Devotions for Deuteronomy 5:1-12, 6:4-9
October 5-11, 2015
Monday, October 5, 2015
“The Lord made a covenant with us at Horeb” (Exodus 5:1).
The journey of the Israelites was drawing to an end. Before they crossed over the Jordan River and began to settle the Promised Land, Moses gathered the people together. The first thing that Moses did was to remind the Israelites that the Lord made a covenant with them on Mount Horeb (Mt. Sinai) at the beginning of their exodus forty years before. The Lord came to the Israelites. God called Moses to the mountain and it was on that mountain that God established the covenant with God’s people.
The Israelites hadn’t approached God and asked for an agreement between God and them. They had done nothing to deserve a covenant with God. Complaints were the main topic of their prayers. Though they were obstinate, hard-hearted, stubborn, stiff-neck people the Lord approached them and declared that God was claiming them as his own.
God moves in our lives in the same manner that God did in the lives of the Israelites. God has made a new covenant with us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. God comes to us and proclaims that we are God’s children; members of God’s family. We can’t negotiate a better deal—we already have the best deal possible. Nor can we make God’s covenant with us null and void. The truth that God loves us and has made us people of God is God’s gift to us—a gift to be enjoyed and celebrated.
Faithful Lord, you have made us your own. Enable us to live in this truth and celebrate it every day of our lives. Amen.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 5:6).
Jim Haskel spotted a leak in the drip system that irrigated his shrubs and trees. From the position of the leak, he knew it was going to be a tough job to fix it, but Jim knew just who to call. He had worked with Sun and Shade Landscaping for years. They had provided him with reliable service and fair prices. Jim didn’t need to check out the reviews in Angie’s List, or shop for bids. He had a history with Sun and Shade and Jim knew that they would treat him right.
Before God set the Ten Commandments before the Israelites, God reminds them of their history together. God was the God who led them out of slavery and stayed with them all those years in the wilderness. God have proven to the Israelites that they could place their faith in God and God would not let them down.
God has a history with us. God restored a relationship with us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Christ. God provided for all of our needs and God has loved us even when we turned our back on God, wandered away and weren’t very lovable. The Lord has answered our prayers and walked with us through the trials and tribulations of our lives. We don’t need other gods. Our God has proved to be faithful and we can put our trust in God.
Steadfast lover, thank you for being faithful even when we are not. May we rest in your love free from worry and freed to serve. Amen.
Wednesday, October 9, 2015
“You shall have no other gods before me” (Deuteronomy 5:7).
We think this is an easy commandment to follow, but it isn’t. Often we think of other gods as the figures and charms of primitive religions. We look around and we don’t see many idol temples or sacrifices being made to false gods. We may need to take a second look, though.
Martin Luther stated that an idol is anything in which we place our faith and trust. This opens up a whole list of possibilities. We place our trust in our jobs to provide for our daily needs. We hope that our exercise and healthy eating habits will give us longer lives. Our 401k’s and IRA’s are financial instruments in which we not only deposit our money but also place our trust for a secure retirement.
We can’t rid our lives of these potential idols. We can be aware of whether or not we place our trust in them, however. When the job market is shaky are we fearful that we may lose our jobs or are we trusting that God will provide? Do we look to the Dow Jones Industrial when the markets drop or do we rest in God’s loving embrace? Only God will see us through no matter what happens. Only God is worthy of our love and trust.
Forgiving Lord, we confess that we are tempted to place our faith in other gods. Forgive us and enable us to keep our eyes focused on you and our trust only in you. Amen.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
“Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Deuteronomy 5:11).
God didn’t begin the six day work week because God was tired and needed a rest. The Sabbath is a gift—to us. It is a gift that we ignore. We have a hard time squeezing in ten or fifteen minutes every so often for personal devotions. We think we’re doing great if we make it to Sunday worship services two or three times a month. The thought of rest—of doing “nothing”—except for sleeping in late scares us.
We surround ourselves with sound—earbuds in our ears jiving to the beat. Our cell phone is always at our side and we must answer it no matter what. We now have the ability not only to work at work, but also to work at home. We never stop.
Still God extends to us the invitation to stop and rest. We can pull out the earbuds and turn off the cell phone. We don’t really need them. We have God’s permission to stop working and to trust that God will still provide for us (and the world will not end). Quiet places beckon to us calling us to sit still and listen—to the birds, the wind, the growing corn and to God’s voice. Our hobbies—those activities that we love call to us. We have neglected them for so long a time.
At first a full day may overwhelm us. We may need to start with a couple of hours of Sabbath rest and then extend it to an afternoon. Once we realize how wonderful it is to keep this commandment, we can expand it to an entire day—a day of giving thanks and a day of resting in God’s love and grace.
Gracious God, you have encouraged us to rest. Open your arms wide and embrace us while we savor your love and grace. Amen.
Friday, October 9, 2015
“You shall not murder” (Deuteronomy 5:17).
There has been another mass shooting incident—something like forty-five this year—too many. As a nation we will argue the pros and cons of gun control. Few people will change their minds one way or the other. One thing that we all will agree on is that none of us are so “sick” as to invade a school or theater and start randomly shooting people. We’re not like those people. We’re not murderers.
We weren’t until Jesus expanded this commandment in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-26). Suddenly murder includes anger and withholding forgiveness. Now, we’re all guilty. Who doesn’t get angry (for good reason) once in a while? And, sometimes we just aren’t ready to forgive—sometimes we don’t want to forgive.
Mass shootings and random gun related incidents take away from the quality of our lives. Fear and distrust begin to rule our lives. The joy and freedom that we once enjoyed are lost. Anger and lack of forgiveness are not benign. They affect us—spreading through our lives robbing us of love, relationships and peace.
God invites us to put down our weapons, to control our anger and to forgive. We don’t do this so that God will be pleased with us or might be more inclined to answer our prayers. We do this because our life is better—both others and ourselves begin to experience again the abundant life that Jesus offers us.
God of Life, forgive us when we block your love from flowing through us. Empower us to give life rather than take it away. Amen.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
“Neither shall you commit adultery” (Deuteronomy 5:18).
This has never been a popular commandment. Often ignored—even by church leaders—most people in the industrialized nations believe it is a little old fashioned. They might be right. The commandment was originally meant to protect the woman’s worth as a possession of her father. It was also meant to ensure that children were born into a family. Feminism and birth control appear to have addressed these issues.
Does this mean that we should perhaps eliminate this commandment and work with nine rather than ten? Though the social concerns for this commandment may have been removed, the commandment still forces us to look at our sexuality, which is a major part of who we are. Are we men and women who live disciplined and controlled lives or do we do whatever moves us? Do we live to fulfill our own needs or do we live to breathe life into the lives of others? Do we share God’s love and grace or our lust and greed?
People volunteer to join the military and to fit terrorism because they believe it is the right thing to do. Other people take time to serve at food banks or be big brothers or big sisters—because they think it is the right thing to do. Maybe we can decide to live disciplined lives sexually—because it is the right thing to do and because it honors a precious gift that God has given us.
God of Life, We don’t like to be told, “No,” especially when we can rationalize away any reason for saying, “No.” Still you have given us the fantastic gift of sex and sexuality. Please help us to use these gifts wisely. Amen.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
“Recite these to your children” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
The young people in the confirmation class were forthright with their questions. “What’s the purpose of worship?” one asked. “Why should I read the Bible when it is so difficult to understand?” questioned another? “Do I have to say that I’m a Christian?” queried another. “Isn’t it enough to say that I believe in God?” Young people are full of questions about the world, themselves, life and God. Unfortunately they frequently don’t have anyone to answer their questions.
The life as a disciple of Jesus Christ has always been passed down from generation to generation—person to person. This remains true even in our age of mass marketing and social media. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and older siblings and cousins share their faith, love, and commitment to serving God in words and actions with those who are younger. Sometimes they even wrestle with answering a question. Adults in the congregation, friends and neighbors live out their faith so that the children can see, hear and begin to understand.
Sharing the faith is not about teaching theological concepts and religious doctrine. Rather it is introducing another to the living God; a God who is powerfully present in the world today, and who wants to live in a relationship with the people of God’s creation. We have experienced the love and grace that God pours into our lives. Others want to experience this too. They want to know that it is more than simply rituals and laws. The children and others want to meet Jesus and to love him. They have a lot of questions and we have a few of the answers.
Gracious God, enable us to be both loving and bold in living out and sharing our faith. Amen.