Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year—"Reflection and Promise" Deut 8

“Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good. “So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water18 Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath. 19 “But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed. 20 Just as the Lord has destroyed other nations in your path, you also will be destroyed if you refuse to obey the Lord your God. (Deut 8:1-20)
New Beginnings-Reflection and Promise
Today we begin a new year, common with each New year, we reflect on the past year and take stoke of our lives. We understand that our past holds wisdom of its own to lead us into greater hope or despair for the future.

In Deuteronomy 8 we likewise enter a story of beginnings. Israel is entering a new land promised to them over 40 years ago. This new season begins with a Command from the king, and then leads into a Promise about the future and finally it is crowned with Reflection about the past.

The Command God as king over His people Israel gives them a state of the union address as they enter into a new season, a new year so to speak. “Be careful to obey Me” (Deut 8:1, 6), He says—Why?

The Promise…”So that you will enter into the promise I have for you. So that you will enjoy the fullness of what I your good God and King has promised you and prepared for you. So that you will enjoy all what I have disciplined you to enjoy.” He says (Deut 8:1b, 7-11)—But how have you disciplined us, they might have asked?

The Reflection…”By allowing you to be in lack and having only God as your source. By provided for your need in ways you did not know I could. This discipline has allowed you to know through your experience that you are unable to live life solely by what you think you need. I have taught you that your life depends on me your God and I can take care of you” (Deut 8:2-5).

This beautiful address by God to His children seems to ring true to us today. As we reflect back at a year past—some of it full of joy and some of pain, we meet one solid command of God that should bring a great opportunity of starting again, of turning a new page.

The Command to obey God, comes with a Promise of good things. God knows how we were created, after all He created us in His image (Gen 1:27). He knows that we were created to experience peace, joy and true contentment and this comes only through our connection with Him (John 15:5). So His command is always tied to a promise of good things, which can only be realized through His leadership in our lives (Jer 29:11).
The Promise of great things (Deut 8:1)
Knowing our rebellious tendencies, as a good God and King He reminds us to reflect on His goodness to us (Ps 117). As we stand on the first day of a new year, I believe God expects us to reflect on His faithfulness, on how much He has grown our character. He expects us to reflect on How he has preserved us from the dangers that lurk by day and by night (Ps 91). He has kept us alive out of nothing we have done, but simply because of His grace. Our reflections will remind us that as much as we have desired to be in control of our lives, there has been much that happened to us outside of our control. Our reflections should bring up our need for more from our lives, our need to grow, our need to be more grateful, our need to be more loving and kind.Yes our reflection should bring us to God, to his ways and to His heart—our existence began from Him and by Him (Gen 1-2). 

As we begin a new year we see that our hope for a bright future comes from His command, "Obey me"—out of His command comes a promise of great things, derived only from His hand and from His heart (Rom 8:28). His command is a sign of love.

He loves you and wants to share this love with you (Ps 117:2), let us go into His love together as we anticipate great and beautiful things for this year.
Happy New Year—another beginning, another opportunity to begin with comfort from our God. 

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