Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 7-8:20; Luke 7:36-8:3; Psalm 69:1-18; Proverbs 12:1
Moses continues to prepare the people for entering the Promised Land in Deuteronomy 7. God will always prepare us for what He has planned. Notice too that Moses speaks with certainty. He says “when the Lord your God…” in both verses 1 and 2. God will do what He promises. He will never go back on His word. Certainly we can interfere with that – as we saw the previous generation of Israel do. But God is always willing to give us what He promised when we are ready to accept it.
Notice also that God doesn’t sugarcoat the facts. He tells Israel that there are seven nations currently in the land and they are greater and mightier than Israel (Deuteronomy 7:1). Israel alone has no chance of victory. But these nations are not greater and mightier than God. God plus no one is a majority. With God on their side Israel is assured of victory because God is the one who will defeat them.
But that doesn’t mean that Israel has no part in the plan. God always gives us something to do also. God fights for us but He also fights with us. In this case Israel had to completely destroy these nations. They were to show them no mercy. This may seem harsh and many unbelievers point to these types of verses to “prove” that the God of the Bible is full of hate. Actually, just the opposite is true. God is full of love. He is full of love for Israel. So much so that He wants to see them (Israel) free from the sins that were consuming these seven nations. Similarly, God wants to completely destroy the sin that is in our lives today. He knows what it is doing to us. He knows what we could be if we were truly free from it. God doesn’t hate you. He hates the sin that is in you and is destroying you.
But additionally, God loved these seven nations and if they had just repented and turned to Him He would have spared them. But they didn’t. The choice was theirs all along. God judges nations just like He judges individuals. When a nation (such as the United States) completely turns its back on Him and loves its sinful culture more than it loves Him – watch out. As we see here (and as we’ll see later when God judges Israel for its sin) God will send enemies against that nation to bring it down (Deuteronomy 7:10)
I found Deuteronomy 7:17-21 interesting. Sometimes we wonder how we are going to get through a difficult time. The answer is to remember all that God has done for us in the past and to remember that God is with us. He is fighting the battle. Sometimes the toughest thing to remember is to remember.
When we go through tough times we need to be aware that God may be trying to humble us and test us (Deuteronomy 8:2). God doesn’t test us so He can find out where our heart is at. He tests us so we can find out where our heart is at. Usually it isn’t in a good place. And that is humbling.
Notice how God took care of the people while they were in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:4). When we are in a tough place in life God is with us taken care of us in ways we don’t realize.
Of course it is easier to turn to God when our lives are in shambles. It is much more difficult to think of Him when things are going well (Deuteronomy 8:11). Prosperity requires attentiveness. Otherwise we become proud (Deuteronomy 8:14) and forget God. Sounds like the United States to me. God took us from being nothing to being the most powerful, wealthy, and influential nation in the world. Then we decided that all that was the result of our own efforts (Deuteronomy 8:17) and we didn’t need to obey Him any more. So we made it illegal to pray in schools. We declared that pornography and abortion are legitimate businesses. And we will soon recognize same-sex marriage in the name of “openness” and “freedom”.
The result for us will be the same as the result for the Hittites, Canannites, Perizzites, and Israel. He will destroy us (Deuteronomy 8:19). There is no doubt about that.
Jesus was (and is) willing to be part of anyone’s life as we see in Luke 7:36 when He dines with a Pharisee. During the dinner a very sinful woman (probably a prostitute) comes to the Pharisee’s house. This would have taken a lot of courage as Pharisees didn’t associate with sinners, as we have seen. Yet she doesn’t care what people will think of her. We need to be this bold as well. The world needs to know that Jesus is the answer. We cannot be afraid to tell them.
As expected, the Pharisee is beside himself. He can’t believe that Jesus would allow this “sinner” to touch Him if He really knew who she was. But not only did Jesus know the woman, He knew the Pharisee. She was being honest about herself as evidenced by her humbly anointing Jesus’s feet with expensive perfume. The Pharisee, on the other hand, did not know himself at all. He didn’t realize that he, too, was a sinner in need of forgiveness. That is really the world simply stated.
We label people all sorts in myriad ways: by gender, age, religion, race, sexual preference, income, etc. But God only sees two classes of people: those who know they need Jesus and those who don’t.
Notice in Luke 8:2-3 that Jesus taught women. This would have been unheard of in Jewish society at this time. Here is more evidence that the Bible is not made up. Anyone writing this who wished that his readers believe what he wrote would never have made this up.
Notice too that Mary Magdalene had been demon-possessed. That is really all we know about her. But somehow, over time, many myths have grown about her including that she was a prostitute and that she married Jesus. There is no evidence to support any of this. Just more tactics by Satan to throw us off-course.
Did you ever notice that Jesus’s enemies were men? There is not one recorded enemy of Jesus that is female. I’m not sure if that means anything. But I just noticed that today.
I found it interesting that not only were these women willing to support Jesus’s ministry from their own resources, but Jesus was willing to accept it (Luke 8:3). Certainly Jesus didn’t need anyone’s help. But He humbled Himself to the point of being able to take assistance from others. Too often we are too proud to allow others to help us. But this passage shows that ministry is a team effort. Not everyone can go around teaching. Someone has to help pay for it. Those who contribute behind the scenes are just as important in modern-day ministry as those out on the front lines (e.g. missionaries).
Psalm 69 is a plea from David for God to rescue him from a desperate situation. His enemies outnumber him (Psalm 69:4) and he is in obvious distress. Not only were these enemies against David, they were against God. He faced ridicule for his faith (Psalm 69:7-12). This is certainly a tough place to be at in life but certainly not one that God cannot handle. In fact when people mock us we are actually being blessed by God (Matthew 5:11-12).
Proverbs 12:1 tells us to gain in knowledge we have to be open to discipline. Life will kick us around sometimes. We have to learn from it and grow from it. That is the only wise way to live. Anyone who is unwilling to fail or to be wrong will never learn anything.
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