19 The more talk, the less truth;
the wise measure their words.
20 The speech of a good person is worth waiting for;
the blabber of the wicked is worthless.
21 The talk of a good person is rich fare for many,
but chatterboxes die of an empty heart.
Fear-of-God Expands Your Life
22God’s blessing makes life rich;
nothing we do can improve on God.
The Oslo Gospel Choir sings about how rich life is in “The Power of Your Love.” Lyrics below.
Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I’ve found in You
Lord I’ve come to know
The weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the Power of Your love
Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I’ll rise up like an eagle
And I will soar with You
Your spirit leads me on
In the Power of Your love
Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see you face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As you live in me
Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day
In the Power of Your love
Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I’ll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love
23 An empty-head thinks mischief is fun,
but a mindful person relishes wisdom.
24 The nightmares of the wicked come true; what the good people desire, they get.
1 John 5:14-15 (New International Version)
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
25 When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked;
good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed.
26 A lazy employee will give you nothing but trouble;
it’s vinegar in the mouth, smoke in the eyes.
27 The Fear-of-God expands your life;
a wicked life is a puny life.
28 The aspirations of good people end in celebration; the ambitions of bad people crash.
Job 8:11-13 (New International Version)
Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh?
Can reeds thrive without water?
While still growing and uncut,
they wither more quickly than grass.
Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
so perishes the hope of the godless.
29 God is solid backing to a well-lived life,
but he calls into question a shabby performance.
30 Good people last—they can’t be moved;
the wicked are here today, gone tomorrow.
31 A good person’s mouth is a clear fountain of wisdom;
a foul mouth is a stagnant swamp.
32The speech of a good person clears the air; the words of the wicked pollute it.
Psalm 19:14 (New International Version)
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
1-6 Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home;
it’s supported by seven hewn timbers.
The word “church” in English means both a group of believers and the building in which they meet. As our chapter talks about the former, here is one of the latter: Notre Dame de Paris, completed around 1345, is widely considered to be one of the world’s finest examples of French Gothic architecture.
Ephesians 2:19-22 (New International Version)
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted,
wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers.
Having dismissed her serving maids,
Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place,
and invites everyone within sound of her voice:
“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!
I’ve prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread,
roast lamb, carefully selected wines.
Leave your impoverished confusion and live!
Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”
7-12 If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face;
confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.
So don’t waste your time on a scoffer;
all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.
But if you correct those who care about life,
that’s different—they’ll love you for it!
Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it;
tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.
Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God,
insight into life from knowing a Holy God.
It’s through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens,
and the years of your life ripen.
Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life;
mock life and life will mock you.
1 John 5:20 (New International Version)
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Peter says, To Him be glory! Paul says, He is the true God! What do we say?
“My Savior, My God,” by Aaron Shust. This song was awarded Song of the Year at the 2007 Annual GMA Dove Awards in Nashville.
Madame Whore Calls Out, Too
13-18 Then there’s this other woman, Madame Whore—
brazen, empty-headed, frivolous.
She sits on the front porch
of her house on Main Street,
And as people walk by minding
their own business, calls out,
“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
Steal off with me, I’ll show you a good time!
No one will ever know—I’ll give you the time of your life.”
But they don’t know about all the skeletons in her closet,
that all her guests end up in hell.
The Spider and the Fly
a cautionary tale by Mary Howitt, 1821.
(When I think of Madame Whore, she has distinctly arachnid characteristics!)
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain, For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?'” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”
Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, ” Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I ‘ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”
“Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you ‘re pleased to say, And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day.”
The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple — there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!”
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue,
Thinking of her crested head — poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour — but she ne’er came out again!
And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.
In this Greek icon, Lady Wisdom is presented with her three daughters, Faith, Hope, and Love.
Proverbs 8 (The Message)
Lady Wisdom Calls Out
1-11 Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling? Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She’s taken her stand at First and Main,
at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square
where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
“You—I’m talking to all of you,
everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
You blockheads—shape up!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
I’m telling you how to live at your best.
My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth—
I can’t stand the taste of evil!
You’ll only hear true and right words from my mouth;
not one syllable will be twisted or skewed.
You’ll recognize this as true—you with open minds;
truth-ready minds will see it at once.
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
from Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized
by Frederick Buechner
In the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom is a woman. “The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,” she says (Proverbs 8:22). She was there when he made the heaven, the sea, the earth. It was as if he needed a woman’s imagination to help him make them, a woman’s eye to tell him if he’d made them right, a woman’s spirit to measure their beauty by. “I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,” she says (Proverbs 8:30), as if it was her joy in what he was creating that made creation bearable, and that’s why he created her first.
Wisdom is a matter not only of the mind but of the intuition and heart, like a woman’s wisdom. It is born out of suffering as a woman bears a child. It shows a way through the darkness the way a woman stands at the window holding a lamp. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness,” says Solomon, then adding, just in case there should be any lingering question as to her gender, “and all her paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17).
12-21 “I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity;
Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.
The Fear-of-God means hating Evil,
whose ways I hate with a passion—
pride and arrogance and crooked talk. Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics;
I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.
from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael
Proverbs 8:14 — Counsel is Mine and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
Job 28:23 — God understandeth the way thereof and He knoweth the place thereof.
God understands. There are no ways and no places that He does not understand.
Have you ever thought what a tremendous difference it would make to our lives if this were not true? Imagine the feelings of a soldier if he had good reason to doubt that his commanding officer understood the situation. We are soldiers. Our Commander understands. His understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5). Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident (Psalm 27:3).
Because of His infinite understanding, God knows that we want to be sure that the One who says He understands has been through the mill Himself. And so we have this wonderful touch of His special understanding in Proverbs 8, where it is clear that the speaker is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. I am Understanding. I, the man of Sorrows acquainted with grief, I who was tempted in all points just as you are, I am Understanding.
It is restful to be understood, to be with one who never misjudges. Let us rest in his presence today.
With my help, leaders rule,
and lawmakers legislate fairly;
With my help, governors govern,
along with all in legitimate authority.
I love those who love me;
those who look for me find me.
Wealth and Glory accompany me—
also substantial Honor and a Good Name.
My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
filling their arms with life—armloads of life!
Though described as with God, wisdom is not asserted to be God. Such a presentation is consistent with personification, a literary metaphor in which a thing or an abstraction is represented as a person. (Common examples of personification in our ordinary lives include Mr. Clean, Aunt Jemima, the Jolly Green Giant, etc.) So “Lady Wisdom” is not the female side of God, nor is she a feminine deity in her own right. Instead she praises God; she calls people to heed her teachings and so to find life. Wisdom shows the character of God, and God will give wisdom to all who learn from the Proverbs.
22-31 “God sovereignly made me—the first, the basic—
before he did anything else.
I was brought into being a long time ago,
well before Earth got its start.
I arrived on the scene before Ocean,
yes, even before Springs and Rivers and Lakes.
Before Mountains were sculpted and Hills took shape,
I was already there, newborn;
Long before God stretched out Earth’s Horizons,
and tended to the minute details of Soil and Weather,
And set Sky firmly in place,
I was there.
When he mapped and gave borders to wild Ocean,
built the vast vault of Heaven,
and installed the fountains that fed Ocean,
When he drew a boundary for Sea,
posted a sign that said no trespassing,
And then staked out Earth’s Foundations,
I was right there with him, making sure everything fit.
Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause,
always enjoying his company,
Delighted with the world of things and creatures,
happily celebrating the human family.
Hillsong sings “God Is Great.” The whole earth sings to the glory of the Creator!
32-36 “So, my dear friends, listen carefully; those who embrace these my ways are most blessed.
“Mother Jeanne Nursing Her Baby” painted by Mary Cassatt, 1907
Luke 11:27-28 (English Standard Version)
As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
don’t squander your precious life.
Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me,
awake and ready for me each morning,
alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.
When you find me, you find life, real life,
to say nothing of God’s good pleasure.
But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul;
when you reject me, you’re flirting with death.”
William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 is one of my favorite reflections on true love. It draws a very different picture from what we read in Proverbs 7.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Proverbs 7 (The Message)
Dressed to Seduce
1-5 Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions.
Do what I say and you’ll live well.
My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it!
Write it out on the back of your hands;
etch it on the chambers of your heart.
Talk to Wisdom as to a sister.
Treat Insight as your companion.
They’ll be with you to fend off the Temptress—
that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress.
6-12 As I stood at the window of my house
looking out through the shutters,
Watching the mindless crowd stroll by,
I spotted a young man without any sense
Arriving at the corner of the street where she lived,
then turning up the path to her house.
It was dusk, the evening coming on,
the darkness thickening into night.
Just then, a woman met him—
she’d been lying in wait for him, dressed to seduce him.
Dressed for success . . .
Brazen and brash she was,
restless and roaming, never at home,
Walking the streets, loitering in the mall,
hanging out at every corner in town.
13-20 She threw her arms around him and kissed him,
boldly took his arm and said,
“I’ve got all the makings for a feast—
today I made my offerings, my vows are all paid,
So now I’ve come to find you,
hoping to catch sight of your face—and here you are!
I’ve spread fresh, clean sheets on my bed,
colorful imported linens.
My bed is aromatic with spices
and exotic fragrances.
Come, let’s make love all night,
spend the night in ecstatic lovemaking!
Other (shorter) pick-up lines:
I have a cat who would really like to meet you.
Do you have any raisins? No? How about a date?
If you were a new hamburger at McDonald’s, you would be McGorgeous.
Well, here I am. What were your other two wishes?
Does my breath smell OK?
My husband’s not home; he’s away on business,
and he won’t be back for a month.”
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” —
So stay away a little longer!
21-23 Soon she has him eating out of her hand,
bewitched by her honeyed speech.
Before you know it, he’s trotting behind her,
like a calf led to the butcher shop,
Like a stag lured into ambush
and then shot with an arrow,
Like a bird flying into a net
not knowing that its flying life is over.
24-27 So, friends, listen to me,
take these words of mine most seriously.
Don’t fool around with a woman like that;
don’t even stroll through her neighborhood.
Countless victims come under her spell;
she’s the death of many a poor man.
She runs a halfway house to hell,
fits you out with a shroud and a coffin.
a build-it-yourself coffin kit!
True love is quite different from what this chapter describes!
This song was one of “our” songs when David and I first started to realize that we were going to be more than just friends. Now, almost seven years after we were married (during a Saturday night worship service at Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Peachtree City, Georgia), being with David still “Feels Like Home to Me.” Sung by Chantal Kreviazuk.
“I love ants! Do they have uncles? Ha-ha!” (Elmo, on Sesame Street)
Proverbs 6 (The Message)
Like a Deer from the Hunter
1-5 Dear friend, if you’ve gone into hock with your neighbor or locked yourself into a deal with a stranger,
If you’ve impulsively promised the shirt off your back
and now find yourself shivering out in the cold,
Friend, don’t waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess.
You’re in that man’s clutches!
Go, put on a long face; act desperate.
there’s no time to lose.
Run like a deer from the hunter,
fly like a bird from the trapper!
A Lesson from the Ant
6-11 You lazy fool, look at an ant.
Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
Nobody has to tell it what to do.
All summer it stores up food;
at harvest it stockpiles provisions.
So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
How long before you get out of bed?
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
poverty your permanent house guest!
Scripture tells us to consider the ways of the ant and be wise.
When my family and I lived in Nigeria, we were often attacked by driver ants, little black meat eaters. If you stood in one place after a heavy rain and they were nearby, they might move up your leg and start their dinner. You would pick them off and quickly go somewhere else. Sometimes they would move into your house en masse. You might just move out and let them clean out all the scraps of meat lying in corners and wait until they left. One night they moved into my biology lab at school and cleaned out (literally) the white rats awaiting dissection.
Ants work together. They cooperate. One ant is insignificant, but an army of them can accomplish a great task. They also plan. They prepare ahead of time for the dry season when no food is available, and look ahead to the harvest. They are self-starters. They initiate and need no one to tell them what to do.
What great lessons we can learn when we ponder God’s work in little creatures. By applying them we avoid unprofitable independence and sloth.
—Dr. James H. Kraakevik, in Stones of Remembrance
Always Cooking Up Something Nasty
12-15 Riffraff and rascals
talk out of both sides of their mouths.
They wink at each other, they shuffle their feet,
they cross their fingers behind their backs.
Their perverse minds are always cooking up something nasty,
always stirring up trouble.
Catastrophe is just around the corner for them,
a total smashup, their lives ruined beyond repair.
Seven Things God Hates
16-19 Here are six things God hates,
and one more that he loathes with a passion:
eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies,
hands that murder the innocent,
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies under oath,
a troublemaker in the family.
Warning on Adultery
Alan Jackson, from Newnan, Georgia (my hometown for 10 years), is one of the big names in current country music. Here he sings “She Just Started Liking Cheatin’ Songs.”
20-23 Good friend, follow your father’s good advice;
don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings.
Wrap yourself in them from head to foot;
wear them like a scarf around your neck.
Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you;
whenever you rest, they’ll guard you;
when you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next.
For sound advice is a beacon,
good teaching is a light,
moral discipline is a life path.
Deuteronomy 5:18 (New International Version)
“You shall not commit adultery.”
24-35 They’ll protect you from wanton women,
from the seductive talk of some temptress.
Don’t lustfully fantasize on her beauty,
nor be taken in by her bedroom eyes.
Claudia Lynx has (beautiful) sultry bedroom eyes.
You can buy an hour with a whore for a loaf of bread,
but a wanton woman may well eat you alive.
Can you build a fire in your lap
and not burn your pants?
Can you walk barefoot on hot coals
and not get blisters?
It’s the same when you have sex with your neighbor’s wife:
Touch her and you’ll pay for it. No excuses.
Hunger is no excuse
for a thief to steal;
When he’s caught he has to pay it back,
even if he has to put his whole house in hock.
Adultery is a brainless act,
Expect a bloody nose, a black eye,
and a reputation ruined for good.
For jealousy detonates rage in a cheated husband;
wild for revenge, he won’t make allowances.
Nothing you say or pay will make it all right;
neither bribes nor reason will satisfy him.
Moses was buried somewhere around here! Mt. Nebo, in present-day Jordan.
Deuteronomy 34 (English Standard Version)
The Death of Moses
Question: What is thy only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I, with body and soul, both in life and death,
am not my own,
but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ;
who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied all my sins,
and delivered me from all the power of the devil;
and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father,
not a hair can fall from my head;
yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation,
and therefore, by his Holy Spirit,
He also assures me of eternal life,
and makes me sincerely willing and ready,
henceforth, to live unto him.
Q/A 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism, 1563
1Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4And the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.”
5So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, 6and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day.
Psalm 49:15 (New International Version)
But God will redeem my life from the grave;
he will surely take me to himself. Selah
“And when she (the Church) buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.”
–John Donne, Meditation XVII
7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. 8And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.
Hebrews 3:1-6 (New International Version)
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
9And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. 10And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 12and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
quoted in The New Gold Standard, by Joseph A. Michelli
Moses was “Going Home.” The tune is from Dvorak, sung by Libera.
1This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. 2He said,
“The LORD came from Sinai
and dawned from Seir upon us;
he shone forth from Mount Paran;
he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
with flaming fire at his right hand.
Hebrews 12:29 (New King James Version)
For our God is a consuming fire.
Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.
I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies:
But take the dimness of my soul above.
Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh;
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.
Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The baptism of the heaven descended Dove; My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.
3Yes, he loved his people,
all his holy ones were in his hand;
so they followed in your steps,
receiving direction from you, 4when Moses commanded us a law,
as a possession for the assembly of Jacob. 5Thus the LORD became king in Jeshurun,
when the heads of the people were gathered,
all the tribes of Israel together.
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Reuben” by Marc Chagall
6 “Let Reuben live, and not die,
but let his men be few.”
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Judah” by Marc Chagall
7And this he said of Judah:
“Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah,
and bring him in to his people.
With your hands contend for him,
and be a help against his adversaries.”
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Levi” by Marc Chagall
8And of Levi he said,
“Give to Levi your Thummim,
and your Urim to your godly one,
whom you tested at Massah,
with whom you quarreled at the waters of Meribah; 9who said of his father and mother,
‘I regard them not’;
he disowned his brothers
and ignored his children.
For they observed your word
and kept your covenant. 10 They shall teach Jacob your rules
and Israel your law;
they shall put incense before you
and whole burnt offerings on your altar. 11Bless, O LORD, his substance,
and accept the work of his hands;
crush the loins of his adversaries,
of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Benjamin” by Marc Chagall
12 Of Benjamin he said,
“The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety.
The High God surrounds him all day long,
and dwells between his shoulders.”
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Joseph” by Marc Chagall
13And of Joseph he said,
“Blessed by the LORD be his land,
with the choicest gifts of heaven above,
and of the deep that crouches beneath, 14with the choicest fruits of the sun
and the rich yield of the months, 15with the finest produce of the ancient mountains
and the abundance of the everlasting hills, 16with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness
and the favor of him who dwells in the bush.
Exodus 3:1-2 (New International Version)
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.
May these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers. 17 A firstborn bull—he has majesty,
and his horns are the horns of a wild ox;
with them he shall gore the peoples,
all of them, to the ends of the earth;
they are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Zebulun” by Marc Chagall
18And of Zebulun he said,
“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Issachar” by Marc Chagall
and Issachar, in your tents. 19They shall call peoples to their mountain;
there they offer right sacrifices;
for they draw from the abundance of the seas
and the hidden treasures of the sand.”
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Gad” by Marc Chagall
20And of Gad he said,
“Blessed be he who enlarges Gad!
Gad crouches like a lion;
he tears off arm and scalp. 21 He chose the best of the land for himself,
for there a commander’s portion was reserved;
and he came with the heads of the people,
with Israel he executed the justice of the LORD,
and his judgments for Israel.”
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Dan” by Marc Chagall
22And of Dan he said,
“Dan is a lion’s cub
that leaps from Bashan.”
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Naphtali” by Marc Chagall
23And of Naphtali he said,
“O Naphtali, sated with favor,
and full of the blessing of the LORD,
possess the lake and the south.”
“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Asher” by Marc Chagall
24And of Asher he said,
“Most blessed of sons be Asher;
let him be the favorite of his brothers,
and let him dip his foot in oil. 25Your bars shall be iron and bronze,
and as your days, so shall your strength be.
26 “There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
who rides through the heavens to your help,
through the skies in his majesty. 27The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Psalm 63:8 (King James Version)
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, Destroy. 28So Israel lived in safety,
Jacob lived alone,
in a land of grain and wine,
whose heavens drop down dew. 29Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,
a people saved by the LORD,
the shield of your help,
and the sword of your triumph!
Your enemies shall come fawning to you,
and you shall tread upon their backs.”
“Fire Fall Down” by Hillsong United — a worship song for God, who is refining fire and worthy of all praise.
Marc Chagall, photographed in 1941.
about Marc Chagall and the Jerusalem Windows:
Artist Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985) was born into a Jewish community in the Russian Empire, but spent most of his adult life in France and the United States. In 1960he began creating stained glass windows for the synogogue of Hebrew University’s Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. The twelve windows represent the twelve tribes of Israel. They were installed in 1962 — each window about 11 feet high and 8 feet wide. I love the color and the vibrant singing quality of them!
French philosopher Gaston Bachelard said: “Chagall reads the Bible and suddenly the passages become light.”
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.”
Deuteronomy 32 (English Standard Version)
The Song of Moses
30Then Moses spoke the words of this song until they were finished, in the ears of all the assembly of Israel:
1“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. 2May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and like showers upon the herb. 3For I will proclaim the name of the LORD;
ascribe greatness to our God!
4“The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice;
Psalm 19:14 (New International Version)
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is he.
5They have dealt corruptly with him;
they are no longer his children because they are blemished;
they are a crooked and twisted generation. 6Do you thus repay the LORD,
you foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your father, who created you,
who made you and established you? 7 Remember the days of old;
consider the years of many generations;
ask your father, and he will show you,
your elders, and they will tell you. 8When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God. 9But the LORD’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.
from Morning and Evening
–C. H. Spurgeon
“The Lord’s portion is his people.”
— Deuteronomy 32:9
How are they his? By his own sovereign choice. He chose them, and set his love upon them. This he did altogether apart from any goodness in them at the time, or any goodness which he foresaw in them. He had mercy on whom he would have mercy, and ordained a chosen company unto eternal life; thus, therefore, are they his by his unconstrained election.
They are not only his by choice, but by purchase. He has bought and paid for them to the utmost farthing, hence about his title there can be no dispute. Not with corruptible things, as with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord’s portion has been fully redeemed. There is no mortgage on his estate; no suits can be raised by opposing claimants, the price was paid in open court, and the Church is the Lord’s freehold forever. See the blood-mark upon all the chosen, invisible to human eye, but known to Christ, for “the Lord knoweth them that are his”; he forgetteth none of those whom he has redeemed from among men; he counts the sheep for whom he laid down his life, and remembers well the Church for which he gave himself.
They are also his by conquest. What a battle he had in us before we would be won! How long he laid siege to our hearts! How often he sent us terms of capitulation! but we barred our gates, and fenced our walls against him. Do we not remember that glorious hour when he carried our hearts by storm? When he placed his cross against the wall, and scaled our ramparts, planting on our strongholds the blood-red flag of his omnipotent mercy? Yes, we are, indeed, the conquered captives of his omnipotent love. Thus chosen, purchased, and subdued, the rights of our divine possessor are inalienable: we rejoice that we never can be our own; and we desire, day by day, to do his will, and to show forth his glory.
10“He found him in a desert land,
and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
he encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye. 11 Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
Bald eagles build the largest nests of any bird in North America. One nest in Florida measured 20 feet deep and 9 feet across!
that flutters over its young,
spreading out its wings, catching them,
bearing them on its pinions, 12 the LORD alone guided him,
no foreign god was with him. 13 He made him ride on the high places of the land,
and he ate the produce of the field,
and he suckled him with honey out of the rock,
and oil out of the flinty rock. 14Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock,
with fat of lambs,
rams of Bashan and goats,
with the very finest of the wheat—
and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape.
15“But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked;
you grew fat, stout, and sleek;
then he forsook God who made him
and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.
Psalm 18:2 (New International Version)
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
16 They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;
with abominations they provoked him to anger. 17 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded. 18You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you,
and you forgot the God who gave you birth.
Isaiah 26:4 (New International Version)
Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
19 “The LORD saw it and spurned them,
because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. 20And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them;
I will see what their end will be,
For they are a perverse generation,
children in whom is no faithfulness. 21 They have made me jealous with what is no god;
they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. 22For a fire is kindled by my anger,
and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
devours the earth and its increase,
and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.
Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
23“‘And I will heap disasters upon them;
I will spend my arrows on them; 24they shall be wasted with hunger,
and devoured by plague
and poisonous pestilence;
I will send the teeth of beasts against them,
with the venom of things that crawl in the dust. 25 Outdoors the sword shall bereave,
and indoors terror,
for young man and woman alike,
the nursing child with the man of gray hairs. 26 I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces;
I will wipe them from human memory,” 27had I not feared provocation by the enemy,
lest their adversaries should misunderstand,
lest they should say, “Our hand is triumphant,
it was not the LORD who did all this.”‘
28“For they are a nation void of counsel,
and there is no understanding in them. 29 If they were wise, they would understand this;
they would discern their latter end! 30How could one have chased a thousand,
and two have put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
and the LORD had given them up? 31For their rock is not as our Rock;
our enemies are by themselves.
Isaiah 44:8 (New International Version)
“Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”
I would like this song to be my every morning wake-up call! I just love how GLAD sings “God Is My Rock.”
32For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
and from the fields of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of poison;
their clusters are bitter; 33their wine is the poison of serpents
and the cruel venom of asps.
34“‘Is not this laid up in store with me,
sealed up in my treasuries? 35 Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
Hebrews 10:26-30 (New Living Translation)
Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said,
“I will take revenge.
I will pay them back.”
from The Cost of Discipleship
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living incarnate.
“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.”
36For the LORD will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.
Luke 18:7 (NRSV)
Will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?
37Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods,
the rock in which they took refuge, 38who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you;
let them be your protection!
39“‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. 40For I lift up my hand to heaven
and swear, As I live forever, 41if I sharpen my flashing sword
and my hand takes hold on judgment,
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
and will repay those who hate me. 42I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
and my sword shall devour flesh—
with the blood of the slain and the captives,
from the long-haired heads of the enemy.’
43 “Rejoice with him, O heavens;
bow down to him, all gods,
for he avenges the blood of his children
and takes vengeance on his adversaries.
He repays those who hate him
and cleanses his people’s land.”
44Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun. 45And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”
It’s puzzling that so many Christians try to live the Christian life without reading their Bible, except for sporadic perusals of God’s Word, seeking a pithy thought for the day. The Word of God is not merely a source of helpful suggestions, preventative warnings, or inspirational thoughts: It is life itself!
God gathered the children of Israel at the edge of the Promised Land to review their pilgrimage with Him. They had spent forty years in a desert because their parents had not trusted God’s word. Their parents died without seeing the Promised Land because they had not believed God’s word. Even the revered Moses was soon to leave them because he had not shown proper reverence for God’s word. Many of them knew those who had been put to death as a consequence of their disobedience to God’s word. Over the years God’s word had become the most important thing in the life of the Israelites.
God commanded His people to bind His words on their hearts, to teach them diligently to their children, and to regularly discuss them in their homes (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). So essential was His word that it was to hold a prominent place in the daily lives of His people.
Our reverence for God’s Word is revealed not only by what we say but also by what we do. Spending more time reading and studying the words of people rather than the Word of God, reveals our hearts’ condition. To blatantly disregard God’s Word is to reject life itself. To obey God’s Word is the surest way to experience all that God has in store for us.
from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby
Are you sharing this blog, DWELLING in the Word, with your friends? Please do! We are eager for others to join us in our thoughtful reading of the Word of God!
Moses’ Death Foretold
48That very day the LORD spoke to Moses, 49“Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession. 50And die on the mountain which you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, 51 because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. 52For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel.”
1So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. 2And he said to them, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ 3The LORD your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the LORD has spoken. 4And the LORD will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. 5And the LORD will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you. 6Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
7Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. 8It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
The Reading of the Law
Reading the Torah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem
9Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, 11when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, 13and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”
Psalm 119:33-35 (King James Version)
Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
Joshua Commissioned to Lead Israel
14And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die. Call Joshua and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.” And Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting. 15And the LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud. And the pillar of cloud stood over the entrance of the tent.
16And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. 17Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ 18And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods.
19“Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel.20For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. 21And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” 22So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the people of Israel.
Psalm 145:6-7 (New Living Translation)
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.
23 And the LORD commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.”
24When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, 25Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, 26“Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. 27For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD. How much more after my death! 28Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.”
The song “Be Strong and Take Courage” — written by Don Moen — has been a mainstay in my life.
. Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way
Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the one who lives within you
Will be strong in you today
Why don’t you give him all of your fears
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for
Nothing can take you out of his hand
Nothing can face you can’t command
I know that you will always be
In His love, in His power you will be free!
God gave the Israelites — and us — clear directions to get us all to a wonderful future.
Deuteronomy 30 (English Standard Version)
Repentance and Forgiveness
An open future . . .
The fundamental demand of the law (to love God with all one’s heart and soul) is presented as the ultimate fruit of God’s grace in the human heart.
1 “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, 2and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. 5And the LORD your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. 6And 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.
7And the LORD your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. 8And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today. 9 The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10when you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Janis Joplin prays for blessings in “Lord, Won’t you Buy Me a Mercedes-Benz?”
The Choice of Life and Death
An open word . . .
Keeping the law is not impossibly idealistic, impracticable, unachievable. Obedience to the law is not the means of achieving salvation, but the response to a salvation that was already experienced.
11“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
Romans 10:5-9 (New Living Translation)
For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says,
“The message is very close at hand;
it is on your lips and in your heart.”
And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
An open choice . . .
Life, in the end, is not found in the law itself, but in the God who gave it; for ultimately, the Lord is your life.
15“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life,
that you and your offspring may live, 20loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
The Christian life is not difficult. The same Christ who lived a perfect, obedient, and sinless life stands prepared to live it again through you (Galatians 2:20). God’s will is not hard to discern. He has given us the Scriptures, which reveal His will, and He has placed his Holy Spirit with us to guide us to His perfect will in every situation (John 16:13). Our greatest challenge will be to wholly commit our lives to follow God’s will obediently as He reveals it.
Moses gathered the Israelites around Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim before they were to enter the Promised Land. There, God described what they had to do in order to obey Him. God gave detailed instructions so there was no mistaking what was expected of them. Then God asked them to make a choice. If they chose to disobey His commands, they would face His wrath. If they chose to obey, they would receive His blessing.
God’s Word comes to you in the same way. It is not too complex to understand. You don’t have to struggle to discern God’s will about adultery or forgiveness or honesty. God’s word is perfectly clear. The question is, how will you respond? Nowhere in Scripture did God excuse disobedience because His instructions were too vague or complex. Condemnation came because they knew exactly what God wanted them to do, yet they chose not to do it! God, through his Holy Spirit, will always give you sufficient revelation and strength to take the next step with Him. If you are uncertain about what God is asking of you, make sure that you are obeying all that you do know, and through your obedience, God’s next instruction will become clear.
from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby
Another prayer for blessing. “Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh on Me.”
This chorus was written in 1926 by Dan Iverson, a Presbyterian evangelist. Once when he was ministering at First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, he wrote this song and introduced it at the start of one of his meetings. He never got to his sermon. Instead, the congregation sang this chorus for forty-five minutes. On the basis of this hymn and the work of the Holy Spirit, some 400 people came forward, seeking to follow Jesus in a new way.
As we listen, may the Lord grant us hearts that eagerly cry to be broken, melted, molded, and filled — all to the glory of God!