Choose Life

I have had a few days to spend time with grandkids, whose ages range from 9 months to 7 years old. As we were moving through those days, I kept hearing their mothers encouraging them to make good choices as they were being instructed and sometimes disciplined. I noticed a very strong correlation between having their full attention and their ability to choose the better way. When they were focused in, they did well. When they weren’t paying attention to the warnings, they often went the wrong way with their actions.

Looking around at all the adults I see, it seems we never grow out of that behavior!

Today, we will dip our toes into Moses’ river of thought and join him as he is reviewing the Covenant with the people of Israel. His words are stark and matter of fact. He gives them two choices:

Obey and be blessed.

Turn away and die.

Well, alrighty then! Any questions?

One would think that with the clarity of that message, the people would instantly do a face-palm and say, “Oh! Now I get it!’ But have you ever tried to follow God’s instructions precisely and to the letter? Or do you waver, wander, and fall away the minute you are distracted and tempted to follow your own way? We’re like the three-year-old who took the cookie anyway.

Deuteronomy 30 (Common English Bible)

15 Look here! Today I’ve set before you life and what’s good versus death and what’s wrong. 16 If you obey the Lord your God’s commandments that I’m commanding you right now by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments, his regulations, and his case laws, then you will live and thrive, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 

The nation of Israel was invited to live in the Promised Land. It was all laid out before them, in all of its milk-and-honey glory. God himself had carved a path through the wilderness, across the Red Sea, turning away their enemies and foes and creating a new life for them. There was only one more thing needed: they were required to walk in God’s ways and keep his commandments.

17 But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and so are misled, worshipping other gods and serving them, 18 I’m telling you right now that you will definitely die. You will not prolong your life on the fertile land that you are crossing the Jordan River to enter and possess. 

Failing to live up to their part of the Covenant would result in death. They were warned about turning their hearts away from God and refusing to listen. They were warned about worshipping other gods and serving them. Their lives would be cut short for their disobedience.

19 I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life—so that you and your descendants will live— 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. That’s how you will survive and live long on the fertile land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Choose life.

Moses’ woes and warnings turn into the sweetest enticement: Choose Life! In everything, in every way, we are called to choose life.

What are you doing right now that is killing your joy? Are there habits, behaviors, or addictions that are leading you to death? Are you in a job, a situation, or a relationship that causes you to be misled and turn your heart away from God?

What god are you worshipping?

Christ died so that you might choose life. Forgiveness and the atonement of sin are the hallmarks of the New Covenant. We stand on the precipice of the Jordan and have the same choice to make: we can choose disobedience, or we can choose what is good.

Choose the good.

River Crossing by Michelle Robertson

Teach Me

Today’s Psalm needs no introduction or commentary. It is a beautiful tribute by David to the God that he loved. In this writing you will find words of dedication, gratitude, trust, submission, and TRUTH. In a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the truth, David’s words bring a refreshing change. Listen as he plainly states the many reasons why we should trust God and learn about his ways every day of our lives:

Psalm 25

I offer my life to you, Lord.
    My God, I trust you.
Please don’t let me be put to shame!
    Don’t let my enemies rejoice over me!
For that matter,
    don’t let anyone who hopes in you
        be put to shame;
    instead, let those who are treacherous without excuse be put to shame.

Make your ways known to me, Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth—teach it to me—
    because you are the God who saves me.
        I put my hope in you all day long.
Lord, remember your compassion and faithful love—
    they are forever!

Did you need to be reminded today of God’s everlasting and faithful love for you? Do you know that there is nothing you can do that would permanently separate you from God, thanks to the love of Christ Jesus on the cross and the forgiveness of sin? And even better, God does not hold our former wrongdoings against us:

But don’t remember the sins of my youth or my wrongdoing.
    Remember me only according to your faithful love
        for the sake of your goodness, Lord.

The Lord is good and does the right thing;
    he teaches sinners which way they should go.
God guides the weak to justice,
    teaching them his way.
10 All the Lord’s paths are loving and faithful
    for those who keep his covenant and laws.

Now go back and read that first line again. ”I offer my life to you, Lord.” Is God calling you to make the same commitment (or re-commitment) to him today?

David’s confidence in a saving, redeeming, and forgiving God can be our confidence as well today. We are blessed to have a go-to God who guides and leads us in his truth every day, if we are willing to yield to his teachings. Are you willing? When we commit our ways to following God’s covenant, we are never alone. Only there will we find justice, peace, hope, and truth. Teach us and lead us, oh God!

Lead Me by Kathy Schumacher

Famous Last Words

Have you ever wondered what people said the moment they knew that death was imminent? I am curious about that. According to Business Insider, these are some examples of famous people’s last words:

Nostradamus predicted, “Tomorrow, at sunrise, I shall no longer be here.” He was right. Joe Dimagio said, ”I finally get to see Marilyn again.” (Referring to his beloved ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe.) Winston Churchill’s son-in-law offered him a glass of champagne, and Churchill replied, ”I’m just so bored with it all.” And finally, former Beetle George Harrison: ”Love one another.” That will preach, George.

Today’s Scripture takes a look at the last words of King David, as recorded in 2 Samuel:

2 Samuel 23 (Common English Bible)

23 These are David’s last words:

This is the declaration of Jesse’s son David,
    the declaration of a man raised high,
    a man anointed by the God of Jacob,
    a man favored by the strong one of Israel.

The Lord’s spirit speaks through me;
    his word is on my tongue.
Israel’s God has spoken,
    Israel’s rock said to me:
“Whoever rules rightly over people,
    whoever rules in the fear of God,
    is like the light of sunrise
    on a morning with no clouds,
        like the bright gleam after the rain
        that brings grass from the ground.”

David made many mistakes in his life, and yet at the end, he was reconciled to God. His words about ”ruling rightly” were hard fought and hard won. He learned through his errors what it meant to rule rightly. As he was looking toward the next generations of leaders, he likened them to the light of the sunrise and the bright gleam after the rain … as long as they were ruling in the fear of God. Listen now to his words of appreciation and the acknowledgement of God’s faithfulness in keeping his part of the covenant, even when David had failed:

Yes, my house is this way with God!
    He has made an eternal covenant with me,
    laid out and secure in every detail.
Yes, he provides every one of my victories
    and brings my every desire to pass.

David lived a turbulent life, but he died in the peaceful security of the eternal covenant God had made with him. He relished the security he found in his restored relationship with God, and credits God with every good thing that happened in his life. Then he ends with a warning, perhaps one born of his own experience of thorniness:

But despicable people are like thorns,
    all of them good for nothing,
    because they can’t be carried by hand.
No one can touch them,
except with iron bar or the shaft of a spear.
    They must be burned up with fire right on the spot!

If David can be redeemed, so can we. If David can be restored, so can we. If David can die with gratitude and security, so can we.

Have you grown thorny? It is never too late to return to your eternal covenant with God. If a despicable, adulterous murderer can come back to God, so can we. Thanks be to God!

Last Road Home by Nancy Barniskis


Can you name something that you love with your whole heart? Something you love unreservedly, unconditionally, with no-holds-barred? My spouse, my daughters, their husbands (my girls married UP!) and my grandchildren fit into that category for me. Oh, and my dog, even at her orneriest. Wholehearted love is easy to feel for these special people in my life. (The dog thinks she’s a person. Who am I to argue?)

Psalm 111 is a joyous celebration of wholehearted love for the Lord. It was written as an acrostic psalm, which means that each line begins with a letter in the Hebrew alphabet, written in order. It is paired with psalm 112 (also an acrostic psalm) which extols the virtue of the godly person. But today’s passage extols the virtue of a majestic and magnificent God:

Psalm 111 (Common English Bible)

Praise the Lord!
    I thank the Lord with all my heart
    in the company of those who do right, in the congregation.

When the psalmist says that he thanks the Lord with ALL his heart, it is a reminder to us that we cannot love God with a divided heart. We can’t worship God and worship little gods such as privilege, wealth, prosperity, status, or fame. We can’t love God and hate his people. We can’t preach the Gospel and post hateful memes. Divided hearts are not what the Lord desires.

The works of the Lord are magnificent;
    they are treasured by all who desire them.
God’s deeds are majestic and glorious.
    God’s righteousness stands forever.

Johannes Kepler was a 17th Century German astronomer who studied the works of the Lord. Kepler discovered the three laws of planetary motion, changing the way we understood the nature of earth, the sun, orbits, and the universe. Against great opposition, he celebrated God’s magnificent works through a telescope and brought meaning and understanding to the science community. All of his observations were credited back to God:

“It is a right, yes a duty, to search in cautious manner for the numbers, sizes, and weights, the norms for everything God has created. For He himself has let man take part in the knowledge of these things … For these secrets are not of the kind whose research should be forbidden; rather they are set before our eyes like a mirror so that by examining them we observe to some extent the goodness and wisdom of the Creator.”  (From Epitome of Copernican Astronomy and Harmonies of the World)

Kepler was a scientist who treasured all the works of the Lord, and he didn’t allow the conventional wisdom of the time stop him from his research and exploration. His work proves that faith and science can coexist in harmony when the scientist loves God wholeheartedly.

God is famous for his wondrous works.
    The Lord is full of mercy and compassion.
God gives food to those who honor him.
    God remembers his covenant forever.
God proclaimed his powerful deeds to his people
    and gave them what had belonged to other nations.

In addition to the stars and the planets, God’s wondrous works include mercy and compassion. When we love God with our whole heart, these things should be our work, too. His handiwork is honesty and justice: those who love the Lord pursue these things as well. Where is God calling you to be an advocate of mercy, compassion, honesty, and justice?

God’s handiwork is honesty and justice;
    all God’s rules are trustworthy—
        they are established always and forever:
        they are fulfilled with truth and right doing.
God sent redemption for his people;
    God commanded that his covenant last forever.
        Holy and awesome is God’s name!

Today is a good day to reflect on your covenant relationship with God. If you say you love him wholeheartedly, do your words, deeds, thoughts, actions, and posts reflect that? Wisdom begins with a reverential trust of the covenant. Keeping God’s laws brings knowledge and redemption. God always does his part in keeping the covenant…are you doing yours?

10 Fear of the Lord is where wisdom begins;
    sure knowledge is for all who keep God’s laws.
        God’s praise lasts forever!

The Works of the Lord are Magnificient by Michelle Robertson