The book of Deuteronomy is a very long covenant between God, Moses, and His people. It is a detailed listing of The Laws of Moses, including the Ten Commandments. It is not a complete list—more are to be found in the book of Leviticus. (There are 613 in all.) The people of God are about to enter the Promised Land, which is occupied by the Canaanites. These laws define a new, God-approved way of living which is uniquely different from the Canaanites.
- Just before verse 9 of our passage, verse 8 speaks of obeying God’s commandments. God says that if they are obedient, things will go well for them; they will be blessed with prosperity. (v. 9)
- The second part of this sentence is at the core of the reason for doing this. I’m going to switch the order around thusly:
“When you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, you will obey the Lord your God, and observe his commandments and decrees…” (v. 10)
- The next paragraph is a little word of encouragement, and needs little explanation. God seems to say “Aw, come on. It’s not that hard. You can do it!” (vv. 11-14)
In the chapters preceding our passage, God lays down a series of blessings for those who follow these laws for living, as well as a series of curses for those who do not. God’s message is clear—“If you love me, you will do these things, and you will be blessed. They are do-able, so don’t tell me that it is too hard. Do them and we will be in a close relationship. Do them, and you will prosper.” Some have turned this and other passages into a tit-for-tat plan for financial gain. I have even heard some preachers claim that if you donate $100, you can expect to receive $10,000, because the bible says you’ll receive a hundredfold for your generosity. I’ve tried that, and I’m still waiting for the $10,000 to roll in! But what I have experienced is that when I’m in a close relationship with God, living my life “in the Spirit”, there is an inner peace and joy that is worth that $10,000.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Living in the Spirit requires “letting go, and letting God”. Are you ready? You can do it. “It is not too hard for you.” (v. 11b)
For the next four weeks we will be reading from the letter that Paul wrote to the church in Colossae. The city of Colossae was situated in what is modern day Turkey. It was once a commercial center for the production of red-dyed wool. It was a textile town. There is no evidence that Paul ever visited Colossae. It appears that this church was the result of a man named in today’s passage—Epahrus (“ee-PAF-ruhs”). Epaphrus reported to Paul of the success of this church, and Paul has written these words of encouragement to them. They are good words of encouragement for us as well.
- This is Paul’s classic opening line in all his letters. It includes the “to” and “from”, as well as a blessing. Paul mentions Timothy, who is one of his constant traveling companions. (vv. 1-2)
- Paul and his companions have heard of their faith, and thank God for it when they pray. (vv. 3-4)
- Here is a beautiful section, which describes the “hope laid up for us in heaven” because of our faith in the gospel message, the good news that Jesus has died for our sins. (v. 5)
- Their faith has borne fruit, because they have truly comprehended the grace of God. (v. 6)
- Paul gives full credit to Epaphrus (with the Holy Spirit’s help, of course). (vv. 7-8)
- In verses 9- 11, Paul now gives them the details of his prayers to God for this church:
- That they may be filled with knowledge and spiritual wisdom
- That they will lead lives worth of the Lord.
- That they will bear fruit (not peaches and berries, but souls).
- That they will be made strong [in faith].
- That they will be prepared to endure hardship for their faith with patience and joy (!).
- This section of his letter is concluded by giving thanks to the Father, and reminding them that they have been rescued from darkness, and are transferred life in the kingdom. (vv. 12-14)
Through Paul, God gives us a good shopping list for spiritual growth. Verses 9-11 lead the way. The clincher is there in verse 11—when we endure hardship for our faith, we must to so not just with patience, but with joyful patience! That’s gonna take some effort, but at least we know that we have the Holy Spirit’s help.
LUKE 10: 25-37
This is the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. Many think that this is a story to tell us to be nice to people. But Jesus tells this story for a different reason; to teach us a different lesson. Let’s see if we can learn what Jesus wants us to learn.
- As Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, a man who is an expert in the Laws of Moses (remember our first lesson?) confronts Jesus, and asks him a poignant question. (v. 25)
- Essentially, Jesus says “You tell me!” (v. 26)
- The lawyer’s answer is spot-on, but interesting. It is a combination of the first of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 6:5) and an obscure law from Leviticus 19:18—love God, and love your neighbor. (v. 27)
- Jesus approves of this answer. (v. 28)
- Here comes the clincher, and the motivation behind Jesus telling this story. The lawyer, wanting to justify himself, wants to know who has to be his neighbor. In other words, he is asking Jesus who his neighbor isn’t. (v. 29)
- I won’t go into the details of the story, which you probable already know. But one point needs to be made. The first two people to come upon the injured traveler are good, righteous Men of God. The third is from Samaria. Samaritans were despised by those Jesus told this parable to. Jesus chose to identify the good helper as somebody that society hated. (vv. 30-35)
- Jesus sets the hook, and asks the lawyer who is the injured man’s neighbor. The lawyer does not say “the Samaritan”. He can’t even bear to say the word! But the point has been made. (vv. 36-37)
We’re no different than that lawyer, really. We want to draw boundaries around who we must love. But Jesus makes it clear that we must love everyone, including our enemies. It’s going to take some effort, but at least we have the Holy Spirit beside us, to help us along.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Who are on your “Samaritan list”? Here are some thought starters:
- People from India
- People who do not love the Lord
- That *#%& person down the street who is so obnoxious.
- People who voted for “that other man” in the last election