What kind of business perks do you enjoy at your job?
Here are a few unusual benefits that employees enjoy through their place of employment:
- Interns in the PR department at Ford Motor Company get to test drive all their new vehicles on the company’s figure-eight test track.
- Bank of America employees can enroll their children at an on-site elementary school.
- Students at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky who work for the United Parcel Service are given four years of free tuition and housing.
While these are great benefits, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you get benefits that are much better than these.
Please join me to learn more!
If you don’t have plans for celebrating Easter this Sunday and you live in the Denver, Colorado area, please join me at The Neighborhood Church. We meet at 10:00 a.m.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Deuteronomy 18. In verses 1-8, the Levites were forbidden from receiving any inheritance in Israel, which included owning land. “The Lord is their inheritance,” Moses told them.
But the thought hit me as I read this: In a territorial society, Levites were financially vulnerable because they had no other means of providing for themselves except through the gifts and goodwill of the people. However, by relying on people’s offerings, the Levites were motivated to ensure the Israelites were contented worshipers. Happy worshipers would most likely be generous givers who would in turn provide for the Levites.
Moses then warns the Israelites of practicing sorcery and witchcraft in verses 9-22. The reference in verse 18 to a prophet through whom God said he would “put my words in his mouth, and…will tell them everything I command him” could be understood as referring to Jesus. Jesus was the only prophet who spoke God’s word in a new, authoritative way.
Proverbs 12:10. This is an interesting proverb that I’ve never noticed before: “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” You can tell a great deal about a person by watching how they treat their animals.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Have you ever experienced days when everything you read in the Bible literally jumped out at you? That’s what happened to me with today’s reading. So, I’m going to share three nuggets that really spoke to me.
Membership Has Its Privileges
In Deuteronomy 19:14, Moses forbid the people from moving their boundary lines. Although it’s a pretty big deal now, it was a really big deal back in the day. Land was rarely sold. Instead it was passed down from generation to generation.
The New Bible Commentary also adds another perspective:
“Since the land had been given to the people by God and apportioned according to a God-given formula, to move boundary stones and thus appropriate territory unlawfully was a crime of theft against God.”
Although I agree with the comment above, I must also add that God owns everything within our possession. When someone takes advantage of you or your belongings, they’re taking advantage of God as well.
In the same way, when Israel went to battle (Deuteronomy 20), God promised to fight for them. “The Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (verse 4). So, when the enemies fought Israel, they were really fighting God.
The context of verse 5-9 indicates that Israel’s military was never intended to be composed of a standing army. Instead, it was assumed that people would leave their everyday activities to fight.
Why expend a great deal of energy on a well-trained army when God fights your battles?
This brings us to a very important truth: When we become followers of Jesus, we get a very important perk. God becomes our defender and provider. He knows best how to defend and provide, so we no longer need to worry.
Prophet, Lawgiver, and Son
For most of my life I’ve had no idea what the significance of the transfiguration was (see Luke 9:28-36). Actually, I was wondering about it until a few minutes ago. Here’s what I think: Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets. Jesus brought Peter, James and John (his inner circle) to see for themselves the special relationship he shared with the Father. By affirming Jesus as his son, in the presence of his two greatest spokesmen, God demonstrated that Jesus was more than a prophet and lawgiver. Jesus was—and is—his son.
I find this scenario at work even today. Affirming Jesus as a prophet or lawgiver is socially acceptable. But to affirm Jesus as the unique son of God, the only way to God, the Messiah…well that’s just not politically correct.
Taking it one step further, I so easily live as though Jesus was just a prophet or lawgiver. For instance, the What Would Jesus Do fad subtly reinforces the belief that Jesus is a glorified lawgiver. We need to follow his example, but we also need him.
Jesus is also our only Savior. Piggybacking on yesterday’s post, he is the only one who can rescue us. But all too often I live as though I’m my own savior.
If Jesus is more than a prophet or lawgiver, then we would do well to heed Moses’ command: “Listen to him” (verse 36).
A Matter Of Perspective
Psalm 73 is my favorite psalm. I call it the psalm of perspective. Asaph, one of the chief musicians in David’s tabernacle, wrote it. He begins by divulging that the success of the wicked discouraged him. “They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong…This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth.”
Then he admits, “Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure…When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me.”
If you’re like me, you’ve experienced this feeling. Sometimes it seems as if the arrogant, corrupt, godless people flourish—and God seemingly closes his eyes to their wickedness.
What do we do? How do we reconcile the injustice?
Here’s what Asaph writes in verses 16-17:
When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
Did you catch that? The sanctuary of God gaves Asaph perspective! For Asaph, it meant that in the sanctuary he realized there is more to this life than this life. God is the eternal equalizer.
So what is the sanctuary? Well first of all, we are the sanctuary, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). And how do we access this inner sanctuary? By communing with God. Prayer. Worship. Constant communication. Listening. Waiting.
If you’re feeling stressed, remember that God is your defender and provider. But you also likely need an adjustment to your perspective that only God can give.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- How does knowing God is your defender and protector affect the way you live?
- Which tendency do you gravitate toward—living as if Jesus is a prophet, lawgiver, or the son of God?
- How do you enter the sanctuary of God?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.