TODAY’S READING FROM THE ONE YEAR BIBLE– DON’T MISPLACE YOUR FAITH.
MARCH 29 – Deuteronomy 11-12:32; Luke 8:22-39; Psalm 70:1-5; Proverbs 12:4
YOU HAVE GOOD REASON TO WORSHIP
Moses specifically addresses those in the crowd who are old enough to remember the beginning of their eventful journey from Egypt through the wilderness. They were teenagers or children at the time of the plagues and the Passover. They experienced first-hand the demonstrations of God’s power against Pharaoh. They remember being delivered by the obedience of their faith in God’s Word that caused their fathers to put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. They remember the first time they saw the pillar of cloud by day and the fire within the cloud by night. They quickly followed their parents, making haste to leave what had been their homes from birth to join the Exodus into the wilderness. They witnessed the parting of the Red Sea and their miraculous deliverance from the Egyptian armies that pursued them. They experienced God’s power sustaining them, providing for them, guiding and protecting them during their long years in the desert. They saw with their own eyes God executing judgment upon those who rebelled against Him, even witnessing the death of their parents who complained about the food, the giants in the land, and the leaders whom God had appointed.
To whom much has been given, much is required (Luke 12:48). We must walk in the light of what God has shown us. We are accountable for the genuine experiences we have had in which God has made known His character and His mighty power.
What is our first requirement? Worship. Our love for God will be expressed by the way we heed His Word and serve our brothers and sisters in the power of His love.
WORSHIP IS EXPRESSED THROUGH OBEDIENCE
Therefore, Moses says, “Keep every commandment.” “Be careful to obey.” “Always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances” (11:1,8). We are to listen to His commands and not turn aside from them. The first commands always have to do with worship. We are to have no other gods before us. Nor do we let anything else become a substitute for Him.
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands. Love one another as I have loved you.”
Everything takes its lead from the revelation of Who God is. Our moral, social, political, economic and spiritual life is derived from the central revelation of God’s person. Our first command is to hear; to listen to what God says.
What is our response to God’s self-revelation in the Word? We worship. We love Him for who He is, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We love Him because He first loved us. We love Him with all He gives us of a capacity to love Him back.
THE GENERAL PROMISES- A VICTORIOUS AND FLOURISHING LIFE IN THE APPOINTED PLACE
22 If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow–to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him– 23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you (Deuteronomy 11:22-23; NIV).
God promises that the fruit of the Israelites’ obedience will be a victorious and flourishing life in the promised land.
Deuteronomy has more to say about “the appointed place for worship”.
Jesus had a religious debate with the woman He met at the well in Samaria. Remember that Samaria was in the Promised Land, but the Samaritans’ history and worship were full of mixture and compromised obedience. Jesus confronted her with the hard facts that her people had not been worshiping in God’s appointed place.
20 “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:20-24; NASB).
The appointed place for worship is to be found “in Christ”. Only by being found in Him, will we be able to appear before God as righteous. Only by being “in Him” can we come boldly before the Throne of God. Only by being “in Him” can we worship on God’s terms, with His terms of justice and His desire for mercy being satisfied. Only “in Him” can we worship “in spirit and truth”.
God does have a special plan for the land of Israel. He has not forgotten Jerusalem. (We don’t replace God’s promises to Israel with His promises to the church. Since Christ’s coming, His promise regarding the land is not rendered null and void.) But the promised rest, the promised inheritance and appointed place we have in Christ is the substance of which the promised land and appointed place (Jerusalem) is a shadow. Jesus Himself announced at His coming: “An hour is coming and now is, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23).
WE MUST DEAL WITH FALSE PLACES OF WORSHIP IN OUR LIVES.
We are to tear down the altars in our affections that are devoted to competitors to the reality of God’s perfect satisfaction in Christ. When God’s people were obedient to His commands during the reigns of King Hezekiah and Josiah, to destroy the altars and high places of false worship, there was national revival. True revival is always marked with the deep repentance of recognizing and casting down our altars of self-worship. We need to obliterate the names of these false gods so we no longer call upon them with the false belief that they can save or satisfy us.
5 “But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.” Deuteronomy 12:5 (NASB)
In the Book of Deuteronomy, we have the repetition of the idea embodied in this phrase: “the place which the LORD your God will choose…to establish His name there for His dwelling.” (Deut 12:5, 11, 14, 18, 21, 26). The Gospel of John informs us that Jesus is the place the LORD has chosen to establish His name, in Whom He dwells and to Whom we are to come. He is the Word made flesh and tabernacling among us (John 1:14). Believers who identify with Him by faith, God positions “in Him” and thereby from God’s point of view everything that pertains to Him pertains to those who are found “in Him” (1 Cor 1:30).
We cannot do our own thing when it comes to worship.
8 “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes” Deuteronomy 12:8 (NASB).
We are not to worship according to our own private preference or to adapt false worship practices into our own.
29 “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’
Deuteronomy 12:29-30 (NASB).
Again, the last injunction we read from the Old Testament today sounds familiar: Don’t edit the Word. Obey it. (Recall Deuteronomy 4:2)
28 “Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 12:28 (NASB)
EVERY DAY YOU ARE GIVEN A CHOICE
Everyone must make a choice. Moses makes this clear throughout the Book of Deuteronomy. Choose to worship God and keep His commands and you will be blessed. Choose to turn away from God and His commands to follow the ways of other nations and other gods and you will experience a curse.
TODAY HE IS GIVING US A CHOICE
26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse-Deuteronomy 11:26 (NIV)
19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)
Jesus said ,13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt 7:13-14).
We come to Life on God’s terms- repentance of our sins and our attempts at self-salvation, and putting our trust in His appointed provision, the appointed Substitute, the Savior of our sins. We cannot come through the wide gate of doing what is right in our own eyes. We must come through the narrow gate. We must come on God’s terms that requires nothing short of the perfect finished work of redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ. Choose Him who is the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father and no one comes to eternal life apart from Him (John 14:6; 3:16; 17:3).
REMIND YOUR CHILDREN OF THESE PROMISES
Parents and teachers in general, but fathers in particular, are enjoined to IMPRESS these words on their own hearts and those of their children. The word IMPRESS implies that one sharpens these truths, meditating upon them, thinking through their applications and preparing to teach them so they can penetrate the hearts of children like arrows. Our children will be impressed if something has such a deep impression upon us. Notice that teaching involves a prepared heart and an exercised memory (know well what you are going to teach; 11:18) Be ready for TEACHABLE MOMENTS with young people- and it could be when you are sitting, walking, lying down or getting up. Have visual reminders to reinforce the truth.
18 “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 19 You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth. 22 For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him 23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you (Deuteronomy 11:18-23; NASB).
NEW TESTAMENT READING: Luke 8:22-39
Today we read of two miracles. In the first miracle Jesus calms the storm upon the Sea of Galilee (Luke 8:22-25).
In the second miracle He calms the storm in the heart of a demon-possessed man living among the tombs (Luke 8:26-39).
In the first miracle Jesus demonstrates His authority over the winds and the waves. His disciples asked one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”
In the second miracle, Jesus demonstrates His authority over a Legion of demons, commanding them to leave the man and enter the swine. The man went away proclaiming throughout the whole city the great things that Jesus had done for him.
Jesus not only rebukes winds, waves and demons in this passage, He rebukes His disciples saying, “Where is your faith?”
These disciples were dealing with a crisis. From their point of view, the storm threatened everything, their mission as well as their very lives. Jesus, the Son of God, creator of the universe was sleeping as the storm waves were surging and the boat started to take on water and was in danger of sinking. The disciples try to wake Him crying, “Master, we are perishing!” Imagine how astonished the disciples were when Jesus rose up and rebuked the gale force winds and the waves. They instantly stopped and the Sea of Galilee became calm. Jesus made no comment about the boat, the preparedness of the crew, or how much water was taken on board. The only subject He had on His mind was the lack of faith present on board.
This gives us perspective. “Do you have faith on board?” More importantly, “Do you have Christ on board?” If you have Christ on board, that is where your faith should reside. The crisis can sometimes be so dramatic that the threatening winds and waves are all that gets the attention. The result is fear.
Be sure your faith is placed where it belongs- not in your own ability to handle the crisis, but in the One Who is most worthy and capable to take command.
READING IN PSALMS: PSALM 70:1-5
Once again, the Psalmist is crying out to God from a place of suffering. He knows that his only hope for help is to be found in God. Yet it seems to him that God is slow to answer his pleas.
“O God hasten to my help!”
The New Testament counsels us that God is not slow.
2 Peter 3:9 (NASB) 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
Nevertheless, God understands our cry for help. He knows how to interpret our prayers and remembers our frame (Psalm 103:4) and knows that we do not see all things properly! (1 Corinthians 13:12).
“Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified’” (Psalm 70:4).
READING FROM PROVERBS
Proverbs 12:4 4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.
What God has joined together let not man put asunder. The two become a one flesh unit before God. This is why giving a fully consecrated self to your spouse is the greatest blessing you can give your marriage. To not do so will be deeply felt within.
PRAYER FOR THE NATIONS (from pages 196-197 in the prayer guide, Operation World, which can be purchased at operationworld.org)
We continue to pray for Canada, and Quebec in particular.
Quebec is a unique region that has experienced in one or two generations the secularization and modernization that took France centuries to accomplish. While mostly French in language and culture, it is increasingly multicultural, with an Anglophone minority and growing immigrant communities. Pray for:
- Political currents that swirl around the issue of separation from Canada. Although such sentiment has waned of late, it is never far from becoming prominent.
- Church planting needs to occur in much greater measure. To bring Quebec up to par with the rest of Canada in the number of evangelical congregations, 3,000 more churches must be planted.
Canadian indigenous peoples are largely Christian in name, but nominalism is a challenge for them as for the majority population. However, Pentecostal/charismatic churches are proportionately stronger among indigenous peoples than in any other demographic group in Canada. There are 600 reserves in Canada for First Nations peoples, all quite small in population.
Pray for the growth of strong, well-led churches that reflect First Nations culture and can reproduce others of the same quality. Especially pray for the development of indigenous leadership. There are many encouraging signs of growth and renewal in the native evangelical community, where a contextualized Church is only just beginning to flourish.
PRAYER: Father, we praise You and glorify You as the giver of every perfect gift and what a gift we have in Your Son! You have made Him to be for us our ‘appointed place’! ‘In Him’ we are able to worship You in spirit and in truth. ‘In Him’ we have bold access to Your Throne of grace. He has shown us Your glory and demonstrated Your authority. And in His mercy, He has granted us authority in His Name to ask for anything according to Your will. And so, we make our petition today, that Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory! Amen.
New Life Community Church, Concord
So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28, J.B. Phillips paraphrase)
New Life Community Church, Concord, MA 10742