Said

The LORD brings his people into his kingdom, as he has said

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Read: Deuteronomy 31

“I am now one hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said.” (Deuteronomy 31:2-3)

Reflect:

There is so much in these verses. Moses is 120 years old and other than his first 40 years, raised in an Egyptian palace, he has had a hard life: 40 years a wandering shepherd in Midian and another 40 years a wandering Shepherd of Israel in the Sinai desert. Yet Moses is still disappointed, even if also resigned, because the LORD has barred him from entering the land God promised to Abraham’s descendants. Moses, at 120, would still like another 40 years, adventuring in the Promised Land.

Later, much later, Moses would visit the Promised Land as he met with Jesus, his long-awaited Messiah, at the mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-4), as Jen Wilkin pointed out at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference. Meanwhile, God had a good plan for the immediate future: the LORD, together with Joshua, Moses’ apprentice, would cross over into the land ahead of the people. They would conquer the people of the land and wipe out all their despicable abominations of religious practices. The LORD himself would be with Joshua (31:23) as he took Israel into the Promised Land.

Today, I know that whether I see it or not, God is bringing and will bring all his chosen people into his kingdom, under Jesus our King. According to 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise … he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” As I leave this land today, I trust God that he will finish any conversations I have begun, that he will grow any gospel seeds I have sown, for his kingdom and his glory.

crux:

The LORD brings his people into his kingdom, as he has said.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Thank you once again for the reassurance of your sovereignty. Thank you for the reminder that you order my life and you are capable of bringing your chosen into the kingdom of Christ Jesus your Son.

I pray for Ari, the Jew whom I met at McDonalds, to whom I explained the need to trust Jesus to reconcile him to you. I pray for the homeless woman I hugged, who just wanted shelter I had no means to give her. I pray for Liz and Sharon, the ladies who asked me what “gospel” meant as we visited Niagara Falls. I pray for Alistair, the gay man I met last night while we watched the sunset over the Toronto skyline from the Toronto islands, who feels excluded within the conservative culture of country Ontario. May you bring each of them into your kingdom, the kingdom of your Son.

I entrust them into your hands.

Amen.

Became

By faith in Christ, we became the people of the LORD our God

Read: Deuteronomy 27

Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel: “Be silent, Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the LORD your God. Obey the LORD your God and follow his commands and decrees that I give you today.” (Deuteronomy 27:9-10)

Reflect:

“You have now become the people of the LORD your God.” What a powerful identity statement. Proclaimed by both Moses, the political leader and the Levitical priests, the spiritual mediators, to the entire motley crowd of Jacob’s descendants. They needed to shut their mouths and still their inner monologues, because this was a crucial declaration.

“You have now become…” Past tense: the people have been freed, by God, from Egypt; have received, from God, the Law; and have made the tabernacle, according to God’s design. The people have been brought, by God, through the desert; have been led by the pillar of God’s presence, marked by smoke and fire.

Now they are changed, transfigured. They are no longer slaves. Now they are different: “the people of the LORD.” Now they are truly one people and they belong not to the slave-holding Egyptians, nor yet to themselves, but to the LORD, Yahweh, the I AM who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. This LORD is their God, in the closest relationship of kinship and belonging with his people.

What an amazing identity!

So now, because Israel “have now become the people of the LORD” they were to obey the LORD. The same logical flow is seen in the lives of the people of Christ. By faith in Jesus Christ, who died as a sacrifice to redeem me from slavery to sin, I have now become one of the people of the LORD my God, now to obey him.

crux:

By faith in Christ, we became the people of the LORD our God.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You are the LORD, Yahweh, the I AM who spoke to Moses so long ago from the burning bush. You are my God, the divine object of my love, worship, awe and reverential fear.

I belong to you. I am one of your people, because this is what you have made me through the gift of faith in your Son Jesus Christ.

Thank you for redeeming and delivering your people Israel from slavery in Egypt and bringing them to your land, there to obey you. Thank you for redeeming and delivering me from slavery to sin and the curse of the law and bringing me to my present circumstances, here to obey you.

Please help me to obey you and follow you, because I belong to you. Please help me to be keen to bring honour to your name through my choices and actions, especially as Amy and I travel today to Indianapolis for the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference tomorrow. Please bless us!

Amen.

Start

I start loving because Jesus laid down his life for me

Read: 1 John 3:10-18

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (1 John 3:11)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)

Reflect:

Jesus said to “love your neighbour” was the second most important command of God, superseded only by the command to love God. At the Last Supper, which Christians remember and celebrate tomorrow (on Maundy Thursday), Jesus told his disciples he was giving them a new command: “Love one another.” John repeats Jesus’ commands here.

But what does it mean to love? According to Jesus’ perfect example, to love means to “lay down our lives” for our brothers and sisters, our fellow believers. We must share with other Christians in need. We must love actively, truthfully. I must share generously. I must love actively, truthfully, compassionately, sacrificially.

I was telling someone today about my husband’s flight over Antarctica, which he did a year ago with a dear neighbour and friend, without me. The other person said their spouse would never let them do such a thing because they’d be too jealous. Something was even mentioned about scratching eyes out, I think. But love is not envious, nor self-seeking. I was happy to release Jeff to his exciting flight because I love him and I want him to experience joy.

In the same way, my husband loves me and is generous rather than jealous with me. In the last few weeks, Jeff has said I can fly overseas in June for two and a half weeks for the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference. Jeff has committed to parenting our four children without me for the weeks I’ll be gone, and he’s freed up the money from our income so I could buy flights to get there. He’s suggested I visit a friend and bring her to the conference with me, and committed funds for her to join me so I won’t be alone. He’s even encouraged me to do some exciting touristy things while I’m there and helped me find the best way of doing them in keeping with my personal limitations. This is abundantly generous love. This is sacrificial love, and it springs from what Christ has done for both of us, not just from our mutual married love.

Love is generous. Love gives unreservedly. Love is happy to see the beloved rejoicing. Love shares whatever it has. May I love like this.

Crux:

I start loving because Jesus laid down his life for me.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You are love and you have shown me true love in the generous, humble actions of your Son.

Thank you for your love, for the love of your Son, and for the love of my husband in imitation of the Son.

Please make me like Jesus. Let me learn from him how to love rightly. Make me willing to lay down my life for the good of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Help me to be willing to give my time, my money, my attention, my skills, even my future for those who need them. Please help me to give up my aspirations that are selfish, my habits that get in the way of relationships, my hobbies that take up what you want me to give away. Make me generous with all you have given me.

May I be especially willing to give away knowledge of the gospel!

Amen.