Vs. 12, “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” What a wonderful and eloquent reminder of our duty and heartfelt response to our LORD! In the first half of our chapter (vs. 1-11), Moses finishes up God’s response to his intercession for the Israelites. God’s grace was evident in the fact that new stone tablets were to be replaced. God was following up on His covenant! In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 12-22), Moses takes the time to explain a clear understanding of what the 2nd generation was getting themselves into. God was partnering up with the Israelites and they needed to know what this renewed partnership entailed. We see words like “fear”, “walk”, “love”, “serve” that are imperatives to living up to this partnership with God! We also see a wonderful picture of God’s compassion towards the fatherless, widow and foreigner (vs. 18).
Regarding application…Cutting Time. Vs. 16, “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.” Circumcision aside from the obvious meaning, also served as a covenant sign between God and Abraham. Yet, throughout scripture, we are also given a deeper understanding what true circumcision is. It’s much more than the cutting of skin, it is the cutting of our hearts. Question: How is your heart? Circumcision of the heart is going to entail us cutting away the things that we are putting first before the Lord. When I was younger in my walk and was putting secular music on a pedestal, I realized I was putting this first. So I threw out all my tapes and CD’s. It was cutting time for me. If I hear secular music now, it’s not a big deal any longer. I cut that priority in my life. Sure, sometimes it’s nice to reminisce when I hear an old 80’s song. But secular music no longer is a stumbling block for me. I had to let that go. Question: What do you need to cut in your life?
Vs. 1-2, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” Question: How should we treat each other in the church? Just like we would treat our family at home, with respect and love. Paul then goes on to instruct Timothy about a very real issue of the day; widows (vs. 3-16). The life expectancy of men back then was usually around your mid-forties. The care of widows was important to the Jewish tradition. As the church grew, there was a concern in the number of widows and how the church responsibly dealt with them. Some widows were financially well off, while others were destitute. The latter half of our chapter (vs. 17-25) deals with the treatment of elders and our spiritual leaders. It seems there was certainly an issue that needed to be addressed. While the church should be responsible to assist financially those who devoted their life to service, the leaders also had to have accountability.
Regarding application…Wise Choices. Vs. 22, “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” The context of this verse is the decision making of the church leaders in choosing new leaders to serve. Yet, the application certainly stands out that we must be wise in the choices that we make. Don’t be hasty in going on instinct; deliberate, seek council, pray about it. The choices we make in life can certainly affect the very direction that we head down. The more we seek after God (keeping oneself pure), the more we will have the mind of the Lord.
Vs. 1, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” We continue to see Jesus interacting with those around him and teaching in parables. Yesterday, I talked about exercising our faith. Question: Have you ever felt like you just wanted to give up? In the persistent widow, we see how important it is to keep our faith when we pray to God (vs. 1-8). Continuing the prayer theme, Jesus gives us a contrasting scene of a Pharisee and a Tax Collector (vs. 9-14). There are many lessons to prayer, but the one I see here is the importance of humility before God. We can never stand before God with justifiable reasons; it’s only the grace of God. We are once again reminded of how important children are to Jesus (vs. 15-17). This morning, our church invited the Youth group to come to the adult early morning service. We had an opportunity to really pray for the youth and remind ourselves that they are the future church! In the rich young ruler, we are reminded from two chapters ago about the love of money (vs. 19-29). How sad that the man realized the truth, yet chose riches. Thankfully, another person in the blind beggar, would respond with joy (vs. 35-43).
Regarding application…Obedience in Trials. Vs. 32, “He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.” May we never forget the obedience to death, even death on a cross that Jesus would do for us. Jesus knew it beforehand, yet was obedient. Christians with faith when life is good, they come a dime a dozen. What separates the sheep from the goat is having faith even in the storms and trials of life. Question: How do you respond? Over the years of ministry, I’ve seen many respond in different ways. Some use trials as a reason to blame God or the church. Others use it to feel sorry for themselves. Still others choose to not give up and are faithful. Question: Which one are you?