Friday, March 13, 2009

What's inside - will come out...


I have a friend whom I have known for 26 years.

He's always talking about God. It is annoying sometimes. He has never changed over the years. Good times. Bad times. Trouble. Comfort. He always talks about God. Me - I more talk about business.

But listen to Moses. Old man Moses, full of passion. Earnest. Direct. Prophetic.

4 Attention, Israel!
God, our God! God the one and only!
5 Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!
6 -9 Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

Love God with all you've got.

Put His words into your heart.

Let what's inside you spill out.

From the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.

What's inside - WILL come out...
I ended my blog here this morning.
My friend (who I referred to) emailed me and called me. What he wrote was so powerful, I decided to include it in today's blog. (Thank you, Jim)
Phil
It is good to hear from you.I do love to speak of the Lord and about His Goodness. He has been good to me all my life and I know it and see it . I tell people that even if the rest of my life was full of problems and pain that I still will rise up and bless His Name for the gift of life He has given me . The ability to know His goodness overshadows all the rest. Truly " all things work together for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose".It takes a long time to let that sink in but the Lord is Good and He is really working that into us in reality. The closer we move to Him the more we love Him.
I asked a pastor of a church the other day"how is it going"? He said he was just trying to stay out of trouble. I said" I guess that depends on who is leading" I told my wife the other day that I am not trying to be religious or weird but Words are important to me and I want people to always know ( believers and non believers) that there is a God and we operate in trusting Him and not in "luck". Maybe I am weird or God wired me that way, I am looking for His coming and my full redemption and then Sin will no longer be in me.
I was very encouraged and moved by your words Phil. Sometimes I need some confirmation that I am about His business. I love Him and am striving to learn how to love Him with all my heart.Praise His Name, He is good and truly His mercies are new every morning. By the way, you have also been an encouragement to me over the years and I believe you are a Godly man of character. I trust your thoughts and words.
Thank you Phil , the Lord bless you( call again)
Your friend and brother in Christ
Jim

Thursday, March 12, 2009

No Other gods

We are built to worship. We can't help it. It is part of the most basic part of our nature.

God does not tell us NOT to worship. He knows that is impossible for us.

He tells us not to worship OTHER GODS. Listen:

6 "I am God, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a house of slaves. 7 No other gods, only me. 8 -10 No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don't bow down to them and don't serve them because I am God, your God, and I'm a most jealous God. "


Don't bow down to them. And don't serve them.


It seems like it is a matter of priority. We have many gods in our culture. They are worshipped every day.


It does not mean that we can't go to a concert. Or a ball game. Or get a great education. Or love food, or liesure or a hobby, or a car.

But God must be first. First in our affections. First in the time we spend every day, and along the way. First in the money we get and give. First in priorities when we make decisions.


I am trying to give God the first part of every day.

We have long had the practice of giving back the tithe. Someone made the point well - the first check you write, or money you send needs to be the part that goes to God's kingdom.


He asks that we separate the first day of the week for Him.


He demands to be first in our lives.

He says, "I'm a most jealous God."

"No other gods. Only me."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Listen Carefully! Pay Attention!

This is Moses first sermon. Deuteronomy 4. There are many things he wants the people to "get". In his own words...

1 -2 "Now listen, Israel, listen carefully to the rules and regulations that I am teaching you to follow so that you may live and enter and take possession of the land that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, is giving to you. Don't add a word to what I command you, and don't remove a word from it. Keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you."

5 -6 "Pay attention: I'm teaching you the rules and regulations that God commanded me, so that you may live by them in the land you are entering to take up ownership. Keep them. Practice them. You'll become wise and understanding. When people hear and see what's going on, they'll say, "What a great nation! So wise, so understanding! We've never seen anything like it."
7 -8 Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us? And what other great nation has rules and regulations as good and fair as this Revelation that I'm setting before you today?"

23 -24 "So stay alert. Don't for a minute forget the covenant which God, your God, made with you. And don't take up with any carved images, no forms of any kind—God, your God, issued clear commands on that. God, your God, is not to be trifled with—he's a consuming fire, a jealous God."

39 -40 "Know this well, then. Take it to heart right now: God is in Heaven above; God is on Earth below. He's the only God there is. Obediently live by his rules and commands which I'm giving you today so that you'll live well and your children after you—oh, you'll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you."
Well said!
Thanks, Moses.
Amen...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Wisdom Store



I remember why I have always liked Deuteronomy so well.

Moses is an old man. He is telling the story again - from the beginning.

It's like a store, where you can come to buy some wisdom.

The name means "second law", because indeed, he repeats the law, and much of what has already been written. But he adds the perspective of a man who has walked with God for a life time. He has seen God work. He has seen people respond. And people rebel.

It's sort of like the game my oldest granddaughter likes to play. It goes like this... "Grandpa, tell me a story of when you were little." Are you familiar with that game? Did you play it yourself? With your parents? Other relatives? YOUR grandparents?

So we get to hear, up close and personal, from a great man of God. I don't know if all the people there realized what a privilege it was.

We DO, however. So pull up a chair.

You are welcome to ask questions.

He will tell the entire story.

He starts with a recap of their 40 years of wandering. They could have gotten into the promised land in two years. Here Moses says their sojourn was because of their disobedience and rebellion.

Wow! Has that ever happened to you?

Time wasted. Time lost.

YEARS....

Because you were not following the path God wanted to lead you on?

Hmmmm.

Its gonna be good...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Judicial System

Murder.

Justice.

Mercy.

Themes dealt with in Leviticus 35. Summed up nicely in verse 33: "Don't pollute the land in which you live. Murder pollutes the land. The land can't be cleaned up of the blood of murder except through the blood of the murderer."

Accidental murder got leniency. There were 6 cities set up that you could run to. Once inside you were safe.

Motivation was weighed. The tool involved in the murder was a significant part of the process.

16 "But if the killer has used an iron object, that's just plain murder; he's obviously a murderer and must be put to death.
17 "Or if he has a rock in his hand big enough to kill and the man dies, that's murder; he's a murderer and must be put to death.
18 "Or if he's carrying a wooden club heavy enough to kill and the man dies, that's murder; he's a murderer and must be put to death.
19 "In such cases the avenger has a right to kill the murderer when he meets him—he can kill him on the spot. "

So if you claimed to have killed someone accidentally, but the implement that killed the person was considered lethal - you were assumed to have had intent to kill, even if you claimed you did not.

There was always an avenger. Sort of like our present day police. I imagine the avenger was a man or group of men from the family of the deceased. It is assumed all throughout this passage that there is an avenger chasing the murderer. Justice is involved in allowing, or NOT allowing the avenger to take the life of the murderer as just compensation.

Motivation was a strong factor in every case. 20 -21 "And if out of sheer hatred a man pushes another or from ambush throws something at him and he dies, or angrily hits him with his fist and kills him, that's murder—he must be put to death. The avenger has a right to kill him when he gets him. "

The jury system was established. 22 -27 "If, however, he impulsively pushes someone and there is no history of hard feelings, or he impetuously picks up something and throws it, or he accidentally drops a stone tool—a maul or hammer, say—and it hits and kills someone he didn't even know was there, and there's no suspicion that there was bad blood between them, the community is to judge between the killer and the avenger following these guidelines. It's the task of the community to save the killer from the hand of the avenger—the community is to return him to his asylum-city to which he fled."

We have a double system of justice. The internal sense of fairness that says wrongs should be punished. And a legal system, based largely on the Bible, to weigh motives, involve the community, give mercy occasionally, and mete out punishment to the wrong doer.

A human legal system is never perfect.

But by and large, justice must be served for a people to live in peace.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Reflection - and Hope.

In Numbers 33 and 34 Moses is looking back. And also looking forward. The account of Numbers is winding down, with its brisk and rather perfunctory telling of the travels and events in the life of the wandering people of Israel.

Deuteronomy is coming up, where Moses gets reflective. He teaches. He reiterates God's laws and what it means to follow them.

Here Moses recounts the journey. He kept a journal. (If he didn't we would not get to read all this.) He has kept careful records of everywhere they have been.

I can't help but reflect on what Moses' life was like.

Did he have a pocket daytimer? Did he himself write everything down, or did he have a group of scribes? He was trained in Egypt - the leading empire of the world at the time. Did he have a whole department dedicated to his writing? One group preparing fresh parchment every day. Another group writing feverishly as he dictated? Another group reviewing, editing, rewriting with better diction or more accurate language? A whole group dedicated to storage - including filing, retrieving, cataloguing?

While I think about it, what WAS his life like? Did he get up early every morning? Did he go somewhere specific to meet with God? Did he meet with the leaders at a specific time each day? Did he enjoy his life, or was it a burden and drugery for him?

I am at a time in life when I am looking back. And looking ahead. Every year I take a day or two to write down my goals for the upcoming year. I could not do that this year. Everything was so chaotic and uncertain, I could not predict or plan what might happen. I am still feeling my way along, uncertain what will develop and what my life will look like.

Moses is at that time in his life here. He reviews their journey. God lays out for him the borders of their new land, and instructions for taking it. However, Moses does not appear in that picture. He is not going to be able to go in. He will see it, and send them in with many words from God.
But he will not be with them.

I find that very nostalgic and sad in a way. Yet God had used him. And God was not finished with him yet. His most important words were yet to be spoken. They had more weight and more power and more lasting impact BECAUSE of the life journey he had lived.

Friday night some friends had us over for supper. There were two other people invited. Our evening consisted of hearing each persons story. EACH story had a lot of pain. Each story also reflected the glory and faithfulness of God.

Reflection.

And hope...