Choose Life

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT) 19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

This week we are looking at one of the most important factors in whether or not we walk in the favor of God. We are looking at the role choice has in our Christian walk. We have laid the foundation by showing the role choice plays in every aspect of relationship between God and man. God chose to create and man chose to rebel. God chose to redeem man. God chose to make covenant with Abraham to open the way for the plan of redemption. Abraham chose to accept God’s covenant.

In the incarnation at the birth of Jesus, God chose to take on human form so that the price for sin could be paid. Jesus, in his humanity, chose to submit to the will of God and bear the penalty for man’s rebellion even though he did not carry the stain of sin. Once Jesus was raised from the dead, man had the opportunity to choose eternal life by partaking of the sacrifice Jesus paid for sin. No one forces an individual to receive Jesus. If a person so chooses they can spend eternity separated from God and in torment. However, we can choose life.

We can see clearly from this that God has based everything on choice. From God’s perspective, man’s right to choose is inviolate. Once any human being chooses to receive Jesus as Lord and savior, no power in hell or on earth can keep that person from heaven. God backs up the choice with all of his power.

Since this is true in the area of the salvation of our souls, why would it not be true in other areas of relationship? I believe it is. In today’s scripture, we find that God takes choice in all areas of life very seriously. Earlier in the week, I quoted this same verse from the NKJV bible. In that version it says, “I call heaven and earth as a witness against you.” Why would he say, “a witness against us.” He would say that so we would understand that if we do not have life it is our own fault. God has provided the choice. He will not make the choice for us.

In Deuteronomy 28, we found that God provided a whole list of blessings that are related to the covenant we have with God. I believe favor is a part of that package. However, to access those blessings, Moses tells Israel that they must “obey the voice of the Lord and keep his commandments.” In chapter 30, Moses continues this theme making it even clearer. God wants his people to choose life. Under the New Covenant, he has paid for the ability to choose life with the blood of Jesus. The only thing that remains is for us to make the right choice.

Once someone makes that choice, all of the power of God goes into effect to enforce the choice and bring it into manifestation in the earth. On the other side, all the power of the enemy is applied to make you back away from choosing life. The great deceiver will try to convince you that nothing will ever change. He will try to get you to settle for something less than the life God desires for you. Do not give in to this deception. God is behind you when you choose life. If you do not back down you will see this life manifest in your circumstance.

The question that is probably on your mind is, “How, with my circumstances and limitations, do I choose life? I want life. I want the power of God involved in my circumstances, but I don’t know how to access it.” The answer is so simple it seems that there must be more to it, but there is not.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NKJV) 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.

God has given us the way to choose life. We choose life by loving God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments. It is just that simple. When we do those things, we choose life and the power of God will enforce our choice. When we do not do those things, we choose death and we tie God’s hands. He will not violate your choice. The implications are too great.

We must understand the nature of God. He is absolute. He is absolute love. Nothing can make him stop loving. Adam committed the sin of high treason and God’s response was to put a plan in motion to redeem him. Man rebelled against God and gave himself to sin as a child of “wrath” according to Ephesians 2:3. God’s response is recorded in John 3:16.

John 3:16 (NKJV) 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God cannot “not” love. God is also absolute in his view of justice. He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. Therefore, he could not simply forgive Adam’s transgression. Somehow, justice had to be served. The problem was that justice in this case required eternal death and separation from God. Man could pay that price but the result would be unacceptable. If God violates absolute justice, he goes against his own nature and he cannot do that.

The solution was choice. God provided man with the right and ability to choose life. The ultimate expression was salvation through Jesus Christ. We can make that choice but for it to be a choice, we must not be forced to make it. Once it is made, our choice must be upheld. To override that choice in one area would invalidate it in all areas. Jesus paid the price to uphold justice. If we choose not to accept that payment, we will pay the penalty ourselves eternally. If God does not honor the person’s choice, the whole system falls apart.

This is true in salvation but it is also true in every other are of choosing life including the release of favor. We can choose healing and the power of God will back our choice. We can choose prosperity and the power of God will back that choice. We can choose righteousness and holiness and the power of God will back our choice.

However, we can choose sickness, poverty or sin and the power of God will not violate that choice. We are at the mercy of the devil if we chose death. Although there are other elements involved that affect how and when life will manifest in our situation, the way we begin choosing life is to obey God’s voice as we hear it, and keep his commandments as they are set before us in the Word of God.

I must point out again that I am not talking about law. Law is the regulation of the flesh by the flesh. The commandments are the revelation of God’s nature. The same could be said of the life principles laid out in the pages of the bible. To do those things is not law, it is aligning our lives and circumstances with the nature of God. It is applying truths that release life where death is attempting to reign.

Obeying God’s voice is submitting to relationship with our Father. Law is impersonal. It does not take into account who we are or what our particular circumstances may be. The voice of God is infinitely personal. It implies that the Father knows us and speaks to us specifically in terms of who we are. That is the direct opposite of law.

If we choose to ignore God’s voice and violate his principles as set forth in his Word, we choose death. This death may not manifest immediately but it is a cancer that will eventually destroy us. Jesus died to give you the choice. What will it be? Life or death? The choice is yours and both heaven and earth are watching to see what you will choose

The Power To Choose 2

Hebrews 2:14 (NKJV) 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

Yesterday we began looking at the role choice has played in the relationship between man and God. It begins with God’s choice to create man. For man to fulfill his purpose, he had to have the ability and the right to choose to love God or not love God. Therefore, God built a choice into man’s environment by placing two trees in the Garden of Eden. One tree represented the choice to love God and one represented the choice to reject God.

We then follow this powerful force through two more choices. Man chose to reject God and sin, making him a child of the devil instead of his true Father, God. God was left with another choice to make. He could simply destroy man and start again or he could rescue man. Although the choice to redeem man from his sinful state would require a great sacrifice, God chose to do it anyway.

One of the most important milestones of God’s dealing with man in the Old Testament was the covenant between God and Abraham. Once again, we see that choice is at the center of God’s dealing with man. God chose to offer a covenant to man and man chose to accept that covenant. Once both these choices were made, it opened the door to the real fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 and the full redemption of man.

The first choice of the New Covenant was foreshadowed in Genesis 3:15. God himself took on the form of flesh. He chose to limit himself to the same physical body in which all of humanity lived. It is impossible for us to imagine what it is like to be limitless and all powerful, but God made a choice to lay that aside and become just like all other human beings except for one thing. He was not born with the nature of sin.

In the course of his ministry, he came to the day of crucifixion. Before he goes to the cross, we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. As we watch this drama play out, we hear Jesus tell his disciples, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” It may bother some people to think that Jesus did not want to go to the cross but that is the only conclusion we can come to as we watch him in Gethsemane. Listen to his prayer.

Mark 14:36 (NKJV) 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

What is happening in this scene? Jesus is making a choice. He chose to submit what he wanted to the will of God. I do not know what would have happened if Jesus had said, “Father, I have not sinned and it is not fair of you to ask me to do this. I will help humanity in any other way that you ask me to, but this is too much.” Thankfully, we do not need to know what would have happened because that is not what he said.

I believe that God knew what he would say. Jesus was God in the flesh. Yet in his humanity, I believe he had to have the right to say no. The wording of his prayer tells me that he had that right. Relationship to be true must be based on choice and Jesus makes his choice in Gethsemane. It is so difficult a choice that he sweats blood resisting the desire of his flesh to avoid the cross. In the end, he utters some of the most important words ever spoken on behalf of humanity. “Not my will but thine be done.”

Once Jesus makes his choice, everything changes. He is in complete control of every situation he faces from that moment on. We see him at his arrest, at the mock trial before the high priest and before Pontius Pilot. Not once does he appear in distress. On the contrary when brought before Pilot, Pilot appears distressed.

The city is in an uproar. As the Governor, Pilot knows that he risks an uprising that would be a disaster for his career. As chaos reigns all around him, Jesus tells Pilot that he is not really to blame. This is God’s will and Jesus is at complete peace. How could that be so? It is so because Jesus’ choice has released something in him that sustains him through the trial.

Over the next days and hours, the result of Jesus choice leads him to beatings, insults and crucifixion. He spends 3 days in the grave. During that time, he suffered in ways that make the physical beating and death pale in comparison. In the grave, he suffered the separation from God that was Adam’s because of sin. At some point, which we do not really know or understand, God said, “The price has been fully paid.”

When this declaration was made, the bible tells us that Jesus “spoiled” powers and principalities, defeated Satan and led captivity captive. (Colossians 2:15 & Ephesians 4:8) Finally, in Matthew 28 we read these words.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV) 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

The power of choice has led from the creation of man to the fall of man. It has caused God to declare to the devil that he chooses to redeem man no matter the cost. The power of choice has opened the door via the Abrahamic covenant that leads to the birth of the savior, Jesus Christ. The power of choice in the life of Jesus the Son of Man has enabled him to suffer the penalty for the sin of all mankind. It has also empowered him to defeat the enemy of humanity, cast off the power of sin and death and, as we read in Hebrews 2, destroy him who had the power of death over people, the devil.

Through the power of choice, God has once again opened the way for man to be what he created him to be. After the fall, man had no choice but to serve the devil. He could choose not to sin on any given day, but eventually he had to sin. Sin was his nature.

Romans 5 tells us that death ruled man until the law came through Moses. Under the law, the absolute rule of death was broken because man now had specific choices he could make. However, this was not good enough. Man could not come into the presence of God as God had intended in creation. Man could not choose to love God as his family. Man could not live in God’s presence forever. The choices Jesus made changed all that.

When Jesus was raised from the dead and made his powerful statement in Matthew 28, he proclaimed to all people of every race and tongue that they once again had the choice given to them in the Garden of Eden. In Eden, they started out as God’s children and had the right to choose to reject that relationship. After the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, their natural state was separation from God but Jesus gave them the ability and the right to choose to become God’s children once again.

The power of choice produced man’s existence. It caused man’s fall from grace. It provided the way for man’s redemption. Today, it is the only way for any person to be saved and ensure heaven as their eternal home.

Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV) 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If choice is the vehicle that produces the ability for man’s relationship with God, what other power does it have in the life of the believer? More tomorrow.

The Power To Choose

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV) 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

Last week in our study of favor, we looked at a list of the blessings of the covenant in Deuteronomy 28. These are specific areas where God tells us we can expect blessing if we are part of the covenant. Since the New Covenant is an extension of and improvement on the Old Covenant, we can expect these blessings in our lives as well.

Verse 2 of chapter 28 says that these blessings will “come upon us and overtake us.” To me this is a picture of how favor works. I believe that we can and should expect this list of types of favor to come upon us as we serve the Lord. However, there is a condition. That condition is that we obey the voice of the Lord and keep his commandments.

This week I want to look at another aspect of this thought. In Deuteronomy 30, we see a continuation of the thoughts in chapter 28. God still wants to bless his people but he still needs them to see that there are standards that must be met if he is going to be able to do so. In this chapter, the focus is on choice.

Choice is one of the most important elements that makes man different from every other created being. Choice is at the center of every representation of relationship between God and man in the bible. It begins in the beginning with the creation of man.

Genesis 1:26 (NKJV) 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Notice the wording here. God says, “Let us make man.” This is a choice. God did not have to make man. He chose to make man. He chose to make him in his own “image and likeness.” Why did God make this choice? I believe the only explanation is that of any parent. He wanted someone like himself to love, have fellowship with and for whom he could create an inheritance. God chose to have a family.

To meet the requirements of love, God could not make man like the angels. The angels were created without the right to choose love. Satan chose to rebel against the creator God. This tells us he had the capacity to choose. Nevertheless, the bible is clear that for the devil there is no salvation. Why not? Man chose to rebel as well, but God provided salvation for man. Why not for Satan? The answer is that although Satan had the capacity to choose, he was not created with the right to choose.

Man is the only created being given both the capacity and the right to choose. Why would God give man that right? Simply put, love that has no choice is not love. God wanted a being who could chose to love him. For this to be possible, this being must also be able to choose not to love God. To make both possible God put two trees in the Garden of Eden.

God told man, “You have a choice. You can eat from any tree in the garden including the tree of my life. You may not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Choose what you will do.” Man chose “unwisely” and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This choice caused him to be separated from man and joined to the devil. This choice condemned him to an eternity of slavery under his new satanic master. What would God do in response?

God would make a choice.

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV) 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

In this statement God tells the devil, man and all who would listen, that he chooses not to let man go. He chose to take upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh and redeem man. God chose to save man from sin.

There are many developments along this road, but one of the most important is the covenant between God and Abraham. Covenant is one of the most important principles in the bible. God placed covenant in every culture so that they would understand how he was going to redeem man. God’s next choice was to make covenant with a man.

The idea behind blood covenant is that two partners join together forever in an unbreakable bond. This joining extends to their descendants as well. The implication is that all that belongs to one partner, including his gifts, abilities, wealth and his very life, belongs to the other partner. Think of the choice God made. He is God. He has everything, is everything, can do anything and is the source of life itself. Abraham is a man. What does he have that God needs? In the normal sense of covenant, he has nothing. Yet God chose to make this “deal” anyway.

On the other hand, Abraham also has to choose. He does not have to accept God’s offer of a covenant relationship. A covenant is always voluntary. If God forces Abraham to accept covenant with him, it would not be true covenant. Granted, Abraham would be foolish to reject such an offer, but he does not know all the implications of such a thing. No one before him has had a blood covenant with God. In the face of great uncertainty, Abraham chooses to accept God’s offer of covenant.

We could site many more choices that had to be made by the people of Israel. Often, they made the wrong choice, but there are many examples of those who chose the right path. However, the choices that are most pertinent to us are those made in the New Testament.

Join me tomorrow as we continue.

Obedience and Favor 2

Deuteronomy 28:13-14 (NKJV)
13 And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. 14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Yesterday we made the connection between obedience to the commandments of God and the blessing of the covenant found in Deuteronomy 28. This blessing, which will come upon us and overtake us, includes the kind of favor I believe God wants to pour out on his church. Although this blessing is part of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his descendants, these things will not come upon Israel if they do not keep the commandments connected with the covenant.

In Israel’s day, their relationship with God depended upon keeping the Law of Moses. It is clear in today’s scripture that if they do not keep the commandments of God the blessing, or favor, will neither come upon them nor overtake them. Verse 15 says that the “curse” will be what comes upon those who do not keep the commandments.

We are not under the Old Covenant and not subject to the Law of Moses. Our relationship is based on Grace and the sacrifice of Jesus. Our salvation is a free gift. Galatians 3 tells us that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. Does that mean that the favor listed in Deuteronomy 28 will be ours no matter how we live? No it does not.

We do not live under the law. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 the Lord says there is a new day and a New Covenant coming. This New Covenant will not be based on an outward law. The Lord says he is going to write his laws on our hearts and minds. That is a description of how grace works. We keep the law because it is now our nature to do so. Under the Mosaic Law Israel kept the law outwardly in the flesh. We keep the law by allowing the law written on our hearts to dominate our flesh. We keep it from the inside out not the outside in.

Either way the result is the same. We must keep the commandments of God. We are not subject to the rules, regulations and sacrifices of the Mosaic Law. We are not excused from keeping God’s commandments or living according to this standards and principles. If we choose to sin, the New Testament tells us the wages of this behavior is death. (Romans 6:23) If we understand grace correctly, it is the means by which we are able to keep the commandments, not license to break them.

If the qualifications to receive the blessings listed in Deuteronomy 28 were that the readers had to keep the Law of Moses. We might conclude that we were exempt from them. We might assume that these blessings would come into our lives automatically and our behavior would not matter. However, it says we must obey God’s voice and keep his commandments. Those qualifications apply to the Christian as much or more than they applied to the Israelite.

Every believer knows that he or she must choose to obey the Lord. We know that sin still rears its ugly head in our lives. We cannot read the New Testament and conclude that behavior does not matter. All of the New Testament writers address the need for righteous behavior. The way we walk in righteousness is different from how the Old Covenant believer did. They walked in righteousness by keeping every element of the Law of Moses no matter how small. We walk in righteousness by believing that the sacrifice of Jesus has made us right with God by nature. We then must develop the inner man, renew our mind and choose to die daily to the flesh so that we can walk in the spirit and not in the lusts of the flesh. (Romans 12 & Galatians 5)

If we want to see the blessing and favor of Deuteronomy 28 released in our lives we must obey the voice of the Lord and keep his commandments. If we do not do those things, we will not have the favor God wants to give us. He is not going to bring favor into the lives of people who compromise with the flesh. He is not going to bring favor to those who chose to live in sin even if it is just the fringes of sin. He will bring favor to those who obey the voice of the Lord and keep his commandments. Whether under the New Covenant or the Old Covenant verse 15 cannot be ignored.

Deuteronomy 28:15 (NKJV)
15 “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

Some will point to Galatians 3 and say that since Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the Law all that is left is the blessing. We are not subject to the curse. It is true that the curse is not part of our relationship with God in Christ Jesus. Under the Old Covenant, it was part of their relationship because a blood covenant in the flesh always had both blessings and curses. If covenant partners did not keep the terms of the covenant, their own family would hunt them down and kill them because the whole family was cursed.

That is not part of our covenant relationship with God. Jesus already bore the curse and nullified it for us. As far as our relationship to God is concerned, we are heir only to the blessing. However, this does not eliminate the consequences of unrighteous behavior. I am not talking about ignorant mistakes. That is one of the differences between law and grace. Law makes no allowances for ignorance or human frailty. Grace covers both. When we chose to ignore the principles of the Word of God and yield our flesh to sin, there are consequences. Once again, the wages of sin is death.

Under law, these consequences fall in the category of reward and punishment. If you keep the covenant, you are rewarded. If you break it you are punished. As human beings, we are very familiar with this system. We all have experienced it growing up. When we were good, we were rewarded. When we were bad, we were punished. This extends into adulthood in many ways. If we break the law, we are punished. If we do well at work, we are rewarded.

As Christians we understand that Jesus bore the punishment for sin. We certainly can displease God and we should want to please him. He will discipline us because he loves us. (Hebrews 12) However, he does not punish us with sickness, poverty or the bad things that can come to anyone in life. God is good and good things come from him. (James 1:17) However, there are two other players in the game; life and the devil.

Let me explain it this way. A few years ago we had a very cold winter here in New York State. If you were indoors where there is heat, you were not cold. However, it was consistently more than 10 degrees below zero outside. If you went outside you got cold. You were not being punished for bad behavior. You were simply stepping outside the protection of the house. If we choose to step outside of the protection of God’s voice and commandments, we will not receive the blessing or favor he wants for us. It is not reward or punishment. It is simple cause and effect.

God wants to bless you. God wants to give you favor. You do not have to earn it. You do have to stay where those things exist. You do have to avoid behavior that takes you out of the protection of the covenant and makes you vulnerable to the things that bring pain into the lives of people.

Obedience and Favor

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (NKJV)
1 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:

In yesterday’s post I went through the blessings available to us as a part of our covenant relationship with the Lord. Deuteronomy 28:2 says that these blessings will “come upon you and overtake you.” To me this is a picture of what we have been calling favor. I believe that God wants to bring great favor into the church. This means people giving to or helping the church even when it might seem unlikely or impossible. Although the blessing in Deuteronomy 28 likely involves more than this, I believe favor is included in the package.

As we went through the list of ways God promises blessing and favor putting them in a more modern context, it is clear that this is something we want functioning in our lives. Since these are blessing of our covenant relationship with God, do they come to us automatically or is there something we must fulfill in order to see these blessings working in our behalf? Today’s scripture gives us the answer.

Verse 1 tells us that we must diligently obey the voice of the Lord. Verse 2 says these blessings will come upon us and overtake us because we obey the voice of the Lord. It is evident that to see these blessings and this favor, we must obey the Lord. Let us look at two more verses.

Deuteronomy 28:13-14 (NKJV)
13 And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. 14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

In these verses, the Lord tells us that we must not turn away from his commandments but we must carefully observe to do them. If we do not obey the commandments of the Lord, we cannot expect these blessings, or favor, to come upon us and overtake us. Verse 15 tells us that just the opposite will happen.

It is important to understand the nature of what God is saying here. We know that Israel lived under the law and not under grace as we do. In order for them to walk in relationship with the Lord, they had to keep all of the rules and regulations of the Mosaic Law. If they broke the law, there were sacrifices they had to offer in order to get back into right standing with God.

Under grace, none of this is necessary. Jesus is the sacrifice and salvation is a free gift. We could never pay the price that would purchase what salvation in Jesus gave us. We learn in the New Testament that the law was a “schoolmaster” given to Israel that would eventually lead man to something better. That something is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and salvation by grace. (Galatians 3)

Grace means that we do not have to meet the requirements of the law in order to maintain relationship with God. We are his children by our relationship with Jesus. Ephesians 1:6-7 tells us that God accepts us because of redemption in Jesus. There is no more we must do to gain this acceptance. However, does this mean our behavior is now irrelevant?

This has been a question throughout the church age. Let us see how Paul answers the charge that this is what his preaching on grace implies.

Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV) 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

Paul is adamant that there can be no place for sin in the life of the believer. If we love God, we should want to please him. If we want fellowship with God, we must understand that we must submit to his nature. The question is not whether we are required to live by the standards of the commandments of God, but rather how we do that.

Under the law, Israel walked in God’s commandments by following the dictates of the Law of Moses. They could see what was required of them written on paper. For example, there were certain things they could not touch. If they touched a dead body, they would have to offer a sacrifice before they could go into the temple again. The dead body made them ritually unclean. If they did not offer the proper sacrifice and follow the proper procedure, they could not be cleansed .

This is not necessary under grace. Our relationship with God is not dependent on ritual cleanliness. The reason it is not necessary to be ritually clean is because we are clean inside by the blood of Jesus. Jesus made this clear in his teaching

Mark 7:18 (NKJV)
18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him,

In this and many other verses, Jesus makes it clear that the standard under the law is not the standard that he has come to enforce. In Acts 10, the Lord speaks to Peter in a dream. Peter is about to be asked to go to the home of a gentile to preach the Gospel. Peter has been taught that this is unacceptable behavior and that to enter such a home would make him unclean. However, the Lord is about to change all that.

Acts 10:12-15 (NKJV)
12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

The Lord tells Peter that what he has been taught his whole life no longer applies. He is clean by the blood of Jesus. It does not matter what kind of house he goes into or what kind of food he eats. That has become irrelevant in Christ. God tells Peter not to call unclean what he calls clean. On one hand that means the food in Peter’s dream and the gentile home he must enter. It also means Peter himself. He is clean by the blood of Jesus so neither food nor the home of a gentile can make him unclean.

It is clear from the teachings of the New Testament that we are not obliged to keep the Law of Moses. The law is applied in the flesh. Romans 8 tells us that because the law is dependent upon the flesh, it is weak. Romans 6 tells us that we should not keep walking in sin. If we do not have to keep the law by the flesh, how do we keep from walking in sin under grace? What does any of this have to do with walking in the blessing of Deuteronomy 28?

More tomorrow.

The Covenant Blessing: Favor

Deuteronomy 28:2 (NKJV)
2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:

In our last post I began looking at favor as part of the covenant given by God to Abraham and his descendants. Since the New Covenant flows from the Old Covenant, the blessing of the one extends to and is improved upon in the other. As we read the list of blessings from the Old Covenant in Deuteronomy 28, we can receive these blessings as part of the New Covenant.

I will use the New Living Translation to give a more contemporary feel to the elements of this blessing. I want to take this even farther and expand on each of these elements for a few moments today. Not many of us have flocks or fields, so let us see how these things might apply to us today. In this verse, it says that these blessings will “come upon us and overtake us.” To me, this is a picture of favor.

Deuteronomy 28:3 (NLT)
3 Your towns and your fields will be blessed.

No matter where you live, whether in the city or the country, rural or urban, God says you will have favor.

Deuteronomy 28:4 (NLT)
4 Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed.

We can expect favor in both our business or work life and our family life. Most of us do not have herds or flocks producing offspring, but we have something that we do that represents productivity. To me I see this as telling me that whatever that may be will have blessing and favor upon it.

Deuteronomy 28:5 (NLT)
5 Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed.

We may not have fruit baskets or breadboards but we do have refrigerators, freezers and kitchen cupboards. This tells me that favor will see to it that they are all filled with whatever we need.

Deuteronomy 28:6 (NLT)
6 Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.

This requires little explanation. Everywhere we go and in everything we do, favor will be upon us. Praise the Lord!

Deuteronomy 28:7 (NLT)
7 “The LORD will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!

Who is our enemy? Ephesians 6 tells us it is not flesh and blood but the demonic kingdom. When our enemy attacks us from one direction, favor will cause him to be so thoroughly defeated that he will run in terror from us in seven directions. Satan is a cunning and dangerous foe, but the blessing and favor of God mean we do not have to fear him. (Eph. 6:12)

Deuteronomy 28:8 (NLT)
8 “The LORD will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

I particularly like this verse. The Lord guarantees favor in all we do. There have been times I have purchased products with a warranty that came from companies that went out of business. That warranty meant very little. I have good news for you. God, inc. is not going out of business! When he guarantees something, it will never fail.

This guarantee extends to our storehouses of grain and to the land to which God is giving us. A storehouse indicates surplus. I believe we can expect favor that will give us a surplus in life. We will have enough to save and to invest in the Kingdom of God.

The land of Canaan was Israel’s destiny. The land God is giving to us is our destiny. We should expect favor that will bring us into that destiny and make us effective as we occupy our land of promises until Jesus comes.

Deuteronomy 28:9 (NLT)
9 “If you obey the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways, the LORD will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do.

As I read this promise, I see God telling me that I am going to make it as a Christian. He will establish me as a member of a holy people. That means I can and will walk in holiness before the Lord. Romans 8 tells us that we are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus. What could be more holy than that?

Deuteronomy 28:10 (NLT)
10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the LORD, and they will stand in awe of you.

I believe it is vital that we extend the Kingdom of God by our witness. This tells me that the people of the world will begin to take notice that I am blessed and favored by God. This will cause them to be drawn to the one who gives me such favor.

Deuteronomy 28:11 (NLT)
11 “The LORD will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops.

This is a restatement of much of what has already been said with something added. It speaks of the promise God gave to our fathers. Hebrews 12:1 tells us we are “encompassed with a great cloud of witnesses.” I believe we have “fathers in the faith” who have been given promises that we will see fulfilled in our lives.

Deuteronomy 28:12-13 (NLT)
12 The LORD will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. 13 If you listen to these commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.

Even natural things will work to bring favor to us and we can expect to be on top of life in every way. The favor of God will keep us from having to borrow from the world. This does not say we should not borrow, it says we will not have to borrow. I believe there will be a time when the world will come to us because of the blessing and the only interest we will charge will be that they listen to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What will release all of this in our lives? We will look at that tomorrow

Covenant Favor

Deuteronomy 28:2 (NKJV)
2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:

I believe the Lord spoke to me that God desires to release favor for the body of Christ. The idea of favor is goodwill shown towards someone where there is no obligation to show such goodwill. The scripture the Lord led me to initially is Exodus 3:20-22. In this scripture the Lord tells Moses that the Israelite women should ask the Egyptian women for gold, silver and clothing. The Lord tells Moses that he will give the Israelites favor and by this favor they will plunder Egypt.

We have seen favor extended in the New Testament at the birth of the church. God gave favor to the believers in Jesus and as a result people were added to the church daily through the process of salvation. I believe that favor has always been the heritage of those who believe but I think God is saying that we can walk in this favor at a new level. It is important to remember that everything in the Kingdom of God works by faith. If we are going to see this favor manifest we need to believe for it.

This week I want to look at favor from another perspective. The covenant that God made with Abraham becomes more defined and written down under Moses. Much of what Moses wrote had to do with the covenant and the requirements for keeping it. The book of Leviticus consists of all of the requirements of keeping the covenant, the consequences for breaking it in various ways and the sacrifices that must be offered in order to be made right with the covenant once it was broken. This written set of requirements is called the Law of Moses.

The book of Deuteronomy differs from Leviticus. Deuteronomy speaks often of the commandments given to Israel by God. We know them as the Ten Commandments. Where the Law of Moses is full of details for every area of life, the Ten Commandments contain only ten statements of what Israel must and must not do. I believe they are a revelation of the nature of God as much as a list defining right behavior.

The book of Deuteronomy is the last address of Moses to the people he has led out of bondage. He will not be taking them into the Promised Land. He wants them to know from his heart the things that are important if they are going to fulfill their destiny in God. Where Leviticus is a book of Law, Deuteronomy is a book of relationship. Moses knew something about relationship with the Lord.

Many Old Testament Characters had wonderful relationships with the Lord. David was called a man after God’s own heart. Samuel heard God call his name as a child. Abraham received God’s covenant and was known as the friend of God. However in Exodus 22:11, the bible says that God spoke to Moses “face to face.” There was something extraordinary about Moses’ relationship with God.

In this wonderful book, Moses is speaking to Israel out of that relationship. To me, this is a very poignant book because Moses seems to know that Israel is not going to keep his words. Repeatedly he exhorts them “not to forget” what God has done for them. He tells them they must keep the commandments the Lord has given them. This tells me that Moses, given his experience with Israel, does not believe they will do what he is asking of them.

Although this is an Old Testament book written to Old Testament people, I believe it applies even more to the Church than it did to Israel. Israel’s relationship was built upon the Law. Moses had relationship with God outside of the need of Law. The church’s relationship with God is built on Grace. Grace is the law fulfilled. For Israel, keeping the law was their relationship. We keep the law because we already have relationship. This is a very different thing.

For this reason, I believe Deuteronomy may apply more to us than even to Israel. We are a people of relationship and this book comes from one who spoke from a heart of relationship. In chapter 28, we read a list of the blessings of the Covenant. However, it is also the basis for the New Covenant.

In today’s verse, it says these covenant blessings will “come upon us and overtake us.” To me this is a picture of favor. We do nothing but live as real Christians. The blessings find us and overtake us. We do not pursue them. This is exactly how favor works. Although the Lord may direct us to ask for certain things, favor comes upon us and overtakes us.

As we read this list of blessings, we can make the connection that favor is a product of the Covenant. If we keep the covenant, we are blessed. When Israel walked in the Old Covenant, they had favor. If we walk in the New Covenant, we have favor.

Tomorrow we will begin to look at this list of ways we can expect favor. Today let me point out a couple of things. I like Young’s Literal Translation of the bible because it is a direct translation from the original languages to English. Although at times this can be cumbersome, I believe it can also give a slightly clearer picture of what the bible is saying since there is no attempt to fit the language into proper English usage.

In most translations, this list is in the future tense. In other words, it tells us we will be blessed. I believe it is good to know that these blessings do not end. However, Young’s give us another perspective. Young’s puts this list in the present. In other words is says we are blessed. These blessings are mine right now as well as in the future.

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (YLT) 1 `And it hath been, if thou dost hearken diligently to the voice of Jehovah thy God, to observe to do all His commands which I am commanding thee to-day, that Jehovah thy God hath made thee uppermost above all the nations of the earth, 2 and all these blessings have come upon thee, and overtaken thee, because thou dost hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God:

I want to encourage you, as we read this list of blessings, to expect them to be a part of your experience today, not only in the future. We are currently blessed of God. We have favor today because we are in covenant relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ.

This is going to be an exciting week!