~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Deuteronomy 2:1-3:29 ~ Luke 6:12-38
Psalm 67:1-7 ~ Proverbs 11:27
Old Testament - Okay, I think we've come across quite an understatement in our readings today in Deuteronomy chapter 2 verse 1 when Moses says: "We wandered around Mount Seir for a long time." Indeed... it was a long time of 3 decades plus of wandering... :) But, it's important for us to remember why it was such a long time of wandering - because of the Israelites' sin in not entering the Promised Land when they were first instructed to do so by God. And, I think about this in our lives today. When we sin. And particularly when we consistently sin - with a bad habit or addiction that we know we should not be indulging in - we can become just like the Israelites, wandering around in the wilderness for a long time... My fear is that we can get so used to our sin and wandering around in the wilderness that we don't ever break free from it. We stay in bondage to the sin. And then we stay in the wilderness. The wilderness for us today may simply be living life half-heartedly in a bit of a haze or a bit of a funk. With some sort of cloud hanging over us. It's no way to live life. I guess I just want to encourage you that if you are struggling with what seems to be an unreleaseable sin to not give up. Don't ever give up on victory! Continue to take the sin to Jesus over and over and over again. Take it to God over and over and over again. Pray about it continuously. Seek wise counsel from friends and pastors and professional help. Freedom awaits you. You can get out of the wilderness. The Promised Land awaits you. Please don't continue to "wander around Mt. Seir for a long time".... Below is a painting titled "The Wanderer" by German artist George Seir from 1934:
We read some significant verses at the end of Deuteronomy chapter 3 when Moses asks to enter the Promised Land, and God replies in verses 26 through 28: "`Speak of it no more. You can go to Pisgah Peak and view the land in every direction, but you may not cross the Jordan River. But commission Joshua and encourage him, for he will lead the people across the Jordan. He will give them the land you now see before you.'" Here we see that God is standing firm in his refusal of allowing Moses to enter the Promised Land - and yet, he does show mercy in allowing Moses to view the land.
New Testament - In Luke chapter 6 verses 12 & 13 today we read - "One day soon afterward Jesus went to a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles." Every time I read about Jesus' calling of the apostles, I always think about myself. What would I have done if I was called by Jesus to be an apostle back then? What would I do if I was called to follow Jesus in this way today? What would you do? Would you leave everything behind and follow Jesus?
Verses 22 & 23 are just no joke and so powerful for each of to consider and remember in our lives today - "God blesses you who are hated and excluded and mocked and cursed because you are identified with me, the Son of Man. When that happens, rejoice! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were also treated that way by your ancestors." Wow... rejoice when you are hated and excluded and mocked and cursed - because you are identified with Jesus. No, don't just rejoice - leap for joy!
Today we read 3 amazing verses that I don't think we can hear often enough. And my hunch is that we don't follow these teachings often enough... they can seem initially so counter-intuitive - just like leaping for joy is when you are persecuted for loving Jesus. But these 3 verses are clearly such an important part of living the Christian life. And when you really meditate upon them, you'll see that they really are not counter-intuitive at all, but completely wise. Verse 28 - "Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you." And verses 35 & 36 - ""Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don't be concerned that they might not repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate." How are you doing on praying for the happiness of those who curse you or hurt you? How are you doing in loving your enemies and doing good to them? Do you believe we should be compassionate in these ways?
Verse 37 I don't think we can hear often enough either - ""Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven." I really need to hear this one - stop judging others. Stop judging others. Stop judging others. Okay, I think I've got it.... Maybe... :)
Bible.org's commentary on Luke chapter 6 readings today titled "Defining Discipleship" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 67 verse 2 today sounds very Great Commission-ish: "May your ways be known throughout the earth, your saving power among people everywhere." It's interesting to read this verse when just recently I was reading a review in my local newspaper about a book that "exposes" evangelical Christians. (of which I am one) This book really dives into how "successful" evangelical Christians are in "recruiting" young adults ages 20 to 35 with their ministries. And this book reviewer - and the book author - were very disdainful of Christianity. Saying it threatened secular society... and this just made me realize that the more we do indeed make God's ways known throughout the earth - the more we introduce people to God's saving power among people everywhere - well, then the secular world will push back big time with books and reviews like the one I read. And the secular world will even push back in more severe ways as well. This makes me realize that indeed our efforts to make God's was known - God's love, grace, mercy, salvation, call to repentance - are being noticed by others. But hopefully more than just being noticed by others, let us pray that our Kingdom work actually introduces others to God's only son Jesus, who transforms hearts and lives for eternity!
Proverbs - Chapter 11 verse 27 is a powerful Proverb to pay heed to! "If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you!" I pray each of us is consistently searching for good - and never searching for evil.
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: Based on Psalm 67 today, how are you helping to make God's ways be known throughout the earth? Are you sharing with other's God's saving power? Do you want the life you live to reflect God's glory to others? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!