Idolatry (Dt 4:15-31)

Deuteronomy 4:16-31; Key Verse: Dt 4:24

"For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God."
In Deuteronomy, the themes studied so far are Sin (Dt 1:1-46), Leadership (Dt 1:9-18), Faith (Dt 2:1-3:29) and Obedience (Dt 4:1-14). In Dt 4:15-31, Moses warns the Israelites about how grievous the sin of idolatry is.
  1. What it does - How enticing it is (Dt 4:15-19).
  2. What it results in - How devastating are its consequences (Dt 4:25-28).
  3. What to do; what to remember - How to overcome it (Dt 4:20-24, 29-31).


2014 Key Verse Testimony (Dt 15:15)

2014 Key Verse: Dt 15:15a

"Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you."

Remembrance. I am tentatively choosing this key verse as as I prepare to preach through Deuteronomy. The three key imperatives of Deuteronomy are love (Dt 6:5), obey (Dt 10:12-13) and choose (Dt 30:19-20). But no one, however godly and holy, can long sustain such imperatives by their sheer resolve and will power with beauty and mystery. (They might do it grumpily, angrily, habitually or legalistically!) We need to remember the grace of God (1 Cor 15:10). Throughout his three lengthy farewell speeches in Deuteronomy, Moses says "remember" or "do not forget" (God's grace), in order to help God's people to live victoriously with God's blessing in the promised land. I pray that 2014 may be a year of remembrance so that the grace of God may compel us to love God (Dt 6:5) and to obey God (Dt 10:12-13) and to choose life (Dt 30:19-20) with hearts that are overflowing with resounding joy and gratitude.

Review. Each year over the last few years, a theme for West Loop UBF was chosen.


Confounding Paradoxes That Are True To Life

Paradoxes common in Christianity (and in life):
  • If you die, you live (1 Cor 15:36). If you try to live, you die (Mt 16:25; Mk 8:35; Lk 9:24).
  • If you expose your weakness, you experience power (2 Cor 12:9-10). If you conceal your weakness, you loose your power, even if you have might.
  • If you give up control, you have authority. If you're authoritarian (Mt 20:25; Mk 10:42; Lk 22:25), you loose control.
  • If you listen (Jas 1:19), you're heard. If you demand to be heard, no one listens to you.

How To Be Productive Infographic

Take a minute to browse through the infographic: Get It Done: 35 Habits of the Most Productive People (Infographic). As a cerebral "heady" person, the habits regarding the MIND (right side of the infographic) resonates with me:
  • 80/20 rule: Which 20% of your work produces 80% of the result? (Not sports, movies and facebook!)
  • Focus on the important (Reading, preparing, planning, reflecting, exercising). Suppress the urgent (Checking sports stats daily, internet cruising, celebrity trivia).
  • Idea dumping tips: Always carry paper (or note book). Be descriptive when writing it down. Ask why; think big picture. Don't force it. (First time I heard of "Idea Dump.")
  • Learn to ignore. (But, but, this article was good!) No need to respond to everything.
  • DO a bad FIRST DRAFT. You can't edit a blank page.
HACKS is pretty good too (third from left):


2014--A Year Of Remembrance; Preaching Schedule

For West Loop UBF, we chose a theme each year over the last few years:
  • 2010 was a year of the gospel--the matters of first importance (1 Cor 15:1-4).
  • 2011 was a year of grace (Acts 20:24)--the primary experience of the gospel.
  • 2012 was a year of sanctification (Phil 2:12-13)--the scary/painful part of the gospel.
  • 2013 was a year of considering the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27, ESV) or the whole will of God (NIV), or the whole plan of God (HCSB), or the whole purpose of God (NASB). This prompted me to study and preach through Revelation, the last book I wanted to study.
  • For 2014, it may be a year of remembrance (Dt 5:15; 15:15), as I prepare to preach through Deuteronomy.


Obedience (Dt 4:1-15)

Deuteronomy 4:1-15; Key Verse: Dt 4:1

"Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live..."

Theme: A key to obedience is to hear (Hebrew: shamar).

In Dt 4:1-15, the two parts of this sermon will consider (1) how the people of God are to obey God, and (2) why the people of God should and even want to obey God:
  1. How to obey God
  2. Why we obey God


Obedience (Deuteronomy 4)

Deuteronomy 4:1-49; Key Verse: Dt 4:1

"Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you."

Obedience. The themes covered so far are Sin (Dt 1), Leadership (Dt 1a) and Faith (Dt 2-3). The theme of Dt 4 is on obedience to the law (Torah). Generally, people think or act as though obedience is needed for their salvation. But biblical obedience is the fruit of salvation, not the means of salvation. Biblical obedience is not commanded of non-believers or non-Christians, but of the people of God--those who have experienced God's saving grace (Dt 1:30-31; 4:37; 5:6, 15; 15:15; 24:18). This is similar to Jesus saying to his disciples that their obedience should be because of their love (Jn 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10).


5 Things To Know About God (J.I. Packer)

To know God, what are some basic foundational principles we need to know?

In Knowing God (1973), chap. 1 (The Study of God), J.I. Packer lists five basic truths we need to know:
  1. God has spoken.
  2. God is Lord and King who rules all things.
  3. God is Savior.
  4. God is triune.
  5. Godliness means responding to God's revelation.
A major theme that Packer stresses is to note the difference between knowing about God and knowing God.

Sin (Dt 1), Leadership (Dt 1a), Faith (Dt 2-3), Obedience (Dt 4)

  1. Sin (Dt 1:1-46):
    • What sin does - Destroys
    • Why sin happens - Unbelief
    • What the solution is - Remember God's grace/Believe God's promise
  2. Leadership (Dt 1:9-18):
    • The burden of leadership - Stress
    • The solution of leadership - Delegation
    • The practice of leadership - Justice
    • The character of leadership - Humility (Dt 3:23-27).
    • The success of leadership - Succession (Dt 3:21-22, 28-29).


Leadership (Dt 1:9-18; 3:21-29)

  1. Do you agree that "you don't need a title to be a leader"? Why or why not?
  2. How well do you deal with pressure and stress (Dt 1:12; Num 11:14; Ex 18:18)
  3. What is your understanding of delegation (Dt 1:13-15)? From your leader (cf. Mt 20:25; Mk 10:42; Lk 22:25)? To your subordinates? Explain the difference between "gopher delegation" and "stewardship delegation."
  4. Have you experienced justice from your leader(s) (Dt 1:16-17; 16:20; 32:4; Ps 9:8; Isa 42:1; Mt 12:18)? Reflect on this quote by Martin Luther King Jr: "It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people."
  5. Reflect on Charles Spurgeon's quote regarding the best man ("leader") in the church: “Do not desire to be the principal man in the church. Be lowly. Be humble. The best man in the church is the one who is willing to be a doormat for all to wipe their boots on, the brother who does not mind what happens to him at all, so long as God is glorified.” How might this relate to Jesus as our Leader (Jn 13:14)?


The Gospel in 1-2 Kings

God's faithfulness and man's unfaithfulness. 1-2 Kings belongs to a larger group of books in the OT, Joshua through Kings (the Former Prophets). Together, they record the faithfulness of God to keep all his covenant promises with regard to establishing his people in the promised land. There are two important texts that summarize this:
  1. Josh 21:44-45: "The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the Lord's good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled."
  2. 1 Ki 8:56: "Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses."


The Daniel Plan

Rick Warren's new book, The Daniel Plan, encourages healthy living based on the following essentials (Tim Challies' review.):
  1. Faith (Phil 4:13).
  2. Food (1 Cor 10:31).
  3. Fitness (1 Cor 6:19a, 20b).
  4. Focus (Rom 12:2).
  5. Friends (Eccl 4:9).
  1. God Wants Us to Chew On His Word (Josh 1:8).
  2. For Good Health, Confess Your Sin (Ps 32:3-5).

Faith (Deuteronomy 2 - 3); Theme of 14 chapters

Dt 2:1-329; Key Verse: Dt 2:7

"The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything."

Theme: Sin brings devastation (chap. 1), but faith expressed by obedience to God (chap. 2-3) brings blessing, success and victory.
The wages of sin. Chapter 1 recounts how sin caused the first generation of the people of God to be set back for 38 years until all of them died in the desert (Dt 2:14-15). Their sin was inexcusable, because they had personally experienced the power of God in delivering from slavery in Egypt (Dt 1:30-31).


What Sin Does (Dt 1:19-46)

Few passages in Scripture provide a fully study of what sin does than Dt 1:19-46.
  1. Blinds: Sin blinds people to God's gracious providences. Moses highlights frequently the motif of "seeing" (Dt 1:19, 22-23, 25, 28, 30, 31, 33). But sin or "faithless eyes" are selective in what they allow to register in their hearts and minds. They only saw the obstacles and difficulties. Because they were blind to the greater One among them (1 Jn 4:4), they could not and would not see the prize (Dt 1:35-36). They had no "theology of remembrance." They could not remember God's many interventions on their behalf (Dt 6:20-25; 26:5-11).

Why Sin is Inexcusable (Dt 1:1-46)

Key Verses: Dt 1:8, 21, 30-31

"See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land..." "See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it..." "The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place."

Deuteronomy 1 begins with a tragic negative story of failure by the people of God who were miraculously redeemed from slavery in Egypt. The recent sequence of events is as follows (See also An Overview of the Pentateuch):