February 22, 2012 – If…then…

I grew up Catholic. We observed Ash Wednesday because it marked the beginning of Lent. It didn’t mean much to me then except that I knew my forehead was going to get dirty (sorry, total germophobe). Lent means a lot more to me now that I know my Jesus.

 

It seems fitting that the readings today is on Leviticus 26 and 27. I noticed a lot of “if/then” statements particularly in Chapter 26.

 

If we walk in God’s statutes and observe His commandments and do them, then

 

  1. God will provide for our physical needs (Lev 26:3-5).
  2. God will give us peace and security (Lev 26:6).
  3. God will give us victory over our enemies (Lev 26:7-8). 
  4. God will make us fruitful (Lev 26:9-10). 
  5. God will be with us (Lev 26:11).
  6. God will walk among us and we shall be His people. He has freed us from the bondage of this world, never to be enslaved again. (Lev 26:12-13)

 

As many blessings as we get from obeying God, the rest of the chapter talks about the punishment for disobedience. If you have not read it, it’s much longer than the 13 verses of blessings listed above. The ESV breaks it down in 5 stages:

 

Lev. 26:14–17 The First Stage. The reverse side of the blessings in vv. 4–7 is set out as punishment…

 

Lev. 26:18–20 The Second Stage. If the people continue to walk in disobedience, the Lord will target their pride and power by stopping the rain.sevenfold (v. 18). Rather than “seven times,” it means “fully” or “completely.” If the Hebrews refuse to alter their behavior as a result of the first series of judgments, these punishments will be added.

 

Lev. 26:21–22 The Third Stage. This time the people’s hardness of heart will be punished bywild beasts (cf. v. 6)…

 

Lev. 26:23–26 The Fourth Stage. This stage is characterized by the Lord’s wrath that manifests itself in the sending of sword and pestilence on the people (cf. vv. 5–6, 8). For the first time, the deliverance of the people into the hand of the enemy is mentioned.

 

Lev. 26:27–39 The Fifth Stage. This is the final set of curses. Intensification is clear in this last series as the people continue in their stubbornness and God increases his punishments. The final place for the covenant breakers will be in exile (v. 34).

 

Lev. 26:27–33 The punishment includes an unbelievable form of cannibalism and the destruction of the religious centers, the cities, and the land. The Lord’s wrath is actually carried out by the people’s enemies.

            (ESV Study Bible)

 

 

Given the choices above, wouldn’t we want to be blessed? Note though it is conditional: “if” we walk in His statutes. How do we do that?  It begins by observing His commandments – by reading His word faithfully, whether we understand it or not. But the verse does not stop there, does it? Not only are we to observe His commandments but also do them.

 

Being a Christian is not a spectator sport. It is not enough that we merely observe the traditions of old, and not bear any fruit. Having a relationship with the living breathing Jesus Christ requires a living breathing faith – one that is lived out. How about instead of giving up something for Lent like sugar or chocolate or the cell phone (yeah, that’s gonna happen), we also take something on? Karen Ehman has a great idea – she is writing notes of encouragement everyday for 40 days. Who couldn’t use an encouragement these days? Our church is doing this 40 day prayer for the City. My point is, we can’t just sit in the sidelines and be content to observe and watch others do the work while we wait for Jesus to come back. God has given us gifts to help the body of believers. Yes, our gifts may be different but they are gifts nonetheless. We need to get out there and use them, doing otherwise would be disobedience. 

 

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “February 22, 2012 – If…then…

  1. I like this idea alot. In fact; a college friend of mine did the same challenge a few years ago…I know because I was the fortunate recipient of one of her encouraging letters! I was so touched and humbled. In this busy day and age, it seems like we are too quick to “take on” or “add” the wrong things; things that don’t edify and sanctify us more fully in Christ. I’m going to get my blank note cards out and give it a try….a note of encouragement for 40 days! Love it!Morgen

  2. I love these thoughts! Not sitting around while others do all the work. The flip side of that too is not trying to do it all so others don’t have a place. I know I tend to fall in that category as well! I saw on my calendar that today begins Lent but I still, even at almost the end of the day, don’t know what I will do to observe it this year. Last year was FB but that’s not an option this year with the Bible study 🙂 Speaking of, here is my post from today. Hope you all have had a good day! Will email you all the personal stuff.FB post:Day 53~ “Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.” Lev 19:17bToday I throw out the question what is judging and what is confronting? I have had several conversations over the years about this and the line can be so easy to blur. When are we to confront and when does that become judging? Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:12 that we are not to judge those that are outside the body of Christ, but it also asks, “Don’t you judge those who are inside?” 1 Timothy 5:20 says to rebuke those who sin. 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” From my understanding of scripture if God opens our eyes to see our sisters (or brothers) making decisions that are not based on God’s Word we are to come along side them and tell the truth in a loving way and point them back to the Lord.A personal example of this situation is I have a friend that I knew many years ago that was making decisions that were not according to God’s ways. She talked to me about it and wanted to know what my thoughts were. As a friend who cares about her and loves her, it was my role to point her back to the Lord and not say the choices she was making were ok. Was that hard? Absolutely! The easy thing would have been to justify her actions and decisions along with her, but I would not have truly been her friend if I did that. To truly love our sisters we need to tell them the truth when they are going away from God, even if it might be awkward or not what they really want to hear. We always need to be on our knees, filled with God’s guidance and spirit when we do so. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit.” We can never fail to look at the plank in our own eye to look at the speck in our sister’s (Matthew 7:4). I think that is such an important key to this whole issue of confronting and judging. Our own hearts have to be right first or it can easily be judging and not truth in love. So often it is so easy to see the sins in others and not the sins in ourselves. The Pharisees in Jesus time were so easy to apply this law in Leviticus and confront people for their sins but their hearts were not right in the process. 2 Timothy 4:2 said correct and encourage with great patience and teaching. We all are going to mess up, we just need to keep encouraging each other to follow God’s ways.Something to think about today.

  3. Brandee,Yes! I forgot about the other end of the spectrum – doing everything and hogging all the work, even the ones God did not call us to do. I do that in some areas of my life and it gets old. Fast. Re: judging and confronting. The way I see it, we judge someone in our minds when we don't say anything. Confronting is being brave and risking rejection or an angry reaction from another by speaking up. It must be done in love, though, for it to be effective.  Great post, sissie.

  4. Sure do T! Yes, I liked your post too Brandee. The word “encourage” stood out to me…..not just correcting the person but add encouragement….Morgen

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s