Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 29

Deuteronomy 11:1-12:32; Luke 8:22-39; Psalm 70:1-5; Proverbs 12:4

God offers so much.  We take him up on his offer or not.

Moses conveys this offer; so does Jesus.  Did you notice?

Fruitful land, abundant water, possession of the area, enjoyment of food, celebration.  Life will be so good in Israel that the people will “rejoice before the Lord [their] God in everything [they] put [their] hand to” (Dt. 12:18).  Moses elaborates goodness upon goodness upon goodness.

Jesus brings sanity, safety, dignity, community, and wholeness to the demon-possessed man in the region of Gerasenes.  He offers these same gifts to the people of the entire region.  

They ask him to leave.

Why would they decline such abundance?  Why would we?

What’s difficult for them – and us! –  about this offer from the Lord is the set of responsibilities that come with it.  It’s not a “free ice cream” coupon or a “get out of jail free” Monopoly card. In fact, it’s not free at all.  It’s lavish and it’s good and it’s unfathomable blessing, but we must agree to the terms.  It’s tremendous, incredible gain, but we must follow through.  “Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always” (Dt. 11:1).  At least five more times in this one chapter, Moses will entreat the people of God to love God and to obey him.  In the New Testament, we have seen that Jesus is always ready to heal and preach the good news.  Now this new area has the chance to see the kingdom of God at work!

Unfortunately, much of the rest of the Old Testament will describe the slow and painful failure of Israel to do just what Moses pleads.  The people in the Gerasenes region are “overcome with fear” (Lk. 8:37).  Both groups are unwilling to submit, to be dependent on God’s goodness and provision.  It’s costly and it’s uncertain.  They (like I, all too often) would rather muddle along, getting more and more broken, than choose to “carefully observe all these commands…to love the Lord their God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him” (Dt. 11:22).

On the other hand we have today’s psalm.  The writer knows his need for God – he desperately requires the Lord’s intervention.  Urgency underscores his words: “hasten,” “quickly,” “poor and needy,” “quickly” (again), “do not delay” (Ps. 70:1, 5).  He is utterly dependent; he knows that goodness can come from God alone.

Oh God who loves me like a father loves his children, I do not want to forfeit the grace that could be mine (Jonah 2:8).  You offer me so very much.  Teach me to walk in dependence before you, loving you and following your good plan for life.

- Sarah Marsh

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