Deuteronomy 8

Vs. 1, “Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers.”  Question: What happens when everything seems to be going our way?  What happens when we are given so much out of God’s graciousness?  God loves His people; He shows it through blessings, tests and even discipline.  God doesn’t penalize us for individuals who choose to harden their heart.  There will be a danger for God’s people not take Him for granted when the enter the Promised Land.  They will begin to rest on their wealth and prosperity.  Already, God miraculously provided food and water in the wilderness and even magically kept their clothes from wearing out or their feet from swelling (vs. 4).  It was important for all of them to remember the faithfulness of God during their wilderness travels.  Don’t forget where you came from.  We hear stories of our families who came before us.  The struggles of coming to a new land here in America.  This is very much like Moses was doing to help build their identity and faith.

Regarding application…Do Not Forget.  Vs. 18, “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”  Question: What was the real danger?  Their heads would begin swelling with pride when they looked at the provisions that they have now (vs. 12-13).  Certainly, this would not apply to everyone.  However, this exhortation was given as a heads up to everyone because it is a temptation that can infiltrate any heart.  Love of money and possessions mixed with pride will destroy us (vs. 19).  Often we hear people state, “What’s the big deal?”  The big deal is whether we will have eternal life with the Lord or eternal life in hell.  I would say that’s a pretty big deal.  Brothers and sisters, don’t let your hearts grow hardened and forget about the Lord.  Pray for your church and encourage others around you in your life to draw nearer to God.

Leviticus 23

Vs. 2, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.”  These were special times that the Israelites were to observe, remember and worship the LORD.  These festivals were designated times that God had given them.  The weekly Sabbath and seven more important days (sacred assemblies) were designated over the year.  Sabbath (vs. 3) was not an annual feast, but was that day that the LORD would give them a weekly rest.  In addition, we also remember Passover (vs. 5) in which they recall their deliverance from Egypt.  Passover was immediately followed by the festival of Unleavened Bread which reminded them of their hasty departure out of Egypt (vs. 6-8).  The waving of the sheaf of barely(vs. 9-14), was done on the day after the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread.  It was a way to give the firstfruits acknowledgement of the harvest from the LORD.  Fifty days later, they celebrated Pentecost/Feast of weeks (vs. 15-22) which was the period of the harvest from barley to wheat.  It was a feast surrounded with joy and thanksgiving.  We then come to the sacred seventh month for Israel.  The first acknowledgement was the festival of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah (vs. 23-25) in which is celebrated today as the Jewish New Years.  The Day of Atonement (vs. 26-32), was discussed in detail previously (Leviticus 16) and was certainly a very special day of forgiveness of sins.  And lastly, we come to the Festival of Tabernacles (vs. 33-44).  Tabernacles/Booths is to remind Israel how the LORD helped them travel through the desert to the Promised Land.

Regarding application…Don’t Forget.  We are an absent-minded people.  Each of these festivals and special days were all about helping the Israelites remember God’s faithfulness.  Perhaps that is why Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are still so dear to us in our times.  They all challenge us not to forget the many blessings and gifts God has bestowed upon us.  I think that is why the value of church retreats are so enriching to our souls.  We need a break from the normalcy of life and a time to get back on track for the Lord.  Take time to make sure you can go to those church retreats.  And in the meantime, allow the Word of the Lord to work in your heart as you turned to Him today!

Malachi 4

Vs. 1, “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.”  The “day” that is coming is in reference to the often referenced Day of the Lord.  This day in the Old Testament was often used as a warning to sinners.  In the New Testament, it used to point towards Jesus’ final victory and judgment before the new heavens and earth.  Fortunately, the outlook for believers in the faith is one of healing (vs. 2).  Just as John the Baptist was a type of Elijah, so another type of Elijah will come to prepare the way for Jesus’ second return (vs. 5-6).  Question: Why Elijah?  Because Elijah was a figure that is most associated with prophesy.  Of course, remember, Elijah was only one of two recorded in the Bible (Enoch) who did not experience a physical death.

Regarding application…Why Remember?  Vs. 4, “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.”  Whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, we are reminded how important it is to remember.  Jesus told us to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).  We remember that Jesus did come and that He will come again.  Remembering God’s promises can actually improve our relationship with the Lord.  When John recorded Jesus’ words in the book of Revelations, Jesus’ exhortation to the church in Ephesus was that they needed to remember their first love (Revelation 2:4-5).  The other day at church, someone was looking at my wedding photo I had on my desk.  When they pointed it out, thoughts and feelings came racing through my mind and I remembered how much I love my wife.  Likewise, when we remember God’s word in our lives, it sparks our love for Him!

Hosea 13

Vs. 3, “Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears,  like chaff  swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window.”  Hosea is looking back at how Israel used to be (vs. 1).  But they not only turned from God, they were sacrificing to pagan God’s like Baal (vs. 2).   If they had only turned back to God, but they were putting their trust in the things of this world.  But what stands out more than anything is the fact that it is God who directs the outcome of our life.  We would do far better if we feared God more.  Yet, once again, we see the grace of our God as He will one day ransom us from death itself (vs. 14).

Regarding application…Remember God’s Goodness.  Vs. 4 “But I am the Lord your God,  who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me.”  Question: How do we remember God’s goodness today?  Jesus would tell us and Paul would remind us that when we meet we are to remember Jesus’ goodness and sacrifice (I Cor. 11) with the Lord’s Supper.  This is just one reminder of why we meet.  Of course, we are a forgetful people.  That is why the Word of God exhorts us to spend time daily.  That is why He gave us the incredible gift called the church!  Think about something God has done for you this past week, month or year.  Acknowledge it and give thanks to the Lord!

Ezekiel 16

Vs. 2, “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices.”  Here we are presented another allegory (story with a hidden meaning) just like our previous chapter.  We are presented a picture of a baby (vs. 4-6) and in this portrays God’s love for Israel.  As the baby grows up to a woman, the woman is beautiful and starts to turn to the world (vs. 15).  Israel is compared to wife who turns to adultery and prostitutes herself to others (vs. 32).  The sin plays out and the prostitute suffers severely for her wayward sins.  Yet, we see a husband (God) whose heart is broken, but still loves his wife and forgives her.  It’s really a very sad alleogry that must break the heart of God to see those He loves turn their hearts hard with pride and selfishness.

 

Regarding application…Remember Your Sins.  Vs. 61, “Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed…”  Seems like a strange encouragement.  But this is exactly what we need to do.  Too often, we get so busy with life we press forward with the tasks at hand, forgetting the things we need to repent of.  We think, “It’s all good!”  But little do we realize we are going down that slippery slope not realizing we are going downward.  Brothers & Sisters, I encourage you to travel deeper into your heart.  Be still today and ask the Lord help reveal to you what might be things that are keeping you from completely turning to Him.  He loves us so much, don’t ever forget that!