every word — part 3

The Word for today:
Deuteronomy 8

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3)

“Why do we study the Bible?”

“What’s in it for me?”

“Where does it take me?”

When I’m asked those questions, I start at Deuteronomy chapters 6-8 for the answers. Since that is where we are, we’ve stopped to field those questions, one at a time.

A couple days ago, we asked “Why?”

Yesterday, we asked “What?”

Today, we’ll ask “Where?”

***

“Where does Bible study take me?”

The process is mystical (1) and I struggle for the words to explain it, but as you continue to immerse yourself in the Word of God, you will gradually become one with it. You will identify with it until you are identical to it:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:18; cf. 1 John 3:2)

Eventually you will echo and even personify the Word Himself. Scripture says it this way:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. (Romans 8:29)

So stay with it. If you do, if you act out Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (above) by continuously being engaged with Scripture, then as you change, God’s Word will begin to change.

You’ll be reading the same words, but you will comprehend them differently. A born-again, blood-tipped, Spirit-anointed (2) ear will eventually turn commandments into prophecies, and prophecies into promises:

Commandment: “You shall (must) love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength…”

Prophecy: “You shall (someday) love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength…”

Promise: “You shall--guaranteed!--love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”

Q. Guaranteed?

A. Absolutely:

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. (Deuteronomy 30:6/ESV)

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(1) See Mark 4:26-28; (2) See Leviticus 14:17, 25

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every word — part 2

The Word for today:
Deuteronomy 7

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3)

“Why do we study the Bible?”

“What’s in it for me?”

“Where does it take me?”

When I’m asked those questions, I start at Deuteronomy chapters 6-8 for the answers. Since that is where we are, we’re fielding those questions, one at a time.

Yesterday, we asked “Why?” Today, we’ll ask “What?”

***

“What’s in it for me?”

When I was a kid, I was athletic in a way (I could run like a deer) but in other ways I was the nerd at summer camp who hoped it would rain so we could have skit day!

I got pushed around in basketball; I struck out in baseball; I got bored in soccer; the swimming pool water stung my eyes. But if it rained, we got to write a skit and then act it out.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 has all the ingredients of great skit:

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Utilizing a few simple props, it makes an obvious point in a humorous, over-dramatized way which borders on the ridiculous. (Recall that this is the same Writer who will teach a precept by showing us the blind leading the blind into a ditch!) It effectively illustrates that God wants His children and their children to be continuously involved with His Word:

He wants us teaching his Word to our children.

He wants us talking about his Word whether we are sitting, walking, lying down, or getting up!

He wants us talking about his Word whether we are at home or on the road.

He wants us to wear his Word on our hands and between our eyes.

He wants us to write his Word on the doors of our homes and at the entrances into our cities.

If we act out Deuteronomy 6:6-9 by continuously keeping God’s Word before our eyes, then, lo and behold, we will see God act out the rest of His Word.

The Word becomes flesh, is the way the gospel of John says it. I came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, is how Jesus says it.

It’s mystical and not easy to explain, but if you purpose in your heart to seek his every word, you will see God step off the page and into reality. The more faithfully we study his Word, the more real Jesus becomes. That’s what’s in it for us.

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every word — part 1

The Word for today:
Deuteronomy 6

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

“Why do we study the Bible?” “What’s in it for me?” “Where does it take me?”

When I’m asked those questions, I point to Deuteronomy chapters 6-8 for the answers. Since that is where we are, we’ll field those questions, one at a time, over the next few days.

***

“Why should we study the Bible?”

The best answer is found right here:

So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:3)

I could rest my case on that testimony alone, but I won’t — because I want to take you to an astonishing New Testament passage where the incarnate Word of God echoes the written Word of God concerning every word of God:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:1-4)

That is why we should study the Bible. Any way we slice it or dice it, Moses (quoting God) and Jesus (quoting Moses, quoting God) say that our spiritual life is unsustainable without daily ingestion of God’s Word.

Now let’s see what else Deuteronomy has to say on this subject:

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

We should teach it, talk it, walk it, sleep on it, awaken to it, tie it to our hands, paste it to our heads, spray-paint it on the front door and on the toll booth!

Tomorrow, we will.

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I fought the law — and we both won

The Word for today:
Deuteronomy 4:41-5:33

I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. (Deuteronomy 5:6-7)

Since we’ve already read the Ten Commandments (in Exodus chapter 20) I don’t think it’s necessary for us to go through them again, one by one.

This time, instead of repeating them individually, let’s talk about the Law collectively, as a whole.

The Law gives us a glimpse into the genius of God. (These are some radical precepts, so hang on…)

1. The Law, though it cannot save us, is not a failure:

The law itself is holy and right and good. (Romans 7:12)

The law itself is good. The problem is with us:

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. (Romans 8:3)

The law is weak through the “flesh” – our sinful nature. If you’ve ever roasted a large chicken in the oven, then tried to lift the whole roasted bird out of the pan with tongs, you might have found out that the tongs were strong enough to lift the chicken, but the chicken disintegrated and fell to the floor!

Think of the law as those tongs — able, on its own, to lift us. Then think of us as the roasted bird!

2. The Law was given to increase sin:

The law was added so that the trespass might increase. (Romans 5:20a)

Why in the world would God want to increase sin? A famous Bible story shows us why:

In Luke 18 a tax collector (think “Mafia”) was praying. As he did, he was so ashamed that he would not even lift his eyes toward heaven. His prayer asked only for mercy:
“God, be merciful to me, the sinner.”

Nearby, a Pharisee (think “Pastor”) was inviting God to pat him on the back for being such a wonderful guy:
“God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”

Here’s Jesus’ assessment of the scene:
“I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God.”

The Law is a truth teller. Although the truth the Law tells us about ourselves may temporarily hurt, it is actually meant to eternally heal. With that in mind, let’s look again at Romans 5:20a:

The law was added so that the trespass might increase…

Now let’s add the rest of the verse:

…but where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (Romans 5:20b)

The Law, the truth-teller, had gotten through to the tax collector, leaving him in perfect position to receive God’s unearned, unmerited, and undeserved grace.

If it weren’t for the Law, we wouldn’t have a prayer.

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Doth the Lady protest too much?

The Word for today:
Deuteronomy 4:1-40

And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power. (Deuteronomy 4:37)

***

Sing me no song! Read me no rhyme!
Don’t waste my time, Show me!
Don’t talk of June, Don’t talk of fall!
Don’t talk at all! Show me! (“Show Me,” from the musical “My Fair Lady”)

We spent the last couple days talking about musical declarations of love for Jesus. I wondered whether some of those songs are appropriate for a public setting. It wasn’t until the very end of a two-part article that we got around to what the Bible says love for God should look like:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

OK, we should love God, but how is that accomplished? The Bible makes it clear that obedience is man’s response to God’s love:

If you love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

***

In the books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy) God models a very important axiom of true love: Show, then Tell.

We are not aware that he is modeling this axiom until we get all the way to Deuteronomy 4:37:
And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power.

Deuteronomy 4:37 is the first time in the Bible that God tells anybody he loved them. But he has demonstrated it from the first verse in Genesis.  We would do well to emulate God by letting our obedience demonstrate our love for him. Whether or not we ever get around to saying ‘love’ is very nearly immaterial.

In the great book of Psalms, which is the Bible’s collection of worship songs, I was able to locate just two verses where the Psalmist tells God that he loves Him. Here they are:

I love you, O LORD, my strength. (Psalm 18:1)

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. (Psalm 116:1)

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder, as we proclaim our lavish love for God every Sunday, whether our protestations of love are, as they should be, the exclamation point following a week of obedience.

If the Bride of Christ has not first demonstrated love by her obedience, then her ‘love’ is just a word that was never made flesh.

Sometimes I get the feeling, as we sing our ardent love songs to Jesus, that the Lady doth protest too much.

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