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Deut 8_1-5 Corrected by God's loving hand

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Remember the Lord

Corrected by God’s loving hand

26-02-06

Announcements

God’s Word in our midst

Call to worship

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:1,7)

Blessing

In the Name of the Triune God, Father, son and Holy Spirit we are gathered:  Grace to you from God or Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

Doxology Hymn No 148:        “You servants of God” (verses 1 and 4 with “AMEN”                               

Prayer of Confession of sin

Forgiveness

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)

Hymn No 310:                            “Brother let me be your servant”

Prayer of Adoration, Invocation and Thanksgiving Lord’s Prayer

Scripture Reading                     1Peter 1:3-12

Tithes, offering and dedication

Hymn No 409:                            “Rock of ages, cleft for me”

Prayer for others

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Hymn No 279:                            “How sure the Scriptures are”

Scripture Reading                     Deuteronomy 8:1-4

Sermon                          Corrected by God’s loving hand

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, Jesus Christ,

Charles Kropp, a man who loved life in his modest way and remarried at the age of 81 with bright hopes for the future, would have become a millionaire but he died before getting the money.

A man of steady habits, Kropp liked to dream of the chance to make it big. He was a regular purchaser of Connecticut lottery tickets as well, buying a couple of dollars’ worth each week.

Nine days before he was married to Rose Paquette, 68, a widow, he picked up a $25 season ticket to the Massachusetts lottery. It assured him of a once-a-week chance at the million dollar top prize in the state’s big money game. One Wednesday night his number came up for the first prize. But he had died 3 minutes before. The cash went to his estate and the courts had to determine who among his survivors will receive the annual $50,000 checks for the next 20 years.

I tell you this story because Mr Kropp died with nothing in his pocket.  He had hoped to become rich, but what he built his hope upon was wind, and never realised. His life was empty.

Deuteronomy 8:1 talks about an inheritance quite different from that of Mr Kropp’s.  This inheritance is sure; God issued the promise.  It reads like this:

; Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers. (Deuteronomy 8:1)

; God promised a land of sure inheritance; He made an oath with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  His promise stands firm.  It is not something that will be snapped away five minutes before you die.  It is not something the church, as the body of Christ, will never see come true. God said it, it is sealed in the blood of Christ, and it is based on the righteousness of our Saviour.

The Promised Land is God’s free gift of grace.  ; It is not meant to be understood as if this gift is given to individual members of the church only; this promise is given to the church as a body.  We don’t work for it and we don’t earn it as payment on good deeds.  It stands as a promise of God based on his ; Covenant of Grace.

Let’s read the statement again:  Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers.

You may ask, does this not sound like a covenant of works?  If you this and that then you will enter the land!  No! The people of Israel had already been saved when they heard these words.  They had already been rescued our of Egypt; they had already been through the wilderness, they had already tasted the victory over Sihon and Og; they had already been given some territory as an inheritance! All of this was theirs because of God’s grace.

What follows now is covenant language.  Grace is free, but grace is not cheap.  God saved his people ; to be holy and to worship Him alone.  Their worship of their Saviour had to be according to his own stipulations.  They lived in a relationship (or covenant) with God, and this relationship had demands on the way in which they lived.

It is wrong to assume that saved Christians don’t need to live holy lives.  It is wrong to assume that Christians are saved by grace and therefore don’t need good works.  It is wrong to assume that grace excludes total commitment and complete obedience.

; Four words in verse 1 are important.  The inheritance is sure:  that you may live, increase, enter and possess.  It speaks about the success of the church within the Covenant of Grace.  Moses reminded the people of their covenant obligations.  In order for them to be victorious and successful in occupying the Promised Land, they had to be obedient to God by following the stipulations.

;To live expresses the fullness of life in relationship with God as Covenant Head. It means to live from his hand and to expect everything from Him who gives freely to those depending on Him in obedience.

;Increase:  it was as promise of God from the beginning as part of his covenant blessing to increase his people, increase their land, increase their crops and increase their success in subduing their enemies.  It was necessary for them to increase in order to fill the earth, fill the Promised Land in order for the glory of God to be known in and through their lives. And as God’s people would increase into all parts of the world because of his blessing, so the glory of his Name would increase into the darkest corner of the world.

;Enter:  This word in Hebrew within the context of this verse describes the culmination of events, or the reaching of a destination.  The original is “to come into”; to reach the end of a journey – it may then have the meaning of to experience the satisfaction of fulfillment.

;Possess:  In Israel’s history this word takes on its double force, to inherit and to dispossess. Israel was declared the people of God in Egypt. They left Egypt, agreed to the covenant at Sinai and then proceeded to take the Promised Land as their possession. However, forty years passed between Sinai and the first successful attempt at conquest.

; Why did they have to wander in the wilderness for forty years?  Because of covenant disobedience!  When we meet Moses in Deut 8 addressing the people he reminded them of their inheritance, but also of their disobedience.  He then went on to instruct them on the value of God’s discipline.

; Why does God discipline his elect?  Four reasons are given here. Chastening, correcting, instructing, providing.

; First thing to remember:  God led you all the way.  He did not let go.  He did not abandon.  His covenant faithfulness compelled Him to discipline. God is present in discipline.  “As a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.”  A loving father does not turn his back on a child when he disciplines him.  He does not reject his child because of his disobedience. But because he loves his child, he chastens him in order to correct him.

Then we read a very interesting phrase:  what is translated as “to” in our Bibles in verse 2 is better understood as “in order to”.  ; There is a purpose with disciplining: it is done with the purpose of seeking response. The word here is ; humble: God seeks repentance and devotion.  He has correction in mind. That is what is meant by humble.

God uses affliction to prompt repentance; this is a repeated theme in Scripture.

For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. (Lamentations 3:31-33)

This means that God does not take pleasure in hurting his people.  The word here describes someone who puts his foot on you.  We might feel this is what the Lord is doing to us. The intention is not to hurt but to discipline. We know how we feel as parents after you had to exercise discipline when it was needed.

; Test:  In most contexts this word has the idea of testing or ; proving the quality of someone or something, often through adversity or hardship.

When we got shunted by the corporal in the army to run from one end of the field to the other, we didn’t understand the senseless running. But this form of punishment taught us to really understand the rules and drills in order to be prepared for battle.  He wanted us to know the importance of putting the knowledge into practice when our lives depended on it. ; There is the element of training in order to have a better outcome.

Discipline, i.e., punish in order to improve behavior, implying the training of the person.  Psalm 94:12-15 describes this beautifully:

Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law; you grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.

; The Lord’s discipline is corrective; it turns one away from what is wrong to do what is right in the sight of God.  This means that when justice is meted out, God’s children will have peace because of repentance that took place even before the day of reckoning.

; The discipline of the Lord is not to be taken negatively, for the hardships in the wilderness were balanced by his miraculous provisions both designed to test “what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not” (Deut 8:2). ; I don’t think we should understand this statement as provisional for salvation.  It is not if God says, I will test you but if you don’t succeed in keeping my law, well, sorry you’ve missed out.  That means we have to earn points in order to be saved.

This statement rather means that ; God wanted to teach his people his will.  The time in the wilderness was a time of instruction and preparation.  It was a time in which God would change their hearts to be inclined to do his will.  How much richer are we after a time of discipline and humbling before God!  How much more to we understand his will, and how much more are we now prepared for the battle against the enemy! 

; Teach:  they were to “understand that man does not live by bread alone, but … by everything that proceeds from the mouth of Yahweh” (8:3). How easily can we be swept away by the torrent of materialism! We are not exempt from thinking that earthly success and financial achievement is an important thing.  Sometimes these things need to be taken away from us ; so that God can teach us the important lesson that bread, food, money and success are far less important that living according to the will of God as it is expressed in the Bible. Materialism can be a trap.  Remember the rich men in the stories of Jesus:  the young rich, and the one with the barns full of grain.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it doubles and trebles that want another way. That was a true proverb of the wise man; rely upon it: “Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure, and trouble with it.

; Trust:  Never doubt God’s faithfulness: There was more than one day in the wilderness that the Israelites doubted God’s faithfulness. They thought they would see sure death in the desert. Their hearts hankered to go back to Egypt and rather be slaves to the Egyptians than trusting God for their everyday needs.  But looking back they learned a very important lesson:  ; God provides.  With the discipline God never abandoned them.  He is faithful. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.  This expression tells of God’s miraculous care and providence.  Yes they did not have the same food as in Egypt, but the quails and the manna and the water from the rock was sufficient.

Conclusion

Dear friends in the Lord, Mr Kropps missed his fortune because he put his trust and hope in earthly happiness and success.

Jesus Christ became our punishment to make it possible for us as his church to live victoriously and to occupy our Promised Land, not only one day when we will inherit heaven, but now as we as church move forward as soldiers of the Cross to claim victory in the Name of Jesus Christ.

But sometimes our battle is less successful and we suffer loss.  We need to search our hearts for covenant disobedience and learn from God’s discipline.  He humbles us, and tests us, He instructs and corrects us, and He also teaches us the importance of obedience to his Word.  He wants us to trust Him completely to provide the means to complete the battle and take hold of our inheritance.  May He find us faithfully busy, discharging of the Great Commission when He comes.  Amen.

Prayer

Hymn No 292:            “Your hand, O God, has guided” (Tune 536)

Benediction

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Threefold “Amen”

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