Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 28:1-68; Luke 11:14-36; Psalm 77:1-20; Proverbs 12:18
The first word of Deuteronomy 28 is the most important. “If” Israel would do all the things God had commanded them He would bless them beyond belief. If they did not, then He would curse them beyond belief. The point was that God was going to use Israel to reveal Himself to the entire world one way or another.
Some of the beautiful blessings that God would provide: abundant crops, abundant children, abundant livestock, conquered enemies, rain, financial wealth (Deuteronomy 28:12), reverence from other nations.
But the curses for disobedience would be severe: confusion, frustration, diseases, lack of rain, conquering enemies, oppression, poverty, relationship issues (Deuteronomy 28:30), theft, exile, ridicule, plagues, cannibalism, selfishness, and massive death.
The choice was Israel’s. If they chose to obey God they would receive the blessings. On the other hand if they did not walk with God they would receive the curses. We’ll see what happens as we continue to read the Bible the rest of the year.
In Luke 11 today we see some people accuse Jesus of working for Satan. But since Jesus had just cast a demon out of a man their accusations made no sense, as Jesus tries to explain to them in Luke 11:17-19. This reminds me of people who come up with all kinds of explanations of who Jesus really was or what the Bible really means. Just like the people in these passages, they haven’t thought their opinions through.
Jesus also points out that He cannot work “for” Satan if He is stronger than Satan (Luke 11:20-22).
It was not enough to just remove a demon from someone’s body. That person needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Otherwise a spiritual vacuum would exist and the demonic forces would return even stronger than before (Luke 11:26).
Notice that Jesus says that those who hear His word and put it into practice are more blessed than the mother whose body incubated and delivered Him (Luke 11:28). This is another passage that discredits Catholicism. The Catholic church has venerated Mary saying that she is more blessed than any other woman because she was Jesus’s mother. They have even deified Mary and pray to her. These beliefs and practices are clearly against Scripture.
The crowd wanted a sign from Jesus but He refuses to give them one right then and there. He does tell them that He will give them one in the future that will be similar to Jonah being in the belly of the whale for 3 days (Luke 11:30). He was referring to, of course, His being in the earth for 3 days after His death yet coming back to life. Just as Jonah’s experience was a sign to Ninevah to repent, so too would Jesus’s experience be a sign to the world to repent.
Jesus then goes on to refer to the Queen of Sheba who, in 1 Kings 10, comes to see the wealth that is in Israel and praises God as she knew it could only have come from Him. She didn’t ask for more signs. She believed what she saw.
The point is that both Ninevah and the Queen of Sheba were Gentiles who believed because of what they saw. The Jews, on the other hand, saw everything Jesus did first hand but still did not believe.
Just as a light shines in the open for people to see, Jesus was right in front of them performing miracles. His work spoke for itself (Luke 11:33-36). The people saw what He did yet still they were filled with darkness.
Psalm 77 is a great Psalm to remember when God doesn’t seem to be moving in your life. The Psalmist (in this case Asaph) cries out to God when he was in deep trouble but gets no response. His distress keeps him awake all night and he begins to think that God has abandoned him.
But then Asaph decided not to let his faith be dependent on the present, but on the past. God had done many great things in the past and that was proof enough that He would continue to do them in the future, despite the hardships of the present.
This is very important for us to remember. We need to have patience. God is at work in our lives. We may not see it right away or even after waiting for a long time. But God has promised never to leave us. He had proved His trustworthiness over the centuries so there is no reason to doubt Him now.
Words can tear apart or words can heal. Proverbs 18:12 tells us that it is wise to speak healing words. We should speak to people in tones and with words that help and encourage.
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