promise made to God is not a light issue. It is not good to be incautious in promising something to God. He expects us to fulfill our vows. The childhood Sunday School song has double impact: "Oh be careful little lips what you say." Good promises can be as important to understand... even more so than why we avoid using bad language. In fact, insincere promises may be more damaging... at least in terms of our relationship with God.

Part of the reason that I pray with people when we counsel together and reach biblical understandings of what they should do has to do with this principle of honoring our vows. They should keep their promise to God, not just to me or to another person. It is in that promise that true and vital accountability takes place. God will make sure by circumstance or conviction of His Spirit that the promise is understood and kept by His child. God is faithful, and He expects the same in us in what we say to Him.

Promises are certainly cheap these days. But they should not be so. We should carefully commit to what we promise to do for several reasons. I'd like to suggest that these three are a good place to start thinking of the impact of our promises:
1) If the promise is a commitment before God, it should be held as a deep conviction, not just a casual wish or desire.
2) God's character ultimately is reflected in the way I keep a promise if I am His child. I should always consider this when I have made a promise to Him, before Him, or because of His work in my heart.
3) Our relationship with God is tested and challenged to maturity by the commitments we make to God. Making such promises and commitments (promises if you will) are then a living path of real sanctification.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Civics: a lost art

You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother.
Deuteronomy 22:1

Being a good neighbor was a part of personal responsibility and expected, even mandated, behavior in the Old Testament Law. And this is a good thing. I want to live in a society where people watch out for one another. It is a sign that they care about more than selfish matters.

Of course the 1970's gave us the ultimate antithesis of this concept with the pathetic call to be "Looking out for #1". And I don't think that we have fully recovered from that selfishness. We have absorbed it as part of the cultural matrix. Even community service now has selfish motivation. Most public high schools require hours of some form of community service for graduation. And when it is necessary for personal achievement, it becomes less about service and more about achievement. I am no longer looking out for you because you are worthy. I am looking out for you because I am getting something.

God did not make this commandment anything other than a part of personal responsibility that should stem from character. It is part of good character to care about my neighbor and his property. It don't do it so my property values can go up. I do it because I would not want to lose something to carelessness or an accident. I care about others because caring is the right way to be. That's it. No other personal investment is necessary than this.

So real neighbors care for each other. They help one another out. They prevent loss when they can. They do not ignore each other. That is what makes a civil society in God's eyes.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Respect... even in a criminal code

So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD.
Deuteronomy 21:9

This chapter contains wisdom from God on exceptional circumstances showing how to commit to justice despite evil human choices. The first instance has to do with an unsolved homicide. The leaders are to mourn the victim and express horror for the sin through a special sacrifice that the people would witness. This kept murder from feeling commonplace.

The second exceptional case is for a woman captured in battle as a war bride. God is not necessarily condoning the practice. He is addressing calloused heart attitudes. If her husband eventually does not like her, he has to treat her right, even if it means returning her to her own people (Deuteronomy 21:14).

The third case involves inheritance rights in polygamous marriages. Again, God is not condoning the practice. He is ensuring that favoritism is not practiced. The firstborn son, regardless of parentage is to be guaranteed as the heir (Deuteronomy 21:17).

The fourth episode takes place in the case of an openly rebellious child (probably a young adult). Favoritism would not withhold punishment from that child. It would create an evil to keep that sin from being punished (Deuteronomy 21:21).

The final warning is to avoid overt humiliation in the execution of capital punishment. A body was not to be displayed overnight as a grotesque warning. There was to be a level of respect shown even to a convicted and executed criminal (Deuteronomy 21:23).

These all show that God will punish sin, but will not all disrespect of people or of His law in the process.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When Risk Management Is Not Necessary

for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.
Deuteronomy 20:4

I find an interesting thing going on with this verse. It was meant to encourage Israel in the imminent task of taking control of the Promised Land. They were going up against cities and people who were stronger, settled, and more experienced in battle. But God was assuring them victory. He does so with a string of promises. One promise is directed toward their foes. Three promises are directed toward Israel.

The negative promise is toward the enemies of Israel. God had set Himself against them. This was not arbitrary. In this context it is clear that an enemy was any group of people who refused to make peace with Israel (Deuteronomy 20:10-12). Only when a city had set itself against terms of peace could Israel attack. At that point God was against that city as well.

The three positive promises directed toward Israel were meant to show the power of God to them. First, God fought WITH them. He was alongside them and aware of the battle dangers for He was right there with them in the battle, not watching from the distance. Second, God was fighting FOR them. Almighty God was battling their cause. That is sort of an ultimate weapon! The final promise is summed up with the promise "to give you the victory". God had a purpose in the battle that He would work: to give His people the victory. Clearly the battle and its success would belong to God, even though He also asked the people to fight. This is good risk management, if ever there has been!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Judicial Standards That Make Sense

And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.
Deuteronomy 19:20

The point of good law combined with a fair judicial system that truly punishes crime is the creation of a civil society. When the punishment fits the crime after fair examination to all involved and justice is met, the net result on a society should be moral commitment. Other people should respond with satisfaction that justice was served. And the real punishment should help deter future actions of the same kind.

It is debated that just sentences are actually a deterrent, and the high end of the debate centers around the death penalty. But it seems to me that right here in this scripture we have wisdom from God confirming that just sentences on carefully tried and convicted criminals serve as an instructive deterrent to the rest of society. I believe God teaches this principle so that we can have His heart on sin and punishment.

We must remember the issue is not the practice of rash or arbitrary harshness. No one could be convicted on circumstantial hearsay. Two or three witnesses were required by God's instructions (Deuteronomy 19:15-17) and false witnesses were fated to suffer the intended punishment of the one falsely accused. To lie about a murder put the liar in jeopardy of the death penalty. So there were built in prescriptive principles to prevent abuse. The result of such careful legal consideration was fear of God and fear of punishment. Both of them were a positive result. That is a good thing for all of us.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Acid Test of All Prophecy

when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 18:22

Prophets were meant to speak only the words of the Lord. To interject any other statement into their message was to risk false prophecy and even death (Deuteronomy 18:20). The prophet had to be absolutely faithful to the message God had given him to speak.

The final test was simple: the words of a prophet had to be testable by truth. And the way this was known was clear. There was a one to one correspondence between prophetic message and reality. The words that were spoken by God's prophet came to pass... not mystically... not with ridiculous reinterpretation or fantastic numerological tricks. The straightforward language of prophets was real with life experience. Prophets had a perfect grade.

Some modern theologians (best-selling Wayne Grudem among them) have abandoned this clear Old Testament standard when defining any possibly of prophecy continuing into current New Testament times. They believe that modern prophetic words exist, but with a caveat that this Old Testament standard simply does not apply anymore. In short, they would say that prophets might speak in New Testament churches, just not with any kind of accuracy. They can fail and still be gifted by God as prophets, which makes no sense with any kind of prophecy that ever existed before among God's people. Nowhere in scripture are we told that a prophet sent by God is wrong.

I choose to see this reworked theology of prophecy for what it is: a means to try to uphold elicit practices in charismatic circles. It should be seen for what it is: a man-made theological prop to charismatism and an unbiblical one at that! It is better to hold to this Old Testament insistence upon accuracy as the final arbiter of the prophetic.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Leaders & the Law

And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
Deuteronomy 17:19-20

This requirement that Israel's king maintain a personal relationship with God through the Law was meant to help secure strong spiritual leadership. The king was to handcopy the Pentateuch (see Deuteronomy 17:18). He was to keep it handy and read from it daily.

The benefits of such a daily regard for scripture were personal and also protective for the nation. Personally, the king would learn to fear God by such commitment to His Word. He would learn to keep the Law and do what God commanded. This would keep the king tender toward God. It would keep God clearly in control of the kingdom because the king answered to God and looked to God's Word for guidance and leadership himself.

The nation would be protected if the king did this. He would not be easily swayed from putting aside God's instructions for the nation. Idolatry would be difficult if he daily practiced this discipline of reading God's Law. God promised a long rule and a strong family to the king who would practice daily study in the Law. The nation in turn would benefit from the rule of a spiritually healthy king and his sons after him. Leaders who obey God will bless many generations.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Some thoughts on justice

You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 16:19-20

Justice matters to God because it is righteousness applied to the most difficult human circumstances. God is just. He treats humanity with grace and mercy. He does not let sin go unpunished, yet He forgives the truly repentant and extends mercy. He has pity on the needy and truly cares for them.

God also cares about human justice and those who are charged with dispensing it because it is a means that He has set up (that's what the last half of this chapter in Deuteronomy is all about) to answers the prayers and right the wrongs of people in need. It is not the only answer to their prayers, but righteous judges acting on biblical principles, practicing true justice are meant to be dispensers of God's mercy and help. In Israel, justice was not about human power to gain. It was about the human power to aid others and to give.

A rant about the absurdities of any one system of human justice corrupted by sin would be pointless. Biblical principles of justice must still frame the Christian worldview on society, even if much of our culture disdains biblical christianity and sees no need for it with stringent secular commitments. Secularism as a model, especially naturalism, cannot be fair or equitable because at its heart it has to be committed to survival of the fittest or strongest. Justice is thus impossible and the situation is warped into injustice by sinfully, selfishly warped human nature. God's truth, however, is still the corrective.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.