October 21, 2014

Is the Way You Think About God Healthy?

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by Brian Shilhavy

Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. (Deuteronomy 32:1-4)

Moses was 120 years old, and his time to leave had come. He had led the nation out of slavery in Egypt and through the desert for 40 years. The next generation was now ready to go in and take the “promised land.”

As has been noted in a previous devotional, the people were able to enter and live in the promised land not because they were good people who deserved it, but because God was merciful and because he was fulfilling his promise to their forefather Abraham. They were in fact a stubborn and rebellious people. God knew that after they entered the land and had settled down there, that they would quickly stop serving him:

Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give. (Deuteronomy 31:19-21)

God gave Moses a song to teach them, so that when they were disciplined by God after they stopped listening to him and served other gods instead, they would remember the song and it would remind them who they were and who God was, and it would teach them how to repent and turn back to God.

This song teaches incredible principles about God and our relationship to him, and we have much to learn from it today! Notice how the introduction of the song begins in chapter 32 of Deuteronomy: Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the LORD.

God’s words are life and nourishment to us. Just as God gives nourishment to the ground by providing rain for plants that allow them to grow, so he provides teaching to us that is nourishment that allows us to grow spiritually and enjoy a healthy relationship with him. The Israelites had learned this when they lived in the desert for 40 years, eating the spiritual food God provided from heaven. (For more on “spiritual food,” see the previous devotional on this topic.)

This special song written to bring the people back to God then makes several statements about God to begin the song: Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

If we are going to serve God and understand his purpose for our life, so that we can experience life and health, we must have a proper understanding of who God is. This statement at the beginning of this song states four things about God that we must understand and believe if we want to be healthy:

1. His works are perfect. God doesn’t make mistakes. The original world and universe that God created was perfect, including man. The problems we face in life today are the result of the choices the created beings have made. We messed things up, but they are not God’s fault. We can’t blame God for mistakes we have made, or for suffering from the results of mistakes others before us have made, which has resulted in a messed up world. God did not create bad things, but he does redeem them and he has a plan for the present and for the future to make things right again. We are imperfect, but God is not.

2. His ways are just. While God is a merciful God abounding in love and grace, he is also a just God. While life may be unfair, God is not. He does not show favoritism or change the rules. In order for him to be merciful to us and not give us what we deserve, justice had to be served. The punishment due to us was put on Jesus, the only perfect and good man to ever walk the earth. He didn’t deserve death on a cross, but willingly took it upon himself so that God’s justice would be served on him instead of us. We are eternally indebted to him, and can never make a claim that any of God’s ways are not fair.

3. He is a faithful God who does no wrongGod doesn’t forget about us even if we forget about him! He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is a solid unmovable rock that we can always depend upon. Being perfect, he does not make mistakes or mess things up. He can do no wrong. So while circumstances in life may change, God does not. He remains faithful to his promises and to his word, and we can depend upon him to always be the same God who loves us and cares for us, even when we turn our back on him.

4. He is upright and just. The word used for “upright” in Deuteronomy 32:4 is a Hebrew word that Moses used often in his writing, usually in referring to actions of people, in choosing or doing the “right” thing as opposed to the “wrong” thing. Some examples:

If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer. (Exodus 15:26)

And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers.(Deuteronomy 6:18)

You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes. (Deuteronomy 12:8)

if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 13:18)

God is always right, he is never wrong. When Moses ruled over the nation of Israel teaching them the laws of God and judging disputes, he appointed “chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” These men were “men who feared God, who were trustworthy and hated a bribe.” If any matter was beyond their ability, or presumably if the judgments were not well received, they went to Moses to decide. (Exodus 18:21)

Many legal systems in society today are based on similar principles, with lower courts in districts and then higher courts and judges, and finally a highest court of the land, or in the US a “Supreme Court.” But such a legal system is not 100% accurate, because the judges have to judge based on the evidence presented to them, and it is nearly impossible to know and possess all the facts. And the judges themselves are imperfect human beings.

Not so with God! He knows everything and has all the facts. So he is always right, and he is always fair. If you are not happy with God’s judgments, there is no higher authority to appeal to! You will have to be the one to change, not him.

God knew that once the people entered the promised land and received the inheritance he had prepared for them, that they would eventually stop serving him and serve other gods, breaking their covenant with himself. This would result in God’s judgment. The purpose of God’s judgment is always to bring his people back into a relationship with himself and begin serving him again. So this song was given to Moses to remind them who God was, and why they should be serving him instead of other gods.

These truths about God don’t change, because God doesn’t change. If we want a healthy life today, we must believe and have proper thinking about God so we can know him and have a relationship with him, finding meaning and purpose in our life.

These four truths about God are in direct opposition to the teaching and thinking about Darwinian evolution that modern society is founded upon. Those starting with a belief in Darwinian evolution view life and circumstances from a viewpoint that is contradictory to the views of God and his character. Instead of believing in a God who is perfect and in control, Darwinian evolution sees a system that is evolving through impersonal natural forces, eliminating the weak and imperfect in favor of the strong (survival of the fittest.) Instead of trusting in a faithful God, it sees a “dog eat dog” world where one has to “look out for number 1” – ourselves. Instead of trusting a God who is right and just, Darwinian evolution sees the strong and more “evolved” eliminating the imperfect and weak, passing judgment based on power and strength rather than moral laws based on a Creator’s character and the existence of a “final judge” that is higher than the man-made courts here on earth.

Darwinian evolution offers no real hope, because things are constantly changing and evolving, and there is no master plan or higher power controlling things. One must find their self-worth by comparing themselves to others, resulting in either arrogance (I am better than most people and know more than most) or feeling weak and helpless (most people are better than me and I need others to take care of me, like the government or the medical system.) Both extremes are unhealthy belief systems leading us away from a relationship with God, quite often resulting in sickness and disease.

So what is the belief system that affects your thinking today? Is the way you think about God healthy? Do you believe that we are created by God in his image as part of his “perfect works”, that he rules over the universe controlling everything in a fair and honest manner bringing about justice at the proper time, and being faithful to love and save those who trust in him? Or do you believe God is inactive and passive, allowing the natural forces of evolution to take place where everyone must fight for themselves, with the strong and healthy surviving, and the weak and feeble being eliminated? One belief system results in a healthy life and a strong relationship with God, and the other one results in loneliness and a weak relationship with God (if one exists at all) with a life often dominated by sickness.

Even if you intellectually believe in God as the Creator, it is highly likely that many of your thoughts are based upon an Darwinian evolution foundation which you are not even consciously aware of. If you are sick and are only seeking physical solutions to your health problems, for example, a change in the way you think about God and his control over your health might be in order. What you think and how you view the circumstances in your life has a profound effect upon your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Some verses in the Bible about our thoughts and what we think:

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone(Matthew 15:18-20)

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Corinthians 2:11-14)

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)


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