I ‘m so grateful for the support and encouragement that is provided for us in one of the greatest institutions ever established by our God – the local church. Here are some things that were impressed on my heart and mind from yesterday’s look at scripture. I’m still processing and responding to these things in my life – and what a joy it has been to do this.
I did not give myself life,
nor did I cause myself to be born,
I did not determine my personal characteristics …
– my body style
– my eye color
– my intelligence
– my health
– my abilities, or even my disabilities …
And yet, my life, and the characteristics of it, are gifts from God that I enjoy today.
I did not choose when or where I would be born,
– what century
– what country
– what climate I would live in
And yet, I find myself typing these very thoughts in English with marvelous technology as a US citizen.
I did not place myself in a home that would be exposed me to the knowledge of the one true God
I did not determine that I would hear the generally unaccepted, yet true, history of the shameful beginning of mankind …
– of the fall of man
– of rebellion from God’s authority and instructions
– of turning our hearts from our Creator
And yet, I have heard this history and see it’s truth lived out deeper and deeper everyday as we progresses down a path farther away from God.
I did not determine that one day I would be exposed to the Good News of God’s Love
– that 2000 years ago, He walked among us, in the person of Jesus Christ
– that He shared in our way of existence in a fallen creation
– that He lived a life full of love and compassion for helpless people He created
– that He rebuked those who tried to block others from coming to know the truth, Himself
– that He volunteered to pay for our rebellion Himself in order to free those who would turn back from their rebellion to Him
And yet, I have heard the good news … and I have believed … and I have embraced this truth from my personal Creator …
I have found that, although there are many things that I may have some control of … His loving-kindness has already provided the most important things … things that I needed the most.
It is important for us to remember these things lest we think that we are greater than we are, lest we think that we choose Him from our own knowledge, lest we become prideful thinking that we are better than others. We should remain humbled by His great mercy and kindness towards us … He raised us up and made us who we are. Let us never forget where we came from, and that we were nothing before He found us. Praise God that He found us! (How thankful we are can be seen by how much we care for others by telling them the good news.)
Here’s where these lines of thought are based in Holy Scripture – Deuteronomy chapter eight:
“The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you.
So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.
“Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.‘ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.
In the New Testament, we understand that we are children of these forefathers through the law of faith (they followed after God by faith, and so do we). God promised them that He would bless them and their descendants. He is still keeping His promise today. He chose them from all those that were on the earth, for only reasons that He knows – simply out of His loving-kindness, to be a special people reserved unto Him, and that He would be their God.
Therefore, we too are a peculiar people, special to Him, different from the world. We need to pay attention not to forget these lessons in the Old Testament. He allowed them to get hungry just so that He could feed them … to demonstrate that He is the real source of our life, not mere food alone. He is our great reward – and there is no greater reward!
Keeping God’s commandments seem to not be some duty-list, so much as it was a means to worship God, to show affection to Him, a means to honor Him. The keeping of the commandments were a heart-felt way to revere the relationship that we have with God. God had reminded them of His intimate relationship with them over the last 40 years. During that time, did them ultimate good. He humbling them through discipline for their lack of faith – He did things to build up faith in them, to reveal His loving character for them, and His ability to handle any problem that would come along. He reveled His goal of sanctifying them unto Himself as His chosen people.
We need to understand what idolatry is: giving our affections so freely to this thing … or that thing … chasing after things in order to satisfy our desires. We recline back … and go on to forget God who has always been the source of our life … and when we chase after the pleasures of other things in our life … when we set our affections and joys on other things, instead of desiring to please God … it is comparable to adultery! These scriptures warn us to return to our first love, to live life correctly as God designed us, keeping faithful to Him by keeping His commandments. We should beware lest we forget the reason that we have been so blessed; and to return to our supreme joy and treasure – our great reward – the only satisfying object of our affection – God, our Father.