Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"God's Expectations"

If you've read any of my recent posts you've probably noticed a few common themes - surrender, transformation and perseverance. Three complex things God's been working on in me. All three are key for any disciple of Christ. They are also challenging and convicting. It's not easy to surrender, transformation rarely comes naturally and perseverance is hard. None of these require a one time action...they are something you and I must do over and over and over.

Awhile back, I started looking at this wrong...almost like it was something to add to my to-do list. You know balance the checkbook, go to the store, SURRENDER, ReNEWed meeting,
TRANSFORM my mind, laundry, library, PERSEVERE, can applesauce... Friend, typing that out makes me realize how crazy that thinking is! First of all these things are not something you and me can do on our own...we need God's help and his Holy Spirit within us. Also like I said, it's a continual process and it involves a state of mind not just an action. We will never scratch this off our list!

So as it became a bit burdensome I found myself crying out to God and simply asked, "What do you want me to do?" Within days, He answered my request as I repeatedly came across Deuteronomy 10:12-13 -
"And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God,
 to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God 
with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep
 the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?"

For the past few weeks I've been meditating on and studying these verses. They have much to say and truly can help us surrender, transform and persevere. First of all a little background - Moses shares these words with the Israelites before they are going to the Promised Land and after He has reminded them of who God is and all He's done. He asked this of the Israelites thousands of years ago, and even today offers us a similar question.

The great thing with this question is He immediately follows it up with the answer. Think about what He requires of us. He never once lists a certain number of hours spent in prayer or dollars given to the poor. He doesn't require us to read the Bible X number of times, go on Y number of mission trips or etc. In these verses, God gives us 5 of His expectations. Read this verse again, do you know what they are?

I'll follow His lead and give you the answer -

This is an expectation that is first on God's list, but typically not on man's. In our culture and even some churches this isn't talked about. Let me ask you - "Do you fear the Lord?" "Do you know what it means to fear the Lord?" This is respect and honor, but it does go deeper. He is our heavenly Father and we should fear Him in a healthy way like a child does their earthly parent.. Our pastor has been preaching from the Old Testament and one point that has stuck with me is God is faithful. I knew that before this series began, but as we dive into some familiar and some not so familiar passages we're seeing God's faithfulness in all areas. It's fun and easy to talk about His faithfulness to love, equip and encourage, but we must not forget He is faithful to judge and discipline as well. Fearing Him rightly and fully is something we must do. And fearing God will help us not fear man - "The remarkable thing about God is when we fear Him, you fear nothing else; whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else." Oswald Chambers

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." (Hebrews 12:28)

This is more than where we go, this walking refers to walking with God or against Him. The other day my little guy was pushing a miniature grocery cart down the aisle and I said, "Jesse get out of the middle of the road." He quickly responds, "Pastor Tim tell me to do it." My 5 year old has been listening during Sunday morning services as our pastor encourages us to follow Jesus down the middle of the middle of the road. I believe that is what Moses is referring to along with the need to obey, which will happen when we follow Christ. We can choose to follow our selfish, sinful, fleshly desires or walk with the Lord...there is a difference and each option comes with consequences. Further on Deueronomy 11:26-27 tells us obedience brings blessings and disobedience will result in a curse.
"If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1.5-7)

God expects us to love Him. He created us for this. This isn't a feeling that will just happen, but it is a choice we must make. We can't turn this into a duty, but instead see it as a response to the love that He has poured out on us. Our love for God should and will lead to obedience to Him. Jesus spends much time talking about this, as do other writers of the Old and New Testament. Jesus loved His Father and we are called, chosen and commanded to do the same.

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. 
And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3)

We often hear people say, "I want to serve the Lord." Chances are we think and pray about the same thing. This is a good thing, but let me ask you a question - What does it mean to serve the Lord? In the original Hebrew language the word is labor, which means to work and exert effort. We are to be God's servant, which simply said means we work for Him and wait on Him. He doesn't need our service, but He created us for it. How is He calling you to serve Him? Are you? An important thing to remember as you ponder this expectation - we can only serve one master. In your life is that God or someone or something else?

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 
(1 Corinthians 15:58)

The final expectation in this passage is to keep the LORD's commands and decrees. Any idea what that means? Again looking back at the original text, this word - shamar, means to guard. One commentator also mentioned to protect, preserve and possess. It could be a two part expectation - obey God's commands and pass them on to future generations. Friend, we will never do this if we don't know the commands, so we must daily spend time in God's Word and abide with Christ.

"If you love me, keep my commands." (John 14:15)

Friend, I pray this list of expectations is something you find purposeful. Remember God is a good, loving Father and He gives us these expectations for a reason. These are for our good...He knows best. This is what He created us to do as we walk through life. It's not about His power or prestige, but our purpose and peace. And to top it off, He gave us an example to follow...

"During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 5:7-10)

1 comment:

  1. I really liked what you said about the "Keeping" of the Lord's commands. It means to guard and protect. To pass them on. It feels extra significant as we face this election. Thank you for teaching me from the Old Testament today and reminding me to guard His commands. Lauren and her roommate and I face-timed a bit last night on holiness and what it means for us today. They want to talk more when they come home to visit, and I can't wait. A bit intimidated, but excited for the opportunity.