Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 3/Chapter 3

This morning it was a little harder to get things (e.g., my mind, body) going and functioning properly. I guess I’m not naturally a morning person. I would have loved to just turn the TV on and sit down and relax. As a matter of fact, I did turn the TV on and then off twice. This is the third straight morning I’ve woken up without an alarm. I don’t normally do that. What’s going on? It seems I’m receiving help from above to spend 34 days with the book of Deuteronomy.

Chapter 3 observations
- Chapter 3 breaks down nicely into three sections; Battle with Og (vv.1-11), the passing out of land (vv.12-20), the encouraging of Joshua by Moses (vv.21-29).
- Again the Israelites receive help from God in defeating and destroying the inhabitants of the Promised Land.
- Moses is told to not be afraid as they march into battle (v.2).
- In the last section Moses encourages Joshua. Moses will not be crossing the Jordan River and entering the land. It is unclear as to why that is, but I’m guessing the story will be picked up and explained a little later in the book or elsewhere in a different book. The only thing you can deduce from this chapter is that God was angry with Moses. Moses says in verse 26 that it is because of the Israelites. The phrase, “because of you” is spoken (cf.1:37) in reference to the Israelites.
- Joshua had been right by Moses and seen “with his own eyes” everything God had done. He was now getting ready to cross the Jordan and take the rest of the land.
- There is more work to be done in conquering and claiming the land. The Israelites still have a ways to go, they still have to cross the Jordan and take the cities.
- A very encouraging word is spoken to Joshua in verse 22, “the Lord your God himself will fight for you.”

Why so much violence and war? Was this the only way for the Israelites to inherit the Promised Land? I remember discussing this issue in my Old Testament classes at Indiana Wesleyan. Those verses about the Israelites destroying everything, including women and children (v.34) are hard to reconcile with a loving God. I think placing this story and other stories similar to it in the context of the time helps shed a little light on why the Israelites did this. War and violence was the norm of the time. If you wanted land you would go and have a bloody violent fight for it. There was no U.N. to keep peace and talk about things. So, it seems God is just speaking the language of the day through the Israelites and their actions. I bet God would have done this a different way if it was possible in this particular time and culture, but it wasn’t. I can’t help but wonder if so much fighting and victory puffed up the Israelites and made them feel invincible. Maybe that is what led to them turning their backs on God. Maybe they started thinking they didn’t need Him, that they could do it on their own.

It’s neat to see some of the interplay between Moses and Joshua in the last section. It seems they had a tight relationship with each other. Moses had a lot of trust and confidence in Joshua. I’m surprised there is not bitterness here. Moses truly was a humble man and he respected God’s decision to not let him enter the land. So, he is preparing and encouraging Joshua. He gives him hope and assurance. I hope you will be an encourager today to someone.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Day 2/Chapter 2

During the 40 days of Lent I’m saturating in the book of Deuteronomy. I’m on day 2 of this journey. Writing this down each day and blogging about it has helped keep me accountable (part of the reason I’m doing it).

Chapter 2 observations
- More sun and sand as the Israelites continue journeying through the desert.
- Moses truly was a man guided by God. Verse 1 is very personal, “as the Lord had directed me.” You see how involved God is in giving guidance throughout the rest of this chapter.
- God is specific in His instructions. He commands the Israelites and Moses to pass through certain lands and leave the people alone.
- A promise from last chapter is kept. God said, in chapter 1, that He was upset with this generation and none of them would see the Promised Land (v.35). That is fulfilled as chapter 2 unwinds.
- There is a process here of getting into the Promised Land. It isn’t as easy as just walking in and taking it. There are things to do and things not to do. There are fights to fight and fights not to fight. It’s a step by step process.
- God gives the King of the Heshbon over to the Israelites. God promises to spread the word about the Israelites to other nations. Other nations will respect them.
- Despite being told to engage King Heshbon in battle (v. 24), Moses tries sending a peace delegation. This doesn’t work and the Israelites end up destroying him, his family, and his people.

I was intrigued to see how “in-tune” Moses was with God. This chapter seemed more personal, like Moses’ diary or something. He knew the where and when of God’s plan. There’s even a sense of him being the only one aware of it (v. 1). I like this. Moses speaks of God like he knows Him. He speaks with confidence about who God is and how He directs. Do you hear of many people doing that today? I’m guessing what he did in verses 26-30 was a direct result of his relationship and friendship with God. God commanded the Israelites to engage King Heshbon in battle, but Moses tried bringing about peace first. Did he know God so well that he knew God would want this? Apparently God was ok with this. I pray God would allow me to know Him like this.

I would guess that verse 30 creates problems for some people when it credits God as the one who made King Heshbon’s heart stubborn. Reminds me of what Exodus says about Pharaoh. I bet Calvinist grin from ear-to-ear over this verse, it helps defend their doctrine of predestination. However, I ask the question, “was it God that did it or was it King Heshbon who did it by not responding to God and the peace offered him from Moses?” The latter, I believe, was what Moses wanted to communicate. Just like Pharaoh in Egypt, King Heshbon refused God and so his heart was hardened. It wouldn’t make sense to say King Heshbon never had a choice. We all have a choice, this is one of the freedoms given us in creation. So, today as I journey with God may my heart be as “in-tune” as Moses’ heart was. May I know Him and trust Him.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 1/Chapter 1

Lent has begun. During this Lenten season, I have chosen to spend 34 days with the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy has 34 chapters, so I plan on reading/studying/reflecting on a chapter a day and posting it here. There are 40 days to Lent, so I have some grace in there if I miss a day. Always good to have grace. :-) First, Deuteronomy isn’t a book I would normally turn to but in light of how much the New Testament, and especially Jesus (it's how He fights against Satan during His temptation in the wilderness), use this book, I have decided to dive into it.

Chapter 1 observations
- Setting for the book is the desert.
- Verses 6-10 is the instructions of Moses for the Israelites to go and “take possession” of the Promised Land. The rest of the book will be preparing them for such a task.
- Verse 10 is a reminder of what God said He would do to Abraham (Genesis 15:5).
- A reminder is give again to the Israelites that they are like a son to God (Deut 1:31).
- Chapter 1 re-hashes Israel’s story (rescued from Egypt and led to Promised Land).
- The older Israelites generation has upset God because of their disobedience (v. 35). What did He want from them? An example is given in vv. 34-36. Caleb was a man who “wholeheartedly” followed the Lord.

Already I see how important obedience is to God and blessings that come from obeying. God wanted the Israelites to trust and obey while they were conquering the Promised Land. I have a hunch that these things (obedience & blessing) will be main themes throughout this book. I also sense how intimately the Lord God was involved in their lives and in their story. He has really joined with them in their journey and become their Father. Not that God wasn’t already the eternal Father, He just wasn’t their Father. He chose to be their Father. It looks like he could have chosen to be the Father of any Nation during this time period, but He chose Israel to be His firstborn.

He reminds them of the big things He did for them (Blessing them, rescued from Egypt, help in defeating enemies, disciplining them). How could they not listen to Him and not trust Him after all the amazing things He did for them? I don’t understand that. Was it laziness on their part, an unwilling heart, a stubborn heart, fear, rejection of God, or just plain human nature that kept them from going all the way in their obedience? What keeps us from following “wholeheartedly” today? There seems to be no middle ground in following Jesus. We cant’ just say a prayer and sit down. We must say a prayer and walk with Him. With God, it’s an all the way or nothing thing. A question emerges from this. Where’s the grace? Is there already grace there, but I’m just not aware of it?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Scripture Reflection 004

Read James 1:17 here or in your own Bible.

1. What does this verse teach about God?

2. How do we know what “good gifts” are?

3. How would you define a “good gift”?

4. What are some things we don’t normally think about as being gifts from God?

5. How does this help us in our battle against evil? Does it?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Scripture Reflection 003


Read James 1:13-15 here or in your own Bible.

1. What do these verses suggests about Satan’s role in leading us astray?

2. Does he have a role?

3. Who, if anyone, does the blame for our sin fall upon?

4. Is this fair?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Scripture Reflection 002

Reflecting on Satan’s character and ways of deceiving

Welcome friends. Below you will find some guidance for studying Genesis 3:1-5 and Isaiah 14:12-14. Keep in mind that our enemy searches, like an empty-stomached lion, for Christians to eat. We need to be constantly on our guard, for ourselves and others, and on our knees in prayer as well as in the Word daily.

Some advice: Take your time this week (there are two passages this week), read and re-read the passages during your prayer time or lunch break, chew on them throughout the day, think about what is being said, and then try and work through a question or two. If you want to dive deeper, you can access some excellent free resources online to help you in studying these passages (i.e.

Guidance for studying Genesis 3:1-5

1. Read through Genesis 3:1-5 here on in your own Bible. What tactic is the Serpent using here on Adam and Eve in regards to deceiving them? Can this tell us anything about Satan’s methods of attack? Do the names “Deceiver,” “Tempter,” and “Father of lies” serve him well here?

2. What is the first thing Satan questions when talking with Eve? Why does he do this? What is behind his question to Eve? Was this a well thought out question?

3. Was Satan’s promise of what would happen to Adam and Eve if they ate of the tree kept? If yes, was Satan really lying to them then?

Guidance for studying Isaiah 14:12-14

1. Read through Isaiah 14:12-14 here on in your own Bible. Some of the early church fathers believed this passage to be descriptive of Satan and his origins. Others (e.g., John Calvin, Martin Luther) believed it to be about human pride. What prohibits a person from entering into a relationship with Jesus, Satan or pride? Why?

2. How does the statement in verse 14 compare to the Serpent’s promise to Eve in Genesis 3:5? Why would such a thing be sin?

3. In what ways is Isaiah 14:12-14 helpful in regards to spiritual warfare? Is there anything we can learn from this passage?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Scripture Reflection 001

Reflecting on Satan’s ways of trying to deceive Jesus as seen in Matthew 4:1-11

Welcome Sunday School class to Thursday Thinking! I normally post something on Thursdays here, but I’m changing that up a bit for this discussion about the Devil and C.S. Lewis. I hope you find encouragement here to get into the Word and reflect upon it deeply. You know as well as I do how rewarding that can be! If you are unsure about what to do here, I have provided some guidance below. You can try and answer a set of questions, or you can take your time and do one question a day, or just one question period. this post will be up until next Sunday. Next Monday there will be a new post related to next week’s lesson. I hope you enjoy this as much as I’m going to!

Guidance for studying Matthew 4:1-11

1. Read through Matthew 4:1-11 here or in your own Bible and try and write down the different ways in which Satan tempts Jesus. What are they? What does this tell us about Satan’s methods of attack?

2. How does Jesus defend Himself against Satan’s attacks? Were you surprised at all in regards to the book of the Old Testament Jesus uses here? What does this tell us? How does this help us know what to do when we are under attack?

3. What do we learn about Satan and his character in all of this? What type of character does he possess?

4. Why do you think Satan used scripture when he was tempting Jesus? What does this tell us about him?

5. Why would Satan tempt Jesus to turn rocks into bread? What’s wrong with Jesus doing that? What is behind Satan’s schemes?