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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, February 18, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Deuteronomy 30:15–20

See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (NRSV)

We might tend to think of obedience as submission, even passive submission—to give up one’s own will in order to follow the will of another. Forced obedience can be incredibly oppressive if it is wielded in unjust ways. Domination can demand obedience and resistance can be a just response to it.

The obedience referenced in this scripture is entirely different from that. This obedience to God is an alignment with Love. If we follow Moses’ instructions here, we obey God by loving God, by walking in the way of God, by keeping the commandments of justice, kindness, and mercy. As the prophet Micah has said, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). This is in keeping with Moses’ instruction, too.

In this sense, obedience means becoming rooted in love. It means remembering God’s love even when things are hard. That’s where the self-discipline comes in. When the day is gray, when evil in the world is threatening our lives and our spirits, obeying God’s love means resisting hopelessness or rage or fear. We choose life. We choose to hold fast to God. We choose to resist evil. We choose to receive God’s blessing, and we choose to extend God’s blessing to the world.

God of all creation, give me strength and courage to persist in choosing life, love, justice, and blessing. Help me to be proactive in directing my thoughts to the Good and in offering your grace to those I meet today. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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