Do we long to be obedient to God, wherever he sends us?
Deuteronomy 28 (English Standard Version)
Blessings for Obedience
An obedient Israel would be blessed EVERYWHERE!
1“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. 3Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 5Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
Psalm 121:8 (NLT)
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
7“The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. 8The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 9 The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. 10And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. 11And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. 12The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.
Acts 14:17 (CEV)
But God showed that he was there by the good things he did. God sends rain from heaven and makes your crops grow. He gives food to you and makes your hearts glad.
And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, 14 and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.
D. A. Carson, For the Love of God
HERE Twila Paris sings a song of obedience — “Where He Leads Me, I Will Go.”
Curses for Disobedience
Think what will happen to you if you deliberately choose the path of rebellion and disobedience. Choices bring consequences.
15“But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. 16Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. 17Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 19Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
We dishonor your law by our failure to proclaim it as an essential part of the Christian life, the fruit of a living faith.
We sinners need to hear about the the love of Christ and our need to trust in Christ. But we also need to learn that our own response to your love is to live in obedience to your will and your law.
20“The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. 21The LORD will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 22 The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. 23And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. 24The LORD will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
We dishonor your law by living as though faith is more important than love.
While you restore us and heal our broken lives by the gift of faith, faith is a means to our actually becoming more loving people. It is not an end in itself, and to treat faith as the goal of life is to miss the point, the goal of love. The immediate fruit of a living faith ought to be our loving and reconciling actions toward others.
25 “The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away. 27The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed. 28The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind, 29and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you. 30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit. 31Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat any of it. Your donkey shall be seized before your face, but shall not be restored to you. Your sheep shall be given to your enemies, but there shall be no one to help you. 32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all day long, but you shall be helpless. 33A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually, 34so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see. 35The LORD will strike you on the knees and on the legs with grievous boils of which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.
We dishonor your law by living as if faith were designed to excuse us from holiness of heart and life.
Living “under your law” does not means that we are obliged to observe special ceremonies, to conform to particular traditions, or to keep every commandment in order to deserve or win your love.
We are called to obey your law, gracious God, not because we fear you but because your love has filled out hearts to overflowing.
36“The LORD will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone. 37And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the LORD will lead you away. 38 You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall eat them. 40You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off. 41You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity. 42 The cricket shall possess all your trees and the fruit of your ground. 43 The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
Lord, you call us to declare both your promises and your demands.
45 “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. 46They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever. 47 Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, 48therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.
The composer Joseph Haydn was once criticized by some of the religious people of his day for being too cheerful. “I cannot help it,” he replied. “When I think of the Divine Being, my heart is so full of joy that the notes fly off as from a spindle. And as I have a cheerful heart, I am sure God will pardon me if I serve Him cheerfully.”
On the other hand, as early as A.D. 390. famed theologian Chrysostom preached that the world is not a theater in which to laugh and that it is not God who gives us the chance to play, but the devil. Centuries before, Plato and Aristotle had debated the nature of laughter. The value of humor and its close relatives, laughter and cheer, have been attacked, discussed, and defended for many centuries.
Perhaps it will be sufficient for our understanding here to know that although the Bible is not a textbook on humor and never actually uses the word, yet a merry heart is endorsed at least three times in the Book of Proverbs alone (Proverbs 15:13, 15; 17:22). The Hebrew word used in these verses means “joyful” and even “gleeful.”
A severe judgment is passed against the Israelites in Deuteronomy 28:47-48 because they had not served the Lord joyfully and gladly in their time of prosperity.
Recognizing God as the creator of all good gifts, and recognizing the many ways in which humor benefits all of us, we can acknowledge that laughter is a gift from God and that it is all right for us to use the gift joyfully.
–Dotsey Wiseman Welliver in Stones of Remembrance
49 The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand, 50a hard-faced nation who shall not respect the old or show mercy to the young. 51It shall eat the offspring of your cattle and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed; it also shall not leave you grain, wine, or oil, the increase of your herds or the young of your flock, until they have caused you to perish.
Empower us to honor and uphold your law of love, dear God, not because we fear the consequences of a broken, sinful life but because your gifts of grace, mercy, and faith have transformed us into a loving people.
from Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit
by Paul Chilcote
52“They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the LORD your God has given you. 53And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. 54The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces, and to the last of the children whom he has left, 55so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. 56 The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter, 57her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.
58“If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD your God,
Psalm 119:30-31 (NIV)
I have chosen the way of truth;
I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.
59then the LORD will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. 60And he will bring upon you again all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. 61Every sickness also and every affliction that is not recorded in the book of this law, the LORD will bring upon you, until you are destroyed. 62Whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God. 63And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.
64“And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. 65And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. 66Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life. 67 In the morning you shall say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and at evening you shall say, ‘If only it were morning!’ because of the dread that your heart shall feel, and the sights that your eyes shall see.
Job 7:4 (NIV)
When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
The night drags on, and I toss till dawn.
68And the LORD will bring you back in ships to Egypt, a journey that I promised that you should never make again; and there you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.”
“The Christian Alphabet – A.” Art by Mark Lawrence.
Romans 3:21-31 (NLT)
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.
Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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