Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Loving God: Dt 10:15-18

"Yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing." (Deuteronomy 10:15-18)
How does one earn the favor and love of God? He can't! The love of God is not earned, it's bestowed. God loved the people of Israel, not because of their righteousness, for they were a rebellious and idolatrous people, not because of their stature and social status, for they were poor shepherds sold into slavery, but He loved then because he desired to. They did not earn His love, rather He chose them for His love.

So it is for us today, we receive His love, not because we are worthy, but because we are chosen; chosen to be the recipients of His matchless love. "I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." (John 17:23) As the Father loves the Son, so He has loved us, not because of anything we have done, but simply because He has chosen to love us. It is His desire to lavish His love upon us, and not only us, but His love extends to all. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16) God did not love just some, but all, even the whole world. The love of God is not reserved for a select few but is available to all who will receive it. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)

How does one response to such an unmerited love? "You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen." (Deuteronomy 10:20-21) The word that Moses uses to exhort us to "cling" to the Lord is the same word that is used in Genesis 2:24 where God instructs husbands to "leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." We are to join ourselves
to the Lord as a husband joins himself to his wife. We are to cling to Him and Him alone. Just as a husband cannot cleave to his wife without first separating himself from all other rivals, so we must separate ourselves from this world and all that it has to offer that we may cling fast to the Lord. Let us today chose, as our response to His boundless love for us, to leave behind the world and cling to the Lord.

David Robison

Friday, January 11, 2008

God Requires: Dt 10:12-13

"Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord's commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)
In the prophesy of Hosea, God spoke of the "ten thousand precepts of My law." (Hosea 8:12) While God spoke much with the nation of Israel, and laid out for them, in detail, His laws, statutes, and commandments, when you boil them all down, the requirements of God are quite simple. It is possible to focus so intently on the myriad of commandments that we can miss the heart of God that stands behind those commandments. So what is it that God really requires of us? What is it that God desires from us?

Fear: There are two kinds of fear. The first involves terror. For example, there have been times when I have woken up in the middle of the night thinking someone is in the house; this is terror. However, this is not the type of fear God is talking about. The second type of fear is centered in awe. It is not irrational or based on terror, but it is a heath respect and awe for the power of someone or something. For example, when working on an electrical outlet in my house, I am always sure to first turn off the breaker. Its not that I'm terrified of electricity, but I do have a healthy respect for it and the harm it can do if it is mistreated. When I approach God, I do so in an attitude of reverence, honesty, and humility. I am not terrified of Him, but I am keenly aware of the fact that He is God and I am not! He is the Father and I am the child! We should never presume that God is like us, even though he dwells with us, He is still God and we should never become irreverent, presumptuous, or indifferent in His presence.

Walk: Our walk not only speaks about our personal conduct but also our life message. Our walk is the outward expression of our inward faith, motivation, love, and conviction. God's desire is not that we would merely become like Him on the inside, but that the outward expressions of our life would also represent and express Him. It was said of Jesus that He is "the radiance of His [the Father's] glory and the exact representation of His [the Father's] nature." (Hebrews 1:3) Jesus' life expressed God, and so should ours. God is interested in our walk, that is why Paul exhorts us to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." (Ephesians 4:1)

Love: The Hebrew term used here for "love" is not an abstract form of love or mere devotion to an idea or person, but the word used in this passage literally means "affections". God desires that we would have hearts of affection toward Him, that we would desire Him more than the things in this world, more than other people, and even more than our very lives. When we first come to the Lord, we may still find that most of our affections are still attached to this world. So how do we develop hearts of affection towards God? Jesus told us that "no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'" (Luke 5:39 NKJV) New wine is an acquired taste. The way to develop a desire for new wine is to continually taste it until we have lost a taste for the old wine and end up preferring the new. The way we develop a heart for the Lord is to continually enter into His presence until we find ourselves preferring Him over anything and everything this world has to offer.

Serve: God does not desire a service that comes from compulsion and forced duty, rather He desires a service that comes from the heart. Nether is our service to be half hearted, meant to merely fulfill some requirement or to please the expectations of men, rather our service should be with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. With God, it is an all or nothing proposition; we are either in or out, there is no half way. Jesus wrote to the church at Laodicea, chastising them saying, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16) Let our lives, and our service, not be cold or even lukewarm, let us be passionately hot for the Lord.

Obey: Jesus, confronting the religious people of the day, asked them, "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) Jesus reminded them that what we say is not as important as what we do. We can call Him "Lord" but it is our actions that will betray the truth. God has not only called us to His gospel, but He has also called us to obedience. Paul understood that, as an apostle, his mission was not merely to call people to belief, but also to obedience. Paul says of himself, "we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake." (Romans 1:5) We are called to obey, everything else is lawlessness. We can claim to be followers of Christ, but if we fail to obey Him, them we are just deceiving ourselves. We must never forget the exhortation of James, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22 NKJV)

David Robison

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Temptation of Promotion: Dt 9:12-14

"Then the Lord said to me, 'Arise, go down from here quickly, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made a molten image for themselves.' The Lord spoke further to me, saying, 'I have seen this people, and indeed, it is a stubborn people. Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.'" (Deuteronomy 9:12-14)
What an offer! Moses was being offered the chance to go from the shepherd of the people to become the patriarch of a new nation that would inherit the Promised Land. It is not uncommon to have aspirations for greatness or to desire promotion. Even in Christian circles, it can be tempting to strive to clime the "ministry ladder", to push forward for recognition and promotion. Moses was being offered more than he could have ever imagined, to be the head of God's people. So how did Moses respond?
"I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you had committed in doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke Him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the LORD was wrathful against you in order to destroy you, but the Lord listened to me that time also." (Deuteronomy 9:18-19)
And again, when the children of Israel failed to obey God's command to enter the Promised Land, and God was set to destroy them, Moses again interceded,
"I prayed to the Lord and said, 'O Lord God, do not destroy Your people, even Your inheritance, whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look at the stubbornness of this people or at their wickedness or their sin. Otherwise the land from which You brought us may say, "Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which He had promised them and because He hated them He has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness." Yet they are Your people, even Your inheritance, whom You have brought out by Your great power and Your outstretched arm.'" (Deuteronomy 9:26-29)
When Moses was offered the opportunity for promotion, he chose rather to remain in his current condition; to be a servant of the people, to be their shepherd. Moses accepted his limitations and calling and was content with the role God had assigned to him. He did need a promotion to "feel" successful or important. He was God's servant, and in being a faithful servant, he was important to God, and that was all that mattered.

It is easy to look at others and desire to be like them; to be prominent, noticed, and prised, but true success and satisfaction is found when we come to understand and accept God's will for our own lives. When we cease to strive and desire to be like someone else and rejoice in who God has made us, then we will be truly happy. Being who we are meant to be is of greater value than being someone important. Moses understood this. He understood the role God had called him to and he was content in that. Let us not look at others and judge ourselves, rather, let us be thankful for who God has made us and let us set our aim to be all of who we are called to be to the glory of God.

David Robison

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

We are no different then them: Dt 9:4-6

"Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people." (Deuteronomy 9:4-6)
Several years ago, while living in Las Vegas, I lead a weekly Bible study at our local jail. As you can imagine, the jail at Las Vegas is an interesting place. While leading the study I met a young man who shared his story with me. He was a Christian but began to drift away from the Lord. He began drinking and his life began to snowballed out of control. Finally, one night while drunk, he molesting his daughter and was arrested. In one night he lost his family and his freedom. What struck me most from his story was that the the entire journey of his fall took only six months; six months from starting to drink to laying in a jail. As I listened to his story, the one thought that kept running through my mind was, "there but for the grace of God go I." It reminded me of what Paul cautioned the Corinthians, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." (1 Corintheans 10:12)

In this scripture from Deuteronomy, Moses was warning the Israelites not to think too highly of themselves. It is so easy to interpret the blessings and victories in God as being rewards and evidence of our righteousness before God. However, these things are not evidence of our righteousness but rather they testify to the righteousness of God. We must not allow our position in God to cause us to think that we are better than others; better than the lost and dying of this world. The truth is that God loves us, not because we are righteous, but because we are His. "He came to His own , and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:11-12)

We are no different than those in the world. We are stiff necked sinners who have been saved by grace; a salvation not of our own but of Him who died for our sins. In this there is great news for the world, "If God can save me, he can save anyone." God loves us, not because of what we have done, but because of who we are. "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life." (1 Tim 1:15-16)

David Robison