March 7, 2016

Deuteronomy 8-10  - 
Keep and live out the entire commandment that I’m commanding you today so that you’ll live and prosper and enter and own the land that God promised to your ancestors. Remember every road that God led you on for those forty years in the wilderness, pushing you to your limits, testing you so that he would know what you were made of, whether you would keep his commandments or not. He put you through hard times. He made you go hungry. Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about, so you would learn that men and women don’t live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God’s mouth. Your clothes didn’t wear out and your feet didn’t blister those forty years. You learned deep in your heart that God disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child...

After a meal, satisfied, bless God, your God, for the good land he has given you.  Make sure you don’t forget God, your God,... Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God,...

If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.  If you forget, forget God, your God, and start taking up with other gods, serving and worshiping them, I’m on record right now as giving you firm warning: that will be the end of you; I mean it—destruction... 

Attention, Israel!  This very day you are crossing the Jordan to enter the land and dispossess nations that are much bigger and stronger than you are.... Today know this: God, your God, is crossing the river ahead of you—he’s a consuming fire. He will destroy the nations, he will put them under your power. You will dispossess them and very quickly wipe them out, just as God promised you would.

But when God pushes them out ahead of you, don’t start thinking to yourselves, “It’s because of all the good I’ve done that God has brought me in here to dispossess these nations.”...  No, it’s nothing good that you’ve done, no record for decency that you’ve built up, that got you here;.. it’s because of the vile wickedness of these nations that God, your God, is dispossessing them before you so that he can keep his promised word to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Know this and don’t ever forget it: It’s not because of any good that you’ve done that God is giving you this good land to own. Anything but! You’re stubborn as mules... Keep in mind and don’t ever forget how angry you made God, your God, in the wilderness.. . God said, “I look at this people and all I see are hardheaded, hardhearted rebels.... 

Then I prostrated myself before God, just as I had at the beginning of the forty days and nights. I ate no food; I drank no water. I did this because of you, all your sins, sinning against God, doing what is evil in God’s eyes and making him angry. I was terrified of God’s furious anger, his blazing anger. I was sure he would destroy you. But once again God listened to me. And Aaron! How furious he was with Aaron—ready to destroy him. But I prayed also for Aaron at that same time...

When I was on my face, prostrate before God those forty days and nights after God said he would destroy you, I prayed to God for you, “My Master, God, don’t destroy your people, your inheritance whom, in your immense generosity, you redeemed, using your enormous strength to get them out of Egypt.

“Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; don’t make too much of the stubbornness of this people, their evil and their sin, lest the Egyptians from whom you rescued them say, ‘God couldn’t do it; he got tired and wasn’t able to take them to the land he promised them. He ended up hating them and dumped them in the wilderness to die.’  They are your people still, your inheritance whom you powerfully and sovereignly rescued.”

God responded. He said, “Shape two slabs of stone similar to the first ones. Climb the mountain and meet me. Also make yourself a wooden chest. I will engrave the stone slabs with the words that were on the first ones, the ones you smashed. Then you will put them in the Chest.”...

The People of Israel went from the wells of the Jaakanites to Moserah. Aaron died there and was buried. His son Eleazar succeeded him as priest. From there they went to Gudgodah, and then to Jotbathah, a land of streams of water.  That’s when God set apart the tribe of Levi to carry God’s Covenant Chest, to be on duty in the Presence of God, to serve him, and to bless in his name, as they continue to do today.... 

So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in his presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and regulations of God that I’m commanding you today—live a good life.

Look around you: Everything you see is God’s—the heavens above and beyond, the Earth, and everything on it. But it was your ancestors who God fell in love with; he picked their children—that’s you!—out of all the other peoples. That’s where we are right now. So cut away the thick calluses from your heart and stop being so willfully hardheaded. 

God, your God, is the God of all gods, he’s the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. He doesn’t play favorites, takes no bribes, makes sure orphans and widows are treated fairly, takes loving care of foreigners by seeing that they get food and clothing.

You must treat foreigners with the same loving care—remember, you were once foreigners in Egypt.
Reverently respect God, your God, serve him, hold tight to him, back up your promises with the authority of his name.  He’s your praise! He’s your God!  He did all these tremendous, these staggering things that you saw with your own eyes.  When your ancestors entered Egypt, they numbered a mere seventy souls.  And now look at you—you look more like the stars in the night skies in number. And your God did it.

Romans 13 -  
Be a good citizen.  All governments are under God...God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses  police to do it.  That’s why you must live responsibly--not just to avoid punishment but also because it is the right way to live.  That’s also why you pay taxes--so that an orderly way of life can be maintained...Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders.  Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other.  When you love others you complete what the law has been after all along...

Love other people as well as you love yourself.  You can’t go wrong when you love others.  When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.  Be sure that you don’t get absorbed and exhausted in taking care of your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God.. Be up and awake to what God is doing...We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight.  Get out of bed and get dressed!  Don’t loiter and linger waiting until the very last minute.  Dress yourself in Christ, and be up and about!