Friday, March 24, 2017

March 24: Deuteronomy 2 – 3; Psalm 67; Proverbs 11:27; Luke 6:12-6:38



Overview

            Deuteronomy: Moses told of traveling around Mount Seir for many days. They were warned not to go through Esau’s territory but they could buy food and water from them. He reminded the people that God had been with them for forty years and they lacked nothing. They were also told not to contend with Moab, descendents of Lot. It took thirty-eight years to go from Kadesh-barnea to crossing the brook Zered. During that time, all the older generation died.
            They were told to cross the border of Moab at Ar, but not fight the Ammonites, also descendents of Lot. (The elimination of the Rephaim by Moab and Ammon was recounted.) They were told to engage Sihon.
            They defeated King Sihon who would not let them pass by as requested by Moses. They killed everyone and took the livestock and plunder of the cities. They stayed away from Ammon. They then did the same to King Og.
            Moses gave the land of Sihon and Og to Gad, Reuben, and half-tribe of Manasseh. Moses said the Lord gave them this land but their fighting men must cross over with the rest of Israel. The Lord will do the same to the kingdoms on the other side of the Jordon as they did to Sihon and Og.
            Moses said he pleaded with God to go into the Promised Land but the Lord was angry with him because the people would not listen to him. God told him not to ask again, but go up on Mount Pisgah and he would see the land. He was told to put Joshua in charge and he will take the people in to possess the land.
            Psalm: The psalmist asks God to bless us so that God will be known throughout the earth. Nations should be joyful because God is fair and guides them. All people should praise God. He has blessed though the earth’s abundance. Everyone on the earth should fear him.
            Proverbs: If you are looking for good things, you will find them. If you are looking for evil, you will find that too.
            Luke: Jesus went out to a mountain to pray all night. When it was day, he called his disciples and selected the twelve apostles. He then went down and taught a great crowd of disciples and multitude of people who came to hear, be healed, and be relieved of unclean spirits.
            He then explained that people who were seeking the kingdom would be blessed and satisfied. They will also be persecuted because of the Son of Man. He also pronounced woes for people who seek earthly things and are favored for being false prophets.
            He also taught about loving enemies and those who mistreat us. We are to pray for them and be kind to them. We are to give to beggars and do to others, as we want them to do to us. Rather than just loving people who love us, we must love and do good to people who can’t repay us. We must lend and not expect anything in return. We must be merciful as God is merciful.
            We are not to judge and condemn so we will not be condemned, forgive and be forgiven, give and we will receive. In the same way we do these things, we will be get in return.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “You shall purchase food from them for money, that you may eat, and you shall also buy water of them for money, that you may drink” (Deut 2:6).
            Psalm: “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth” (Ps 67:4).
            Proverbs: “Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor” (Prov 11:27).
            Luke: “And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all” (Luke 6:19).

Insight

            Deuteronomy: Another detail we pick up from this second telling is that Israel ate more than manna during their forty years in the wilderness. They were told to purchase food and water from Edom, the descendents of Esau who lived near Mount Seir. Moses says that the people lacked nothing during their forty years in the desert.
            You wouldn’t have guessed that by the way they grumbled. You would have guessed that from watering hole to watering hole, they barely survived. Perhaps they grumbled the most when they had to use their own resources to supplement the manna. On the other hand, I think this was an accommodation to the people. The Lord knew they got tired of the manna and allowed them to add to it by buying food from the neighboring nations. If there was no other choice, they always had enough manna, but they wanted the variety.
            God is always gracious to us. We have leeway to do many things and they are all good. It’s when we put those other ways ahead of God’s plan that we run into trouble. When we want more, we grumble. When we are not satisfied with our mighty God and his provision for our lives, we think we have to provide for ourselves. I wonder how many of us are wandering around in a desert and don’t realize how much God has give us? It’s easy to become ungrateful.
            Psalm: God is fair. He blesses and takes care of us providing for our needs, just as he did for Israel in the desert. When he judges a person or a nation, we know that he does it with equity. It isn’t based on our position, strength, or even what we think we deserve. Because he sees all and knows all, we can trust that his judgments are true. Because he sees all and knows all, we must realize we are accountable to him (Heb 4:13). For some, this produces holy fear and other it produces fear that rejects him. We all need to have the appropriate reverent fear of the Lord, not to be afraid of him.
            Proverbs: Shortly after becoming a Christian, I remember listening to a speaker who was telling about satanic activity in the Seattle area. She told about some horrific things like human sacrifices, demon possession, and other occult activity. Twenty-five years ago, I went to a workshop on discerning spiritual activity and met Frank Peretti, author of some pretty scary spiritual warfare novels. The presenters all had experiences working with people who were demon possessed. In this company, it seemed as though blatant evil spiritual activity was the norm. I’ve never seen any of those things. I don’t doubt that some of this is going on but I haven’t gone looking for it either.
            I think this is what the proverb is talking about. When we look for evil in the world, we will find it. That works two ways. One is the person who is looking to perpetrate it; he finds it because he makes it happen. The other is the person who is always looking for the negative things in the world, whether it is the influence of evil or just reading the news too much.
            The other option is to look to see how God is working in the world. I think that is what Psalm 67 is telling us. We can see God working among the nations bringing the Gospel to people. We can see people freed from all the evil that is around them, and in our hearts. It is then that we find favor with the Lord.
            Luke: Why do people come to Jesus? In these verses, there are three reasons. The first is to hear him. The second was to be healed and the third was to be relieved from unclean spirits.
            We are not much different today. Those that come to Jesus to hear him, end up with him or against him. They may come in curiosity, to trap him, or they may be drawn by the Lord to him (John 6:44). Whatever their reason for wanting to hear him, they can never walk away without making some kind of decision about him. They may think he is a great motivational speaker and then move on. They may think he is a blasphemer and try to eliminate him or persuade others to ignore him. If the Father draws them to Jesus, they will recognize that he is their Savior and must submit to him.
            Those that come for healing are in a desperate place in their lives. Some may be genuinely grateful and follow Jesus. Others may go their way once they’ve been healed, only to come back when there is another crisis in their lives. If a person doesn’t follow Jesus after being healed or taken through a dark time in their life, then it exposes that their motivation was purely selfish. They do not intend to change their lives. They may stay around long enough to hear Jesus tell them that they will be persecuted on his account (Luke 6:22) and then decide that isn’t what they were expecting.
            Those that come to be relieved of their evil spirits may be there because they know that only the power of God will solve their problem. That’s a good starting point. But just like the others, once their problem is solved, they need to make a decision. They must put Jesus on the throne of their lives or the evil spirit returns with a vengeance; the end is worse than the beginning (Matt 12:43-45).
            Whoever we are, we must submit to Jesus as our Lord and let him rule our lives. We may feel better after healing, hearing, or deliverance, but our eternity will not be better until Jesus is our Lord and Savior.

Application

            Remember that God always provides for us. Whether in a desert or in prosperity, sickness or health, it all comes from him. In gratitude, I must seek him and draw near to him to hear him and obey.

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