Thursday, 31 December 2015


In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. – Deuteronomy 28.67

Scary times are nothing new. When we waste our time with fear we wish for the morning or we wish for the night or we wish for the next day or the next week or the next year so that the scary bit is done and over with.

Fear makes us think irrationally. Fear makes us lose our focus. Fear will always defeat us. What we see will cause us to be afraid if you focus on them. We will say ‘oh I wish it was tonight, or oh, I wish it was tomorrow.’

And we end up wishing our lives away out of fear of facing a scary reality.

But we need not fear the day or the night because God’s perfect love always cast our fear. Fear is not a godly reaction because fear is not of God.

We don’t have to have a fear filled life. 2016 can be a fear free year. ‘Fear not, for I am with you’ God tells us.’ With God on our side how can we fear what man, or circumstances, can do to us?  Don’t live the kind of life that wants to just rush through every scary time. Let’s see those times as times to be reminded that God is with us and see what He will do for us on those trials.  

Wednesday, 30 December 2015


And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you. – Deuteronomy 26.11

Rejoicing is a part of the lives of God’s people throughout history. Here Moses says to rejoice in all the good things God has done. The point is that God always does good and therefore we should always rejoice. That’s why Paul reminds is to rejoice in the Lord always.

So what gets in the way of rejoicing? What keep us from experiencing the joy that God has for us? Why is it so easy to rejoice in what we see as good and not rejoice when we perceive bad or evil?

I think it is a matter of focus, self-will, and pride, pure and simple. It is like little children who are only happy when they get their own way. If we don’t get what we want when we want it we can get sad and pouty and doubty.

We really ought to be more mature than that. If I REALLY believe that God is good and that He loves me and He does what is right then I take comfort in it and rejoice because everything He does is good.

Rejoice evermore.
Rejoice in the Lord always

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

In a book

"Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes,  - Deuteronomy 17.18-19

Write it in a book. I am so glad for those few simple words. I like the words ‘write in a book’ because that give a sure source of authority that is more dependable than just oral tradition.

There is a game called by various names that involves one person taking a written text and whispering it to the next person. The message is then passed on orally to the end of the line where the last person writes down what they heard. The fun comes in seeing how much the message had changed.

Fun maybe, but not very reliable or trustworthy. The only way to make sure the message really got to the end would be to pass on the piece of paper with the message on it.

God did not want His people to forget His word. He did not want to depend on the faithfulness of oral tradition. He knew that His word would change with the very first retelling.

So He said ‘write it down in a book.’

The great thing about a book is that we can look back at it again and again it is not going to change. It is a reliable source.

Let me give you a personal example. We are fortunate in Ireland to have some of the oldest Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible on display in a museum in Dublin. Our son Matt is quite skilled in Biblical Greek and was able to look at a 2nd century manuscript on display and translate it into English. They were the same words as we read in our Bibles today. Imagine doing that with on oral traditions!

Thank God that His word was written down in a book! Thank God I turn back to it any time I want and it is going to be the same as it was last time I looked!  

Monday, 28 December 2015

Watch out for evil thoughts

Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. – Deuteronomy 15.9

Be careful that you don’t have a wicked thought in your heart.

There are all kinds of wicked thoughts. There are bitter thoughts and vengeful thoughts and jealous thoughts and lustful thoughts and proud thoughts and so on and so on.

So the warnings about watching out for evil thoughts are a good general warning.

But the evil thoughts here are a different kind of thoughts out of a wicked heart.

These evil thoughts specifically involve trying to get out of a law that required debts to be forgiven every seven years. The evil thoughts were thoughts of greed and selfishness.

These evil thoughts are real because they are based on the love of money, and that of course is the root of all sorts of evil. This ties in to the previous passage about caring for the poor. To not care for the poor is not only irresponsible, but it is proof of the evil in our hearts.

Like all other sins wicked selfish thoughts begin in our hearts - all the more reason to keep our hearts with all diligence. If we really believe that God can and will meet all our needs it frees us up to be the givers He wants us to be. 

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Remember the poor

If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. – Deuteronomy 15.7-8

Among the instructions God gave His people when He led them into the Promised Land was a call to take care of the poor. ‘When you have the poor,’ God said ‘don’t harden your heart, don’t be tight-fisted, but open you hands wide.’

Caring for the poor became the trademark of God’s people. When Isaiah challenged the people about true revival he laid aside religious practices and told them that true heart revival is evidenced not by religion, but by caring for the poor. Jesus set the standard for His people when He preached about taking care of the ‘least of them’ we would prove how much we cared for Him. Through the epistles offerings were taken and used to meet the needs of the poor. We are told to do good to all men. Several times we are simply told to feed the poor. Indeed that is to be our hallmark.

I have wondered why it is such a ‘big deal.’ Of all the things we can do why is this so important? Of all the stuff we could be doing, why is caring for the poor so high on the list?

I think part of the reason it is so big is because giving to others is a true sign of our own faith.  If I can’t trust God to meet my needs I surely am not going to be able to trust God to meet other’s needs through me.

Another reason is that the poor need cared for, and God loves them. Who better than His people to meet those needs? We are, after all, the ones who should be loving with the love of God.

Still another reason is that meeting the needs of the poor is our chance to be a testimony. The world has a hard time arguing when God’s people are loving and giving. Historically, this is what eventually won the leaders of Rome to stop the persecution.

Caring for the poor is our job. It’s too bad we have passed it on to others.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Cleave to Him

Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. – Deuteronomy 13.4

Cleave is a fun English word. It is an auto-antonym – a word with opposite meanings. Cleave means divide and it also means to cling to or to hold on to.

When I think of this word I think of a child who is holding on to a parent for dear life. Nothing is going to pry them loose. They are stuck tighter than glue.

I think this is a picture of how God’s people are to cleave to our God. We cleave ourselves from the things and ways and philosophies of the world and then we cleave to God with the same tenacity with which we used to cleave to the world.

The rest of the verse tells us how to cleave to our God. Walk after His ways, fear Him, keep His commandments, and serve Him. These are practical things we can do to cleave to God and His ways.

Most of us can remember times in our lives when our only hope to ‘grab ahold’ of God and hold on for dear life. At those crisis moments it is all we can do.

And we can be sure that we are going to face those crisis times again. And at those times we can be pretty sure that we are going to face times like that again in the future. And, if I know me, I am going to hold on to God for dear life and depend on His alone to get through the crisis.

So why not just cleave to Him during the in-between times? Why not just cleave to Him whenever things are going okay? Why wander at all?

The nice thing it is that it is not all up to me. God is holding on to us and He is not going to let go – so why not just snuggle up and cling to Him? 

Friday, 25 December 2015

God with us

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. - Matthew 1.23

Today is the day we celebrate the incarnate Christ. We celebrate God come in human flesh. We celebrate Jesus taking on the form of a servant. We celebrate the birth of the One who was born to die. We celebrate our saviour and our redeemer. We celebrate Emmanuel. We celebrate God with us.

God with us.

What a thought.

How can it be that the eternal, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, holy, just, righteous, all-loving, creator and sustainer of all there has been, is, and will be could come to earth to dwell with sinful man in a sin-cursed world?

I could go on, but I don’t think I can beat a C.H. Spurgeon quote that a friend posted on Facebook last night. Spurgeon nails it:

"Immanuel, God with us." It is hell’s terror. Satan trembles at the sound of it... Let him come to you suddenly, and do you but whisper that word, "God with us," back he falls, confounded and confused... "God with us" is the laborer’s strength. How could he preach the gospel, how could he bend his knees in prayer, how could the missionary go into foreign lands, how could the martyr stand at the stake, how could the confessor own his Master, how could men labour if that one word were taken away?... "God with us" is eternity’s sonnet, heaven’s hallelujah, the shout of the glorified, the song of the redeemed, the chorus of the angels, the everlasting oratorio of the great orchestra of the sky."

Today we celebrate, and let's not forget it, Emmanuel – God with us! 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Right in his own eyes

Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. – Deuteronomy 12.8

What is right and what is not right? What some are calling the ‘post-modern era’ is where there is no real sense of right and wrong – or that is what some people like to say. That is, of course, until there is something that really seems wrong to them. Nobody really believes that there is no right and no wrong.

I have talked to two educators in the last month or so who have tried to explain why schools should be involved in teaching some sort of morality to the students. I asked them whose standards of morals we are going to teach. Neither one could answer. They both mentioned something like ‘socially acceptable norms of morality.’  I told them both that as a Christian I certainly didn’t want my children to be taught morals by someone who could not define what is right and wrong.

So what happens when there is no measuring rod?

If there is no right and no wrong who are we in the west to tell cultures it is wrong to kill their wives for being raped by another man? If it is right to kill unborn children and old or ill people who are we to say it is wrong to kill someone who is ugly of deformed? If there is no right and no wrong who decides what is just and fair?

Every man does that which is right in his own eyes. When there is no right and there is no wrong we decide for ourselves what is right and wrong.

And the result is disaster.

But there is right and there is wrong. God sets down a standard in His word. It is universally right no matter what the country or culture or time or season. To ignore that is for every man to do what is right in his own eye and the result of no moral standard can only be chaos. 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Be careful

Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; - Deuteronomy 11.16

The events of the wilderness wanderings took place somewhere around 3500 years ago. It was of course a very different world. This was also a very different culture to our modern western culture.

And yet God’s people still needed to be warned about being deceived by the world.

So God says be careful. Like the old children’s song says:

Oh be careful little eyes what you see
Oh be careful little ears what you hear
Oh be careful little feet where you go
Oh be careful little lips what you say
Oh be careful little hands what you do

We can’t afford to let down our guard because the Great Deceiver leads a deceptive world system in an attempt to deceive all of us. Deception is all around. That isn’t going to stop. We can put up blocks and avoid places and install controls on our televisions and computers and such and that is all well and good.

But to really avoid deception we need to get our hearts sorted out because all of our actions come from our hearts. If our hearts are not right we are inviting deception. Our hearts control our eyes and ears and feet and lips and hands so if we careful of our hearts that we will not be deceived.

‘Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are all the issues of life.’

Be careful. Don't be fooled by this old world. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Your eyes have seen...therefore keep

But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did. Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey. – Deuteronomy 11.7-9

Israel had seen all that God had done for them. He delivered them from Egypt. He provided for them in the wilderness. He defeated their enemies. He forgave them when they erred. He took care of them even when they were in rebellion. They saw all the great acts that the Lord had done.

So when God reminded them that they had seen all that He had done He said ‘keep my commandments’ and if they did He would make them strong and give them the land and prolong their days in the Promised Land.

So it was easy for them to see that God was obeying and His commandments worth keeping. God knows men’s faith is weak, so He helps us know how powerful He is.

We too have seen God work. Even though He is God and did not need to prove anything He has proven Himself worthy of our obedience and our keeping true to His word.

Our salvation is only dependent on the finished work of Christ, but we can watch Him bless us in our obedience to Him. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Who will serve?

Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen. – Deuteronomy 10.20-21

Who are we going to serve? That is one of the great questions of life. It isn’t simply a matter of who are going to work for, but it is a life choice and a series of life choices to follow.

Elijah told the people of Israel to chose who they would serve. ‘If Jehovah is God follow Him, if Baal is God follow him.’ Make a choice.

Joshua told the people after the conquest of Canaan to choose to serve either the pagan gods or Jehovah God. ‘But’ he said,’ as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.’

Before salvation we had no choice about what to serve. We were captives to sin. It had dominion over us.

But in Christ we have a new Master and it is Him we are now called to serve. Paul got it right when over and over again he referred to him as a slave or a bondservant.

This may sound like a clean and clear-cut decision, but it plays out many times every day. Or will I serve, Christ or flesh? Who will I serve, Christ or my bank account? Who will I serve, Christ or my popularity? Who will I serve, Christ or the pressure of the world?

Of course not everything is in clear conflict. I am to serve God while I live with my family. I serve God while I am at work. I serve God while I am a good citizen. It is only when we serve these things more than we serve God that I get in trouble.

So who are we going to serve? Let’s make it even more practical – who will we serve as we step out that door today as we go out into the pressures of the world? Who is going to have our hearts today? 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Love the stranger

Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. – Deuteronomy 10.19

There is a lot of talk these days about immigration and foreigners and ‘strangers in the land.’ Let me say first of all that these words have nothing to do with modern laws or government policies or government responsibilities.

But leaving that aside there is a principle here that I don’t think we can afford to ignore.

We are to love our neighbours. We are to love our enemies. Doesn’t it only make sense that we ought to love the stranger?

Love is to be the trademark of the believer. It is what should set us apart. What greater opportunity to love than to love the strangers in our midst. Strangers don’t have a home. They don’t have family. They are out of their element. They don’t know how things work. For the most part they don’t know how we do things.

And because of that many people are angry or impatient or resentful of even afraid of the strangers in our midst. From many corners we hear things like

Fear the strangers
Turn the strangers out
Ban the strangers
Don’t thrust the strangers

God says ‘love the strangers.’

I wonder whose advice we should take? 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

A circumcised heart

Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. – Deuteronomy 10.16

Circumcision is a topic we don’t often talk about in public, much less ‘mixed company,’ but it is an important part of the Law. We don’t have to go into detail, but here God uses it an illustration of a much more important spiritual truth.

Circumcision was a physical act that was a symbol of what was supposed to be an inward commitment. The cutting away of the flesh was supposed to show what happened spiritually in the heart.

God’s desire was for heart change – a flesh change was not enough.

The same is true today. There can be a perception that if we get the outside right, circumcise the flesh if you will. We are going to make God happy. I think we do that because it is easy enough to live in such a way that we want to impress other people. We can see them.

But it is easy to live in a way that we strive to please God because we don’t have to see Him. We can, if we want, ignore Him and please others.

But God wants our hearts to be pure and right and holy. Are we willing to let God cut away the sins and the lusts of our hearts so we can be believers fit to serve Him? If we do that the rest will fall into place. 

Friday, 18 December 2015

What does God require?

And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? – Deuteronomy 10.12-13

There are several places where God says that there are things that He expects His people to do. There is a popular list in Micah where we are told that God expects us to do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with God.

Here is another great list:

Fear the Lord God
Walk in God’s ways
Love Him
Serve the Lord with all your heart
Keep His commandments

God expects His people to act a certain way. The Jews were bound by the Law. We on the other hand, are not bound in the same way. But Jesus said ‘if you love me keep my commandments.’ Our lives should reflect Jesus’s summary of the Law ‘love God and love others.’

The Micah list would suit ‘love your neighbour’ and these suit the ‘love God.’

How don’t know how the phrase is in Hebrew, but right in the middle of this is ‘love God’ and with that at the centre fear Him and walk in His ways and serve Him and keep His commandments all fall into place.

And at the end of the list?

These are for your good. God is good and He alone really knows what is good for us. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

The faithful God

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; - Deuteronomy 7.9

‘The Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps His promises and His mercy to a thousand generations.’

What blessing those words are. God is a faithful God. That means that God is God and He will always do what He says He will do. Faithfulness is part of who God is by His very nature.

That faithfulness means a lot. It means that the God who called me to salvation and salved me is faithful to keep me saved to the very end. I love Paul’s words to the Thessalonians regarding this - ‘And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.’ Because God is faithful, and because He is I need not fear what will happen to my salvation.

But God is also faithful to keep His promises. He is always faithful to do exactly what He says my needs. He is faithful to provide my needs. He is faithful to protect me. He is faithful to carry me through the most difficult struggles.

And for me, God’s faithfulness means He has my future covered. I needed not trust my own strength or my own ability because I simply trust God to be faithful to His promises. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Because the Lord loved you

The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  – Deuteronomy 7.7-8

Why did God love His people in the Old Testament? Why does God love His people today? Why does God love who He loves?

From this passage we get the principle that God did not love us because of who we are. He did not love Israel because they were the strongest that God loved them. God loved them simply because He loved them and because He loved them He delivered them and redeemed them.

Though the specifics are different the basic principle is the same for us. We did nothing to get God to love us. He didn’t love us because we first loved Him. Indeed we love Him because He first loved us.

God took the first step when He loved Israel. He did the same for us. He loved us while we were still in our sin. Apart from His love we would never have loved Him first and apart from His love we would never have our redemption. We are where we are because He loved us. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Do good - do right

And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, - Deuteronomy 6.18

We are saved by faith. It is the gift of God. It is His work. He has delivered us just as surely as He delivered Israel. There is more to do than actually just remember what God has done. The best way to show that we remember what God has done is to do things to reflect it.

Do what is right in the sight of the Lord
Do what is good in the sight of the Lord.

Because it is God who did the delivering we show our love and gratitude to Him by doing right and by doing what is good. We could never be good and right enough to deliver ourselves, so our good works are not for deliverance. Our good works follow in reaction to God’s deliverance.

We need to be sure not to forget God once we have been delivered. He must always be first and foremost in our lives. We prove that we have not forgotten Him by doing the right thing and by doing what is good. 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Don't forget the Lord

So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full—Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage - Deuteronomy 6.10-12

God knew that the wandering was just about over. He knew that victory was at hand. He knew that His people were going to have a new land and be successful in it. He knew they would have great cities. He knew there would be full cities. He knew their crops would flourish. God knew that they would be filled.

But God also knew there would be a temptation to think that they had done it. He knew that they would claim the victory and think ‘more highly of themselves than they ought to think.’

So God had to tell them ‘be careful that you don’t forget the Lord.’
We tend to be pretty self-sufficient and self-reliant and self-dependent. All that can make us think that we are pretty good and pretty self-accomplished. When God does things in our loves and gives us great victories we can forget who actually did it and we think that we somehow did it.

So we, just like Israel, are warned not to forget the Lord who gave us the victory. We need to remember ‘to God be the glory great things He hath done,’ not what great things we have done. Instead of glorying in ourselves we need to remember that ‘of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’

We can’t afford to forget God – not only is He our victory on the past – He is our hope for the future. 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

It's Our Job

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

I realise that the Law cannot literally be applied to the age of grace. We are in a different dispensation. We are under grace and not the Law. But there are still principles and lessons that we can glean.

Here we find some practical teaching methods to do the teaching that we read about yesterday. It is a great teacher’s guide.

This section specifies the first objects of our teaching – our children. Parents have the ultimate responsibility to teach their children. This right and responsivity is so important that the Irish Constitution spells it out:

‘The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children.’

If this principle is true in general it is even more important when teaching Bible truths so here we read how to do it:

Teach your children diligently
Teach them when you are sitting at home
Teach them when you are out walking
Teach them when you are at rest
Teach them in the morning
Teach them with visible reminders

When you look at that you see that the parents are the only ones who can do all of that. Who else is sitting around the house with our kids? Who else is there about at bedtime? Who else is there first thing in the morning? Who else sees what’s on our doorposts?

It is our job to teach our families spiritual truth. We can’t depend on or blame anyone else. It is up to us and the grace of God. 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Teach them

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. – Deuteronomy 6.6-8

Once God’s word is kept in our hearts we have to do something without in addition to letting it change us.

‘You shall teach them with diligence.’

Anyone who knows me knows that I love teaching. I am a big pedagogy fan. I think teachers are the most important contributors to any society. I think that if the world was just teachers would get the salaries of sports stars. Teachers are the true movers and shakers. A good teacher can have a profound impact on students that will last a lifetime.

It is sort of two-fold we cannot properly teach God’s word unless it is first in our own hearts and if we truly have it in our own hearts we will surely want to share it.

This teaching is not an option to be taken lightly. It is not something we can hope will happen by osmosis. We cannot be lazy or lethargic or lackadaisical about it. We must teach them diligently. If we do not teach diligently the next generation will miss out and the generation after them.

We can’t really teach the word of God unless it is in our hearts. We can teach facts and such about it, but we can’t really teach it until we have it lodged in our own hearts. But when we have it we must teach it and teach it with diligence. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

In your heart

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. – Deuteronomy 6.6-8

Even in the days of the Law we see that the heart of man was important to God. Keeping the Law was not really what pleased God. The heart condition was. You can fix the outside and fool everyone, but if you fix inside genuine outside change will always come.

God says a lot more about the heart. Here are just a few examples.

‘Your heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…’
‘Keep your heart with all diligence…’
‘Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.’
‘This people honours Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.’
‘Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.’

While the Bible says plenty about the heart there were times in my life where I spent far too much time and effort in conforming the outside while the heart was never really dealt with. Fixing the outside is much easier than the inside. It is easier to see and judge. But that can all be faked. 

That’s why God says ‘keep the commandments in your heart’ before He says anything else.

The psalmist says ‘your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.’

The key to godly living to get God’s word settled in our hearts. What is in our hearts will come out in our lives, so if I have God’s word in my heart I will be living it out in my life. Fixing the outside will never fix the inside. As a popular song puts it ‘you have to change your heart before you can change your shirt.’

Get it right on the inside and the rest will sort itself out. 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Love God

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. – Deuteronomy 6.4-5

Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.’

Moses’ charge to Israel sets the foundation for everything else that follows all the way through to the gospel. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment of all was He said ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength’ but then he added ‘and love your neighbour as yourself.’

Love is integral. It is the key. Our faith is based on love. We only can love Him because He first loved. In our natural state we are at enmity with God. Our natural state is to love the world. Our natural state is to love ourselves.

The instruction to love God with all of our hearts is difficult because it is in warfare with our love for the world. We can’t possibly love them both. We are going to love one and hate the other.

Choosing to love God completely frees us from the pressure to love the world. Loving God supremely frees us up to love others with His love.

Our part starts with loving God. Loving God starts with Him loving us.

It’s all about love. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Don't get distracted

Therefore you shall be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess. – Deuteronomy 5.32-33

Our Christian walk is filled with far too many distractions. As we go along the way running the race that God has called us to we are meant to keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.

But I don’t always keep my eyes on Christ. Sometimes my eyes wander to all the distractions of the world. I realise we have always had them, but the number of distractions today are almost overwhelming. Television, the internet, a plethora of electronic devices, Facebook, Twitter, texting, e-mail, and so many other things demand our attention. Most experts say now that the average user checks their smartphone somewhere around 100 times a day. I think it is probably much higher than that if you only count waking hours.

And that is only one of our distractions. Many of us do our Bible reading on a device – and where do we end up?

It is hard to not get off track. But apparently it was hard for Israel to stay on track as well. God had to warn them not to turn aside to the right or the left. The problem with giving in to our modern distractions is where they lead us once we take that first step off the path. Even as I type this I am tempted to check my Facebook. If we have ever needed the warning to stay on track it is today.

The only way to walk in God’s ways is to keep our eyes on Christ. We may have to take steps to make sure we don’t get distracted from pursuing Christ and His way.

Don’t get off track. Don’t let distractions affect you. Don’t turn aside for all the frivolities. Let’s keep our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith. 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; - Deuteronomy 4.9

Faith is not something we can take casually. It is not something that just kind of is there for us to grab when we need it. There is a real danger of drifting away in our walk with God if we are not careful.

God knew that so He warned the Israelites. ‘Take heed to yourself. Keep your soul diligently. If you don’t do so you will forget what God had done and depart from following Him. So teach your children and your grandchildren.’

I have found myself on the verge of slipping away before. When I neglect the basics like prayer and Bible study and my devotional life and going to church and things like that I can find my attitudes and thoughts and actions becoming more and more like the world.

So I must be always on my guard, always paying attention to my actions and attitudes, always ‘keeping my heart with all diligence. I know my heart and soul require keeping. I know how close I am to slipping up. When I get focused on me I can too easily forget what God has done.

So I like what the last bit says because it tells us the best way to keep our focus. The best way to pay attention and be diligent is to teach others. ‘Don’t forget,’ God says, ‘instead teach all that God has done to your children and your grandchildren.’ If we are teaching it is impossible to be forgetting.

Our walk with God deserves our attention more than anything else in our lives. It is our legacy to pass it on to the next generations – for their sake and for ours. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Don't add or take away

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. – Deuteronomy 4.2

God had given His Law. It was complete. It was all they needed and they needed it all. So God said ‘don’t add to it and don’t take away from it.’ The Law was God’s law, it was not man’s to manipulate or subject to his own way.

God say something similar in the book of Revelation when He says ‘if you add to my word I will had all the curses and plagues to you, and if you take away from it I will take away all the blessings.’

Obviously the sanctity of God’s word is important. It is not to be toyed with. We can’t play games with it. It is not ours to handle or manipulate and make fit our way. I can’t cut away the parts I don’t like or add parts I would like to see added.

And I can’t make it say what I want it to see. I can’t lay out my agenda and then find scripture to support my views and ideas. I must exegete what it says and not eisegete what I wish it said. God’s word is pure. It is complete. That mean I must ‘preach the word’ and not what I wish it said.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Your eyes have seen what God has done

And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, Thine eyes have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto these two kings: so shall the LORD do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest. Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you. And I besought the LORD at that time, saying, O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? – Deuteronomy 3.21-24

I know that true faith does not require sight. In fact, I know that faith is defined as the ‘evidence of things not seen.’ True faith is not connected with sight.

But we are human. God knows that. So He blesses us with just a glimmer of sight to encourage us and help our weak faith. Job knew this. After all of his trials and after his dramatic encounter with God he said:

"I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, 'I will question you, and you shall answer Me.' "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.

Job, that great man of faith and patience, needed a visual reminder to build his faith. We are all growing in faith and long the way God graciously reminds us that He is true to His word by showing us what He is capable of doing.

God had proven Himself by showing them His greatness and His mighty hand at work. There is no other god who could do what our God had done.

God does the same for us. He doesn’t just ask us to believe. He shows us His mighty hand in our lives. He gives us something to build our faith on by showing us His works.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Thank God for the times He has helped by showing me His works. 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Lord delivered us

From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us: - Deuteronomy 2.36

Israel’s testimony to God’s grace and provision continues. In those 40 years they never lacked for anything.

But that’s not all. In those 40 years no enemy had been too strong. They had faced many enemies along the way. Many of those enemies were much stronger than they were and should have been able to defeat them.

But no matter who the enemy was or how strong the enemy was, with God on their side they could not be defeated.

We face all kinds of opposition today. Some of us face emotional battles, some physical, some financial, some health, some emotional, and some I am sure I can’t even think of. All of our battles seem like the worst battles. We have been sharing the gospel with a friend and it seems like she is facing every kind of battle she can face over the last few weeks. Satan in strong. The world is strong. Our flesh is strong. Maybe our enemies are just a little too strong.

But the word of God tells us otherwise.

Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world
The Lord is my helper I will not fear what man can do to me
In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go
Nothing is impossible with God

There is still no enemy too strong for God. The eventual victory is already ours. We are going to have setbacks and discouragements, but eventually all our enemies will be beaten.

God is with us. He is stronger than anything we are going to face. As Ron Hamilton, also know as Patch the Pirate, puts it – ‘How Can I Fear?’

How Can I Fear…with Jesus?

When shadows fall and the night covers all
There are things that my eyes cannot see.
I never fear, for the Saviour is near.
My LORD abides with me!

How can I fear? Jesus is near!
He ever watches over me!
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?

When I’m alone and I face the unknown
And I fear what the future may be,
I can depend on the strength of my Friend!
He walks along with me.

How can I fear? Jesus is near!
He ever watches over me!
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?

Jesus is King! He controls everything!
He is with me each night and each day.
I trust my soul to the Saviour’s control;
He drives all fear away!

How can I fear? Jesus is near!
He ever watches over me!
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?

(Lyrics:  Ron Hamilton, 1982)

Friday, 4 December 2015

You lacked nothing

For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.” ’ – Deuteronomy 2.7

‘These forty years the Lord God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.’

I will never claim to fully understand the Providence of God and His timing and how he works to apply His word at just the right time but as I read this it is really truly like He wrote it just for me.

Of course God was telling Israel that as they headed into the Promised Land after forty years of trudging through the wilderness that they had never lacked. That was an encouragement to them as they prepared to move into Canaan and begin new lives there.

And God did take care of all their needs. They had lacked nothing. They had food and clothing and protection for all of those 40 years and the never did without.

And they still doubted and worried and fretted.

Mary and I are at that stage of life when the days we have left are far fewer than what we have had. The way things have worked out over the last twenty or so years we have not been able to prepare for the future the way I would have liked to.

That can cause me to fret because I can’t see the way through.

And here, right now, today, when I read this I see, ‘Roger, these forty years I have been with and you have lacked nothing.’ It’s funny how there are times when the Holy Spirit personalises scriptures for us at just the right time.

For the forty years since God saved me we have never lacked the necessities of life. I really need to sit down with Mary and write down all the times God met needs that we didn’t know how we were going to deal with. We’ve never lacked a meal. We’ve never been cold due to lack of clothes or heat. We’ve never had to skip a bill.

For forty years God was with Israel and they had had no lack. For forty years as God’s child He has been with me and I have had no lack.

It just makes sense that He is willing and able to provide for the future. 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

You will be defeated

Then you answered and said to me, ‘We have sinned against the Lord; we will go up and fight, just as the Lord our God commanded us.’ And when everyone of you had girded on his weapons of war, you were ready to go up into the mountain. “And the Lord said to me, ‘Tell them, “Do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; lest you be defeated before your enemies.” – Deuteronomy 1.41-42

I don’t think anybody likes to lose. I know I don’t. Our grandson AJ hates to lose. Here the stakes are low – but when it came to Israel’s battles and it comes to our spiritual battles the stakes are so much higher.

Moses had told the people what they were supposed to do. The people had their own plan and it seemed like a good one. ‘We have sinned and we will go up and fight.’ But their fighting was not God’s plan. It was God’s plan for Him to fight for them.

This somewhat reminds me of the battle of Ai. Joshua and his army surely thought they were doing the right thing when they attacked Ai after Jericho, but it was not God’s plan. Because they chose their way and not God’s way they failed.

God told the Israelites that if they did it their way and ignored Him they would be defeated.

I am the kind of guy who likes to do things my way. I like it when things go according to my plans. I guess that is okay, but often God’s way and my way are in conflict. Sometimes God wants to sort it for me and I get in the way.

Sometimes I need to ‘stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.’