Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Deuteronomy 16:19-20a

Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. Follow justice and justice alone...

I think this is harder to do than we assume.

In Deuteronomy, Moses is giving God's word regarding how the tribes and towns should govern themselves; they should appoint fair judges and officials. There is, of course, a national, governmental application of this truth. But there is also a personal, spiritual application.

We must live fairly, justly. Micah 6:8 says, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

This means that it is displeasing to God when we make decisions based on whether we like somebody or not rather than on the facts of the matter. We are not to show preference to the people who invite us to their homes and drop off Christmas cookies. We should love them and appreciate them. But if an issue arises, we should not assume their blamelessness over someone else simply because they have been nice to us.

If two people need help, we should not automatically decide to help the one we know better and like more. We should consider the facts: who needs help the most? Who may have a support system of help other than us... and (more importantly) who may not?

This is tremendously difficult.

It is difficult for anyone in leadership: school administrators, teachers, pastors, even parents. But difficult as it may be, the Bible is clear: God is not pleased by our biases. When God is not pleased with me, I am probably in sin. Based on the Bible passage of the day, it looks as though giving in to our biases is a sin.

And speaking of "just leaders"... within each of us, our "will" is the thing that controls--leads--our decisions and actions. Our wills must be the "just leaders" of our psyches. Although many of us find it easier to follow our hearts, our memories or even our imaginations, we must surrender our wills to the perfect will of God and behave in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. We must will our behavior to reflect God's justice and fairness rather than following our natural inclinations.

Justice is a big deal to the Lord, and I think we often don't even have a clue what justice is.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two verses from Deuteronomy 8

(#1) Deuteronomy 8:5
Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

Usually when I think about how God disciplines us, I think of Hebrews 12:5-11. Or even Proverbs 3:11-12. It makes me feel secure and comforted that this idea is even much older than either of those references. I love finding beautiful spiritual truths in the oldest books of the Bible.

I especially love finding the gospel in the most ancient texts...

(#2) Deuteronomy 8:16
He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.

Again, we are looking at God's discipline. Why does he do it? To humble and to test us "so that in the end it might go well with you."

Nobody likes to be taught a lesson. Nobody likes to be corrected. And certainly nobody likes to be humbled or punished. But God does it for us for our good. We must learn who we are, and who He is, and this process can be unpleasant for those with strong wills and rebellious spirits (most of us). But it is only when we understand our place in His universe that we can bow before Him in humble thanksgiving and accept the gift He gives... not manna but Jesus, the bread of life.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Deuteronomy 7:6

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession.

I absolutely love this verse.

It reminds me of 1 Peter 2:9 --

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:29

This is the heart of God:

Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always,
so that it might go well with them and their children forever!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

most of Deuteronomy 5:5

(At that time I stood between the LORD and you to declare to you the word of the LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) ~Moses

Moses was a prophet, and this is what a prophet does. He stands between the LORD and the people who need the LORD, and he tells the people the word of the LORD.

A prophet brings God's word to the people.

Jesus was the perfect prophet, and He was also the perfect Word of God (John 1). He brought Himself from God to us, the Word made flesh, because He was the only one who could do this job perfectly.

Jesus brought Himself to us; Jesus gave Himself for us.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Deuteronomy 4:2

You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I have commanded you.

This is a gross generalization, but as I read this verse, it occurred to me that, with the Talmud, Jewish people tend to "add" to the Word of God while at the same time, with a faulty idea of what grace is, many Christians tend to "take away" from God's Word, particularly the Law.

Psalm 119 is a very long Psalm, but it gives us a good perspective on what our attitude toward the Law of God ought to be. Although it is very long, one only needs to read a portion of it to start to understand its message.

I wonder what would happen to Bible-believing people if we all spent a little more time reading Deuteronomy and Psalm 119?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Deuteronomy 3:22

You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.

I've started reading through Deuteronomy. My tentative plan is to read Deuteronomy and finish it at the end of the year. Then I'm hoping to start reading through the Bible again, and this time I want to try to do it in the ESV. I've read through the NIV twice. The third time I read through, I did a combination of NIV and NLT, which I think is not a bad way to approach reading large portions of scripture. However, I'm hoping that now I am a big enough girl to read through a more literal translation.

God will fight for me.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2 Kings 5:15

A verse I picked up from a Bible study I went to today...

Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, "Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant."

There is no other god, except for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of Jesus, the Creator and Savior of the world: no. other. god.

Just God. And He is completely more than all we could ever ask or imagine.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

For yesterday

I meant to post this yesterday, but somehow did not do so.

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.


Our ability to accurately understand the world, the physical universe, and particularly the moral universe, begins with our ability to understand who God is.

Simply spoken: there is a God, and I am not Him. (And, obviously, neither are you.)

The fear of God is understanding the authority and power that God has. God is good. But even His angels are so terrifying that they have to begin each message they bring from Him with "Fear not." When Isaiah saw God, he immediately cried out, "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:5) To come before God, the Creator of the Universe, the One above all else -- more powerful, more intelligent, more beautiful, more perfect, more holy -- is an experience worthy of fear.

If we cannot understand how fearsome God is, we cannot begin to understand the magnitude of what Christ has done for us in bridging the gap.

As long as we have a warped and inaccurate view of God, our knowledge of all things will be warped and inaccurate. When we resist an accurate understanding of God, preferring instead a more comfortable god from our own imagination, we are fools who despise true wisdom.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Proverbs 30:7-9

I've just been thinking about this passage lately. The first time I read it, I forgot where I had seen it. I thought it was out of "some book" -- but I didn't realize it was from the Bible. I told some friends, "I read some book somewhere, and the author said ..." (and here I gave the gist of the passage). My friends laughed at me and told me, "That guy was the writer of Proverbs, and that is from the Bible!"

Anyway, it is a very good sentiment. I'm quoting it from the NLT, for accessibility. My kids would complain and say, "Read it from the real Bible." At least, that was how they felt in the olden days. But I kind of like the NLT. I do not, however, approve of The Message. A subject for a different day. Let's get on to the scripture:

O God, I beg two favors from you;
let me have them before I die.
First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich I may deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?"
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name.

(Proverbs 30:7-9, NLT)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I like honey

I like honey.

But there is something ugly about a fuzzy black bee crawling around inside a flower.

Why should this bother me?

Something else is bothering me today, crawling around in my head and my heart like a nasty old bee in a flower. I am struggling with an idea, with whether something is a sin or not. And it isn't my life, so am I just a busy-body, like that bee? Or do I bear some responsibility because it touches my life? Or am I a judgmental legalist worrying about things that are none of my business? ("On the other hand... there is no other hand!" ~Tevye)

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, give me wisdom.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5

Yes, Lord, give me wisdom. I am lacking. You have promised. And now I am waiting for You to give generously without finding fault.

And at the end of it all, please bring a sweet result, like honey. Because You can.