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.

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