Saturday, 20 August 2016

Build Your Life On The Word Of The Lord.

As we seek to build our Church and our lives on Jesus Christ, we turn to the book of Deuteronomy. Here, we are following our Lord Jesus Christ. When He was being tempted by Satan, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3 - "Man does not live by bread alone ... Man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord."
This is the lesson which comes through, again and again, in Deuteronomy: We need to hear the Word of the Lord, We need to build our lives on the Word of the Lord.
The teaching of Deuteronomy has been summed up in this way: (i) Looking back; (ii) Looking up; (iii) Looking forward.
  (i) Looking back - God's people were to look back to the past. They were to remember what the Lord had done for them. This is what we must do. Look back and remember. Why are we to look back to the past? We look back to the past so that we might learn to look up to the Lord and look out into the future with faith (Deuteronomy 4:32, 40).
  (ii) Looking up - The people of God were called to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:5). Love for the Lord is not to be a half-hearted thing. The Lord stands before us with a call to decision. He calls us to choose. Jesus says to us, "You cannot serve two masters." He says to us, 'There are two alternative ways of living. You can love the Lord, or you can love the world.' He asks us, 'Which will it be - the Lord or the world?' Think about how much the Lord has loved you, and let your response be the love for the Lord. Look back and remember what the Lord has done for you. Look up to Lord and let him be the centre of your life.
  (iii) Looking forward - Life in Christ, life as the redeemed people of God, is always life with a future. As God's people, Israel looked out. They saw "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Deuteronomy 6:3). This is, for us, a picture of the life into which the Lord is calling us. It is a life "sustained by God and helpful to men" (Hans Kung, On Being a Christian, p. 602). Israel looked out to the land God was giving to them. We look forward to all that He has planned for us, as we learn to walk with Him. Let us move forward with faith. Let us pray, 'Lord, bless me, and make me a blessing.' We must not keep the blessing of the Lord to ourselves. We, who receive  blessing from the Lord, must share his blessing with others. We, who have heard the Word of the Lord, must share His Word with others (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Look out from where you are. Look forward to what God is going to do. Say to God, "Here I am, wholly available" - and let Him work in you and through you. Israel advanced, with God, into the promised land. Let us step forward, in faith, with God and for God/ Let us step forward into the blessing He's going to give to us - the blessing that reaches out to us, the blessing that reaches out, through us, to others.

After I had posted these notes on Deuteronomy, I came across this quotation - "I avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward" (Charlotte Bronte). This made me think about what I had written. We cannot live our life without looking back and looking forward. There are, however, dangers in both looking back and looking forward.
When we look back, we may see only our sin and fail to see the grace of God. This will fill us with guilt and regret. This can overwhelm us. What we need to do is this - look upward. On the other hand, we may look back and see only our own achievements. this will fill us with pride in ourselves. There will be no giving glory to God. What are we to do when we look back? We must look up to the Lord. This will take our attention away from our sin and failure. This will fix our attention on our Saviour and His His salvation. We will learn to say, "To God be the glory! Great things He has done ... "
When we look forward, we will filled with fear. This can fill us with dread, constantly wondering what bad thing is going to happen next. We may think about the future in a very different way, "I'm going to achieve this, that and the next thing." Really?! What's this all about? It's not about God. It's about me - This is what I'm going to achieve. What are we to do when we start thinking like this? We must look up to the Lord - and ask Him to help to keep on looking up to Him.
Life includes the backward look and the forward look - but it must also include the upward look. Without the upward look, our life is in a mess. We may be painfully aware of the mess we're in. We may be blissfully unaware of the mess we're getting ourselves into. Whatever kind of mess we're in, we need to look up to the Lord. We need to say, "Lord, we need you every day and every hour - all the time." We need to say, "Everything good comes from You, Lord - especially our Saviour, Jesus. Thank You, Lord, that you keep on loving us - even when we've forgotten You. When we forget to look up to You, show us Your love - and teach us to love You."

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