Deuteronomy 23-25 – A Simple Life

When I was growing up, my conscience and my sense of ethics was a direct result of my mother’s influence. My mother was raised by very moral and religious parents who regularly attended a small country Methodist church. Since my dad was not a believer, or even a religious man, it was my mom who taught me about right and wrong, about being fair and respectful of others, and about being kind and merciful to others.

Deuteronomy chapters 23-25, reminds me of her. The over-all theme of these chapters is the same ethics she impressed upon me…fairness, kindness, respect, and generosity.

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Deuteronomy 22 – Lines

We seldom stop and consider the importance  of something as simple as a line.

Lines give us definition and clarity. A property line defines exactly what belongs to us and what belongs to our neighbor, thus clarifying disputes. Lines can also direct, like the lines on the highways and streets which direct the flow of traffic. Lines promote order. Imagine the chaos at banks, supermarkets, and sporting events if there were no lines? And lines provide separation, as with lines of defense, lines on a coloring book, and poverty lines.

You can even hear the importance of lines in certain phrases we use. Phrases like: “That lines up with what I believe.” “I’m drawing a line in the sand.” “He crossed over the line.”

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Deuteronomy 21 – Rules and Regulations

We have rules and regulations to protect the innocent, punish the guilty, preserve the peace, and promote the general welfare. There’s just one problem…they don’t work!

Deuteronomy chapter 21 gives rules and regulations about a variety of things. When you read it, you can’t help but wonder why they needed all these specific rules and regulations.

The same is true today. There are more rules and regulations in our world than we can probably count, and we keep making more. Why? Because they don’t work! We keep finding new ways to break them, or new offenses that need new rules and regulations.

It’s not that rules and regulations are wrong, or that we should do away with them. (Even God saw the need for at least ten commandments.) It’s just that the problem(s) addressed by these rules and regulations will never be solved by regulating what we do with our hands. More than regulating our hands, we need to renovate our hearts. More than behavioral change, we need personal change…for what we do comes out of who we are. (Matt. 15:19)

There is a deep and pervasive limp in our very nature that leads us to be rule breakers. And we can’t fix this on our own. The law can’t cut it, because we can’t follow it. Yet, rather than being burdened by this, we belly up to the bar of self-sufficiency and order another round of rules.

We don’t need a new law; we need a new heart. We need to let God change the law of our heart. (Hebrews 10:16) Then we will have the power and desire to follow the laws and regulations we have…not out of obligation or fear of punishment, but out of love. (Rom. 7:6,7,14)

Are you paying more attention to the rules and regulations, or to the renovation of your heart?

Deuteronomy 20 – Run the Risk

For the most part, we Americans are creatures of comfort and ease. It’s part of our mentality and our expectation…even in our spiritual lives.

We often believe that right living and strong faith will lead to a reduction of problems and difficulties in our life. We feel that if we’re doing the right things, we shouldn’t have to struggle. But, if you believe this, there are only two possible explanations for the presence of difficulties in your life: the problems are either your fault or God’s fault.

But Deuteronomy chapter 20 shows us that victory can sometimes be vicious, that freedom often requires fighting, and that finding peace involves facing risks. In this chapter, although the priest assures the Israelites of God’s intervention and victory, they still must face their fear. Even the officers, when addressing the troops, tell them there is a possibility they could die.

The same is true for us today. We cannot know great victories without great risks. We don’t experience God’s great provision without being in a place of great need. And we won’t hit the ball out of the park without facing the possibility of striking out. Author John Ortberg puts it this way… “You can’t walk on water without getting out of the boat. “

Yes, when we are following God’s direction, the risk is calculated and part of His plan, but it’s risk none the less. That’s the stage on which the play of faith is acted out. May we be a people of risk for God’s glory, rather than people of ease for ours.

Deuteronomy 19 – Justice

Justice is a key component for any civilization that hopes to survive and thrive. It’s desired by those who have been wronged and dreaded by those who have wronged others.

God is a God of Justice. We don’t like to think of Him in this way, but his heart of love requires that the innocent be protected and the guilty be punished. In Deuteronomy chapter 19, God spends the first half of the chapter dealing with protecting the innocent and the second half of the chapter dealing with punishing the guilty.

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Deuteronomy 18 – All Roads Do Not Lead Home

“All roads lead to God.” “I believe God in my own way.” “All religions are basically the same.” “Who’s to say this belief is right and that belief is wrong?” “The most important thing is to be spiritual. How you choose to do that doesn’t matter.”

These are common statements made about God, but ultimately they are rooted in pride and independence. We want to do things our way, and we would rather not be told what to do and how to do it. (2 Peter 2:1-2) So, we want a lot of leeway with God. We want to keep things with God very broad and general.

But God, (the One who created delicately balanced sub-atomic particles and intricate DNA strands) is about specifics. (Matt. 7:13-14) And He is specific about how we are to connect with Him and follow Him. You see this in Deuteronomy 18.

Now our independent nature wants to rise up and say, “How dare God be so controlling and egotistical that it can only be His way! But it’s not about control. It’s about truth! Truth is very specific. It’s not whatever you want it to be. (John 8:31-32) (John 14:15-17) (John 16:13)

To get to a destination, you must follow specific directions. You can no more get to a specific destination any way you choose, then you can use any old PIN number on your ATM card to get the cash you want.

All roads do not lead home. So what will it be? Pick any road you want and wind up driving yourself right out of where you want to be? (Deuteronomy. 18:12-14) Or pick a specific road that God has given and find your way home?

Deuteronomy 17 – No One is Above the Law

“No one is above the law.” This statement is cliché and almost laughable in this day and age. High officials regularly navigate around the law, gang members seem to do whatever they choose, ministers sexually abuse women and children…the list goes on and on. Some are caught and tried, but a large majority of people will continue to violate the law, seemingly undetected.

Deuteronomy chapter 17 stresses the importance of careful and complete adherence to God’s law; whether you’re a lowly citizen or a high official.

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Deuteronomy 16 – Replace Your Attitude with Gratitude!

Ok. I’ll admit it. I can be a whiner and a complainer. I don’t like this about myself, but it’s true. It’s too easy for me to complain about all the things that are wrong, or difficult, or inconvenient. I have so much to be grateful for, but too often instead of having an attitude of gratitude, I just have an attitude.

God knew that His people could be complainers and whiners. So in Deuteronomy chapter 16 you find God placing special importance on three specific times of celebration.

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Deuteronomy 15 – Share What You’ve Been Given

You can see it in a small child protectively clutching a toy. You can hear it in their voice when they punctuate the word “mine!” Since the Garden of Eden, our natural tendency has been to keep, rather than give.

But God’s people are to be characterized as givers. We are to demonstrate the character of the One who has so graciously given everything to set us free and continues to generously give everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) He reached down when we were in need, leaving us an example to follow.

In Deuteronomy chapter 15, God institutes the year of Jubilee or the year of release. It’s God’s way of reminding His people who they are and where they’ve come from. Deuteronomy 15:4 teaches us that as God’s children, our hearts and resources should go out to the poor and the debtor. Just as God freed us and blessed us, we too are to free and bless others. And as we generously share what God has given us, God will bless us even more.

This applies spiritually as well as materially. We are to give the forgiveness we’ve been given. We are to give the love we’ve been given. And we are to give the mercy we’ve been given. As God’s children, we are to give release and relief, both spiritually and materially.

Have you experienced release and relief from God? If so, how do you need to share that? Whom do you need to forgive? How do you need to bless someone? Find a way to start today!

Deuteronomy 14 – Pay Attention to the Little Things

A few years ago there was a book published entitled, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” While I agree we shouldn’t get overly anxious or bogged down in small, inconsequential things, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the little things.

Little things are important, because big things are made up of a series of little things. If the little things are not properly cared for, the big things are liable to falter. Just ask anyone who has ignored little things like putting oil in their car, air in their tires, or gas in their tanks.

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