Deuteronomy #4: The Battle

Sometimes the “real” battle is in our minds; it’s the argument we have within ourselves to either take a step toward our destiny or shrink away from it. We are at war with our thoughts in a continual struggle between the voices of condemnation, doubt, and fear on the one hand, or confidence, encouragement, and love on the other. A conflict between who we think we are and who we were created to be. We have to have this battle before we can ever know what experiences we may encounter, what dangers or blessings lie ahead, shaping us into who we may become.

It’s really just a matter of making up our minds. We have to decide whether we’ll go along with the pursuits of this world, or set out intentionally to follow God, holding fast to His promises, walking in all His ways. Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 6 that we should make God’s ways a part of who we are; that we should not become devoted to any of the other “gods” those around us worship.  This is not an easy road to take, especially with all the distractions, traps really, we are presented with in our daily lives. Moses also says “to love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength,” and that we should be ever aware of God’s gifts to us, that we should never forget where we have been and how we have been delivered into our “promised” land. We must live in this world, but we dare not be of it, and every day we must fight, stand-up to the temptations we face, and trust that God’s way is, at the end of the day, the best way to live, the only choice that makes sense in a world that’s too wrapped up in itself, too self-obsessed to even care about its neighbor, let alone to love its neighbor as itself.

As David writes in Psalm 15:

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?

Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,

who does what is righteous,

who speaks the truth from their heart;

whose tongue utters no slander,

who does no wrong to a neighbor,

and casts no slur on others;

who despises a vile person

but honors those who fear the Lord;

who keeps an oath even when it hurts,

and does not change their mind;

who lends money to the poor without interest;

who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things

will never be shaken.

~SLM

Deuteronomy #3: The Good Land

It seems the more we have, the more we tend to take things for granted. Whole generations have grown up not knowing how much they are given, how much they have in relation to those around them, how truly blessed and fortunate they are to be able to live in comfortable houses, have plenty to eat, have the latest gadgets, multiple automobiles, good incomes, and more of everything. Deuteronomy 8 tells us that it’s precisely in times like these, times of plenty, when we should “remember the Lord,” that we should praise God for the “good land” into which he has brought us.

Great blessings come with great responsibilities, and we are warned to keep our pride in check, to remember the source of our blessings. When times are good, and everything is going our way, sometimes we forget to be grateful, thankful for all that has been given us. Back in the day, we’d have said, “you’ve got to dance with the one who brought you,” meaning that we should not let it slip our notice just how we got to where we find ourselves, and who it was that made it possible. Proverbs 16:18 tells us “pride precedes a disaster, and an arrogant attitude precedes a fall,” and this is so very true; it’s exactly when we become all full of ourselves, patting ourselves on the back for all that we have accomplished, that we set ourselves up for a little humble pie.

Dear Lord, help me to affix my eyes upon you and on your Word so that I may ever remember who brought me, who has protected me and provided for me, who has given me the many gifts I possess, who has led me into my “promised land,” so that in the end it will go well with me. Amen

~SLM

Deuteronomy #2: Love is the Answer

If we could summarize God’s law in just a few words, those words would be this: Love is the answer. In Deuteronomy 6:5 we are told, “and you shall love the lord your God with all our heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength,” and this is the heart of the law, the foundation, the fulcrum upon which all else balances.  1 John 4:16, states, “And so we know and rely on the love that God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him,” and Christ tells us this in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

It’s by following God’s laws, we show our love, we tether ourselves to Him, giving over our hearts, trusting with total abandon, and in return we experience His faithful and steadfast devotion. Romans 13:8 states this; “let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.”

The song “Love is the Answer” is stuck in my head, and like a broken record that keeps skipping and repeating these words keep playing in my head:

Light of the world, shine on me

Love is the answer

Shine on us all, set us free

Love is the answer…

And when you feel afraid…Love one another
When you’ve lost your way…Love one another

When you’re all alone …Love one another
When you’re far from home…Love one another

When you’re down and out…Love one another
All your hope’s run out…Love one another

When you need a friend…Love one another
When you’re near the end, love
We got to love, we got to love one another

Funny how god uses whomever he wishes to bring his Word to us, and I wonder how quickly Todd Rundgren wrote this song, and if he felt the power of the Spirit upon him when he did.

~SLM

And in case you’ve never heard, or don’t remember it…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QZjJU-mtFU

Deuteronomy #1 Wandering in the Wilderness

In Deuteronomy Chapter 1, verse 2-8 tells us that it is eleven days journey from Horeb (Mt Sinai) to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mt. Seir, and that in the 40th year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the children of Israel, expounding on God’s law, telling them that God had kept his pledge, had placed the “promised” land before them and that they should go in and possess it. I’m struck by the fact that it took the children of Israel 40 years to make an 11 day journey. 40 YEARS! Two whole generations have passed before they are even in sight of the “promised” land.

Even God’s people can get side-tracked.  An inadvertent decision can change the direction of our lives so profoundly that a new course must be charted to get us to the intended goal.  In the blink of an eye, everything changes, and we can feel that change in our hearts. We know, and it’s too late to turn around and choose differently, as if we, in our willfulness, mired in the situation, could even remotely comprehend the master plan. But, there it is, that streak of arrogance that sets into motion a whole new game plan, and God says to us, “OK, you want to go down that road? We can do that. I can do that, but know this; it is the road of your choosing, not mine, and if you insist on your 40 years in the desert, we can do that, but you will have a time of it. ”

Sometimes our journey requires a detour, a side trip, a scenic route that’s designed to hone us into the kind of person who is ready to take on the challenges of the “promised” land. A seemingly insignificant choice has affected a thousand other choices – our own as well as those of others – and now we must live by our choice. We have already set into motion a chain reaction that will not only impact us, but also countless others, too, and so the wandering begins, our time of drifting, our season of testing.

It’s not God who loses faith, it is us. We are the breakers of promises, the destroyers of covenant, and the seekers after “other” gods, like money, fame, praise, and all manner of material things. We are the faithless ones, and how long our detour takes, the scope of its width depends on us, on our action, or lack thereof, and sometimes it can take a lifetime to circle back to where we belong. And once we have returned, we are to “go in and possess” that place that God has set aside for us.

~SLM

A Prayer for Love

As if my year-long (and I suspect much longer) commitment to Proverbs wasn’t enough, I’ve recently begun an additional study of Deuteronomy, and this prayer was on my heart this morning…

Heavenly Father, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, fill my heart Your loving presence. Give me ears to hear and eyes to see that I may live in Your commandment, loving you with all my heart, all my soul and all my might. Bind Your love upon my heart so that I may conscientiously talk of it when I sit in my house, when I walk by the way, when I lie down and when I rise up, diligently showing Your love to those I meet through word and deed.  Amen.

~SLM