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When we meet in person, we share any joys or concerns from the past week. If you have any prayer requests you would like to share, you can add it as a comment. We have been praying for the people being affected by the war in Ukraine each week. Last week during our lesson, we talked about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. To get started, use this prayer written by Bonhoeffer for his fellow prisoners at a Nazi camp.
O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you;
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me.
O Heavenly Father,
I praise and thank you
For rest in the night;
I praise and thank you for this new day;
I praise and thank you for all your goodness
and faithfulness throughout my life.
You have granted me many blessings;
Now let me also accept what is hard from your hand.
You will lay on me no more than I can bear.
You make all things work together for good for your children.
Lord Jesus Christ,
You were poor and in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am.
You know all man’s troubles;
You abide with me when all men fail me;
You remember and seek me;
It is your will that I should know you and turn to you.
Lord, I hear your call and follow;
O Holy Spirit,
Give me faith that will protect me
from despair, from passions, and from vice;
Give me such love for God and men
as will blot out all hatred and bitterness;
Give me the hope that will deliver me
from fear and faint-heartedness.
Today's lesson is on Deuteronomy 8:1-11.
The setting of today’s lesson is near Beth Peor east of the Jordanian about 1406 BC. The recipients were the Israelites of anew generation who were about to enter the promised land. Mose’s would die on Mount Nebo located in Moab having been barred from entering the promised land because of his disobedience at Meribah.
Deuteronomy is a covenant renewal treaty delivered by Moses in a series of speeches. In these speeches he recounted the covenant God had made with Israel at Mount Sinai some four decades previously.
This week’s passage continues to call to observe every command God gave Israel. What follows are positive reminders of God’s work and blessings that will follow from continuing to obey the Lord Israel had multiplied in Egypt, but their growth resulted in a perceived threat to the Egyptians. They resolved this danger by enslaving the Israelites. Possessing the promised land would allow the people to multiply in peace. Fulfillment of all these promises was predicated on obedience; the people’s failure to obey accounted for their exile in Babylon.
Future generations would be well served to learn lessons from the hardships faced in the wilderness these forty years without repeating the same sins. Proud people believe they have earned everything they have through their own power ; humble people recognize that without the Lord, they would have nothing. Experiencing uncertainty about resources in the wilderness was meant to humble the Israelites, reminding them not only of their needs but of God’s ability and trustworthiness to care for them.
Immediately after leaving Egypt, the Israelites moaned that Moses was leading them to their deaths. They also complained that they were thirsty and when they didn’t have food. Although Israel feared a lack of provision , God provided manna, bread from heaven and water from rocks.
God’s response to Israel hardships was meant to inspire the people to trust him. It’s not that the people didn’t need bread; rather, it’s the heeding every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord is the only path to life. As Jesus said, “ What good is it for someone to gain the world, yet forfeit their soul?” If Israel wanted to live, they needed not only food and water, but to obey God and find life in him.
For forty years their clothes did not wear out. Their feet did not swell even though they were walking in the wilderness. God as their Father took care of them and sometimes had to discipline them.
Israel was to keep his commandments and laws and have the proper respect of God. God was leading them to a good land with brooks and streams and deep springs After being in the desert that lacked water this would definitely be a good land where they could grow crops for food and have water for themselves and their livestocks. There was iron and copper there also. The Israelites were to remember to praise God for all the abundance of the land.
Memory is the beginning of obedience. If the people failed to remember, it would be seen in their disobedience to all God commanded them.
Conclusion: Credit where credit is due
God has given us words to remember, laws to live by. Our peace depends on remembering what God has commanded and then acting faithfully on that memory. Though much has changed between when Israel stood at the boundary of the promised land and the time of the global church, we too are called to remember all that the Lord has done for us. We are not self-sufficient-God has given us all that we have. We must look to him in times of both need and plenty. Only when we honor and fear him like this can we call others to the same respect. And, of course, we bring not only knowledge of God’s law but also the peace of God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice. His love has been shown to us; let us show it also to the watching world. Only then will we experience life in our own good land- the world God created- and beyond, in his heaven.
Thank you, Lord, for all the ways that you bless us daily. Help us to remember you in the hard times and times of bounty. Show us opportunities to tell the stories of your faithfulness to everyone we meet. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
In what ways do you see that God has brought you into a “good land”?
How can you be better satisfied with God’s provision?
What ordinary blessings do you tend to take for granted?
Today's benediction is from the New Living Translation.
Next week's lesson will be on Matthew 21:1-11.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.