Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Divine Leadership

The last division of Deuteronomy teaches about leadership. In the study of leadership we must not forget the lesson on obedience, because they go together. For without obedience to God, leadership becomes a broken commodity. A good leader will demonstrate a humble and obedient heart, acknowledging God's power and wisdom.

Read Deuteronomy 31-34

[Moses continues in 31:3-6] . . . Joshua is your new leader, and he will go with you, just as the LORD promised. . . The LORD will hand over to you the people who live there . . .
Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them! The LORD your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.

[31:23] Then the LORD commissioned Joshua son of Nun with these words: "Be strong and courageous! You must bring the people of Israel into the land I swore to give them. I will be with you."

[34:4,10-12] Then the LORD said to Moses, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I told them I would give it to their descendants. I have now allowed you to see it, but you will not enter the land." . . . There has never been another prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. The LORD sent Moses to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants and his entire land. And it was through Moses that the LORD demonstrated His mighty power and terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel.

There are many lessons on leadership in this last section. First, we must understand that God appoints the leader. God calls Moses in the wilderness of Midian, and Moses responds. For the next forty years, God reveals himself to the Israelites through His appointed leader, Moses. Moses' faithful obedience to God is the key component in his leadership strength, just as his disobedience to God's directions prevent him from entering the Promised Land (see Numbers 20:12). God appoints Joshua to lead them into this new land.

Secondly, God is with the obedient leader. Moses and Joshua are frequently reminded, "I am with you." Good leadership requires God's wisdom and provision. It is in God's promise to go ahead and to be with you that secures the power and protection needed to be successful. Moses does as the Lord commands.

Thirdly, we notice that all good leaders need good mentors. Joshua becomes Moses' apprentice, learning how to listen to God's Voice. Moses encourages Joshua to find his strength in God, teaches Joshua to rely on God, reminds Joshua to trust God's faithfulness. Moses blesses Joshua as the new leader; the people of Israel now follow Joshua.

Fourthly, obedient leaders find favor with God. It is through God that Moses becomes a successful leader. It is through Moses that God's power is revealed to His chosen people. Moses keeps his humility, and God demonstrates His power. Favored leadership requires continued obedience and trust in the holiness of God.

Moses dies, and the people mourn. Israel follows the new, God-appointed leader, Joshua, and they embark on the fulfilment of a promise. As they enter the Promised Land, the Israelites take The Law with them, seeking to rebuild their relationship with God. They will fail, and so will we if we only seek to mend our broken relationship with God through the law. We must follow the only Leader who can bring us into righteousness, into God's Promised Land ~ this Leader is Jesus.

Consider this!

  • How does humility give a leader (like Moses) wisdom?
  • Why does obedience to God give power to a leader?
  • Describe Jesus' leadership style. Find Scripture to support your answer.
God of promised lands ~
You call us to be Your priests, to speak Your name before the people. You call us to be your prophets, to tell Your story to the seekers. You call us to be your servants, to share Your love with the needy. You call us to be Your leaders, to live Your way within the world. You call us. Sometimes we respond. You call us. Sometimes we follow. You call us. Sometimes we obey.

Forgive our selfish attempts to lead ourselves. Forgive our arrogant efforts to find wisdom in the world. Forgive our foolish endeavors to direct others before being directed by You.

Jesus, be my Mentor; You are Divine Leadership. I long to follow You into a more holy life. Amen. ~dho

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The LORD Goes Before Us

To choose life is to love the LORD your God, obey Him and stay close to Him. He is your life . . . Be strong and brave. Don't be afraid . . . don't be frightened, because the LORD your God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you. . . The LORD himself will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forget you. Don't be afraid and don't worry.
Deuteronomy 30:20, 31:6,8 (NCV)

We speak the Hebrew word Yahweh because it is Your covenant name, and we have studied Your promises to the descendants of Abraham. The ancient words recorded centuries before tell the story of humankind and all its frailties. Words translated from Hebrew tell of Moses and his obedience, tell how You always went before them, preparing the way.

We call, LORD, because there are promises for us. The ancient words tell a living story of love and sacrifice and redemption; they tell of a new covenant ~ Christ. We choose life! Now, as then, You go before us, preparing the way.

We whisper, Adonai, for You are Lord; You are Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You are both hope and light. Your Spirit dwells within us. Lord, only through You can we be strong and brave. We long to firmly embrace You. The world entices us, even as we try to draw near to You. Sometimes our journey is not clear, the path uneven, our steps uncertain. When we cannot see, help us remember the ancient words, the living words The LORD himself will go before you. You are the Promise that chooses us; You are the Love that embraces us. Lord, hear our simple prayers. Amen. ~dho
Live deeply in Christ . . . What marvelous love the Father has extended to us!
1 John 2:28 and 3:1(The Message)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Totally Committed

After the holidays, our brains are saturated and in withdrawal from all that marks the season with joy and excess. Now that we are striving to find a rhythm, both new and familiar, let's return to our study of Deuteronomy. Having studied Provision and Obedience, let's look at Commitment.

Read Deuteronomy 29-30

. . . The LORD your God is making this covenant with you who stand in His presence today and also with all future generations of Israel. . . The LORD made this covenant with you so that no man, woman, family, or tribe among you would turn away from the LORD our God to worship these gods of other nations . . . if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. . .Today I give you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. . . Choose to love the LORD you God and to obey Him and commit yourself to Him, for He is your life. . .

The Israelites are God's Chosen People, a covenant-people. The warnings of Moses will become reality. Israel and Judah will both choose to worship idols, choose to follow the rituals of religion but without the right intention. Both will fall as predicted because they are not totally committed to the Lord. (You can read the following references for an account of their fall: 2 Kings 17 for Israel's exile to Assyria; 2 Chronicles 36 for Judah's exile to Babylon.)

God provides the way for the Israelites to remain separated from the pagan culture of this new land, provides a guide to purity and faithfulness that would signify that they belong to Him. Their faithfulness to God through the Covenant would provide all they need in their Promised Land. To be successful they need to remain committed to God.

Commitment is not easy. Remaining faithful to God requires us to seek God at every turn. While God provides all that we need and more, unless we seek Him in obedience and follow with sincere commitment, we, too, will miss the blessings. In our faith journey, God gives us a choice, too. We can choose to worship the Lord, choose to love the Lord wholeheartedly, or we choose to go another way, choose the way of the world. Our commitment to God's Promises defines the depth of our faithfulness and the height of our joy!

The LORD your God will make you successful in everything you do. . . God will delight in being good to you. Deuteronomy 30:9

Even though the Israelites wander from God in their new land, He never stops loving them. He will restore them. Even if you have wandered from Him, God still chooses to love you! He will restore you! Jesus Christ became the New Covenant for all people. Through Him, our relationship with God can be restored. God is totally committed and chooses us!

Consider this!
  • What would be the consequences of the Israelites' total commitment to God?
  • How do you demonstrate your total commitment to God? What are your consequences when you choose another way?

Lord, I am amazed that You choose me ~ choose to love me with my doubts and failures, choose to reach out to me when I look the other way, choose to heal me with all my wounds, choose to rescue me when I wander so far away. You are totally committed! Forgive me! Encourage me! Strengthen me! I long for my intentions to be pure, faithful, committed. I long for Your Delight! Amen.