Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Do you KNOW the God you claim to believe in?"

Day #296:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - October 20th

Scripture Reading:  Deuteronomy 4 - 6 ...

How quickly people forget!  From our vantage point it is easy to condemn the people of Israel for their forgetfulness.  God had revealed Himself to them in such visible, miraculous ways, and yet they doubted, questioned, complained, murmured, disobeyed and worshiped idols, mere images.  But people today are so much like them.  People will believe that the earth is millions of years old and that we actually evolved from animals before they will see the glory of God in the creation around us and in our own bodies.  Rejecting the truth, people will find a way to "explain" the things that happen in this world, and when things don't go "right" ... THEN they'll blame a "god" who should do something to make their lives better.

Moses writes Deuteronomy more that 3,000 years ago and yet people have not changed in any significant way.  This is why God chose ONE nation in whom He would display His glory - the nation of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  It has never been God's intention or plan to reveal Himself to all people in all times in the way He revealed Himself to Israel.  He tells us that "since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has even made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).  People reject the one true God willingly and intentionally every day.

But to some, beginning with Abraham and his descendants, the nation of Israel, God revealed Himself in a unique way.  To Israel God gave His perfect law.  Having given His commandments to Israel, God told them to "observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations" (4:6).  The nations around Israel were lawless nations (look around the world even today as governments attempt to devise laws to control human nature!).  God's commands were perfect because they all pointed to a relationship with God Himself.  It was never about just keeping a bunch of rules, but always about KNOWING God and serving Him.

"What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us, whenever we pray to Him?  And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws? (4:7-8).  Moses urges the people not to forget what they have seen and heard so that God will be with them and bless them.  "Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that He made with you ... for the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God" (4:23-24).  It is important to remind ourselves in our modern technological world that this is OUR God, our Creator, the One who sent His Son Jesus Christ to bear His wrath against our sins so that we may approach Him without fear, in reverence and awe.

To those who would say that God is different after Jesus came, we read in Hebrews 12:28-29:  "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'"  The basis of our knowledge of God MUST begin at creation.  No wonder that Satan wants to deceive people concerning our origin because if you don't believe there is a Creator you are free to make up your own idea of God ... which is exactly what mankind has done.  Listen how Moses explains the unique relationship Israel has with God:

"Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created man on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other.  Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of?  Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived?  Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation ...?"  (4:32-34).  And why did God show Himself to THEM?  "You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides Him there is no other" (4:35).  But why THESE people?  "Because He loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them ..." (4:37).

People in the world today STILL do not understand that it is God's sovereign choice that has made the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob special to the LORD, our God.  The amazing thing is, that in God's plan, we who are "Gentiles" are grafted in to the root and become heirs along with those who believe through faith in Jesus Christ, the "Seed" of Abraham.  And our inheritance is God's eternal kingdom and the new heaven and the new earth!!  So much lies ahead, but God's love and grace will carry us through to the end of this age and the beginning of eternity.  Moses urges the people to "acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below.  There is no other!" (4:39).

After recounting the Ten Commandments in Chapter 5, Moses asks a rather pointed question:  "What mortal man has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived?" (5:26).  Those are not just words!  Think about it ...  God Himself says, "Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!" (5:29).  Without the Holy Spirit the response of human nature is either fear or, "What can I get out of this relationship?"  We think it is all about us, when in reality, it (life) is all about GOD!!

So Moses pens the words that Jesus would quote later in Matthew 22:  "Hear, O Israel:  The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (6:4-5).  And how do you show your love for God?  Worship ... obedience!!  Moses tells them to teach their children what it means to know, love and serve God by impressing on them the necessity of obedience as an expression of love.  Those without the Spirit will never understand that it is love for God because He first loved us that moves the heart of the true believer to worship and obey.  Yes, God is a jealous God ... but why?  Because of His love for His people.

To Israel, Moses explained God's deliverance from Egypt in this way:  "He brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that He promised on oath to our forefathers" (6:23). Hasn't God done the same for us today ... for those who have been born again by His Spirit and given new life in Christ?!  Has He not delivered us from bondage to sin that we may serve Him with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength?  We, too, have been chosen by God's sovereign grace to be a kingdom and priests before the Lord our God and our very lives are the offering we bring.

Our God IS a consuming fire!  Our God IS a jealous God!  Our God reigns over the nations of the earth and our God will bring Jesus back to establish His kingdom once for all and sin and evil will be no more!  O glorious day!  Come, Lord Jesus!!  Do YOU know this God?  Do you claim to believe in this God?  He is the only true God, there is no other.  If you know Him, then love the Lord your God with all your heart and live to worship and obey Him!!

"LORD God Almighty, in Your marvelous grace You have revealed Yourself to me and made me Your child through the shed blood of Jesus and the work of Your Spirit through Your Word.  I am Yours and I ask only that You lead me in the paths of righteousness for Your Name's sake.  Let my life be a light showing others the way to You as I share with them the truth about who You are ... Give me wisdom to testify to those around me that there is but ONE true God, and that YOU are it!!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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