Thursday, April 6, 2017

April 5: Deuteronomy 28; Psalm 77; Proverbs 12:18; Luke 11:14-11:36



Overview

            Deuteronomy: The blessing of the Lord will occur for Israel if they obey. The blessings will come in the form of prosperity, success against enemies, and rule over nations. They will be a holy people and other nations will see that the Lord is their God and be afraid of them.
            If they disobey, then they will receive pestilence, blight, and drought. Their enemies will defeat them and take their children as slaves. Israel and its kings will be taken to other countries to server their gods. All these curses will come because they don’t obey the Lord. Famine will be so bad that they will eat their own children. They will be in dread of their lives day and night and find no respite.
            Psalm: Asaph is in trouble. It may be the nation or it may be personal. When he tries to meditate and call on the Lord, he doesn’t have peace. He can’t sleep and wonders if all God’s promises and steadfast love are gone forever.
            But he starts to remember what God has done in the past and rallies. He meditates on God’s wondrous deeds, holiness, and redemption for his people. He remembers how God led Israel out of Egypt by Moses and Aaron.
            Proverbs: It is very easy to hurt people by speaking without thinking. A wise person can bring healing with his words.
            Luke: Jesus casts a demon out of a mute man. Some people marvel, other say he did it by Beelzebul, and other still want a sign from heaven. Jesus knows their thoughts so he explains that Satan’s kingdom can’t stand if it is fighting within itself. Even if it were fighting internally, then anyone casting out demons would be doing it by demonic power. Exorcists of the day believed God was doing the work, so they will judge the ones who are condemning Jesus. Because Jesus is casting out demons by the power of God, he is like a strong man attacking an enemy and taking over his assets. If we are with Jesus, we gather the spoils with him, but if we aren’t gathering the spoils we are scattering.
            When an unclean spirit leaves a person but nothing good replaces the spirit, it will return and with seven others. The person is worse off than before.
            A woman says Jesus’ mother is blessed but Jesus says that those who hear God’s word and obey are blessed.
            The crowds increase and Jesus explains that a generation seeking a sign is evil. They will get the sign of Jonah and no other. The queen of Sheba came to see Solomon, the people of Nineveh repented at Jonah’s preaching but Jesus is greater than both.
            No one hides a lamp and the eye is the lamp of the body. With a healthy eye, a person is full of light. If is eye is not healthy then the person is full of darkness. Jesus tells us to be wholly light and bright like a lamp giving light.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “They [your enemies] shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways” (Deut 28:7).
            Psalm: “My soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints” (Ps 77:2-3).
            Proverbs: “The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov 12:18).
            Luke: “When one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil” (Luke 11:22).

Insight

            Deuteronomy: Rambo and other TV and Movie muscle men often take on ten or more guys defeating them quickly. Whether it is hand-to-hand combat or with overwhelming firepower, they see their enemies running away in every direction, if they are still alive. This is the picture of what the Lord promised Israel when they went to battle against their enemies. “Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand” (Lev 26:8).
            Israel didn’t have the superior weaponry or ninja skills that the Hollywood actors have. They had something much more important. They had the Lord God Almighty fighting for them. Repeatedly, the Lord promised that he would drive out the nations. He would cause the enemy to turn and run in panic or even fight among themselves leaving the booty for Israel.
            When it comes to spiritual warfare, we have the same advantage as Israel. We can overwhelmingly overcome the enemy of our souls, sin. It doesn’t matter what the sin is, we have the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. We were crucified with Christ and we no longer live but Christ lives in us (Gal 2:20). It’s not that we are anything in ourselves, but it is Christ who reigns in us that gives us the ability to overcome sin.
            Israel’s curse for disobedience was more than just the opposite of their promise for obedience. It was much worse. It resulted in despair, a loss of hope because they trusted in their idols instead of God. The same thing happens to us when we forsake the Lord and turn to sin. Depression, despair, disease, and ultimately, suicide are often the curses for those who don’t turn to Jesus for salvation or turn away from him.
            God promised Israel temporal prosperity for obedience and temporal discipline for disobedience. It was a picture for us on this side of the cross. God promises us eternal prosperity when we surrender to Jesus and obey him or eternal discipline for rejecting him.
            Psalm: Asaph is in a real bad place at the beginning of this Psalm. He makes a very important statement right at the beginning. He says that his soul refuses to be comforted (Ps 77:2). Have you ever been in a place where you make a choice not to let God’s goodness comfort you? I think many of us have. It happens when a tragedy strikes and we essentially blame God for the evil that has happened. These kinds of experiences usually involve the unexpected death or illness of a loved one. Sometimes it is marital unfaithfulness leading to a divorce. They are life-changing events.
            We have one of two choices. One is to blame God and remain in anguish of soul. The other is to know that God is good and he is still in control. We let him comfort us in the trouble. Asaph does it by remembering the good things that God has done. We can do the same, but we can also rest on Romans 8:28-29 to know that he will work all things out for the good of those who love him as he transforms us into the image of Jesus.
            It is easier to go through the tough time when we’ve made up our minds to trust the Lord no matter what the circumstances are. It is harder when we have to work through our theology in the midst of the trouble. Many people falter because they are unprepared. They become bitter and angry against God instead of trusting him. So take this time in your life to be strengthened in knowing that the Lord is good and develop your relationship with him.
            Proverbs: We need to be wise when speaking to others. All of us don’t have the right to say what may be obvious to someone who needs a reprimand. We may not know the whole situation and may be making a conclusion from outward appearances. It is too easy to speak the truth without any love. On the other hand, when we know a person and what’s going on in their life, we may have earned the right to speak truth and do it in a loving way.
            There are many ways to speak rashly and injure but it takes a patient and wise person to know how to say the same thing but in a way that will bring about the change that God would want in that other person.
            Luke: Satan has a kingdom and it is made up of every person who isn’t saved (Eph 2:1-3). He is the strongman that is guarding his house. He is doing everything he can to protect his goods. Look at what Jesus says about him. He is fully armed. One of the way he arms himself to protect his good is to have schemes (Eph 6:11) that toss unsaved man about with various doctrines and craftiness as he uses those dedicate to him (Eph 4:14). Another thing he does is sets up arguments and opinions against Jesus (2 Cor 10:4).
            Jesus identifies himself as the one who is stronger than Satan. Jesus is in the business of attacking Satan, taking away his armor, and taking his spoils. When Jesus came announcing the kingdom of God was at hand, he was serving notice that the battle would be turning. When Jesus went to the cross, he canceled the debt over us that held us in bondage to the devil and thereby disarmed Satan and all his minions (Col 2:14-15).
            When Jesus tells us that whoever does not gather the spoils with him scatters them. In other words, when we become Christians, we are enlisting in his kingdom gathering up all the souls of people who have freed from Satan’s grip. We get to tell them about their redemption in Christ and that they no longer have to follow Satan if they believe in Jesus and are willing to follow him. If we aren’t in the Master’s army, we are still in the enemy’s trying to scatter the spoils so that they don’t come into Jesus’ kingdom.

Application

            I need to be careful about the way I speak to others. Even though Jesus has triumphed over Satan, my unwise words can do damage to people who may have otherwise sought the Lord had I not been a bad witness. I know the Lord can redeem my mistakes and turn my sin to good, but why mess up in the first place? It’s better to be gathering than scattering.

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