Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 13 – 26
Have you ever sliced a pie and then eyed the piece you want for yourself? Have you ever looked at the cake and thought – I want the piece with the most icing? Have you ever rushed to the front of the potluck line to get your pick of the food before the best is gone? Have you ever had a “me first” attitude, or an “every man for himself” spirit?
In Deuteronomy, we can see that God is calling His people from a “me first” mentality to a “God first” passion. The words of Moses to God’s people as they were entering the Promised Land hold great advice for us today. By studying these instructions, we increase our understanding of the holiness to which God has called us.
“Be careful to obey all my commands, so that all will go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and pleasing to the Lord your God.” – Deuteronomy 12:28
“The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love Him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone. Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him.” – Deut. 13:3b-4
There will be those who will try to lead you away from your walk with God. They will try to talk you out of doing all that the Lord your God has commanded you to do. Do not give in or listen to them. Listen only to His voice and keep all His commands, doing what pleases Him instead of what pleases others (Deut. 13:5,8,18).
“You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be His own special treasure…you are set apart as holy to the Lord your God.” – Deut. 14:2,21b
If you carefully obey all the commands God has given you and if you always love the Lord your God and walk in His ways, He will give you “this land.” He will enlarge your territory (Deut. 19:8-9). And here is my advice to those in leadership – to the king or the one the Lord chooses to lead His people: Do not store up wealth for yourself. Do not build up a large stable of horses for yourself or take many wives for yourself, or accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold.
Your focus should be on God’s word. Keep a copy with you and read it daily as long as you live. Then you will learn to fear the Lord by obeying all His instructions and decrees. This regular reading of God’s word will prevent you from becoming proud and acting as if you are above those God has given you the privilege of leading (Deut. 17:15-20).
In fact, it is your responsibility to take care of those who are less fortunate – the poor, the widows, the orphans and the foreigners. If you truly love the God you are serving, you will serve those He calls you to serve – sharing your blessings with those in need.
“At the end of every third year, bring the entire tithe of that year’s harvest and store it in the nearest town. Give it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all your work.” – Deut. 14:28-29
“Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.” – Deut. 15:10-11
“Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns. You must pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, they might cry out to the Lord against you, and it would be counted against you as sin.” – Deut. 24:14-15
Remember that you were once slaves and that God rescued you from your slavery. That is why I am commanding you to be generous with those in need, as you were once in need. When you are harvesting your crop, don’t take it all for yourself but set some aside for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all you do (Deut. 24:18-19).
Then take all that you have harvested from the land God has given you and put some of the first produce from each crop into a basket and bring it to the place of worship – the place where the Lord your God chooses for His name to be honored. In thanksgiving for all God has done for you, bring the first portion of the harvest to God. Then you may go and celebrate all of the good things the Lord your God has given to you and to your household. So, before you slice the pie and enjoy what God has blessed you with, give God His portion and share generously with those in need. Then you can enjoy what God has given you (Deut. 26:2,10-11, 13).
Father God, thank you for your words of wisdom for us today. As we sit in your presence and drink from your cup, fill our hearts with a spirit of generosity that we may think of others more than we think of ourselves. May our love for you increase and pour out toward others. Whatever you have called us to do, whatever land you have laid out before us, remind us that our calling is still about you and not about us. Lord, we love you and it is our heart’s cry to obey and please you in all that we do. We give today to you, recognizing that this day was first given to us by you. Show us the needs of those around us and give us opportunities today to bless others with the blessings you have given us. Amen.