Posts Tagged ‘following God’s plan’

Deuteronomy 2God’s Presence

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Written on January 22 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

The Lord, your God, has blessed you in all undertakings; he has been concerned about your journey through this vast desert.  It is now forty years that he has been with you, and you have never been in want. 

In today’s Noontime we have an accounting of the Hebrew travels with God and we may – or may not – be astonished by the intimate conversations between these people and their Lord.  They contain both detail and emotion, and perhaps these are attributes of our own interchanges with God as well.  He advises specifically where they are to go, what – and whom – they are to avoid, what they are to purchase, and how they are to survive.  As we read we come to understand the reason for the drawn out period of time in the desert.  We impatient humans murmur to ourselves that God’s time and plan are long and intricate; but if we read carefully we understand that God is doing two things as he accompanies these tribes in their wanderings: he is refining his people through trial, and he is establishing a strong bond of trust with them.  Who can doubt this awesome God after reading these accounts?  In today’s Noontime we see the toughened and strengthened Israelites begin to experience success in battle.   I now deliver into your hands Sihon, the Amorite king of Heshbon, and his land . . . This day I will begin to put a fear and dread of you into every mouth under the heavens.

We each make a journey through the desert, anticipating the promise in which we believe.  We each have need of specific instruction.  We each must express to God our fears, wants and joys.  We each are accompanied by the Lord.  We each are at the heart of God’s plan.   We each are blessed, and we each are the holy dwelling place of God.

The Lord, your God, has blessed you in all undertakings; he has been concerned about your journey through this vast desert.  It is now forty years that he has been with you, and you have never been in want. 

We have two ways to look at life as we know it. It is either a dreadful series of difficult situations . . . or a delightful record of God’s attentive love.  My parents always told us that just because things don’t turn out they way you think they should does not mean that God has not been with you.  In fact, God has been with you.  And God is with you now to help you learn what it is you are supposed to learn.  Be open. 

We were raised to expect the best from people and from God, to practice patience and understanding, and to act in compassion and honesty.  Not all of those lessons took, to be sure, but I remember them often, especially when I feel I am in danger.

As we skirt hazards and are sometimes nipped by anxiety and dread, we must remember that just because we may not feel God’s presence at all times does mean that he is not with us.  When we forget this, we forget who we really are: the daughters and sons of God.

This is the message you  heard from the beginning:We should love one another.  Dear children,let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:11, 18-20)

If God knows all, then he knows who and what we ought to avoid, where we ought to go, and how we ought to proceed.  We do well to remember that the creator of all loves each of us, knows our pains and joys, and knows the best steps for us in our particular journey.  We do well to listen to God’s word . . . and to rely on him who is always with us . . . even when we might not feel his presence.

A re-post from November 5, 2011.

Images from: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/wein/wein_matos_masei.php3?printer_friendly

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

John 6 Bread of LifeDeuteronomy 10:12-22

God’s Work

Circumcise your hearts and be no longer stiff-necked.

This is a verse we can never hear too often.  In Chapters 4 through 11 of this book, Moses preaches to his people about the Law of the covenant which God shares with them.  In this way, the book is another form of communication with God – and Moses here is motivating obedience, encouraging reform.  (Mays 195)  “Because God elected this tiny, enslaved people, they should now keep his law.  Election requires internal circumcision, the removal of any obstacle to willing obedience.  God’s greatness is reflected in concern for the marginal people in society, a concern characteristic of the law that will follow”.  (Mays 200)

This is a heavy challenge for us in that we must be willing to remove anything from our lives which separates us from God.  These obstacles may be people, places, habits, or attitudes which inhibit us from seeing ourselves clearly.  What we often forget is that we are here to have our rough edges smoothed, our wrinkles ironed out, and our branches pruned and disciplined.  And no matter how often we avoid learning a lesson, God will continue to send us new lesson plans through which to experience the freedom he wishes for each of us . . . he loves us this much.  We might try to pick and choose the messages we want to hear.  We might think that we can pick and choose among the many seminars God has prepared for us.  Yet in the end, we will find that the very people, places, habits and attitudes we value might be our obstacles.  And these obstacles must be dealt with.  How do we know what to avoid in life and what to take on?  How do we know what is God’s work and what is the work we have decided for ourselves is best, perhaps against God’s recommendation?

We hear that answer in today’s Gospel message from John 6: Jesus answered them and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent”.  Jesus’ questioners ask for a sign that they might believe, saying that God sent manna to the Hebrews in the desert to sustain them in their time of distress and to show them that Moses was their shepherd.  Jesus says to these doubters, “I am the bread of life; whoever believes in me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst”. 

The crowd murmurs that they do not believe that this Jesus, the son of the carpenter Joseph whom they knew, can be the bread of heaven – the stuff that sustains us eternally.  And so the questioners go away, thinking that rejection of Jesus is a solid decision.  Jesus questions the twelve who follow him, asking why they, too, do not leave.  They reply, Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.

When we become confused by life, when we are tired out from overcoming the obstacles, when we become anxious about the future, worry about the past and forget the present, we are doing our own work rather than God’s.  When we become consumed by plans for ourselves rather than following through with the life that best suits God’s plan, we deceive ourselves.

We have been called.  We have work to attend to.  We can invent our own agenda, we might design our own schedule and routine.  Or . . . we can perform the work lying, waiting in our hands.  This is God’s work . . . and there is no safer place to be, no firmer ground to stand on, no toil more rewarding.  So let us remove the obstacles before us and roll up our sleeves . . . for there is God’s work to be done!

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 195 and 200. Print.

First written on August 2, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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