Friday, February 19, 2010

A Promise

"If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

7 The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

8 The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

9 The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you. 11 The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you.

12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them." Deuteronomy 28:1-14

My scripture passage is a little on the long side this morning. But if you kind of skipped over it a bit- don't. Go back and read it. Just read that! Look at all those wonderful blessings and promises straight from God. Read verse 9: The Lord will bless your barns and everything you put your hand to. Just think about that- it sounds so wonderful and, well, blessed!

I have it heard it said, more than once that much of the scripture found in the Old Testament is just that- it's old. That it applied to a land and a people before Christ came, and that now it's more a collection of stories. I completely disagree- there isn't a "story half" and a "applicable half" of the Bible. It's one complete collection of instructions, encouragement, and testimony to further our walk with the Lord.

So when I read passages in Deuteronomy like this one today- it gets me really excited, and makes me want to do better today to follow God's laws and to do better at sharing His Glory with everyone around me. There's more though, too. If you go to Deuteronomy, chapter 28, and keep reading, there's a second section- a section of curses for those who do not follow the laws that God puts before his people. I want to avoid those too! And I can avoid those by learning more and more what it is God wants me to do- and I learn those things by- you guessed it- reading my Bible.

It always comes back to that doesn't it! You know, there are a lot of days where I think I write that over and over because I need to hear it. If it benefits someone else- that's fantastic, but I can't tell you how many times it is a physical struggle to pull out my Bible and read it! Maybe part of my problem is because there is always something else vying for my attention. I always have a stack of magazines I could flip through, hundreds of books I'd love to read again, the Internet, just a few feet away- even relaxing in front of the TV beckons from time to time- although not as much as it used to. And yet... every single time that I pick up my Bible and read it, there is something there just for me. I even picked up a new Bible just a few weeks ago called "The Story". It's a completely different Bible, in that every verse has been put into chronological order. I love reading history, and seeing how the pieces are put together- and am excited about diving into this Bible. Yet it's been on the shelf for two weeks now!

Back to the subject at hand. The promises. That's what all those blessings are in Deuteronomy chapter 28. They are promises- it starts out with the words "If you fully obey, and follow His commands...then HE WILL bless..."

But wait. These are promises for the Israelite people thousands of years ago- could they really be for me today? Oh yes, yes, they are. Paul tells us this in Romans, chapter 4.

"Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were." Romans 4:16-17

When I was my kids ages, we used to sing a song in Sunday school called "Father Abraham" and it really was just a fun and silly song. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I think that we were all really just being prophetic little singers- telling ourselves, exhorting ourselves to believe that Abraham is indeed, our father. For if Abraham really is our father, as Paul says he is, then those promises of blessings way back in Deuteronomy really do apply to me today.

Is that not awesome? When we accepted Christ as our Savior, we became one who is of faith with Abraham- these verse above are not speaking about being physically Jewish- but spiritually Jewish. And if we have accepted Christ, really, we are on the inside part Jewish- as we bear the DNA of Jesus of Nazareth in our very souls. That in itself is really fun to think on.

So this morning, as we head into the weekend, I'm going to be thinking about promises and obeying and following laws. You know, this is basic stuff here- it says if I follow, I will be blessed, so I can't help but wonder if there is something that is being missed. Am I missing something when it comes to walking in all those blessings listed out here in Deuteronomy. When I think of the greatest commandments- that I shall love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind. As well as love your neighbor as yourself. I think perhaps I may have my answer. No matter how much I try, it seems I still keep coming up short in the loving my neighbor department. I know God's working on that with me. But until I can look at my fellow human beings and see them the way Jesus sees them, I know I fall short. And I pray that is something that can be fixed, because it would be wonderful to walk in every single one of the blessings listed here in Deuteronomy.

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