Friday, August 31, 2012

A Matter of Life and Death

One of my pet-peeves is when people don't take their jobs seriously.  I worked fast food throughout high school and I always took my job seriously.  And a lot of times, I felt like I was the only one.  I'm sure some of you can relate.  And, yes, I'm sure I've had a day or two now and then where I slacked off and didn't take my job as seriously as I should have.  But I think that's the problem with our society.  We don't take anything seriously enough!

Deuteronomy 32: 46-47 - 46 he said to them, "Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law.  47 For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life.  And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess." 

Did you catch that?  These words, aka the Bible, are your life!  

The Hebrew word for "take" is suwm meaning "to put, place, set, appoint, make" (Strong's H7760).  We are "to put" these words on our heart!  All of them!  Not only are we to put them on our own hearts but we are to command our sons to do so as well.

But why?  Why is the Word so important?

Because it is not an idle word...

"It is not an indifferent thing, but of absolute necessity; it is not a trifle, but a matter of consequence, a matter of life and death; mind it, and you are made forever; neglect it and you are for ever undone." - Matthew Henry

"It is not an unprofitable or contemptible work I advise you to, but well worthy of your most serious care."  John Wesley

Take a look at some of those words and phrases, "not an indifferent thing," "absolute necessity," "a matter of consequence," "matter of life and death," "worthy," "serious care"...

Do you get it now?  The Word is a serious matter.  As the verse goes onto say, indeed it is your life...  For me, there is such a power in those words!  That means we cannot truly live without the Word!  It amazes me today that some people deny the accuracy of the Bible, even Christians!  But the truth is, every bit of it is true!  And we need all the truth we can get to survive in today's crazy world!

Do you view the Bible seriously?

Do you believe everything the Bible has to say?

Have you put the Word on your your heart?

Take a moment today and jot down any areas of the Bible you have a hard time believing or that you don't take seriously.  If you are struggling with belief, talk to a pastor or mentor.  If you aren't taking something seriously, change that!  We can't pick and choose what we believe and don't believe or what we listen to and don't listen to.  This is an all or nothing situation, a matter of life and death.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Instruction Manual

I had a boss once who was very unapproachable.  Part of the problem was that she wasn't around 75% of the time.  Another part of the problem was that if we had any problems, issues, or suggestions, we usually let them go by the wayside because we were afraid we would get in trouble just for mentioning it.  Once, we got in trouble for some things that we hadn't even done.  And as soon as she was done reprimanding us (and not very politely I might add) she smiled real big and said, "If you ever need anything, don't be afraid to talk to me.  I'm always here if you need anything."  My thoughts, "Yeah, right..."

Deuteronomy 30:14 - But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.

Fortunately, unlike my boss, God's Word is completely, 100% accessible for us.  This verse is basically referring to the law (all that God has lain out in Deuteronomy).  Now, "the law was plain and easy, but the gospel much more so" (Wesley).  If we can apply these words to the Law, imagine how much more so we can apply them to the Gospel!?!

The Hebrew word for "very" is actually defined as "exceedingly" (Strong's H3966).  The modern definition of "exceedingly" is "to a very great or unusual degree" (  Not only is it very close, the Word is exceedingly close, so close, it is almost unusual!  Doesn't that just give you chills?  The Word of God could not be any closer, any more accessible than what it is to Americans today.

When I read that the Word is in my mouth, I go, "What?"  But look at it this way, it is something we can talk about, discuss, become familiar with.  My dad and I often discuss the Word.  If I learn something new, he is usually the first person I call and tell because I know he will be excited too!  And then I tell everyone else I'm close to.  The things we are familiar with, are the things we talk about!  And the Word is in our hearts because it is something we can understand and believe - "it is not wrapped up in obscure phrases or figures to puzzle and amuse thee, or in is delivered in such a manner as that it is level to thy capacity, even to the capacity of the meanest" (Henry). Even if my heart is made of stone, The Word is at a level where I can understand it...where it can break apart my heart of stone and reach to my inner most being.

But why is it so accessible?  Why is it near, in our mouths and in our hearts?  ...that you may observe it.  The Hebrew for "observe" here is asah meaning "to do...accomplish" (Strong's H6213).  We are given The Word so that we may "do" it.  It is familiar, understandable, discussed all so that we can do what it says!  

A long time ago at one of my first youth conventions, the speaker referred to the B.I.B.L.E. as Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  It has stuck with me.  That's what it is - the Bible is our instruction manual. It was written and given to us so that we may learn and know what is right, what our responsibilities are.  But being the stubborn people that we are, like any other instruction manual, the Bible often gets tossed to the side because we think we can do without it.  Have you ever tried to build furniture this way?  Usually it isn't very pretty.  Just like our lives without the instruction manual we have been given...  

I challenge you today to take some time and read that instruction manual.  We need to take advantage of the fact that we are given direct access.  The word is near so that we may do as it says.

Friday, August 24, 2012

All In

Those few years between the transition from Jr. High to Sr. High were rough years for me.  I was angry (for no reason most of the time) and spiteful.  I would pick a fight with my mom over the littlest things.  Since we are so much alike, these fights often escalated to a scene neither of us would be proud of. I remember once in the middle of a fight, I was SO angry (I couldn't tell you why at this point), I had done everything I could to make Mom as mad as possible but I still had to get the last word in.  Then it clicked, I knew what would get under her skin - I swore.  And it wasn't a nice curse word either (is there such a thing?).  Finally, with an added, "I hate you," I slammed my door in her face.  For a fleeting moment, it felt good.  But when she didn't respond and I was left alone in my room, I felt miserable.  That moment still burns in my memory.

Awhile later, after I had calmed down and gotten over my pride, I went to apologize.  I was truly sorry.  As tears streamed down my face, I told my mom how wrong I was, how sorry I was, and how I didn't mean those words.  She cried, I cried.  And then she held me for a long time.  I remember her telling me repeatedly how much she loved me that night - as if I would forget if I left her side.

Deuteronomy 30:1-3 - 1 So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, 2 and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the Lord your God will restore you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.

As Matthew Henry brilliantly puts it, these words "are chiefly considered to be as a conditional promise, and so they belong to all persons and all people...and the design of them is to assure us that the greatest sinners, if they repent and be converted, shall have their sins pardoned and be returned to God's favor."  This promise - Did you catch that?  This is a promise - is for ALL people!  And it is such a great one!

The first step we see here is consideration or deep thought.  In verse 1, God is saying that when we call to mind.  He is referencing all of the things that have happened to us.  If we were to truly consider our lives we would see the truth.  Where has sin ever gotten you?  Honestly think about that question.  For me the answer is a lack - a lack of everything - a lack of fulfillment, a lack of happiness, a lack of hope.  In other words, it brings me misery in the end.  Sin may look or feel good at first - but I'm betting that the end result(s) is never a good one.   But we have the opportunity to leave that misery and lack of everything good behind!  As Henry states, "If sinners would but seriously consider the happiness they have lost by sin and the misery they have brought themselves into, and that by repentance they may escape that misery and recover that happiness, they would not delay to return to the Lord their God."  So what's the next step?

Return to the Lord your God...  Okay but what does that look like?  Simple - Obedience.   But not a lukewarm obedience ...obey Him with all your heart and soul...  Quite evidently, "It is the heart and soul that God looks at and requires; He will have these or nothing, and these entire or not at all" (Henry).  We can't be lukewarm, we have to be all in!  Francis Chan puts it bluntly in his book, Crazy Love, "As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing.  To put it plainly, churchgoers who are 'lukewarm' are not Christians" (emphasis added).  God wants all or nothing.  There is no in between.

But if we do that, if we return to Him and give Him ALL of our hearts and souls, if we are all in...the reward is phenomenal.  His grace is more than sufficient.  Verse 3 states, then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you...  The Hebrew word for "have compassion" is racham meaning in this particular instance, "to behold with tenderest affection" (Strong's H7355).  Did you catch that?  The tenderest affection.  He loves us with ALL of Him, He is ALL in.  He will wrap His arms around us and never let us go...constantly reminding us of His love for us, just like my mom did the night I blew up.  But God's love is even greater than my mom's could ever be.  And if you ask her, that is an impossible task to beat!  She is always saying, "There's no love like a mother's love."  That might be true, but God's love for you and I is marvelously greater than a mother's love!  He is all in.  Are you?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Living Above the Word

How many people do you know that attend church, hear the word of God, and, yet, they live as if they had never heard a single command of God?  I bet we could all name a few.  And at times, I'm sure we have each been that person. It is easy to think that we are above the law of God at times, that it doesn't apply to us.  However, the truth is far from that...

Deuteronomy 29:19-20 - 19 It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, 'I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to [add drunkenness to thirst].  20 The Lord shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and the Lord will blot our his name from under heaven.

Yeah, this verse seem a little bit intense.  But it is something we need to hear.  In a world where all to many people think they are "better" than Christianity, "better" than needing and/or listening to God, it is a shame that they have no clue what that means.

I'm betting that most Americans could quote the Lord's Prayer and John 3:16 and if not, I'm sure they know most of the 10 commandments or have at least heard something or other from the Bible.  Yet, most Americans act like those words mean nothing.  Even many of those who attend church and hear the Word spoken and explained each week, still live as if they hadn't heard a thing.

They are comfortable where they are (they have peace) and they are refusing to listen to the Word (they are walking in the stubbornness of their own hearts).  "To add drunkenness to thirst" is "a proverbial expression denoting the utmost indulgence in all sensual gratifications" (Clarke).  These people hear the Word of God, decide that sensual gratifications are better than listening, and yet they think themselves "safe from the wrath of the God of Israel" (Henry).  Unfortunately, "Those are ripe for ruin, and their is little hope of their repentance, who have made themselves believe that they shall have peace though they go in a sinful way" (Henry).

It is clear in verse 20 what will happen to such people.  Let us take a look at that again:

Deuteronomy 29:20 - The Lord shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven.

Makes things pretty clear doesn't it?  God expects us to listen to His Word, to actively apply it to our lives, and to obey all that it commands.  We cannot go to church on Sunday and then live Monday - Saturday as if the Word did not exist.  We are not above the Word!  We are not above God!

Today I challenge you to examine your life.  Is there an area where you believe that you are above the Word?  Are you living in such a way that you know God would disagree/disapprove?  Change that today.  Stop sinning, share His love more, give with your heart, care for the poor and needy - whatever it may be - go do it!  You cannot afford to wait.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Creating Your Fear

A couple of weeks ago, I spent my first night alone in our apartment.  I had previously spent a few evenings without my hubby, but always at my parents house.  This time, I would be staying alone, with the only person I knew closer than 45 minutes away was my boss.  As I sat watching television, I dreaded having to turn out the lights and go to bed.  But eventually, I knew I would have to.  At around 11, I finally caved, knowing I would have to get up early for church. I left the light on the coffee table on, made sure the door was locked, grabbed a pocket knife out of Justin's tool box and headed to my bedroom.  I shut the door behind me, placed our box fan strategically in front of the door (this way if the door opened I would hear the fan fall), made sure the pocket knife was in an easily accessible place, and I turned out the lights.  I then spent what felt like hours praying, until I fell asleep.  Ridiculous right?  I had no reason to fear.  We live in a quiet neighborhood where we probably don't even need to lock our door at night.  I hadn't been watching scary movies or reading ghost stories.  Yet, my imagination ran away...knowing I would be alone, my heart panicked and I immediately began to think of all the things that could go wrong.  

Deuteronomy 28:67 - In the morning you shall say, "If only it were evening!" and at evening you shall say, "If only it were morning!" because of the dread that your heart shall feel, and the sights that your eyes shall see. (ESV)

How often do we let our hearts, our imaginations run wild?  We let things that don't even make sense, sneak into our hearts and terrify us!  As in this verse, "The terror arises not only from the sight of the eyes, but from the fear of the heart, not only from real dangers, but from imaginary ones; the cause of fear, when they come to be inquired to, often prove to be only the creatures of the fancy" (Henry).

What do you fear today?  Do you fear losing a child?  Becoming ill?  I think my biggest fear is not being able to have children.  How much of this do we create in our minds and terrify our own hearts?  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Isaiah 41:10 says "Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

God has promised us that He will be there!  We are told not to fear!  If we could truly grasp this concept life would be so much better: "Happy they whose minds, being stayed on God, are quiet from the fear of evil" (Henry).

I challenge you today to let go of your fear.  Whatever may be causing dread in your heart, let it go.  Write Isaiah 41:10 on a note card or a post-it and stick it where you will see it each day.  "Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

No Cause to Complain

I get annoyed sometimes when I hear people complaining.  Is your job really that awful?  At least you have a job.  And you couldn't find the right shade of eye shadow   I feel so sorry for you.  You didn't get the grade you wanted?  Did you study hard enough?

I'm sure I am guilty of doing this occasionally.  I know one thing I constantly complain about is the price of gas (do you remember when it was under $1!?!).  But I think we forget how good we have it.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48 - 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you."

Regardless of our worldly riches, God has given us more than we could ever ask for!  He has given us freedom and grace upon grace.  He has given us relentless love and unending mercy.  And we don't even deserve it!  And what do we do?  We complain about that don't even matter.  As Francis Chan puts it, "The God of the universe - the creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and e-minor - loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love.  And what is our typical response?  We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss."  And then go out to lunch and complain that our latte isn't hot enough or that we scuffed our shoes or that we don't have any downtime.  

How often do we do what He asks of us?  And of those times that we are serving the Lord (which should be always and in everything that we do), how often are we doing so with joy and gladness in our hearts?  I think our answer says it all, or at least mine does.  

In reality, "The more God gives us the more cheerfully we should serve Him; our abundance should be oil to the wheels of obedience" (Henry).  And our abundance is overflowing!!!  We have cars and food each day, we have freedom to worship our God, the list goes on...and on...and on....

I read this verse and thought, "Wow, that seems a little harsh..." but "If, when we receive the gifts of God's bounty, we either do not serve Him at all or serve Him with reluctance, it is a righteous thing with Him to make us know the hardships of want and servitude.  Those deserve to have cause given them to complain who complain without a cause" (Henry).

If we truly want to serve the Lord with joy and gladness in our hearts, and we should, we must first realize the magnitude of His greatness and all that He has done for us.  "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).  He loved us, knowing that we were going to sin, knowing that we would disappoint Him, betray Him, and yes, murder Him!  He gave us free will, He gave us life, He gives us mercy, grace, and a chance at redemption every single day.  We have no cause to complain.

Today I challenge you to serve God in everything that you are doing today - with joy and gladness in your heart.  When you feel that need to complain, about anything (from the weather, to gas prices, to your job), bite your tongue and refrain.  Instead, offer up a "thank you" for what God HAS give you!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Put Your Back Into It

Have you ever heard the expression, "Put your back into it?"  The idea is that you aren't giving it your all - you've got to put forth strenuous effort in order to accomplish something great!

Deuteronomy 26:16 - This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances.  You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul.

Our obedience shouldn't be sloppy and halfhearted.  We've got to put our back into it, a.k.a our heart and soul!  God doesn't want us to be robots, mindlessly doing what we are told to do as if we were programmed.  He wants us to care about the statutes and ordinances He has given us.  As Matthew Henry puts is, "do them and do not dispute them, do them and not draw back from them; do them and not carelessly and hypocritically, but with thy heart and soul, thy whole heart and thy whole soul."

So today, when you are given the choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing, do the right thing.  And put your heart into it!  :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fun with Dancing, Chalk, Shapes, & Colors

I created my own game the other day....without the help of Pinterest...or the internet!  I feel so accomplished.  lol.  But it is kind of nice being original.

So the twins love chalk.  And we all love to dance!  So on my way to work last Monday, knowing that the rest of the week was probably going to be rainy, I started brainstorming in order to combine the two and create a way to learn...and then I created: 

Dancin' Shapes

I drew a bunch of circles, squares, and triangles in different colors.  Then we played music and danced/ran around the driveway.  When I paused the music I would shout "Pink Circle!" or "Orange Square!" or "Purple Triangle!" And we would have to race and stand on the appropriate one.  It was a blast!

Later, after I'd put the stereo away for the day, we still played without music...just running around until I shouted a shape and color.  

This has a lot of possibilities.  The 6 year old I watched even invented her own games from all of the shapes.

This kept us entertained for pretty much the entire day.  

Suggested ages: 3 - 6.  

Let me know if you come up with a different game and how your kids liked it!

God Prevails

My brother is currently a soldier in the U.S. Air Force.  He has been stationed in Japan since June of this year in Fussa, a sleeper city right outside of Tokyo.  As I read this morning, my heart hurt for him.  Not only does he face the potential threat of a literal battle at all times (he could get a half hours notice to ship out) but he is also in the midst of a spiritual battle everyday.  In an area where clubbing is the norm, prostitution is bordering legal, and churches are sparse, temptation is around every corner.  From the moment his feet touch the ground in the morning, his spiritual battle has begun...and it doesn't end until his head touches his pillow at the end of the day.  But there is always hope.

Deuteronomy 20:3-4 - 3 ...'Hear O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today.  Do not be fainthearted.  Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, 4 for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.'

This verse is pretty straightforward.  Like my brother, we approach battles every day.  But there is no reason "to become timid" or be afraid for God is with us, fighting for us, in order to save us (Strong's H7401)!  But there are a couple of things I don't want you to miss:  

First of all, "save" in the Hebrew is yasha'.  The lexicon defines it as "to aid...As victory depends on the aid of God, it give victory" (Strong's H3467).  Did you catch that?  Victory depends on the aid of God.  We cannot do this without Him.  We cannot fight these battles, physical or spiritual, alone.   But, the promise is evident, He is there to give victory - " Those have no reason to fear that have God with them" (Henry).  

And just in case that isn't enough to reassure you, I want to take a look at the word "Israel."  Today, we are God's Israel, because we are God's children.  The verse, very much so, pertains to us. The neat part is that the literal definition of "Israel" is "God Prevails" (Strong's H3478).  The name He has given His people says it all: God Prevails, He will be victorious.  And the best part is, He goes with me as I approach each battle and He is there fighting...for me!

I challenge you today to think about the battle(s) you are facing.  Are you fainthearted, are you afraid?  Make a list of all of these negative feelings and pessimistic thoughts.  Then take a bold marker and write "VICTORY" in huge letters across that list.  Remember today that God is fighting for you and He will be victorious!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Truth: Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner

Today my heart is angry and grieving.

Deuteronomy 18:21 - You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?'

The answer comes in verse 22 which basically says that if a prophet speaks something and it doesn't come true than it wasn't from the Lord.  However, I love how Matthew Henry puts it: "Whatever is directly repugnant to sense, to the light and law of nature, and to the plain meaning of the written word, we may be sure is not that which the Lord has spoken...far be it from God that He would contradict Himself."

Speaking of, the world is trying to convince us today that homosexuality is not a sin.  In fact, I had a Christian facebook friend post a "chart" expressing why homosexuality is not a sin - saying that the Old Testament was irrelevant, Jesus Himself never spoke against it, and that Paul's teachings in the original Greek do not refer to homosexuality, along with much, much more...

Tears began to form in the corner of my eyes as I read over the chart - how has the world deceived us so?  While some "rules" in the Old Testament were done away with when Christ came to fulfill the law, not all of them were.  For instance, the 10 commandments.  Regardless, my biggest argument here is that God doesn't change - He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah because of their wickedness and the only wickedness we are given a glimpse of is homosexuality.  Why would God destroy something then that He thinks is okay now?  Doesn't make sense does it?

Then we move on to Paul.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

The Greek word here is arsenokoites which is defined as "one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual" (Strong's G733).  Obviously, the Greek does directly point to homosexuality in Paul's teachings.  And I don't think any of us could argue with any other sin listed there ("effeminate" is a reference to perversion) how can we get away with picking and choosing which ones are true and which ones are not?  We can't!  God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  And He will NOT contradict Himself!  

Notice that I emphasized the "do not be deceived" in the verse above.  Paul is warning us here, that people will try to deceive us, he wants us to know that all of these things are unrighteous - it is not a debatable subject!  If we are guilty of any of these things, without repentance, we will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.  End of story.

I read a blog the other day responding to the Chick-Fil-A hype that stated that we, as Christians, cannot claim to disagree with their lifestyle and in the same breath say we don't hate gay people - it screams hate.  I disagree.  Christ Himself hated the sin and loved the sinner. He not once showed hate to another person, but he never allowed them to think what they were doing was okay.  Zacchaeus is a prime example.  Christ loved him from the moment he saw him in the tree (and before) and he went to his home because he loved him...but Zacchaeus knew his ways of thievery were wrong, and he changed.  Christ didn't allow him to sit back and remain a thief!

I can tell you now: I hate the act of homosexuality.  It is a sin.  However, I love people...all people.  And those of you who know me, know that this is true.  The idea of hurting someone else hurts me!  Through marriage, I have two gay cousins with the addition of a boyfriend.  Christmas Eve came and went this year delightfully!  We sat around and played the game of "Things" and enjoyed each others company.  I love them, all 3 of them.  But if they ever ask how I feel about their lifestyle, they will hear the truth...and I know that they have already heard the truth from their parents, who still love them and accept them.

Please, do not be deceived.  Be like Christ: Hold fast to Truth, hate the sin, love the sinner.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Writing, Reading, Applying

Have you ever taken notes?  I have - I've taken a ton of them.  When it came to studying, I had a system (and a pretty good one I might add) but it all came back to my notes.  If my notes were good - studying was a breeze.  If my notes were lacking, well, studying was pretty much impossible.  A day or two before the test, I would make sure I had a hard copy of my notes (I usually typed them), then, in my spare time, I would read them over and over and over.  When I was alone in my room, I often read them out loud.  If I was studying for accounting or another interactive class...I would spend a little bit of time putting what I had written and read into practice.  For many ministry classes, that meant applying what I was learning to my every day life!  And I always, always, always made my studies a priority.  If I didn't, I wouldn't remember what I do today.

Deuteronomy 17:18-20 - 18 Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.  19 It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.

This passage is talking about the requirements fro the kings of Israel.  However, taking a closer look, we can easily see how this can be applied to our lives.  

The first requirement listed here is that the king write out an entire copy of the law.  For me, this goes back to taking notes.  I once had a professor ask me why I took notes during a sermon.  The answer was simple: It helps me remember, just like when I take notes in class.  After all, "a prudent pen may go far towards making up the deficiencies of the memory" (Henry).  By patiently sitting down and writing out the law "he might thereby be obliged to take particular notice of every part of the law and...might imprint it in his mind" (Henry).  

Next, the king is told to read the law daily.  You see, "it is not enough to have Bibles, but we must use them, use them daily, as the duty and necessity of everyday require" for just as the body needs nourishment from food, so does the soul (Wesley)!  

But why do all of this?  Why write and read?  This passage lists three reasons:

  1. To learn to fear the Lord - "he must remember that God is above him, and, whatever fear his subjects owe to him, that, and much more, he owes to God as his king" (Henry).
  2. So that his heart is not lifted up above his countrymen - In other words, so that he remains humble: "the scriptures diligently read, are a powerful means to keep him humble, because they shew him that, tho' a king, he is subject to an higher monarch, to whom he must give an account of all administrations" (Wesley).
  3. That he may not turn aside from the commandments - "His writing and reading were all nothing if he did not reduce to practice what he wrote and read" (Henry).
It is important that "when he begins to apply himself to business, he must apply himself to this in the first place...Let not those who call themselves men of business think that this will excuse them from making [Christianity] their business" (Henry).  We all need to take this advice!  We should be applying ourselves to Christ in the first place!  He should be our #1 priority, not our job, not our hobbies, not even our family - God should be first!  We should never, ever be too busy for God.  If the rulers of Israel had time to read the law daily, I think that we have time to do the same!

I challenge you today to get your priorities straight.  Before you think of doing anything else, spend some time with God today.  During that time, read His word, grab a journal and jot down the things that stick out or any questions you might have, then write down 2 ways you can apply what you learned.  

I'm not a morning person, but I've found that if I spend time in His word before I tackle anything else, I give Him more of me and my day goes much smoother.  If you have to get up a half an hour early - He is worth it.  If you need to put off checking facebook until the evening - He is more than worth it!  Do what you need to in order to fit in some much needed prioritized time with God.  I promise, He is worth it!