"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Sunday, February 12, 2023


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

DEUTERONOMY 11: “BEING STRONG BY FAITH IN GOD’s KINGDOM” by James Fire, check out another teaching on this chapter by Sonny Islas here!

INTRODUCTION: When “therefore” is in the text, that connects what’s about to read, with what was just read prior: you have to back up to the prior text and see what the “therefore” is there for:

17 "For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. 18 "He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. 19 "Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20 "You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. 21 "He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. 22 "Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as the stars of heaven in multitude.

Beholding the goodness and grace, His tender mercies and kindness; and recognizing that GOD has made Himself the GOD of Israel, Who has been faithful to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (and promised that He would make of them a great nation, “as the stars of heaven in multitude”); having devoted Himself to His people He accomplished impossible things for them… “therefore…” And now we pick up in Chapter 11:

1 "Therefore you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always. 2 "Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the LORD your God, His greatness and His mighty hand and His outstretched arm- 3 "His signs and His acts which He did in the midst of Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to all his land; 4 "what He did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and their chariots: how He made the waters of the Red Sea overflow them as they pursued you, and how the LORD has destroyed them to this day; 5 "what He did for you in the wilderness until you came to this place; 6 "and what He did to Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, their households, their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel- 7 "but your eyes have seen every great act of the LORD which He did.

Whose eyes? All of the first generation perished except for Joshua and Caleb – that is, those from 20 years of age and above (NUM 32:11-12),. Those younger than twenty were witnesses of the tremendous works of GOD, including the monumental parting of the RED SEA. Today the average depth of the Red Sea is about 1,640 feet.

Can you imagine walking on dry land that should be mud, over which the waters of the Red Sea were instantly parted, and while crossing over, looking up and seeing two walls of water, on your right and left, over 1,600 feet high?? The Twin Towers of the former World Trade Center were only slightly over 1,300 feet, to give you an idea of scale!

It's to these people that were delivered from Egypt, and not their children, who saw GOD’s judgement on Gentile kings like Pharaoh, and His judgment on their fellow Hebrews whose unbelief and rebellion cost them their inheritance in the land, as well as their very lives – like Dathan and Abiram!
And look! We have another “therefore”!

8 "Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess, 9 "and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD swore to give your fathers, to them and their descendants, 'a land flowing with milk and honey.' 10 "For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; 11 "but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven,

Think of the tremendous blessings GOD had in store for Israel and yearned to bless His people with this fruitful land of Canaan. And yet at every turn, at every opportunity, Israel rebelled, they disobeyed – they fought GOD with their obstinacy. How exasperated the LORD became with His people, because while it was in His magnificent heart to bless them, because of their rebellion and disobedience, He had to chastise and chastise them again. They went so far as to charge GOD foolishly by accusing Him of bringing them out to the wilderness with the intent of destroying them. And finally GOD did end up destroying those that refused Him, who willfully disobeyed in their unbelief.

How GOD desires to see us enter into His rest (HEB 3:18; 4:3-5,11), the fullness of blessings in Christ and has so much in store that will bless us and delight Him – but we hold Him back when we are disobedient and not believe the GOD of Truth, and while He desires to bring this fullness of blessing, at times, instead, He must bring chastening to us instead out of His heart of love (HEB 12:6).

As Christians, where do we get our strength from? It’s from the Spirit of GOD, and as we yield to Him, as we surrender to GOD: “Not my will, but Yours be done, LORD!” – that is when we are strong in the Spirit, and able to do great exploits for GOD, for His Holy Name’s sake, for His glory! GOD commanded Israel to be strong – He commands the church to do the same: EPH 6:10.

So then, “…keep every commandment which Jesus commands you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess…” [not the land of Canaan but] absolute victory in life!
May I suggest you read the short book by Andrew Murray entitled, Absolute Surrender?

This is why the church is so weak today: the church isn’t being fed the Word of GOD in too many churches, and those who are being fed well, they rest in their salvation by grace, and for all that they receive from the LORD Jesus, they sit back and rest on that grace, but don’t advance in that grace “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection,” (HEB 6:1a). They aren’t strong because they aren’t obedient, and thus don’t give GOD the opportunity to empower them. Hence, they’re unable then to do great exploits for GOD!

12 "a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.

The Jews today claim that the land of Israel is theirs. The Palestinians claim that the land belongs to them. They are both wrong.
Technically, the land of Israel belongs to GOD.
Now, you might quote PSALM 89:11 that states that the heavens and the earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof – and you’d be right.
But this particular piece of real estate the LORD has a special affection for.
As it says here in vs. 12, GOD can’t take His Holy eyes off of it!
In the Day of Judgment GOD says,

I will also gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land (JOEL 3:2).

His love for Zion also known as Israel is obvious:

For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: 14 "This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it (PSALM 132:13).

5 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 6 Then I heard Him speaking to me from the temple, while a man stood beside me. 7 And He said to me, "Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. No more shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they nor their kings, by their harlotry or with the carcasses of their kings on their high places (EZEKIEL 43:5-7).

And most especially the city of Jerusalem!

16 The LORD also will roar from Zion and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel. 17 So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, And no aliens shall ever pass through her again.
20 But Judah shall abide forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation (JOEL 3:16-17,20).
'And it shall be that IF you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 'THEN I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. 15 'And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.'

Observe how YHWH is laying down conditions of blessing; Israel, if they want to be blessed by GOD they must perform. Only IF they obey, THEN GOD will bless them.
Again, when you examine the New Testament epistles (EPH 1:3-14), if one is in Christ, all of His blessings for the church are given up front and these are as unconditional in GOD’s grace except on one single point: a person must OBEY the GOSPEL – RECEIVE and then be IN CHRIST, in order to receive these blessings.

Having received these blessings of salvation, of His grace and love, His truth, and mercy, and kindness and benevolence, it’s with the expectation that having received His demonstrated love in all of these capacities, that we will love Him back, and love proves itself by actions.

16 "Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, 17 "lest the LORD'S anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you. 18 "Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

Walking circumspectly is something we as Christians must always do (EPH 5:15). Watch your step like a soldier walking through a minefield! One wrong move and – it could be over! Being led by the Spirit as we walk in the Spirit, using the Word of GOD as a lamp for our feet (PSALM 119:105).

If we continue in “the faith” (COL 1:23) – the faith being the entire canon of Scripture, the doctrinal truth we find in the Word of GOD. Some will depart from doctrinal truth, (2 TIM 4:3-4; 1 TIM 4:1-2; 1 JOHN 2:19) because they have no genuine love for the truth, otherwise they would have continued

Don’t let what we’ve learned slip away, give earnest heed (HEB 2:1). Satan is a patient predator, a silent sniper, and he will do what he can to bring us to a distant place of lackadaisical, lethargic living where we are not alert and vigilant, and before you know it, you’ve drifted from your steadfastness in Christ.

When we get to such a place as this, we find ourselves dried up, drained of joy and peace; we can even begin to question our salvation, and Satan hammers us with condemnation.
This is why we are to examine ourselves (2 COR 13:5), why we are to keep ourselves in the love of GOD (JUDE 1:21; and be intentional about keeping the LORD’s commandments (1 JOHN 5:2-3) and therefore exhibit our love for GOD.

A vain faith (1 COR 15:2) is a faith that isn’t real; it’s empty, gutted of any genuine spiritual substance, and we have to be careful that ours is not a vain faith, but vital, empowering our lives. One such test is to examine our lives and see what we’re attracted to, what we think of when we first wake, what we think of as we are dozing off to sleep. How central is JESUS to our lives?

Vs. 18 “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes”. This is speaking of the phylacteries – those small leather boxes you see orthodox Jews tie to their arms, hands, even their heads – these contain Scripture and are supposed to express devotion to the Word of GOD.
Spiritually speaking however, we are to bind the Word of GOD to our minds, in all of our thinking, meditating on GOD’s Word, as well as in all that we do in working for the LORD: whatever our hand finds to do in working in the kingdom of GOD, do it with all your might (ECC 9:10).

These phylacteries didn’t make the Jews righteous any more than putting a bumper sticker on your car makes you righteous. Or wearing a Christian T-Shirt. Or honking your horn if you love Jesus. Or having the right doctrine or going to the right church.
Some of these things might be evidence of righteousness, but the only One Who can and does provide righteousness and the power to live it out is the LORD our Righteousness, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile (JER 33:16; ROM 3:22)!

19 "You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 "that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. 22 "For IF you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do-to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him- 23 "THEN the LORD will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves. 24 "Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory. 25 "No man shall be able to stand against you; the LORD your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.

Here is another “IF, THEN” clause. These blessings and promises are conditional, and are a part of the Mosaic Covenant, a conditional covenant – as opposed to the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenant and the Everlasting, New Covenant which are unconditional except for one condition: they must all be believed by faith.

Discipleship isn’t so much a classroom experience as it is a family experience. Parents, especially fathers, discipling their own children, as Sunday School teachers and youth group leaders come alongside and help in this precious ministry for our children.

Some parents get that backwards: they think that they come alongside these others and help them disciple their children. Wrong. The LORD placed those children in your household, not theirs: ultimately, parents are responsible to disciple their children.

This is not to say that ministry in the church isn’t important – it most certainly is! But it’s secondary to what happens in the home! Feeding the Word of GOD and cultivating Christ in the hearts and lives of children, and by the most powerful method of teaching: by example – modeling Christ for children is the most effective way to teach and to learn.

Strong families will mean a strong community and a strong nation, and bring blessing upon both: is it any wonder why Satan is attacking the biblical family model?

Destruction of marriage through adultery, divorce, by diminishing the role of fathers, and too many fathers who don’t take their role seriously, and some who abandon their families.
Children who become confused by society and wonder if they’re a boy or a girl. Children’s faith being undermined by evilution that’s being pushed on them in public and higher education – propaganda really! These are all wiles of the devil he uses to destroy families and nations.

Developing and strengthening a biblical family is most certainly a vital form of spiritual warfare! GOD promises that for those who esteem and practice the Holy Word in word and deed, that “…"No man [read that “devil” or “demon”] shall be able to stand against you; the LORD your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you”

Think about PSALM 78, and especially verses 5-8:
PSALM 78:5-8
5For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; 6 That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, 7 That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments; 8 And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
26 ¶ "Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 "the blessing, IF you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; 28 "and the curse, IF you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. 29 "Now it shall be, when the LORD your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim
[“rocky”] and the curse on Mount Ebal [“bald”]. 30 "Are they not on the other side of the Jordan, toward the setting sun, in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the plain opposite Gilgal, beside the terebinth trees of Moreh? 31 "For you will cross over the Jordan and go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and you will possess it and dwell in it. 32 "And you shall be careful to observe all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today.

The tree of life was at the center of the garden of Eden just as was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I imagine that they were side by side, to give Adam a clear choice. We see the same thing here with these two mountains that represent blessing by obedience and cursing by disobedience.
If we hear and obey GOD’s Word, then we are on the Rock (MATT 7:24), just as Gerazim (“rocky” strong) represents blessing. If we disobey, then our lives will fall into ruin (MATT 7:26-27) just as Ebal (“bald”, fruitless) represents cursing.

19 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 "that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.

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