All or nothing….it’s your choice.

20 04 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN : Deuteronomy 28 v. 15 – 68; Luke 18 v. 1 – 30; Psalm 47 v. 1 – 9

DEUTERONOMY
Curses for Disobedience – We had some of the blessings in yesterday’s readings, for obeying God’s commands – today, the opposite; the curses for not obeying. Cursed in the city and the country, cursed basket and kneading trough, cursed family, crops and livestock, cursed when you come in and go out. The Lord will send ‘curses, confusion and rebuke’ on every aspect of life. There will be plagues, diseases, destruction, drought, mildew. Your enemies will defeat you. You will get boils, tumours, sores and itches; madness and blindness;
‘You will be unsuccessful in all you do.’
Marriages will fail, building projects will collapse, livestock will be stolen, family will be taken, oppression will rule the land.
God’s people will be exiled, turning to other gods, and be scorned, ridiculed and hated.
Locusts and worms will destroy crops. Foreigners will take over.
They will become the tail, not the head; lent to, not lending (compare with yesterday’s blessings).
destruction will surely follow disobedience.
On overcoming nation will swoop like an eagle, fierce, showing no mercy / pity.
Family members will turn against one another (devouring the flesh of their children!!!).
God is offering the people a stark choice – obedience and blessing / life, or disobedience and curse / destruction.

Pretty grim reading today !
What is hard to read is :
“Just as it pleased the Lord to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please Him to ruin and destroy you….”
Although these may be the inevitable consequences of choosing not to go God’s way, it’s a harsh view of God which sees Him delight in destruction, pain and death.
Thank God for the New Testament lens through which we view such passages.
God clearly does not WANT destruction and death – He has been at pains to show how much He desires obedience, devotion, holiness, justice.

LUKE
Parable of the Persistent Widow – this parable, we are told, is to encourage us to pray and never give up ! The persistent widow keeps on at the judge (who neither feared God nor cared about men), until he finally gives us, he grants her justice (against her adversary). It’s a ‘how much more’ parable – if this uncaring, godless judge will ‘honour’ persistence, how much more will God bring about justice for His chosen.
‘When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?’

the link to the previous verses is an encouragement to never give up, as we wait for the Lord’s return…
and encouraging our faith to grow as we wait for God’s response to our prayers…

******************

My study bible rather helpfully links the next five stories together :
‘Five examples show us how one enters God’s kingdom :
whoever admits he is a sinner (v9-14)
who comes in childlike faith (v15-17)
who gives up all (v18-30)
who cries out for help (v35 – 43)
who joyfully puts things right (ch.19 v1-10)’

Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector – Jesus speaks this parable to those who are ‘confident of their own righteousness and look down on everybody else’.
There are two men in the story – one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee is full of his own importance, looking down on the tax collector and others, promoting his righteous fasting (twice a week) and tithing.
The tax collector kept his distance, not even able to raise his eyes to heaven, beating his chest and simply asking God for mercy, knowing his sinfulness.
Surprisingly, and as a direct challenge to the Pharisees, Jesus pronounces the tax collector to be the one ‘justified’ / right with God.

If we exalt ourselves, we will be humbled.

If we humble ourselves, we will be exalted.

Little Children and Jesus – in an age when babies and small children were of little value within society, hence the disciples’ desire to push them away, Jesus reveals how important youngsters are to God. In fact they are set as an example to us of a faith-filled life.

We are to learn from little children the keys for entering the kingdom, and we won’t be able to enter without these keys…..

The Rich Ruler – Jesus first stretches this young ruler’s thinking about goodness. He’s described Jesus as a good teacher, and Jesus challenges him to think more deeply about what goodness is – that only God IS good.
Secondly, of course, the challenge is financial, material. This young man is doing his very best to keep the commandments, but knows himself there’s a sense of ‘something missing’, something incomplete. Jesus knows that this man is trapped by his wealth. The test is whether he would be willing to give up everything to follow Jesus. There’s no ‘half-hearted’ following, if you want to be a disciple, Jesus is saying.

Although we may not all be asked to sell everything and give to the poor, the principle holds that to be a follower, we must not depend upon wealth, money or possessions, but upon God. We cannot serve both.

The man goes away sad – Jesus lets him walk away, but knows it’s not the end of the story for this man…who knows what happens to him…
‘It’s harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.’
Salvation is only made possible through God (no amount of riches or goodness can achieve it), because all things are possible for God.
Peter speaks of the disciples’ sacrifice of everything to follow Jesus, and He reassures them that they will receive many times more than what they have surrendered, in this age; and in the age to come receive ‘eternal life’.

PSALM
“Clap your hands…shout to God with cries of joy…
HOW AWESOME IS THE LORD MOST HIGH”
Sing praises to God, sing praises….
God reigns, He is seated on His Holy throne…
He is greatly exalted.”

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