“But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s Love is with those who Fear Him, and His Righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep His Covenant and remember to obey His Precepts.” – Psalm 103:17-18 NIV (http://bible.com/111/psa.103.17-18.NIV)
Here we go again …. Obey God. But why?? I want to be in control; I want to be the “boss” and give orders; I want to be in charge. Oh, wait. All the bad choices, and rough decisions ? Those were my best thinking. Maybe I should let go and let God. After all, He has a proven track record of blessings and of eliminating and punishing those who deserve it. Look at Moses. (Start reading at Exodus chapter 2) He was incredibly blessed at crucial times in his life. He escaped a sure death as an infant because his mother trusted God’s words to her. He was raised as the privileged son of an Egyptian princess, alongside the boy who became the next Pharoah. As a young man, instead of using the proper channels, Moses killed an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew slave. As a consequence, Moses ran to save his own life – and again, God blessed him. Ultimately, Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt where they were slaves, and into Jordan, the land God promised them. Because Moses led a rebellious bunch of people, and because of his own rebellion against God, he wasn’t allowed to enter Jordan with the rest of his people.
“The LORD was angry with me because of you, and He solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the LORD your GOD is giving you as your inheritance. I will die in this land; I will not cross the Jordan; but you are about to cross over and take possession of that good land. Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your GOD that He made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your GOD has forbidden. For the LORD your GOD is a Consuming Fire, a Jealous GOD.” – Deuteronomy 4:21-24 NIV (http://bible.com/111/deu.4.21-24.NIV)
Even so, Moses was blessed, and you can see many of the times he was blessed by reading Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. The Hebrew people were blessed over and over again, and they were punished many times as a consequence of their sins. Consider the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Do you see how incredibly faithful and blessed she was? She became pregnant with the Son of the Creator God, yet she endured riding a donkey and walking around 90 miles while 9 months pregnant. She gave birth in a stable (probably not as idyllic as we show it every Christmas!), she had to escape to Egypt to keep her young son alive, and finally, she saw her beloved son beaten almost to death and crucified. I can’t begin to imagine how brutal that was for her, but she remained faithful. I’m not sure I would have, and judging from my past, I didn’t stay faithful.
My choice today is to accept my blessings and to be thankful for them, even when they feel more like punishments than blessings. The key is to follow Jesus Christ and to keep His commandments as best as I humanly can.
“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is GOD in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep His decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your GOD gives you for all time.” – Deuteronomy 4:39-40 NIV (http://bible.com/111/deu.4.39-40.NIV)
We are no longer bound to the Ten Commandments, but then again, we are. Listen to how Jesus took the ten and summarized them into two:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our GOD, the LORD is ONE. Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31 NIV (http://bible.com/111/mrk.12.29-31.NIV)
This is recorded in Leviticus, in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and in James and Romans. Think maybe there’s something important being said here? If we put God first in our lives, and that means spending as much time with Him as we do for our football and basketball and jobs and kids and animals and whatever other gods we have, then He can bless us abundantly. More than we could ever imagine in our wildest dreams. It can be incredibly painful at times to follow these commands. “Loving my neighbor” means so much more than the person living next door. The entire population of the earth is our neighbor, and that includes the people who hurt us (past, present, and future). Because “… from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s Love is with those who Fear him, and His Righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.” – Psalm 103:17-18 NIV (http://bible.com/111/psa.103.17-18.NIV)
EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING. That’s how big God’s Love is for us, for ME, and for YOU.