March 6, 2015

Deuteronomy 5-7 
So be very careful to act exactly as God commands you. Don’t veer off to the right or the left. Walk straight down the road God commands so that you’ll have a good life and live a long time in the land that you’re about to possess.

This is the commandment, the rules and regulations, that God, your God, commanded me to teach you to live out in the land you’re about to cross into to possess. This is so that you’ll live in deep reverence before God lifelong, observing all his rules and regulations that I’m commanding you, you and your children and your grandchildren, living good long lives.  Listen obediently, Israel. Do what you’re told so that you’ll have a good life, a life of abundance and bounty, just as God promised, in a land abounding in milk and honey.

Attention, Israel!  God, our God! God the one and only!  Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!  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.

When God, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you’re going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn’t build, well-furnished houses you didn’t buy, come upon wells you didn’t dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn’t plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don’t forget how you got there—God brought you out of slavery in Egypt.

Deeply respect God, your God. Serve and worship him exclusively. Back up your promises with his name only. Don’t fool around with other gods,... because God, your God, who is alive among you is a jealous God.  Don’t provoke him,...  Don’t push God, your God, to the wall as you did that day at Massah, the Testing-Place... Do what is right; do what is good in God’s sight so you’ll live a good life and be able to march in and take this pleasant land that God so solemnly promised through your ancestors, throwing out your enemies left and right—exactly as God said...
 
“It will be a set-right and put-together life for us if we make sure that we do this entire commandment in the Presence of God, our God, just as he commanded us to do.”

When God, your God, brings you into the country that you are about to enter and take over, he will clear out the superpowers that were there before you:... Those seven nations are all bigger and stronger than you are. God, your God, will turn them over to you and you will conquer them. 

You must completely destroy them, offering them up as a holy destruction to God.  Don’t make a treaty with them.  Don’t let them off in any way.  Don’t marry them: Don’t give your daughters to their sons and don’t take their daughters for your sons—before you know it they’d involve you in worshiping their gods, and God would explode in anger, putting a quick end to you...

Do this because you are a people set apart as holy to God, your God. God, your God, chose you out of all the people on Earth for himself as a cherished, personal treasure.  God wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors... 

Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations. But he also pays back those who hate him, pays them the wages of death; he isn’t slow to pay them off—those who hate him, he pays right on time....

When you, on your part, will obey these directives, keeping and following them, God, on his part, will keep the covenant of loyal love that he made with your ancestors:  He will love you, he will bless you, he will increase you.

...You’re going to think to yourselves, “Oh! We’re outnumbered ten to one by these nations! We’ll never even make a dent in them!” But I’m telling you, Don’t be afraid. Remember, yes, remember in detail what God, your God, did to Pharaoh and all Egypt.... 

So don’t be intimidated by them. God, your God, is among you—God majestic, God awesome. God, your God, will get rid of these nations, bit by bit....Make sure you set fire to their carved gods. Don’t get greedy for the veneer of silver and gold on them and take it for yourselves—you’ll get trapped by it for sure...  And don’t dare bring one of these abominations home or you’ll end up just like it, burned up as a holy destruction... 

Romans 12 - So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.  

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into  it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you...

The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.  In this way, we are like the various parts of a human body.  Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around...

Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of Christ’s body...So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously  functioning parts in Christ’s body, let us just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

If you preach, just preach God’s message, nothing else; if you help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching, if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you are put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you are called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond, if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them.  KEEP A SMILE ON YOUR FACE.  

Love from the center of who you are: don’t fake it.  Run for dear life from evil, hold on for dear life to good.  Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.  DON’T BURN OUT; KEEP YOURSELVES FUELED AND AFLAME.  Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.  Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.  Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality....

Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.  Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up.  Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.  Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everybody.  Don’t insist on getting even, that’s not for you to do...your generosity will surprise your enemy with goodness.  Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.