Saturday, February 4, 2012

Courage to Have God's Best

Recently I preached a sermon on Deuteronomy, a rich experience for me. Our church is going through the entire Bible in a year. Since that means one or more books in a week, we are getting a chance to get the big picture.

Deuteronomy's big picture is about having courage to live in God's best.

Years before, Israel failed to go into the Promised Land because they were afraid.  While the land was as great as God had told them, Israel were afraid of the big people in the Land and rebelled against God.  They didn't get God's best because of fear.  A whole generation of warriors died while the nation wandered for forty years.

In Deuteronomy, Israel stands to the east of the Jordan, ready to complete the conquest and to live in the Promised Land.

Will they overcome the fear from forty years before, take the Land, and live well there?

Moses pours himself out in Deuteronomy in three sermons.  He is about to die and he so much wants the nation to move in the Land that God gave them and to live well there.

Moses says four things to help Israel overcome fear and move in the Land.  The same four will help us and our children overcome the fear of moving into the life that God has prepared for us.

First, remember our story.  In chapters 1-3, Moses reminds Israel of their story, of God's direction and care for them.  God wants us to remember what He has done for us, our story, so when we face something hard, we know we have been there before and He is faithful. How do we help our children remember their story?  Books, pictures, telling stories, or a bulletin board with memories of God's care and rescue?  What else?

Second, God's steadfast love. In chapters 4-11, Moses shows God's steadfast love for His people.  It is about relationship and God's commitment to them.  And, their commitment and love to Him. As we learn more and  more about God's deep love, we know He won't leave us and will be there.  There is no need to fear the obstacles in the way of His best for us.  Church, family devotions, quiet moments in a busy life, and a parent's unconditional love will help children know God's love.

Third, standards for living well.  In chapters 12-26, Moses gives specific ways to live well in God's Promised Land.  It isn't enough just to get there, but living well and rightly for generations is his dream and God's provision.  While the specifics don't fit our world, the idea of teaching our children to live well is the same.  What principles of life, biblical and not, will help our children live a life of courage in their own Promised Land?

I noticed that most of the directions Moses gave are costly, either time or money.  Feasts and providing for the poor costs money.  Taking care of a neighbor's donkey or praying for someone costs time. Living in God's best for us and our children is not about comfort and privilege, it is about celebrating and caring, about loving God and loving people.  God's best for us is costly.  But, worth every penny and second.

Fourth, choices to make.  In chapters 27-34, Moses declares that Israel has to make choices, between life and death, between bad and good.  And, there are consequences.  Will we and our children have the courage to choose to live well, to enter the life God has for us, even if there are monsters and it is costly?

If we remember God's care in our own story and reflect on God's rock solid love for us and our family, we can face the fears that come with living the great life He has for us.  He is trustworthy and able.

May our children have the courage to enter God's best and live well there.

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