“Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” Deuteronomy 5:33
Let’s remember what an honor it is to be God’s display. His plan is that our lives, would draw others to Him.
We are God’s display for all the people to see what a mighty and wondrous God we serve. If we live wisely God says, “ you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’ For what great nation has a god as near to them as the Lord our God is near to us whenever we call on him? And what great nation has decrees and regulations as righteous and fair as this body of instructions that I am giving you today?” Deuteronomy 4:
The Ten Commandments are found in Deuteronomy 5 1-21. Read them and practice them to grow wiser. Let’s ask God to open our hearts and minds to living out the decrees and commands he set before the children of Israel.
Were there other decrees and commands?
In verse 29 we read God’s words of affirmation toward his children who showed reverence and respect toward his all consuming fire. God said to Moses, “Oh, that they would always have hearts like this, that they might fear me and obey all my commands! If they did, they and their descendants would prosper forever. Go and tell them, “Return to your tents.” But you (Moses) stand here with me so I can give you all my commands, decrees, and regulations. You must teach them to the people so they can obey them in the land I am giving them as their possession.’”
Again God talked with his children about the importance of obedience as they stood poised to take the land. He also promises prosperity for those and their descendants who obey his commandments.
Today as I end this first segment of God’s rubric: Jesus grew in wisdom, I want to ask God to be my constant reminder, never letting me forget who is the Giver of all I have.
Let’s read Deuteronomy 8:6-20.
The first verses describe the amazing land God has given his children. The paragraph ends, “When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”
How often we take and take for granted the food, nourishment, comfort, blessings God has given. How often we allow the challenges and trials of our life to overshadow the bounty of God’s love.
“Be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.” These words resonate in my soul.
Father God, Forgive me when I forget to praise you for all the good you have placed in my life. You alone are the Giver of every good thing I have. I also know, Lord, that You have allowed difficulties, trials, and challenges to enter my life. They too are blessings, tribulations meant to strengthen me and wisen me. I also thank you for them, even though the pain is sometimes unbearable. May I never stop praising you, God!
I continue reading, beginning with verse 11 “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. 12 For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, 13 and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! 14 Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God…”
I need a reminder to stay the course if I am going to grow in wisdom as Jesus did.
To grow in wisdom this year, I will develop a practice of praising God. I will ask God to show up regularly in my life throughout my day so I might stop for a moment to praise Him!
Remember: Jesus is God’s rubric. He went to temple where he listened to the teachers of the word. He asked questions and he grew in wisdom. We are without excuse in our Christian walk. We have Jesus’ life to point the way toward success and an intimate relationship with our God!
What happened next in Jesus’ life? Come back Saturday as we seek to follow Him.
This word has begun to grow on me. I continue to read in Deuteronomy about the the “decrees and regulations” that Moses gave the children of Israel, me and you.
Get your Bible out and read with me. Deuteronomy 4:9-14 where Moses, as God’s mouthpiece, tells the people to never “forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.”
What does this mean to us who were not present at the Exodus, who were not privy to the parting of the sea, nor the giving of the Ten Commandments?
We are privy to the stories and their application to our lives today.
God gave the Israelites a way out of slavery. Jesus has set us free from bondage to sinful acts.
God delivered the Israelites through the sea. Jesus asked John to baptize Him and baptism is offered to us as a reminder that we can be cleansed from our past and walk in a new life.
God instructed Moses through his commandments. Jesus taught us to love God and our neighbor.
Each one of us also has a personal faith walk. We know when we were set free from our past to walk a new path. Moses reminds us to never forget the moments when God saved us.
Oh and if you doubt, look at verse 10 where God promises “I will personally instruct them.” During your daily prayers ask God for his personal instructions for your life. He will answer. He has answered me.
Twice in these verses we are reminded to teach our children. Looking for a morsel of wisdom? “Teach the children God’s ways.”
Look at verse 14. Once again we are reminded to obey because we are about to enter the land God is going to give us.
Continue reading verses 15- 39.
These verses are dedicated to explaining to us God’s decrees and regulations. It seems to me that the first decree and regulation, just like the first commandment is to cast a way all idolatry.
Idols are a subtle presence in our lives. We embrace them, believing they can bring us happiness, purpose, identity. Idols can be things, activities, people- anything that stands between us and God. The unhappy thing about idols is that they appear as attractive enticements, promising to enhance our lives. We invite them to become a part of our lives. We embrace them. Then slowly, without our truly understanding what has happened – our idols embrace us. They take over! Before you know it they have become so much a part of who we are, we can’t separate ourselves from them. They embrace and suffocate. They control and destroy. Beware the idols, God commands.
If we want to be wise, we practice obedience. We take the land God has placed before us. But before we do so, if we want to be successful, we cast off our idols and never pick them up, not even when we have comfortably settled in the land God gives us.
Struggling with unanswered prayer? Could it be there area idols in our lives? Let’s dig around, identify them, and cast them away.
Review: Jesus is God’s rubric for our lives. In other words we look to His life to direct our paths.
Let’s wrap up today’s thoughts with a powerful verse in Deuteronomy 4 and the lesson for us as we choose to live wisely: We are God’s display for all the people to see what a mighty and wondrous God we serve. If we live wisely God says, “ you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’ For what great nation has a god as near to them as the Lord our God is near to us whenever we call on him? And what great nation has decrees and regulations as righteous and fair as this body of instructions that I am giving you today?”
Pleae join me again next week for some more thoughts on wisdom.
Remember we are looking to Jesus’ life to be our rubric- to point us toward successful living. Jesus grew in wisdom and we want to practice growing in wisdom also.
I feel challenged this year to become a student once again. I want to study and learn and grow. My own students dare me to new heights.
One of my greatest joys as a teacher has been to watch the “bulb” over my students’ heads light up when they say, with a smile, “I get it!” The next affirmation comes as I watch them grown in wisdom and understanding and confidence. I am pretty sure that knowledge and understanding, put into practice, lead to confidence. I know from my own experiences, a little bit of confidence goes a long way.
Let’s just think of the positive accomplishments we can experience if we have confidence:
-Step into strange places without fear
-Take on overwhelming assignments
-Converse and communicate eloquently
-Navigate life with dignity
-Confront issues boldly
These are but a few of the goals I long to achieve. I am sure you can add to these and I would love to hear about your additions to this list.
So… what does God’s Rubric have to do with these thoughts? Jesus, like any good teacher, wants us – his students, to “get it,” to understand and put into practice, his teachings. He knows, if we observe and study His guidelines and follow His example, we’ll “get it.” We will be able to live without fear and deal with overwhelming circumstances all the while operating in a dignified manner and confronting complicated issues with a godly boldness.
Let’s get started.
Jesus’ visit to the temple as a young boy was our first rubric. The story in Luke 2 ended with a summary of Jesus’ early life before we become privy to the details of his ministry, “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” (vs 52)
Right now I want to stop and look at my own growth. What am I doing to grow in wisdom, in stature and in favor?
Over the next several days let’s simply consider “growing in wisdom.”
Wisdom, according to the Encarta Dictionary, is:
1 good sense, the ability to make sensible decisions and judgments based on personal knowledge and experience
2 wise decision, good sense shown in a way of thinking, judgment or action
3 accumulated learning, accumulated knowledge of life or of a sphere of activity that has been gained through experience
Eaton’s Bible dictionary lifts out the following, when I perform a thorough search through scriptures:
Wisdom: a moral rather than an intellectual quality.
“Wisdom” in Proverbs 1:20; 8:1; 9:1-5 may be regarded not as a mere personification of the attribute of wisdom, but as a divine person, “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians. 1:24).
In Matthew 11:19 it is the personified principle of wisdom that is meant.
Again we see Jesus as the example, the rubric.
Wisdom. If Jesus grew in wisdom, I want to consider my own growth pattern.
What am I doing to grow in wisdom?
Am I practicing good sense? Am I making good decisions? Am I allowing my life’s experience to teach me, or do I continually make the same foolish choices?
I’m afraid I continue to make the same foolish choices, time after time, after time.
I want to change that habitual course. There is no better guideline to change than to look to the leadership of Jesus, His life, the Word.
Often when I am studying my Bible, I go to the concordance, find the word I want to understand. Then I look up each of the verses listed. I did this with the word, “wisdom.” At Deuteronomy I stopped for a deeper study:
Deuteronomy 4 is the first place in the Bible I found a definite reference to answer my question- “How do I grow in wisdom?”
“…Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I (Moses) am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2 Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.
5 “Look, I (Moses) now teach you these decrees and regulations just as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy. 6 Obey them completely, and you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’ 7 For what great nation has a god as near to them as the Lord our God is near to us whenever we call on him? 8 And what great nation has decrees and regulations as righteous and fair as this body of instructions that I am giving you today?
Within these seven verses I noticed:
1- Obey is repeated 4 times.
2- Wisdom, or versions of the word, is mentioned twice.
3- The land is mentioned twice also
“Obey.” It’s a simple command. We all know obedience is the key to success. I want to practice obedience this year. This is my new motto: When in doubt-obey.
We can approach 2013 as “the land” that God is giving us. Specifically, what land does He want me, you, to occupy this year? And as we take “the land” ordained by God, we are encouraged to practice wisdom so, others may get a glimpse of God’s glory. (review vs. 6,7,8)
What “land” is God calling you to occupy this year?
Mend a relationship
Begin new job
Let’s stop here for today. I’m asking God to guide me into 2013. I’m asking Him to show me the direction He would have me take. Which one area of my life needs to be conquered? As I listen for Him to speak, I will read this rich chapter in Deuteronomy and study the wise counsel it gives me concerning how to grow in wisdom. Won’t you join me?
Jesus is our rubric for life. His life shows us how to live. Checkpoint number 1 is wisdom.
Jesus grew in wisdom. Are we being wise with our everyday decisions?
Join me Saturday for more insight into God’s Rubric.
So many things can go wrong.
What if my choice of menu doesn’t suit my guests?
What if a fork is dirty?
What if no one shows?
What if a little spider has crawled up into the chandelier and woven a web?
Will I be ready when my guests arrive?
How many will show?
Can I get everything on the table at the same time?
Will my preparations even taste good?
What if the dessert flops?
I have the gift of hospitality. Sometimes I truly feel it is a gift and other times it feels, well, like a…
I won’t say what it feels like.
It takes courage to invite a group of people into my home.
Sometimes it takes a lot of work to make sure everyone is comfortable and well served.
Often, after having sent out the invitation, I wonder, “Why did I do this?”
This is the thing: I don’t like cooking, but I am totally in my element when my home fills with people.
I hear laughter, people chatting, encouraging words. I see friends listening, smiling, and serving each other.
The blessings pour down and into my home with each person who enters. Why wouldn’t I want to fill my house with all God’s people. It is an honor, a privilege, and a delight.
I wonder if I have the kind of courage it takes to speak up, stand up for what’s right, when all around me no one else will?
When we cry for God to take us out of surreal situations and complicated circumstances, He comes to our rescue. Often it doesn’t seem that He is on the way to lend a helping hand. Reading the stories in the Old Testament – how God acted on behalf of his children- reminds me that I may never see his hand at work until the moment of impact.
God heard the cries of slaves in Egypt. Moses was conceived. His mother placed him in a basket and set her baby boy in the river. A princess rescued him. All the while no one knew God was at work. The boy grew. He was educated in the palace and in the desert.
Finally it became evident to the people. God had heard their cries. The day of release arrived!
It takes courage to step out of a comfort zone, even if the comfort zone is slavery!
God told his people, “be strong and courageous.”
In Joshua one he repeated this phrase four times, and then again in Joshua 10. Joshua 1:6-7, 9, 18; 10:25
He added, “Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7
IT takes courage to make the first step and it takes even more courage to stay in step.
…and the rewards are great- success wherever you go.
If God promises success, why do we Christians shy away from standing up for what is right an just in the eyes of the Lord.
Why, like the people in the times of the Judges do we need constant reminders?
For us to experience spiritual and emotional success, obedience is necessary. What about obedience to God do we not understand?
From Judges 2: Now the angel of the Lord… said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; What is this you have done? “
For us to experience spiritual and emotional success, obedience is necessary. What about obedience to God do we not understand?
Yesterday I experienced the grand epic story- Les Miserables written by Victor Hugo.
Yes- sorrow was woven throughout the story. Sorrow for having stolen a piece of bread to feed a starving child. Sorrow for living in chains for 17 years. Sorrow for having to run from the law throughout a lifetime. Sorrow for having a relentless enemy.
Isn’t this the picture of life?
Then comes redemption, forgiveness even when undeserved.
It takes courage to forgive and accept forgiveness. It takes even more courage to repent, turn around and lead a new life.
There is power in forgiveness. A man forgiven is free. A woman forgiven is clean. A forgiving child is the picture of fulness of life.
In the midst of sorrow, so often forgiveness is the answer. Forgive, release, rise up.
Have courage – today forgive.
I wonder when and why Christmas took on such a mad dash.
I remember Christmas being a time when my family slowed down, took on hushed tones, and gathered quietly to ponder our manger scene in awe.
Growing up, my family lived in Colombia, South America. Christmas decorations in homes consisted of a large crèche. At its center of course were Mary and Joseph in a stall. The surrounding scene included shepherds, sheep, wise men, little village houses, mirrors for ponds with tiny plastic ducks “floating” on top, and angels. Some scenes took up entire corners in the home’s main room. I can compare it to the Christmas village scenes some like to collect set up during the month of December. As children we were encouraged to sit around the manger scene and move the characters toward to stable where Mary and Joseph waited for the arrival of Jesus. The baby was never in his crib. He somehow appeared mysteriously on Christmas Eve! We played with the plastic figures as we did with our dolls. We had play pretend conversations, the wise men talking along the way about the gifts they had carefully chosen for the King. Our shepherds stopped to fish in the “pond” as they made their way to Bethlehem and our angels sang every Christmas carol we could conjure up. I never had a doll house as a little girl, but my family and my girl friends’ families all had large nativity scenes and we played “Mary and Joseph” for hours at a time. Then, one day a Christmas tree crept into our home. I think the good ole USA went visiting into the world. My mother went to work with a jig saw and made a sleigh complete with Santa and ALL his reindeer. She painted it and Daddy placed it on top of our house (it had a flat roof). You’ve got to believe I lived long ago before every decoration imaginable was manufactured and creativity wasn’t necessary. That’s why Mother “had” to work so hard to decorate our house. Another year she decided the walk up to our front door needed a candy cane border. She went to work making an entire set of candy canes. It seemed her goal was for our home to take on the magic of a gingerbread house. Mother had a way of decorating and soon our home was filled with Christmas cheer and fa la la.
I always gravitated to the Nativity scene set up in the corner of our living room. (Scroll down to visit my Nativity scene.)
I am grateful for my parents and our Christmas traditions. Jesus was always the center. At the same time they did everything possible for their two little girls to experience the magic of the season.
I wonder how they kept Christmas in check. How did they manage to keep the focus off the world and its lure toward the commercial and the comparison to other’s greater, bigger, grander ways of dealing with the season?
Why do we need more? Is it because we want to compete with the neighbors? Is it because we feel inferior if we don’t keep up appearances?
I gotta’ lighten up!
And then I stumbled on this card:
I don’t need to say another word, except –
I didn’t for most of my life! Because I am a visual learner, as a little girl I pictured scenes in my mind while I learned songs. Often I strung together meaningless syllables and simply stumbled over sounds.
Other times I plugged in words I thought I might be hearing.
For instance, when singing the alphabet song- L,M,N,O,P I sang, “ elominop.”
Get the picture?
Each year Christmas rolled around and I tried to make sense of the many carols.
I couldn’t picture reindeer paws. I thought they had hooves!
And when the lyrics about Rudolf said he would “go down in history” for being so famous, I thought Santa was rewarding him by saying “you go down and get a story.” I know there were too many syllables, but somehow I made it work! I thought getting a story as a reward for working so hard, you know, lighting the way all through the night, was the best bonus ever. As a girl, having a story read to me was the best!
I liked singing Silent Night with all the candles lit, who doesn’t! I had no idea was virgin was, but that didn’t matter because I knew the song was about the “round young” mother of Jesus the child.
Wait! What were glories?? They had to be something the shepherds saw because the word sight was in the song. I knew they had heard and seen angels, but angels were angels and glories were glories. But what were glories? I lived forever before I saw a glory.
Then one day a florist delivered a lovely Christmas arrangement topped with… glories.
Yes. Now I know what the glories are: magical golden swirls of spiritual dust being sprinkled from heaven. Maybe glories are God’s breath. Maybe glories are the visualized voices of the angels.
Whatever they are, I have captured them. I use them to decorate my house, reminding me of the magic of childhood. Childhood, a time when, even if we don’t always comprehend, we’ll sing anyway. We sang because we were children, innocent, trusting, longing to please, and forever able to find joy in the simple, refusing to allow the difficult and complicated to deter our awe and wonder.
Ever have one of those years when you didn’t feel like Christmas? I don’t really know what that means exactly, but I do know how it feels.
This year I’ve allowed myself to simply enjoy God’s presence and forget about the world’s draw. I decided the evidence of His existence would be what decorates my house.
As always, I pulled out the most important Christmas box, the one with my Nativity scene and all its characters. Clearing the mantel I fondly set up the landscape of green garland. With a heart full of contentment I put Mary and Joseph in the stable,
One final touch ~ the glories. I have to add the glories.
Once positioned I strung the lights and…
There are no red or green balls in my house this year. No tree. No centerpieces on tables. No stockings…
Joy to the Word, the Lord has come!
A removed, hard, ugly bulb, living in a dark box.
So— with a little bit of hope, I move out of the box into a not-much-better environment- moist dirt!
Isn’t that LIFE?!?!
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him, all the day long. Psalm 62:5
Christmas is a lesson in hope. Have hope. THE LIGHT has come to shine in the darkness! Don’t give up.