“Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the lord your God that I am giving you today. But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before."
Moses is speaking to Joshua and the next generation of Israelites as they ready themselves to enter the promised land. As a consequence of their disobedience of God during their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites had to wait in the desert for 40 years. And because of his lack of trust in God during a separate incident, Moses himself wasn't going to enter the promised land. But these hard-learned lessons in the desert were not lost on Moses - and he was going to make sure the next generation of Israelites knew the certainty of what he had learned before: obey God, and you will be blessed; reject God, and you will be cursed. That's just the way it was.
And so it is today. Like the law of gravity has held true both then and now, this "law of blessings and curses" still holds true today. In John 3:16-17 Jesus tells us we have the choice to believe and be blessed (eternal life with God), or not believe and suffer the curse (separation from God). In John 10:10 he says we can follow him and enjoy a full life, or follow others toward a life of destruction. In John 13:17 he teaches us that we will be blessed if we serve others. We see this principle in our own lives and in the lives of the rich and famous. No one is above it - it's just the way it is.
God is not standing with one eyebrow raised and his arms folded waiting to see our lives unravel. He wants to bless us. It is sobering and humbling to know that this blessing in our lives is a direct result of our choice to obey Him.
Author: Mark Dwyer
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! "
I had the chance to be in St. Louis this past week and we visited this place called City Museum. It is kind of confusing because it really isn't a museum at all. It really is a giant play place for kids and adults. It also may be one of the most confusing places ever. There are tunnels and paths and places to go that lead you in all sorts of crazy directions. You really can't describe it. But as I was having a blast exploring this place I realized in many ways this place was just like life. There are paths and avenues and opportunities all over the place. Some positive and some not. It can be crazy confusing.
The key to the City Museum was to remember where your starting point was. If you could remember that almost everything would eventually come back to that point. The same is true in life. We must remember our starting point and that is Jesus.
We are new in Christ and when we lose our way just remember that is where we start. We start in Him!
Author: Brett Lilly
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (1 Cor 10:13)
As men, a lot of times we feel like the struggles we face are unique to us. We want to handle things on our own. I've golfed with hundreds of guys over the last few years, and I can promise you one thing - you're not alone in your struggle. Your "island" is bigger than you think, and you're not the only one on it. So look around and find some other people; you need them and they need you.
Author: Mark Dwyer
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
It strikes me how the simple, crucial and consistent message of "living by faith" weaves its way through the Bible. Faith is to believe in what is unseen. Adam and Eve needed faith to obey the simple commands of God. Noah needed faith to build a boat on dry land and save his family from the flood. Abraham needed faith to become the father of a nation at an old age. Moses needed faith to lead the Israelites out of slavery. David needed faith to defeat Goliath, and then Saul. Peter needed faith to leave his job as a fisherman. Paul needed faith to make a 180 degree turn and lead the people he had been persecuting.
And all of these people, through their faith, received their true reward when Jesus completed his mission of reconciliation. It wasn't through their ethnicity, actions, intelligence, condition or luck. It was God's grace through their faith (Ephesians 2:8). And so it is with us today. Our access to the greatest gift of all time depends not on how we live, who we are, where we're from or what we own - just what we believe about Jesus. The question he asked Peter (Matthew 16) must be answered personally by each of us today; "Who do you say I am?"
From "Disciplines of a Godly Man" by Kent Hughes.
A discipline of deference must be carefully practiced in marriage. Many men never forego a planned pleasure for the sake of their wives. For some men, golf is synonymous to Dante's Paradiso, but the entrance to a department store is like the gates of Dante's hell, bearing the inscription: 'Abandon all hope all ye who enter here.'
Having coffee on the patio with my wife this morning, it dawned on me that I was loving her at that moment. She was full of life as we sat outside and talked about the day, talked about the kids, talked about our summer plans. She needs those times, and too often I overlook that need in her life - usually because I don't need it as much as she does. The more we talked, the more I saw her contentment increase and it was clear that she felt loved by me. If you were to ask me if I "love my wife", you might be talking about a feeling I have inside (which I do). But to truly "love my wife" requires specific action - connecting with her on a deeper level, striving to understand how she thinks and sharing with her the burdens that she may feel. What is your wife's (or significant other's) love language? Do you know how she feels loved by you? Do you love her?
Author: Mark Dwyer
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. ... And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with every-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
When Moses came down Mount Sinai with the 10 Commandments, his face radiated the brilliance of the God with whom he had just met. And yet the old covenant that he brought with him doesn't hold a candle to the new covenant, which Christ has revealed to each new believer. The sun is impressive in the day, but its power can also be seen at night through its reflection off the moon. If you have met Him already, is your life reflecting the light of God?
Author: Mark Dwyer
A consistent message throughout Scripture is the importance of "fearing God":
Go to BibleGateway.com and type "Fear God" to the search box, and you'll see hundreds of verses pop up. As I read these, I begin to see a new definition for the word "faith". To fear God is to believe in who He is, what He has done, and what He has the power to do in your life - a belief that is so real that it impacts you every step.
I believe in God. I love God. But do I really fear Him?
Author: Mark Dwyer
A great challenge to fathers, taken from "Bond of Brothers" by Wes Yoder:
... a father's narrative includes for his sons, and in perhaps even more powerful ways for his daughters, a living portrait of his character, his work ethic, his love, his ability to create, his desire to serve and his capacity to play. As a father, you are the nearest point of reference your children will ever have to what the words Dad, man, husband, and father actually mean... True narratives of fathers are not perfect pictures [but a child does] need a father's narrative, or his life will become much more difficult than it was ever meant to be.
How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.
“He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him,
bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he governs the nations
and provides food in abundance.
He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach. (Job 36:26-33)
Why is it that the more we humans learn about the vastness and intricacy of our world the more we question God's existence? Somehow our ability to "advance in knowledge" emboldens us to act with more pride and ignorance regarding God and us. Oh God, let me always remember that YOU are God, and I am not!
Author: Mark Dwyer
Brett Lilly - Campus Pastor at Compass Church (95th campus), husband, father