Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27: Deuteronomy 7 – 8; Psalm 69:1-18; Proverbs 12:1; Luke 7:36-8:3



Overview

            Deuteronomy: Moses explains Israel’s relationship with the Lord and what they must do upon entering the Promised Land. They are to completely destroy the inhabitants, seven nations greater than Israel. The must not intermarry with them because they would turn their descendents to follow other God and destroy them.
            Israel is God’s chosen people whom he treasures and loves. They were not chosen because of their great number, but because of God’s covenant with their ancestors. God is faithful and keeps his covenant loving those who love and obey and destroying those who hate him. So Israel needs to obey. When they obey he will prosper them and keep them healthy.
            The Lord will consume the current inhabitants of the land. Israel must not pity them or serve their Gods or they will become a snare. They are not to be afraid of the inhabitants for God will help drive them out in stages then Israel will know that God is among them. They are not to covet the inhabitant’s idols or their gold and silver composition. They must not take any of the idols because God abhors them.
            Moses charges Israel to obey all the Law so that it will go well with them. They are to remember the trials in the wilderness where God humbled and tested them to see if they would obey. God gave them manna so that they would know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God. Their clothes didn’t wear out or their feet swell for forty years. This was a time of disciple like a man does for his son. The land God is giving them has all they need for food and minerals for iron and copper. They will be satisfied and bless the Lord.
            They are to be careful, for after prospering for a long time, they may say that their own strength and abilities have provided for them. Otherwise, they will forget how God took them through the wilderness with its testing and that he provided their bounty. If they forget and go after other gods, God will destroy them.
            Psalm: David is again in trouble. He is drowning in the pits of despair and he’s tired of waiting for God. His enemies are numerous; they lie about him and want to destroy him.
            David admits that the Lord knows all of his foolishness but he asks that people who hope in God will not be shamed or dishonored because of them. He believes that his problems stem from his zeal to worship in fasting and with sackcloth. He again asks God to deliver him from his enemies and depression. He is asking based on God’s steadfast love and mercy. He asks to be redeemed and ransomed from his enemies.
            Proverbs: Embrace discipline or show your ignorance by rejecting correction.
            Luke: After eating with the tax collectors, a Pharisee by the name of Simon invites Jesus to dinner. A woman comes in and cries at his feet. Her tears wet his feet; she wipes them with her hair and pours perfume on them. Simon thinks this is disgraceful and that Jesus should have known better than to let a sinner touch him.
            Jesus then asks Simon who loves more, a person forgiven a large debt or a small one. Simon answers the one forgiven much. Jesus agrees.
            Jesus then blasts Simon for not giving him water to wash his feet or anointing his head with oil. He praises the woman who wept on his feet and poured perfume on them. He explains that her many sins are forgiven resulting in her great love but the one who is forgiven little lovers little.
            He tells the woman her sins are forgiven, her faith has saved her and to go in peace.
At the same time the other guest are questioning who Jesus is that he forgives sins.
            Jesus, the twelve, and several women who were supporting Jesus went through cities and villages bringing the good news. The women included Mary Magdalene who used to have seven demons, Joanna the wife of Herod’s household manager, and Susanna.  

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth’” (Deut 8:17).
            Psalm: “I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God” (Ps 69:3).
            Proverbs: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Prov 12:1).
            Luke: “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).

Insight

            Deuteronomy: While there are many temptations in the word, two often cause people to fall into sin. The first is poverty or worse, simply wanting more. Israel faced this one in the desert for forty years. Even though the Lord supplied their every need with manna, water, and keeping their clothes from wearing out, he didn’t give them the abundance that they thought they had in Egypt. It was a time of disciple to see if they would obey him. Some of them were punished because of their failure to believe and enter the Promised Land. They died in the desert. That wasn’t disciple, it was punishment. The congregation that is about to enter the Promised Land was disciplined. They didn’t die but were strengthened and readied for several years of war. They successfully survived the temptation to grumble and complain about their situation. God’s discipline, training, or testing readies and strengths us so that we don’t fall into the sin of complaining about lack or even stealing to gain more.
            The second temptation is that of prosperity. I’ve heard it said that this temptation is more often our downfall than poverty. In general, I would have to agree. God’s warning is very clear. We must beware lest we mistake God’s blessing for something we’ve done for ourselves, or worse, we don’t even believe God exists. When our attitude toward God is right, we won’t make that mistake. If we acknowledge that even our next breath comes only by his will, we will have the right attitude about our possessions. We will be thankful and know that the Lord is God.
            Israel’s prosperity led them to worship other gods. They eventually thought the gods of fertility were the reasons they were blessed. They forgot the One who brought them out of Egypt. We are more subtle than that today. Instead of God, we worship our stuff. We put our souls, minds, and activities into getting more stuff.
            Psalm: External circumstances often cause us internal pain resulting in depression. That is what appears as David cries out for relief. He seems to be at the breaking point, as he grows tired of waiting for God. Yet, in the middle of all this, David’s faith in God is still solid. He calls upon God because he knows of his steadfast love and mercy.
            When troubles overwhelm us, we must hang on to this one thing: God is good. If we focus on the circumstances and not on God’s goodness, his love, mercy and grace, we will not be able to survive the depression. Sure, things may get better as time passes and our depression lifts. But we will not have learned our lesson for the next time troubling circumstances happen. Just as Israel was disciplined in the desert to become strong, so we should look on these circumstances as discipline, not punishment. It is just like a body builder who disciplines his body to achieve his desired strength, so we must use problems in our lives to strength our faith in our good God.
            Proverbs: I laughed when I read this proverb because it demonstrated to me how good God is. I don’t know if the person who put this reading plan together planned to have this proverb read at the same time as Moses explained disciple to Israel, but it has to be a God thing. After discussing discipline above, the only thing to add is that we are indeed stupid if we don’t learn from it and even worse if we don’t learn from other’s discipline.
            Luke: After the Pharisees complained that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors, Simon invites Jesus over for dinner. This seems to be a rather hypocritical thing for Simon. It is obvious from the text that he doesn’t even think Jesus is a prophet. He hasn’t shown Jesus the respect that is normally afforded to a dinner guest by having water available to wash his feet or anoint him with oil. He appears to be a person who is going through the motions of being nice to Jesus but not nice enough to be considered a friend.
            You could say Simon represents most people in the world who have heard about Jesus. They are respectful within reason but aren’t willing to get too close. They may go to church but certainly don’t want to be born again and become a religious fanatic.
            The woman, on the other hand, is just the opposite. Her primary quality is her self-awareness of being a sinner. She knows that it is only Jesus who can forgive her and she comes to him with obvious signs of repentance. She demonstrates her love with her tears, hair, and perfume. Jesus’ evaluation is shocking. She had many sins and they are forgiven, so she loves much.
            I’m convicted that I’m much closer to being a Simon than being a person like this woman. It isn’t because I haven’t sinned as much as her. I’m much older so I’ve probably sinned more than she had at this point in her life. My problem is recognizing those sins. When I don’t recognize my sins, my love for my Savior is not as great as it should be. I should have much greater love for Jesus than I do.

Application

            I need to constantly remember that trails in this life are God’s discipline. He is good all the time and I can learn to trust him even more. I also need to work on recognizing my sins, repenting, loving Jesus more. Maybe that’s the purpose of some of the discipline.

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