June 30, 2017
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Scripture: Deut. 29:23-28, The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger. All the nations will ask: “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?” And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”
Observations: In this chapter, Moses gives a nice summary of Israelite history. He speaks about leaving Egypt, wandering in the desert, and defeating pagan kings. He emphasizes that the people have seen God’s power and the things he has done for them and they should be extremely grateful. They should adhere to the covenant and teach it to their children. God is angered and the consequences are severe for those who abandon the covenant, who worship idols, and who disobey the Lord.
Application: If you are like me, reading about God getting so angry that he inflicts severe devastation on the land and people makes me extremely uncomfortable. Although we know that God wants our obedience and that we will be judged, we tend to squirm in our seat thinking that God would destroy us, think smiting and lightning bolts, for our sin. This is hard to reconcile with our image of a loving God. But we live on the other side of history. We have a more complete picture - we have Jesus. Because of what Jesus did, we won’t be destroyed for our sin even though that’s exactly what we deserve. God knew that humanity was so extremely disobedient, so extremely sinful, that there was no way on their own we could keep the covenant. The OT demonstrates this - the people messed up over and over again. They would say I’m sorry one minute and run off and worship an idol the next minute. The reality is that people haven’t changed. We are just as disobedient. We may not worship at an Asherah pole but we put plenty of things before God – money, family, power, jobs. We are selfish and prideful. We fall away. Even the best human beings fail to measure up. But God knew this and he provided a way for us to not only be forgiven but to truly live and have life abundant. God is love so he sent Jesus and that has made all the difference.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for sending Jesus to die on a cross for my sins. I’ve messed up and I still mess up.. Thank you for loving me anyway and for providing a way for me to have access to you, Lord. Help me to be more like Jesus in all I do. I love you, God. Amen.
P.S. After months of discernment, we are moving forward at the former Grace UMC Tampa. We have decided to expand their existing Monday night feeding into a dinner church called New Hope Cafe. A dinner church could be described as a fresh expression of the church - not a full-fledged worship service but an experience with elements of worship such as prayer, music, and fellowship. We need your help! We need individuals, families, or connect groups to help with the food for these Monday night experiences. It would also be wonderful to have you stay and help serve and build relationships with our guests.