“Be careful that you don’t forget the LORD your God by failing to keep his commands, ordinances, and statutes that I am giving you today.
~Deuteronomy 8:11, CSB
Success is not final and failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
~Sir Winston Churchill
There are twenty four “Be Careful’s” in Deuteronomy and most of them have to do with keeping God’s commandments or instructions. Moses warned: “Be careful not to forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.” Don’t forget your roots. Don’t forget what it was like to be unredeemed. He also said, “Be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.” I love Moses sermon on humility. He told the Israelites, “Do say to yourself, ‘The LORD brought us to take possession of this land because we are righteous. That’s not the case. He is driving the other nations out because they are wicked. You are not going to possess the land because you are righteous or because of your integrity: you don’t have any integrity, you are a stiff-necked and rebellious people. You have been rebelling against the LORD ever since I have known you.'” That’s laying it on the line, amen! Moses didn’t cut them any slack and yet they did exactly what he warned them not to do: when they got into the land, harvesting crops that had not planted, living in houses they had not built, their heart became proud and said to themselves, “Look what we have done.” It was a struggle for God to keep them humble in the wilderness among the snakes and scorpions. Even in the wilderness, their pride got them in trouble. How would they be able to handle prosperity?
It is not an Israelite problem, it is a human problem. Anytime we have success in any endeavor, we are tempted to take the credit. This streak of vanity is deep and wide and it inhabits us all. It’s like the story of the frog who was living in a pond that was going dry. The geese loved the old frog and decided to help him relocate to a pond with water. Two geese got a stick, put it tightly in their beak and told the frog to bit on the stick with all his might and hold on tightly for the long flight. As they flew over one farm, a farmer looked up and saw the brilliant idea unfolding and he said, “I wonder who’s idea that was?” The frog couldn’t resist, he opened his mouth to say “Mine,” but it was too late to save himself as he plunged earthward. Our pride can get us in a mess and failure is much easier for us to handle than success. Nothing creates this false sense of security more than wealth. Not all, but most rich people think exactly the way Moses cautions us not to think: “My power and my own ability has gained me this wealth.” This is a generality, not a rule but rich people feel superior to us. They are convinced of one of two things or maybe both:  I’m more intelligent than you and  I work harder than you. Who gives us intelligence? Who give us health? God never intended for everyone to be rich. Don’t pay any attention to the health and wealth guys: they have a vain motive themselves. Jesus was poor, all the disciples were poor, and Paul became poor for the sake of the gospel. I like what Tevye says in the Fiddler on The Roof, “God must love poor people, He made so many of them.” I’m not saying that we should be proud of our poverty of low I.Q., I am saying we should be thankful in our humble circumstances because the greater our success, the greater our propensity to be proud. When you stay low, you don’t have far to fall.
- If the weather folks are right: you will see some frozen condensation on the trees this morning. It was dropping ever so slowly when I went to bed but they may be right. You may see a winter wonder land.
- I was on call yesterday for the Pastor’s conference: the speaker canceled due to sickness and Ken called me about 9:15. The LORD helped me and everything went fine. I was excited about the opt but got a little nervous on the way to the meeting but His grace was sufficient.
- Michael Browning from Sardis Springs texted last Thursday: I have been invited to teach the Winter Bible Study at my home church for the 22nd year in a row. That must be some kind of record. I know what your thinking: they are gluttons for punishment. It is scheduled for February 10-13, 2019.