Deuteronomy 26:1–27:26, 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1, Psalm 40:1–17
Sometimes I read these passages with a teacher’s mind, trying to sort them out and write the connections. Sometimes I read them with praise as I see the wonders of God and His Son Jesus Christ. Sometimes I read them and am struck with the way God gets into my head and heart and tells me what to do with a problem, or how to deal with the events of the day and the issues of life. Today, God was giving me good advice. First the verses, then His word to me . . .
“And you shall make response before the Lord your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 26:5–10)
When I pray, I usually start with worship or confession, praise or keeping short accounts. This passage suggested that I begin with a rehearsal of my spiritual journey, remembering what I was before being delivered from slavery to sin, and how God brought me out of that and into a new life. After that, He says to yield to Him all that He has given me, setting my life before Him in worship. What a great idea, so that is how I began when praying today.
“Then you shall say before the Lord your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandment that you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.” (Deuteronomy 26:13)
This one speaks for itself, except I spent a bit more time on the way He says to divide actual offerings. It could be money, but also time, intercession, and other sorts of ways to give a blessing to people in need. The list says the Levite, which I interpret as the men of God who give their lives to serve me; my pastors and others who minister the Word of God to me in various ways. Then the list says the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. Orphans and widows I understand, but needed to think more about sojourner. My current online professor gave a definition last week. This is more than a traveler. He says “resident alien” is a good translation except for our sci-fi connotations. It is someone from a foreign place who lives here and has been made welcome. There are many sojourners in our neighborhood. This list gives me good instructions!
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.’ Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 6:16–7:1)
An idol is anything I put my trust in or care about when it should be Jesus. This happens. I hear you, God.
“I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” (Psalm 40:8–10)
Praise is never intended to be a ‘closet’ prayer. God’s Word is clear that when He blesses me, I am tp speak of it aloud and to His people. Today, I did that several times with several people. As I post this tonight, may it go out to an even ‘greater congregation’ and encourage each one to also trust the Lord and rely on His steadfast love and faithfulness.