Friday, February 26, 2010

Double Trouble

Last night I started reading Deuteronomy, which is the longest sermon in the Bible (or maybe in history!) at 33 chapters. The Israelites have been wandering in the desert for 40 years and are on the verge of crossing over into the Promised Land. Moses angered God earlier and isn't allowed to enter Canaan with his people, so he offers up a rehash of the events of the last 40+ years to remind the Israelites how they got here, who they are, and what their responsibilities are in the new land because he won't be around to lead them any longer.

Deuteronomy is the condensed version of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers but told with a great deal of passion. Moses loves the Israelites despite their constant complaints and rebellion and wants them to succeed in Canaan. It's a powerful and beautiful speech.

I've read it several times before, but this is my first time through The Message Bible which puts the Bible into modern vernacular while keeping the spirit intact. While reading through it, I was moved by the kinetic language Moses uses while reminding the Israelites to obey God. Most people consider the Ten Commandments to be a list of no-no's - things not to do. But Moses tells his people not only to learn God's rules, but to live them. We can't live a negative, so he was obviously speaking about something more, something deeper than simply avoiding a list of taboos.

Deuteronomy 4:7-9 - Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us? And what other great nation has rules and regulations as good and fair as this Revelation that I'm setting before you today? Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don't forget anything of what you've seen. Don't let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you've seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.

Deuteronomy 5:1 follow up with: Attention, Israel. Listen obediently to the rules and regulations I am delivering to your listening ears today. Learn them. Live them.

I was struck by all of the dynamic words, and I realized that obedience is more than just going to church on Sunday and avoiding the appearance of sin. God calls his children to be constantly living out His will for us. All of the words used call for active participation, not lazy or apathetic response.

Listen to the importance Moses places on God's laws: Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Moses knew that these laws would determine the difference between living a good life and a bad life. He doesn't want us to just pull them out on Sundays and holidays, but to make them a vital part of our everyday life.

God lays it out pretty clearly. This is what He wants from us: Live in his presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and regulations of God. Live a good life. Deuteronomy 10:12-13.

If we obey, the result will be:
He will love you,
He will bless you,
He will increase you. Deuteronomy 7:12

If we don't obey, the consequence is "destruction and doom." Deuteronomy 8:14-15.

But Moses even gives us instructions for if we go astray: But even there, if you seek God, your God, you'll be able to find him if you're serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul. When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says. God, your God, is above all a compassionate God. In the end he will not abandon you, he won't bring you to ruin, he won't forget the covenant with your ancestors which he swore to them. Deuteronomy 4:29-31

Reading through Moses' words, I was forced to acknowledge that when it comes to living God's laws, I am failing miserably. Sure I'm avoiding the no-no's of the Ten Commandments (as well as anyone can), but I'm not living reverently in his presence, I'm not serving him with everything within me.

Moses uses the example of a road: So be very careful to act exactly as God commands you. Don't veer off to the right or the left. Walk straight down the road God commands so that you'll have a good life and live a long time in the land that you're about to possess. Deuteronomy 5:32-33

Using that analogy, I am sitting like a lump on the road. I'm on it, but I'm certainly not getting anywhere! I want my faith to be an active, vibrant, dynamic force. I want to be striding confidently down the path that God has sent forth for me. This is the goal I am setting for myself.

So where are you on the path? Is your faith a verb or a noun?

Double Trouble by Susan May Warren is the second title in the PJ Sugar series. PJ has embraced her new role as private detective, even if her boss Jeremy isn't trusting her the way she'd like and her ex-boyfriend and police officer Boone doesn't think she's up to the challenge. They both have to change their tune when PJ undertakes a case that forces her to impersonate a woman in the Witness Protection Program and is sure that her life in is danger. PJ embraces the challenge, despite the threat of exposure. Warren has created a humorous and smart heroine in PJ who constantly seems to be tripping over her own feet and making promises that she can't keep. The sparks between PJ and Jeremy fly right off the page and will have readers just as torn between Boone and Jeremy as PJ is. Warren's writing is never cliched and she delights in upending readers' expectations. This is one series that I hope lasts for twenty or more books!

Thank you to LitFuse for providing me with a copy of this book for review. If you'd like to read more reviews of Double Trouble, click here.


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Christy -

I popped over from Facebook. Thanks for accepting my friend invitation.


Debbie Clark said...

Christy, I was very moved by your comments. Moses loved the Israelites. At one point, he was willing to have God blot out his name, if God destroyed the people. Wonder if we would love someone so much that we would be willing to do that. It is interesting in the 10 Commandments. The first four are our allegiance and love to God and the last six are how we relate to our fellow men. Jesus summed it up in the New Testament when He said that "You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself". Luke 10:27. There in Luke 10:27 is all of the 10 Commandments summed up in one sentence. There is nothing left out. When we absolutly love God, with all our heart, mind, strength & soul, the rest will follow automatically. How many of us, give ourselves completly to God and love Him so much that we cannot contain it? We would be bursting at the seams to tell it to everyone. Reminds me of a song sung by Don Francisco "I gotta Tell Somebody". It's about the story of Jairus & Jesus healing his daughter to died. At the end of the song, he could not keep it secret. He busted his seams saying that he had to tell somebody what Jesus did for him. Why are we so quiet when Jesus does so many things for us daily? We need to proclaim it to the mountain tops.

Thanks for reading my comments.
Debbie Clark :)