Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 11-12:32; Luke 8:22-39; Psalm 70:1-5; Proverbs 12:4
God reminds Israel of all the great and wonderful things He has done for them over the past few decades in Deuteronomy 11 today. How often we forget what God has done in our own lives. I am as guilty of this as anyone, if not more. I think a wise thing for us to do would be to set aside time every week or so to remind ourselves of the things God has done in our lives. Perhaps write them down and review them regularly.
In Deuteronomy 11:8 we see why it is good to do this: we will gain strength to overcome the challenges in our lives. The more we review and remind ourselves of God’s great work in our lives, the more confidence we will have. Not confidence in ourselves, but confidence in Him.
God always has something better for us than where we have been as He says in Deuteronomy 11:10-12. The land in Egypt where Israel were slaves did not get much rain and had to be irrigated artificially. But the land that God was giving to Israel had hills and valleys – natural irrigation systems. God was planning on blessing Israel in this way.
God warns Israel though not to let the prosperity they will enjoy turn them away from Him (Deuteronomy 11:16). How easy it is for individuals and nations to do this. When things go well we take the credit and forget about God. We start to worship material things and other “gods”. This is exactly where the United States is today. We’ve let our wealth and success on the world stage draw us away from the God who gave us that wealth to begin with. And as a result our society has begun to crumble. We’ve condoned and even encourage sinful behaviors like abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage. We’ve stopped teaching our kids about God. It will be very difficult for us to regain our success. Nothing is harder than returning to a God who we do not acknowledge.
Notice that God isn’t looking for a stoic, obligatory love. He wants a relationship with us (Deuteronomy 11:22). He wants us to walk with Him and cling to Him. When I read that I thought of a child holding the hand of a parent.
God makes it clear that what kind of relationship He wants with us. But He gives us the choice (Deuteronomy 11:26) between receiving His blessing or not. God will not force us into a relationship with Him. That would not be love. That would be control. That is not God’s game plan. He wants a real relationship with every single person He created.
God wanted all the places of worship that existed in the land of Canaan destroyed (Deuteronomy 12:2) so that new buildings could be built. There were to be no reminders of the past, sinful worship of these false gods. God wants us to do the very same thing today. He wants us to clean out our hearts of those things that distract us from Him: television, career, etc.
Notice that God wants us to worship His way – not our own way (Deuteronomy 12:4-7). God is trying to build structure and order into our lives. If we are left to decide for ourselves we will soon develop behaviors that we think are worship of God but are really entertainment for our own benefit. I can’t tell you how many churches I have been in over the past few years that seem to be more interested in pleasing the congregation instead of pleasing God. It is getting harder to find a really good church.
We are also not to inquire about the gods of other people, otherwise we may get dragged away from the true God (Deuteronomy 12:30-32). I remember once trying to witness to a person of a different faith and I thought a good way to start the conversation would be ask about his gods (he had many). But that backfired because he thought I was truly interested in his religion and ended up bringing me a lot of information about it a few days later. Now my strategy is simply to let God shine in my life and soon others will be asking me about my God.
Have you ever seen a movie where the hero is in some sort of mortal danger about 30 minutes in? Obviously he can’t die because he’s the hero and the movie just started. So you can relax and not get caught up in the drama. This is exactly what happens in Luke 8: 22-25. In the middle of a storm the disciples are terrified that they will drown. But that wasn’t going to happen. The boat was going to sink – Jesus was on board. He has said “Let’s go to the other side of the lake” not “Let’s go to the middle of the lake”. Jesus is the hero of our story. He isn’t going anywhere until its time. The disciples didn’t quite grasp that.
Jesus confronts and heals a demon-possessed man in Luke 8:26-39. Notice how the demons knew exactly who Jesus was. Make no mistake – Satan and his demons are very real and they know the Bible better than we do. That is how they can distort truth as we saw Satan do to Adam and Eve.
Even after witnessing the amazing healing power of Jesus the people ask Him to leave. And He does. If someone doesn’t want Jesus in their life He won’t force Himself in. As we read earlier today – the choice is ours.
Are there people who take delight when things go wrong in your life? I have such people in my life. They are not believers and are quick to jump at the chance to tell me there is no God when the slightest little thing goes wrong. Apparently David has similar people in his life (Psalm 70:2-3). The answer is to be filled with joy and recognize that “God is great” even when things don’t go our way (Psalm 70:4-5). That is the greatest witness we can give to such people.
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