Thursday March 7, 2019
Today’s Focus Seeing the Beauty in God’s desires
Scripture Reading for the Day Deuteronomy 11:1-28
“You must love the Lord your God and always obey his requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands. 2 Keep in mind that I am not talking now to your children, who have never experienced the discipline of the Lord your God or seen his greatness and his strong hand and powerful arm. 3 They didn’t see the miraculous signs and wonders he performed in Egypt against Pharaoh and all his land. 4 They didn’t see what the Lord did to the armies of Egypt and to their horses and chariots—how he drowned them in the Red Sea[a] as they were chasing you. He destroyed them, and they have not recovered to this very day!
5 “Your children didn’t see how the Lord cared for you in the wilderness until you arrived here. 6 They didn’t see what he did to Dathan and Abiram (the sons of Eliab, a descendant of Reuben) when the earth opened its mouth in the Israelite camp and swallowed them, along with their households and tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But you have seen the Lord perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes!
8 “Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter. 9 If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants—a land flowing with milk and honey! 10 For the land you are about to enter and take over is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you planted your seed and made irrigation ditches with your foot as in a vegetable garden. 11 Rather, the land you will soon take over is a land of hills and valleys with plenty of rain— 12 a land that the Lord your God cares for. He watches over it through each season of the year!
13 “If you carefully obey the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, 14 then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil. 15 He will give you lush pastureland for your livestock, and you yourselves will have all you want to eat.
16 “But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord and serve and worship other gods. 17 If you do, the Lord’s anger will burn against you. He will shut up the sky and hold back the rain, and the ground will fail to produce its harvests. Then you will quickly die in that good land the Lord is giving you.
18 “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.
22 “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him. 23 Then the Lord will drive out all the nations ahead of you, though they are much greater and stronger than you, and you will take over their land. 24 Wherever you set foot, that land will be yours. Your frontiers will stretch from the wilderness in the south to Lebanon in the north, and from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.[b] 25 No one will be able to stand against you, for the Lord your God will cause the people to fear and dread you, as he promised, wherever you go in the whole land.
26 “Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! 27 You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. 28 But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before.
Pastor’s reflection from January 15, 2014 (A snowy, wintery day)
Wow! What a wintery wonderland it is outside! Yesterday, I began my morning nice and early thinking that I would get to Bethlehem and work as long as possible before the worst of the snow hit. As I was travelling out interstate 78 and merged onto 22 the traffic and the roads became worse than I anticipated. I decided that I would stop by our synod office to speak with Rev. Catherine Ziel my new associate to the bishop. We spoke for some time about our shared hopes and dreams for God’s children who gather at St. Peter’s. After about an hour I continued my trek toward Bethlehem, only now the West bound lanes of 22 were completely stopped, the snow had definitely become more intense, and the roads were now bad (which is truly something for me to say because I enjoy driving in the snow)! I called our church secretary, and shared with her that she should “head for the hills” and get home before we were snowed in. I decided that I would come to St. Peter’s, pick up my computer, and head back to the safety and comfort of my house.
One obstacle after another continued to present itself to me. Unfortunately there are two funerals now scheduled for this week, there are sisters and brothers in Christ who are in the hospital, my computer is malfunctioning, in short… many things seemed to be going wrong with the world! What started out as a day when I thought that I would get a great deal accomplished in God’s vineyard, became a day that was filled with frustration and anger at my situation!
As I sat in the silence of my apartment, after having contacted the families that needed to be contacted, I shared a prayer with our God. To be more truthful… I kind of yelled at God. I said “Why are all these things happening to block me from doing YOUR work!” Just then our dog “Minnie” started playing with a toy. Now Minnie is 14 years old and let’s just say that she’s not the most energetic dog these days. Her playing me made laugh. Then I looked outside and was stunned by the beauty of the falling snow as it created an opaque veil which temporarily concealed the beautiful hill behind my apartment. My heart, my soul, and my spirit were now completely at peace when only minutes earlier all I could feel was frustration, anger, and anxiety!
It was in that moment that I remembered that in my most anxious times, in times that are filled with stress, in moments of great sadness or grief, that our Lord is always right beside us to provide us with comfort and peace. Indeed in my attempt to minister to others, God was ministering to me saying “slow down Jerry! Take a moment to enjoy the brief respite and beauty of the creation which I have given to you to enjoy!”
So, as you continue through this week in those moments when you feel tired, frustrated, or anxious, I encourage you to open your eyes and open your heart and see if God is trying to minister to YOU in your moment of need!
Some questions for reflection
- Based on this Scripture reading, why is important that “believers” understand and live by God’s desires for our lives?
- What are some of the “real world” benefits of following God’s decrees? Do they still apply today?
- What types of things in our time and place can deceive us and “turn us away” from God?
Today’s Pilgrimage Challenge
- Share with others, how you see people you admire/respect living out the mandates of God’s Word. Are there practices that you can make part of your daily living that will help show others what you believe? Remember: Sometimes the only Bible people see are the way believers actually live.
Teach us, good Lord God, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, except that of knowing that we do your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen