Week 9: Day 1- Deuteronomy 4:1-2

Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2

Explanation:

This particular passage of scripture is in the midst of a speech being given by Moses to the Children of Israel. He is at the end of his life. He reminds them of all that God has done, and all that they have done. He is speaking to them about how to conduct their future lives in the promised land. They were about to go to battle, and then live surrounded by pagan nations. Apart from their obedience, they would lose militarily, morally and spiritually. God knows that. Moses knows that. So we read today’s text.

Moses tells them to “hearken” to the “statutes” and “judgments” with the express purpose of actually doing them. He tells them that the purpose of giving them the law was for them to be obedient. He then goes on to say “that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord GOd of your fathers giveth to you.” There was a connection between obedience and success. If they would listen to the Lord, to His Word, and obey His law, then they would go in an take possession of what they had been given.

In verse 2 He gives a warning about both adding to the law, and taking from the law. God knows how people are. We want to do our own will more than God’s, and if that means changing the rules to fit our desires we will. Moses, by the words of the Holy Spirit, warns against doing anything that would change what has been said. Why? “…that ye make keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” If they changed the word, then the behavior God intended would change. They would obey the wrong thing.

Application:

The theme of this weeks passage is obedience to the Word of God. In today’s text Moses tells the Children of Israel two things:

  1. Obey the Word of God. The Word of God carries the authority of God. When God speaks we should listen and obey. He even tied their success to their ability to obey the law of God. The same is true for us. If we listen and obey, God will bless that obedience. This does not mean we will have material, worldly success, but it does mean that we will have success in God’s eyes. His opinion as the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of the World is what truly matters.
  2. Don’t change the Word of God. There is only one Revealer of Scripture, The Holy Spirit. If He spoke it, we should seek to discover and obey the meaning of what He wrote. We don’t get a say in making the meaning of what He already wrote down.

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

2 Peter 1:20-21

Response:

  1. Is there any area of my life where I am living in disobedience? Confess that to God. Repent and live differently!
  2. Am I reading God’s Word with the heart motivation of obedience?
  3. Am I changing the Word of God to fit my own thoughts and desires?
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Sticky church?

How do we know if people are sticking?

One of the first struggles many of us have in ministry is trying to figure out how to get people to stick.  How do we get people to get connected and stay connected to the church?  This is a question of assimilation. 

Assimilation is an important idea for any church.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of assimilation is “the process of becoming similar to something”, and “the absorption and integration of people, ideas, or culture into a wider society or culture.” 

In the context of our churches it refers to making people a part of the life of your church.  Assimilation refers to a process that happens with the people who attend your church.

To achieve the goal of fully assimilating people into the church, you have to be able to identify when it happens.  So, how do you know if someone is assimilating into your church?  Here are some questions that we can ask about those we are trying to assimilate to see where they are in the process.

  1. Worship Service– How often do they attend?  Is there a pattern?
  2. Sunday School/Groups– How often do they attend?  Is there a pattern?
  3. Relationships– Are they becoming friends with people in the church or group?  Do they spend time with people before, after, or outside of the services and programs?
  4. Participation– Do they participate during class or group time?  Are they engaged when they come?
  5. Service– Do they serve in a ministry of the church? 
  6. Invitation– Do they invite others to your group or church?
  7. Spiritual Growth– Do they exhibit life change resulting from the ministry they receive?  Have they made decisions regarding salvation, baptism, discipleship, serving and forsaking sin in their lives?

What are some of the ways you measure assimilation at your church that I may not have named?  What are some ways that you help to encourage new people in each of these categories?

Week 8: Day 5- Deuteronomy 19:13

13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

Deuteronomy 19:13

Explanation:

This particular verse is referencing the person that has been guilty of murder, has fled to a city of refuge, has been investigated by officials in that city and found guilty. There are three components to this verse.

  1. They should not pity him. Why? He is guilty. He has brought this consequence on himself. It may seem natural to pity a person who has been sentenced to death because of murder, but if they are guilty the city must go through with its responsibility to hand out justice. This is the role of government.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 13:3-4
  1. They should do justly. In this context it means they should hand him over to the person who is executing justice in his case. When it comes to human life, God values it so highly that he must punish evil doers that take life.
  2. Blessing from God is at stake. He says that they should do the first two components of this verse “that it may go well with thee.” God will not continue to bless a people who is being unjust in how they handle human life.

Application:

A Civic Application

We live in a country where we as citizens get a personal say and have a personal stake in the way that the country is governed. As believers we should take that stewardship seriously. Justice for human life, for the unborn, for the most vulnerable among us, should be a top priority for us in the voting booth. Treating the poor with dignity and helping them to have ways to live and take care of themselves where possible should be of utmost importance to us. We should do justly in our civic activity.

A Personal Application

An appropriate verse here is Micah 6:8 which says,

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Micah 6:8

There is a tension between doing justly and loving mercy. There is a place for both. Walking humbly with God is key for making sure that justice and mercy both exist in our lives.

Response:

What is a way that you can make a difference in the community when it comes to this issue of the sanctity of human life?

Week 8: Day 4- Deuteronomy 19:11-12

11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: 12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.

Deuteronomy 19:11-12

Explanation:

It may seem very obvious to say that the Bible is against murder. God values human life as a separate category. It is not meant for us to have the ability to take a human life.

The context of these verses, as we have seen for the past couple of days, is instruction to Israel about cities of refuge. Cities of refuge were intended to be used by people who were involved in accidental deaths, or manslaughter, fleeing the wrath of people who wanted revenge or who were responsible for prosecution and execution. The danger of having cities of refuge is that they could be used by people who were guilty of homicide, not manslaughter. The instruction to the leaders of these cities was that they were to investigate the claims of those who entered their city for refuge. People lie. Especially people who have the moral scruples to murder. It was up to these leaders to verify those claims.

Application:

Notice that the verse 11 goes in steps:

  1. Hatred for someone internally.
  2. A plan forms.
  3. Murder.
  4. Cover up.

In the scripture, as we pointed out before, Jesus condemned numbers 1-4. Murder begins in the heart. If we have something against someone, we must get that right. The scripture says:

26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26-27

And just a few verses later it says:

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

It is important that we maintain our heart attitudes toward others before it gets to hatred, planning, murder and cover up!

Response:

  • Is there anyone that you are harboring hatred towards? Take a moment to search your heart. Ask God for forgiveness and make a plan for making it right.
  • Is there anyone you need to forgive? Remember the basis of forgiveness is not that they deserve it, but that we have been forgiven.