Sunday, August 31, 2014

Deuteronomy 4

Today's reading in our daily plan is Deuteronomy 4. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • Moses reminds the Israelites of the laws God gave for them, and that following them leads to life. He tells them to keep the commands, and that they are not to add to them or subtract from them (4:2).
  • He also tells them that they must teach them to their children and grandchildren, so they too can live good lives that please God (4:9).
  • An "idol" (verse 16 and following) is something people put their trust in instead of God, and elevate in importance to a place that should belong only to God. God does not tolerate idols for He is "a jealous God." God is jealous because only He deserves the top spot in people's live, and also because He loves us, and knows that when we put something else in the top spot, we will suffer because of it.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • Moses begins telling God's laws and decrees by saying "Hear now, O Israel." Israel were the people who had committed themselves to being God's people. Following God's laws does not make you God's people (or get you into Heaven). God gives His laws to people who are already His people. Most people have this backward. They think God approves of them because they follow the commandments, or will go to Heaven because they're good people. That's not the way it works, at all. God invites us into relationship with Him by putting our faith in Him. If we truly say yes, we have His approval and will go to Heaven, even if we don't follow the commandments. If we say no, we don't have His approval and won't go to Heaven, even if we are good.
  • God gave laws to Israel. Many are the laws (such as the Ten Commandments) are universal and still fully apply today. Some laws were directed specifically to the Israelites at that point in history, but the principle behind those laws still apply to us. For instance, there are many laws about animal sacrifice. We don't sacrifice animals, but the principles behind these laws, such as seeking God's forgiveness and offering thanks to God, still apply.
  • Like the Israelites, there will always be other things that we look to for our identity and trust in and make most important. Our idols might be success, our kids, popularity, money or sex.
  • There is a great promise in verse 29, "if you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart, and with all your soul."

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • Have you said yes to a relationship with God? If not, please don't think that being a good person will make you OK with Him or get you into Heaven. It won't. God has invited you into relationship, and you need to say yes.
  • Once you say yes, it is like a marriage. In a marriage, a spouse can have other interests and other friends, but they can't treat any other person as if they are their spouse. In the same way, a Christian can have other interests and other relationships, but he/she can't treat anything else as if it's their god. When we do, when we put our hope, trust, identity in something else, it is an idol. So, what do you tend to make an idol?
  • And once you say yes, God gives you a way to live that pleases Him and is best for you. How are you doing at living life God's way? And, if you have kids, at teaching them God's way of living? What do you need to change?