Friday, March 31, 2017

March 31: Deuteronomy 16 – 17; Psalm 72; Proverbs 12:8-9; Luke 9:7-27



Overview                                                             

            Deuteronomy: Moses recounts the festivals that Israel must observe. The first is the Passover in the month of Abib. They must offer the sacrifice in the place the Lord determines within Israel. They must not do it anywhere else. The Feast of Weeks is also to be celebrated at the place the Lord chooses for his name to dwell. The Feast of Booths is also a joyful time of celebration for seven days at the place the Lord chooses. These three times a year all males must appear before the Lord and not come empty-handed but give as they are able.
            They are also to appoint judges and officers in the towns. They must not pervert justice.
            They are not to set up any Asherah pole beside the altar of the Lord. Nor shall they set up any other pillars that the Lord hates. They are not to sacrifice any blemished animals.
            If anyone worships anything other than the Lord, then the matter must be investigated. If there are two or more witnesses, the person is to be stoned. The witnesses are the first to cast the stones. This is to purge the evil from Israel.
            If any murder or other legal case is too difficult for the town’s judges, it must be taken to the priests and judge in office at the place the Lord chooses. They must follow the priest’s decision. If they don’t they are to be put to death.
            If they want a king over them then they will have a king that the Lord chooses. He must be a Hebrew and not a foreigner. He must not acquire many horses, wives (who will turn his heart from the Lord), or excessive wealth. He must write a copy of the Law and read from it every day of his life and keep the Law. If he does these things, he will not exalt himself above his brothers and will continue long in his kingdom.
            Psalm: Solomon asks the Lord to help him rule over Israel with justice and righteousness. He asks for Israel to fear the Lord (most translations) and be blessed as long as there is a sun and moon. He asks for dominion over all nations with kings serving the king. The king delivers and has pity on the needy. He asks for the king to live long and have tribute brought to him. He asks for the land to be bountiful with crops and people. He ask for his name to be remembered forever and people to be blessed in him. He blesses the Lord who does it all and asks for the earth to be filled with God’s glory.
            Proverbs: Good sense is always appreciated but no one likes a warped mind. It’s better to be poor with a enough than to pretend to be great but lack everything.
            Luke: Herod heard about Jesus and the miracles. He was perplexed because people were saying different things about who Jesus was. Herod wanted to see Jesus.
            After the twelve return from their preaching, Jesus takes them to Bethsaida. People followed him and he welcomed them, spoke about the kingdom of God, and healed them. When it became late, the disciples said they should send the people away to get something to eat and lodging. Jesus replied that the disciples should feed them. They balked because they only had five loaves and two fish. Jesus uses what they have to feed 5,000 and they had twelve baskets of leftovers.
            Jesus was praying alone while the disciples were with him. He asked who people thought he was. They answered the same as what perplexed Herod. They thought John the Baptist raised from the dead, Elijah appearing, or a prophet of old. He asked what the disciples thought. Peter said he is the Christ of God. He told them not to tell anyone. He must suffer, be rejected by the officials, killed, and raised on the third day.
            Jesus then explained the cost of discipleship, denying all, taking up their crosses daily, giving up their lives, and not being ashamed of Jesus. Jesus will not be ashamed of his disciples when he comes in the Father’s glory. He said some who were there would not die before they see the kingdom of God.
           

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “He shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law” (Deut 17:19).
            Psalm: “May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun!” (Ps 72:17).
            Proverbs: “A man is commended according to his good sense, but one of twisted mind is despised” (Prov 12:8).
            Luke: “You give them something to eat” (Luke 9:13).

Insight

            Deuteronomy: The instructions for the king of Israel are the same instructions that each of us should follow. The first thing that the Lord commands is not to acquire many horses or cause people to return to Egypt to acquire horses. I don’t think the Lord was telling us that we shouldn’t have many literal horses. The key is going back to Egypt to acquire them. We are not to go that way again. This changes the picture because Egypt was their land of slavery. If we are to apply this, then we should not go back to our life of sin just so we can get the wealth or status symbols of our society. We shouldn’t go back that way for anything.
            The king was not to have many wives. The crazy thing about his one is that every king had more than one wife with the exception of Saul. Solomon was the worst offender and was supposed to be the wisest man. We should stick to the one husband, one wife rule.
            The king was not supposed to acquire excessive wealth for himself either. It appears that David dedicated much of his wealth to the Lord and it was used in building the temple. However, later kings used the wealth of the temple as if it were their own. Since the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and leads us into many foolish and harmful desires (1 Tim 6:9-10), this application is timeless.
            The last is the most important. The king was to write a copy of the Law and read it every day. It wasn’t a paraphrase, but had to be verified as an exact copy by the priests. It had to be accurate and without errors. Undertaking this daily blog has helped me remember what I read every day because I’m summarizing it and writing about it. I’m seeing places where I need to improve and apply correction. If the kings had actually done this, I’m sure many would have turned out different.
            Psalm: Once past the first couple of verses, this Psalm changes from being about Solomon and becomes all about Jesus. While there are a few things in here that could be attributed to Solomon, the longevity of the king can only be attributed to the Messiah. He is the only one who redeems life and considers poor people’s blood precious. He is the only one to whom all nations and kings will bow. Jesus’ name will endure forever. If we haven’t figured that out by now, and we’re still alive, then we need to submit to him for our salvation as well as live our lives for him. If we do, we’ll see all this take place.
            Proverbs: I read a comic strip where an old man, Earl, tells his grandson that common sense is ordinary. He and his grandson have extraordinary sense, which is better. He then asks his grandson, “If we had common sense, do you think we’d be eating chocolate donuts on Gramma’s nice sofa?”[1]
            Well, that is common sense and the proverb says that good sense is commended. What the world often calls common sense may be twisted and the Lord despises that. Common sense changes as time marches forward and society does what it wants. The only way to have good sense is to read the Bible, fear the Lord, and know Jesus personally as Lord and Savior. Without those, even common sense can be twisted.
            Luke: Some of the people believed that Jesus was one of the prophet of old. It’s fairly easy to see why they might think this. Many miracles were performed at Elisha’s hand. He raised a boy from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35), fed one hundred men from that was deemed insufficient and had leftovers (2 Kings 4:43-44), and healed Naaman of leprosy (2 Kings 5:14). The people incorrectly credited Moses with feeding all Israel with manna (John 6:32). Whatever the prophets of the Old Testament did, Jesus did more.
            The disciples had seen Jesus raise the dead, calm a storm, cast out demons, heal all kinds of illness. Yet when he tells them to give the people something to eat with next to nothing, they can only see what is in front of them. They can’t see what God can do.
            We read the Bible and know all about these miracles. We often come to Jesus and ask for healing and other requests. But I wonder how many times we miss God’s answers because we don’t see what we already have and how God can use it. Many people are able and act on what they have. They volunteer to help others teaching and leading groups. The work in all sorts of ways because they know God can use them. We’re not all that way. Sometimes we are like the disciples and question how God can use so little (us) to do what seems impossible. If we withhold our resources, and ourselves, then we miss out. If we give what we have, he will use it.

Application

            There are times when I need to stop using common sense and use good sense, sense that is biblical. Then it is possible to do much more than I can ask or imagine with God’s power working in me (Eph 3:20)


[1] Brian Crane, "Pickles by Brian Crane for Mar 29, 2017," GoComics, March 29, 2017, accessed March 30, 2017, http://www.gocomics.com/pickles/2017/03/29.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 30: Deuteronomy 13 – 15; Psalm 71; Proverbs 12:5-7; Luke 8:40-9:6



Overview

            Deuteronomy: If a prophet predicts something and it happens but he then encourages people to serve other Gods, it is a test by the Lord to see if Israel will obey the Lord or not. The prophet is to be put to death. Indeed, if any relative, even spouse or dearest person encourages Israel to go after other Gods, they are to be killed by stoning. The one who first hears it must not conceal it and be the first raise his hand against him. His death is a deterrent for all in Israel to keep from doing the same.
            If worthless people draw a whole city to other gods, then the matter must be investigated and if it is true, the whole city and the people in it shall be destroyed. All the plunder is to be burned in its open square. If people obey the Lord it will go well with them.
            Israelites are not to cut themselves or make bald patches for the dead because they are holy. God has chosen them. They also have a list of animals that they may eat and ones that they may not eat. This includes animals on the land, sea, and air.
            They are not to eat an animal that dies naturally. They may give them to foreigners.
            They are to give a tithe of all their produce and the firstborn of their herds and flocks. They are to eat it at the place the Lord designates. If it is too far away then can sell it and then buy what they want at the place. They are not to neglect the Levites. Every three years, the tithe is to be stored in their towns for the Levites.
            Every seven years they are to cancel all debts and return anything held in pledge. There should be no poor among them if they obey the Lord. They are to lend to nations but not borrow from them. They shall rule over nations but not be ruled by them.
            If someone becomes poor, Israelites must not ignore them but lend to them. They must not harden their hearts because the seventh year is near (when they have to release the debt). They shall give freely and not grudgingly. There will always be poor in the land.
            If a Hebrew becomes slave to another Hebrew, he must be let go after six years. When let go he must be given provisions liberally. It will not be hard to let him go because he has worked for half the wages of a hired hand. If he loves his master and doesn’t want to go, he may be made a slave forever.
            The firstborn from the herd and flock must be dedicated to the Lord. They can’t be worked or shorn. They must be eaten at the designated place unless they are blemished. Then they must be eaten within their towns.
            Psalm: God is the psalmists’ refuge. He rescues from the hand of the wicked. He has hoped in the Lord and stated that he trusted God from his birth. While many may see the psalmist as being strong, he looks to the Lord as a refuge and praises God.
            He asks that in his old age, God will not abandon him. His enemies plot against him and he asks that God quickly help him, causing them to perish in shame.
            It doesn’t matter what enemies want, the psalmist will have hope and tell future generations about the Lord. He will remind the next generation of God’s righteousness. He has been tested by trials and asks to be revived again.
            He will continue to praise, sing, and talk of God’s faithfulness, righteousness, and help.
            Proverbs: The righteous think and speak what is right and just. They will endure. The wicked are deceitful, seek evil, and will be overthrown.
            Luke: After Jesus returns from the Gerasenes, a crowd welcomes him. A synagogue leader, Jairus, asks him to come and heal his daughter who is about to die. So Jesus starts on his way through the crowd. A woman who had a bleeding problem for twelve years comes up behind him and touches his garment. She is healed immediately. Jesus asks who touched him. Everyone denies it. Peter tells Jesus it is just the crowd pressing in on him. But Jesus says he knew power had gone out from him. She confesses and Jesus affirms her healing.
            Someone came and told Jairus that his daughter died and not to trouble Jesus. Jesus tells him to believe and she will be well. When Jesus gets to Jarius’ house, he takes only John, James, and Peter in the house and tells the mourners that she is only asleep. They laugh at him but he heals the girl, and tells the parent to feed her and keep quiet about it.
            Jesus gave the twelve power and authority over demons and to heal. He then sent them to preach about the kingdom of God. He told them not to take provisions but to stay where people welcome them. They went through villages, preached the gospel, and healed people.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: God tests us with prophets who correctly predict the future and gives signs but lead us astray to test us (Deut 13:1-3).
            Psalm: “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (Ps 71:18).
            Proverbs: “The thoughts of the righteous are just” (Prov 12:5).
            Luke: “[Jesus] called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases” (Luke 9:1).

Insight

            Deuteronomy: There must be a difference between tempting and testing. James says that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). In Deuteronomy 13:1-3 God clearly tells us that he test us to see if we love God with all our hearts. He does this by allowing false prophets and teachers to have powers to predict the future and to perform signs and wonders. Yet these people eventually use these to lead people away from God. The difference between tempting and testing is the motivation behind it. If God were tempting me, then he would put something in my path so that I would sin. Tempting requires the tempter to desire me to actually yield to the temptation and sin. This requires an unholy heart in the tempter. Since God is holy, he will neither tempt nor desire a person to sin. On the other hand, God does test us to show us our own desire to sin with the motivation of helping us overcome and not yield to temptations. This is God’s heart of love and holiness because it helps sanctify us and develop godly character.
            Paul also warns us about these prophets and dreamers in 2 Timothy 4:3. He says that a time will come when we will not pay attention to sound teaching but will look for teachers that will satisfy our passions. I think that day has already come. While there may be some legitimate faith healers around, I’ve seen people who have been devastated because the charlatans preach a God who only heals those with faith. Therefore anyone who doesn’t get healed doesn’t have enough faith. They turn God into a genie who heals by their formula instead of admitting that God is sovereign and does what he wants, which in some cases is not healing. So beware, some televangelists, authors, and blog-writers are there to test you.
            Psalm: This psalmist spends a lot more time talking about God’s attributes and help than he does his own problems. One of the great things in this Psalm is his desire to tell future generations. Even when he is old and gray, he wants to continue telling the next generation. I’m reminded that unless we do the same thing, Christianity is only one generation away from extinction.
            I love our church because they have an emphasis on reaching children. Some of these children have become pastors and missionaries. Others are faithfully living out their lives and teaching their own children about Jesus. As long as this keeps up, there is no fear that our church will go the way of some that have to shutter their doors because their congregation has died off without replicating themselves.
            Proverbs: What are in our thoughts? It is amazing to me, how often garbage thoughts, evil thoughts, and just plain sinful thoughts pass through my brain. If they are mine, they belong to my sinful nature, the flesh. If they aren’t mine, then I can only assume that they are coming from the enemy. Either way, they are not righteous. I’ve learned not to entertain them. Occasionally, I have to think about what idol in my heart is causing these to pop up. Then I can repent and turn from that selfish thing. Because of Jesus, I know that I have God’s righteousness, therefore I know that I will endure but those thoughts will not.
            Luke: I can see why there are many people who want to have power over demons and to heal people. Look at the crowds that came to Jesus when he did these miracles. He gets out of a boat and immediately a crowd comes around him. He was popular, people liked him, he could have gotten rich by charging admission or taking up donations. Those are some of the temptation that come with those kinds of power. This is the kind of power that he gives the twelve before sending them out to preach the good news.
            However, the disciples are following Jesus’ example. Jesus could have gotten rich, but he said that he didn’t even have a place to lay his head (Matt 8:20). He instructed them to take nothing with them and stay where welcomed. When they leave, it is implied they leave the same way they came, taking nothing, no money, bread, or extra clothing.
            I recognize that in today’s world, a ministry needs funds to accomplish its purposes. The question is how much is needed versus how much is wanted. Signs and wonders also accompany many of these people. I wonder if some of those with private jets, huge mansions, and yachts are testing us to see if their abundance will lead us away from the Lord and focus on miracles for the here and now instead of eternity with our Lord. Personally, I think most are diversions. They keep people off track enough to be dangerous. They divert people from seeing the primary importance of eternal life in Jesus.

Application

            I have to watch those thoughts and entertain biblical ones, not ones that would lead me astray. I don’t need to be popular, rich, or powerful.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 29: Deuteronomy 11 – 12; Psalm 70; Proverbs 12:4; Luke 8:22-39



Overview

            Deuteronomy: Israel is to love God and keep his Law. They are to consider what he did to the land of Egypt and their army when he drowned them; what he did to Israel in the wilderness; what he did to Dathan, Abiram when the earth swallowed them.
            Therefore, they are to keep the Law, take possession of the land, and live long in it. The land isn’t like Egypt that had to be irrigated. The rains come as the Lord watches over it all year long.
            If they obey, the Lord will continue to do that. They are not to be deceived and follow other gods. They are to keep God’s words on their hearts and minds. They will dispossess greater nation as the Lord will make those nations fear Israel.
            Moses tells the people that the Lord is going to set before them a blessing and a curse. The blessing is if the obey and the curse if they don’t. When they enter the land, the blessing will be announced from Mount Gerizim and the curse from Mount Ebal.
            Israel is to destroy all the places and objects of worship in the land when they conquer. They worshiped under every green tree but Israel is to worship where the Lord makes his habitation. They are to bring their sacrifices there, eat, and rejoice before the Lord. They are not to do as they were doing before entering the Promised Land. They must be careful not to sacrifice at any place other than where the Lord chooses within their new territory.
            They may continue to kill and eat meat wherever they want as long as they don’t eat the blood. The blood must be poured out on the earth. They may not eat any of their vows, tithes, or other offerings in any place except where the Lord has chosen. If they obey, it will go well with them.
            Psalm: David asks God to help him and do it quickly. He wants his enemies to be routed, confused, and put to shame. He asks that all who seek the Lord will rejoice in salvation and extol God. However, he is needy and wants saved, now.
            Proverbs: A wonderful wife is a blessing to her husband but one who is shameful is a pain.
            Luke: One day, Jesus decided to go across the lake. He falls asleep in the boat and squall hits them, swamping the boat. The disciples wake Jesus telling him they are going to drown. He calms the storm and they wonder just exactly who he is.
            They went on to the Gerasenes where a demon-possessed man met them. He fell at Jesus’ feet asking not to be tortured, calling Jesus the Son of the Most High God. After Jesus asked, he revealed his name was Legion because many demons were in him. They begged not to be sent to the Abyss, but to go into a herd of pigs. Jesus let them go. The herd rushed in to the sea and drowned.
            The herdsmen told the town people who came out and found the man clothed and in his right mind. This frightened them so they asked Jesus to leave. The man wanted to go with Jesus but he told the man to go and tell what God had done for him. And he did.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “He will give the rain for your land in its season” (Deut 11:14).
            Psalm: “Make haste, O God, to deliver me!” (Ps 70:1).
            Proverbs: “A wife of noble character is her husband's crown” (Prov 12:4 NIV).
            Luke: “And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss” (Luke 8:31).

Insight

            Deuteronomy: I’ve said that I wouldn’t make a good farmer. A farmer has to trust the Lord for good weather. Sure, some trust irrigation, but even that can fail in times of drought. I was reminded of this when Moses reminded Israel about the difference between the land of Egypt and the Promised Land. Even in ancient times, Egypt irrigated its fields. But the land of Israel wasn’t like Egypt. The Lord provided the necessary rain for them as long as they were obedient. From everything I read in the Bible, I get a very different picture of Israel than the one I can see in pictures of the current nation. The Bible talks of forests and green pastures, not barren rocky hills. It says that the land was watered by the rains. It was flowing with milk and honey.
            Today’s Israel is producing an abundance of food but it is because of irrigation. Without that irrigation, it would be more like the land during Elijah’s ministry with three and a half years of drought. The king and his servant went surveying the land to find enough grass so they wouldn’t have to kill their horses and mules (1 Kings 18:5).
            The point is, disobedience destroyed the land flowing with milk and honey. The curse that was set before Israel is still in effect today despite the abundance brought by irrigation. They don’t trust the Lord for good weather because they are self-sufficient. They trust in themselves and their technology but not in the Lord.
            When I look at current Israel, I can see a lot of myself. It shouldn’t be that way with me or them. I’m looking forward to the day when all my self-sufficiency will be over and we are all face to face with Jesus. That will be the day when Israel will also be trusting in Jesus.
            Psalm: I’ve heard people say you shouldn’t ask God to give you patience because he will give you trials to build that patience. I wonder if anyone told David. He asks for deliverance on his timetable, not on Gods. I can picture someone riding swiftly on a horse pursued by a band of outlaws. They are firing at him as he hunches over in his saddle trying to dodge the bullets. His cry is the same as David’s, “Help me now! Lord.” There are always appropriate times for prayers for immediate deliverance. We just need to make sure that we aren’t asking when we really need to ask for the ability to honker down and have patience.
            Proverbs: This proverb can go both ways. It can apply to either a husband or a wife. When the two are looking out for each other’s interests instead of their own (Phil 2:3-4), they have a marriage that is a blessing to both. When one strays from the way the Lord has designed for their relationship, the other is grieved and heartbroken.
            Luke: I had a discussion with a friend last night about demonology. The Bible tells us a lot about demons and Satan or the devil in particular. But the important thing to remember is that we know much less about demons than we do about God. The reason is that demons don’t want to save us from eternal punishment but God does. Therefore, God has revealed more to us about how to be saved and how God does it than he does about demon who would rather keep us from that knowledge.
            So, it is puzzling when we encounter these instances when Jesus directly confronts the demon world. We learn very little about demons and that is probably the point. If we become too absorbed in learning about them, we may become distracted from the main message of the Bible, which is salvation. However, this case involves salvation because the man was possessed by a legion of demons. If we look at this literally, then it would be between 3,000 and 6,000 demons.[1] Mark 5:13 reported that the demons entered about 2,000 pigs. It doesn’t take a legion of demons to keep someone from salvation. It only takes one sin if someone is trusting in the Law for salvation (James 2:10). Since the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), then even one sin keeps us from salvation.
            The answer to sin is in Jesus’ death and accepting that free gift of salvation (Rom 6:23). What is the alternative? The demons had already been judged and salvation was not available to them. So they begged not to be tormented or thrown into the Abyss before their time. The obvious alternative to salvation is a place even demons fear.
            The demons knew their destiny but most people don’t know where they are going after they die. The demoniac had a close encounter with these evil spirits and Jesus freed him. After healing people, Jesus had previous told them not to tell anyone. But Jesus told the restored demoniac to go and tell what God had done for him. I think this points out the significant difference between telling people that God healed us from pain versus praising him and telling others about how we were saved.

Application

            I said I wouldn’t make a good farmer making it sound like I didn’t have enough trust in God. So there is always more room for trusting God in my life. The most important trust is in Jesus for salvation.


[1] Merrill Frederick Unger, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Legion,” (Chicago: Moody, 1988), Biblesoft.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March 28: Deuteronomy 9 – 10; Psalm 69:19-36; Proverbs 12:2-3; Luke 8:4-8:21



Overview

            Deuteronomy: Moses tells Israel that they will cross the Jordon and defeat the inhabitants because God is going before Israel. He isn’t defeating these nations because Israel is righteous, but because these nations are wicked. Moses reminds Israel just how stubborn and rebellious they are.
            When Moses went up on the Mountain for forty days and night, neither eating or drinking, to receive the Ten Commandments, the people created a golden calf to worship. The Lord wanted to destroy them and Aaron but Moses interceded, laying prostrate before the Lord another forty days and nights.
            Once again, when Israel refused to go into the Promised Land, the Lord wanted to kill them but Moses interceded by laying prostrate before the Lord another forty days and nights.
            Back to the first time, the Lord told Moses to make two new stone tablets because he broke the first two. He also make the ark out of acacia wood then went back up on the mountain where God wrote on the tablets. Moses then put the tablets in the ark.
            An interlude occurs telling about Israel traveling to where Aaron died and Eleazar succeeded him. They continued on and the Lord set apart Levi to carry the ark and minister before the Lord. That is why they don’t have an inheritance in the land.
            Moses resumes his explanation on his second trip up the mountain. He stayed there another forty days and nights. The Lord told him to go and lead the people into the land and possess it. So Israel is to fear, love, obey, and serve the Lord.
            Everything belongs to the Lord, yet he has loved Israel’s fathers and he chose their descendents. They are to circumcise their hearts and stop being stubborn. God is God of gods, Lord of lords, mighty, awesome, and impartial. He provides justice and provision for the fatherless, widows, and foreigners. Israel is to love foreigners too. They have seen everything he has done.
            Psalm: David continues from yesterday’s reading expressing the depth of his depression. His heart is broken over the way he has been treated. He asks God to pour back on his enemies everything he has endured and more. He wants them to be blotted out of life.
            David asks for God’s salvation to protect him. He is going to praise God and that will be more pleasing to God than animal sacrifices. David blesses the poor and needy directing them to God letting them know God hears. He enjoins heaven and earth to praise God. God will save Zion and those who love his name will dwell there.
            Proverbs: The Lord establishes the righteous not the wicked who will be condemned.
            Luke: Jesus taught the great crowds the parable of the sower. A man sowed seeds on different kinds of soil. The seeds produced nothing or much depending on the soil. The disciples asked what it meant and he explained that they have been given the ability to know the secrets of the kingdom of God but others only get parables. The seed is God’s word and depending on whom it falls, the hearers produce fruit or not. The devil takes away the word from hearers represented by the path; it produces nothing and hearers are not saved. The hearers represented by the rocks have no root and fall away under testing. The hearers represented by soil with thorns are the ones that are choked out by the cares, riches, and pleasures of the world. Those who hear represented by the good soil are those who hold the word in honest and good hearts. They bear fruit with patience.
            Jesus then tells the disciples that a lamp is put out for all to see, not hidden. Things that are hidden can’t come into the light. Therefore a hearer should be careful in the way he hears.
            Jesus’ mother and brothers couldn’t reach him because of the crowds. He was told and he said those who hear his words and do it are his mother and brothers.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are  a stubborn people” (Deut 9:6).
            Psalm: “I will  praise the name of God with a song; I will  magnify him with  thanksgiving” (Ps 69:30).
            Proverbs: “The root of  the righteous will never be moved” (Prov 12:3).
            Luke: “Take care then how you hear” (Luke 8:18).

Insight

            Deuteronomy: One of the big complaints people express when trying to make excuses for not surrendering their live to Jesus is that God was cruel in wiping out the people of Canaan. God tells us how evil they are (Lev 20:23; Deut 9:4), and that their continued existence will be a snare for Israel (Deut 7:16). Some of the evils that they did included offering their children as sacrifices to their gods. Indeed, Israel did eventually become snared by these atrocities (Ezek 23:39). While a person may try to judge God and say that he should not have had Israel destroy these people who did the things, it is just a smoke screen to keep from admitting their own sins.
            God reminded Israel that even though they were to destroy these people, they were also stubborn and rebellious. He reminded them that if they kept their act clean by not doing all the terrible things that the inhabitants of Canaan did, they would be prosperous. If they fell into the same sins, they would also see God’s wrath.             God advised them to circumcise their hearts and change their ways, to repent.
            When we look at other people’s sins as an excuse to justify or ignore our own, we should realize that we are no better than they are. God doesn’t save us because of our righteousness. He saved Israel because of his love for them. He saves us for the same reason. We haven’t given him any reason to love us, he just does. If God used our measure of fairness, then he would eliminate all of us. We all have sinned and we deserve the wages of our sins. But God saves us through the death of Jesus. That’s not fair, that is grace.
            Psalm: Quite often, the Psalms recount a time of depression and despair as David has done in this one. Yet, he finishes with praise to God. He expresses his steadfast assurance in God’s goodness to those who are needy and in trouble. He goes so far as to say that praising God and giving him thanks in these deep dark holes of depression is more pleasing to him than sacrifices. It isn’t just for the depressed person, but others who see this praise coming from a person in the pits revives their hearts as well.
            While it is difficult to be around people who are always down and complaining about others, it is refreshing to see someone who is honestly having problems but still is able to praise God. It is a testimony to God’s goodness and work in our lives when we make sure that we tell people why we persevere during trials. Peter told us to be prepared to tell people about the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15). This hope is not just in temporal relief from trials but it is the hope that comes from knowing we will dwell with God in the New Jerusalem because we love his name.
            Proverbs: What is the root of a righteous person that it will never be moved? This can only be that our righteousness is not our own. Moses clearly explained that Israel wasn’t established because they were righteous. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God so we are not righteous. What comes out of our hearts often betrays a root of sin. So, our righteousness is not our own but God’s own righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). Jesus ‘ obedience makes us righteous (Rom 5:19). Jesus is our root of righteousness when we have him in our hearts.
            Luke: The emphasis in this reading is on hearing and the results of what a person does after hearing the word of God. Whether it is the parable of the sower, the lamp, or the crowd coming to Jesus, he tells the same message. Those who hear and respond to God’s word are the ones that will be in the kingdom. In the book of Revelation, Jesus tells each church, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22). When Jesus says that we should “Take care then how you hear” (Luke 8:18), there is more to it than just listening to some inspiring words.
            Most of us want to hear only the things that agree with us or make us happy. Seldom do we want to hear reproof or worse, a “bad” report from the doctor. The same goes for our spiritual health. When God tells us we are dead in our sins, we don’t want to hear it. When he tells us that we must repent and follow Jesus only a few respond and obey. Yet this is the message that Jesus preaches over and over. He says we can’t call him Lord and say, “No.” We can’t cherish our sins and walk with him.
            He also says that even what he has said in the parables will be evident to everyone. While it may seem that Jesus’ comment to the disciples indicated a secret way of salvation that only the inner circle could comprehend (a characteristic of cults), Jesus then clarifies when he talks about the lamp. He told the disciples the meaning of the parable. It is then their job to let that light shine in the world. It is our job to tell what we have heard and that is part of bearing fruit. So we explain to other that they must also obey Jesus as we have. That is making disciples.

Application

            I need to be obedient to God’s word. One of the big areas of obedience is telling others about salvation through Jesus Christ and him alone. People may not want to hear it, but that’s our job.