April 8: Compelled to Worship
Deuteronomy 12:29–14:29; 2 Corinthians 4:1–6; Psalm 36
When we experience God’s mercy, it shows. Our instincts change and our priorities shift from gratifying our own ego to making much of God. We stop fearing what others think of us and find our identity grounded in Christ. It’s a transformation that shows God is working in our lives. Paul recognized the transformative power of the gospel, and it drove his ministry. This is evidenced in his second letter to the Corinthian church:
“Just as we have been shown mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced shameful hidden things, not behaving with craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but with the open proclamation of the truth commending ourselves to every person’s conscience before God” (2 Cor 4:1–2).
Paul wasn’t manipulating or distorting the good news for his own gain, as some were doing in the community. He preached the good news to all people with openness and sincerity. He allowed the gospel to convict people as it should, refusing to distort it to make people comfortable. He proclaimed “Christ Jesus as Lord” and he and his disciples as “slaves for the sake of Jesus” to those in Corinth (2 Cor 4:5). Bound to Christ, they lived as free slaves for His cause. They were solely dedicated to Jesus because they wanted to be, and because of the salvation He had brought them.
Psalm 36 provides an illustration of Paul’s approach, highlighting the qualities of those who don’t fear God. This person is characterized by “rebellion in the midst of his heart” (Psa 36:1). He is self-absorbed and rejects his need: “he flatters himself in his eyes, hating to detect his iniquity” (Psa 36:2). He is deceitful (Psa 36:3).
The psalmist doesn’t contrast this picture with one of the righteous man. Instead, he honors Yahweh—His loyal love, faithfulness, righteousness, and judgments (Psa 36:5–6). The psalmist says, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Psa 36:9). Paul echoes “For God … is the one who has shined in our hearts for the enlightenment of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).
God’s grace puts everything in perspective. Both passages help us assess with wisdom the message and posture of those who teach. They also challenge us to take a look at our own standing before God.
Take an honest look at what motivates you. Are you transformed by the good news? Is it apparent to others around you?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- When the Lord thy God shall destroy the nations before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou shalt possess them and dwell in their land, Beward, lest thou be taken in snare after them, afte rthat they be destroyed before thee, and lest thou ask after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods, that I may do so likewise? Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for all abomination, which the Lord hateth, have they done unto their gods: for they have burned both their sons and their daughters with fire to their gods. Therefore whatsoever I command you, take heed you do it: thou shalt put nothing thereto, nor take ought therefrom. If there arise among you a Prophet or a dreamer of dreams, (and give thee a sign or wonder, And the sign or swonder, which he hath told thee, come to pass) saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them, Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of the prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him, and shall keep his commandments, and hearken unto his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. But that Prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, he shall be slain, because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord thy God (which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and delivered you out of the house of blessing) to thrust thee out of the way, wherein the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk: so shalt thou sake the evil away forth of the midst of thee. If thy brother, the son or thy mother, or thine own son, or thy daughter, or the wife, that lieth in thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, (which thou hast not known, thou I say, nor thy fathers) Any of the gods of the people which are round about you, near unto thee or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth unto the other: Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hear him, neither shall thine eye pity him, nor show mercy, nor keep him secret; But thou shalt even kill him: thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and then the hands of the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die (because he hath gone about to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: from the house of bondage) That all Israel may hear and fear, and do no more any such wickedness as this among you. If thou shalt hear say (concerning any of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell in) Wicked men are gone out from among you, and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known, Then thou shalt seek, and make search and inquire diligently: and if it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you. Thou shalt even slay the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword: destroy it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and burn with fire the city and all the spoil thereof every whit, unto the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap forever, it shall not be built again. And there shall cleave nothing of the damned thing to thine hand, that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his wrath, and show thee mercy, and have compassion on thee, and multiply thee as he hath sworn unto thy fathers. When thou shalt obey the voice of the Lord thy God, and keep all his commandments which I command thee this day: that thou do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God. Ye are the children of the Lord your God, Ye shal not cut yourselves, nor make you any baldness between your eyes for the dead. For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a precious people unto himself, above all the people that are upon the earth. Thou shalt eat no manner of abomination. These are the beasts, which ye shall eat, the beef, the sheep, and the goat, The hart, and the roebuck, and the bugle, and the wild goat, and the unicorn, and the wild ox, and the Chamois. And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and is of the beasts that cheweth the cud, that shall ye eat. But these ye shall not eat, of them that chew the cud, and of them that divide and cleave the hoof only: the camel, nor the hare, nor the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof, therefore they shall be unclean unto you: Also the swine, because he divideth the hoof: and cheweth not the cud, shall be unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcasses. These ye shall eat, of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat. And whatsoever hath no fins nor scales, ye shall not eat: it shall be unclean unto you. Of all clean birds ye shall eat. But these are they whereof ye shall not eat: the eagle nor the goshawk, nor the osprey, nor the glede, nor the kite, nor the vulture, after their kind, nor all kind of ravens. Nor the ostrich, nor the night crow, nor the seamew, nor the hawk after her kind, Neither the little owl, nor the great owl, nor the redshank, Nor the pelican, nor the swan, nor the cormorant: The stork also, and the heron in his kind, nor the lapwing, nor the [bat]. And every creeping thing that flieth, shall be unclean unto you: it shall not be eaten. But of all the clean birds ye may eat. Ye shall eat of nothing that dieth alone, but thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is within thy gates, that he may eat it: or thou mayest sell it unto a stranger: for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk. Thou shalt give the tithe of all the increase of thy seed, that cometh forth of the field year by year. And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God (in the place which he shall choose to cause his Name to dwell there) the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstborn of thy kine, and of thy sheep, that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always. And if the way be too long for the, so that thou art not able to carry it, because the place is far from thee, where the Lord thy God shall choose to set his name, when the Lord thy God shall bless thee, Then shalt thou make it in money, and take the money in thine hand, and go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose. And thou shalt bestow the money for whatsoever thine heart desireth: whether it be ox, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatsoever thine heart desireth: and shalt eat it there before the Lord thy God, and rejoice, both thou, and thine household. And the Levite that is within thy gates, shalt thou not forsake: for he hath neither part nor inheriance with thee. At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithes of thine increase of the same year, and lay it up within thy gates. Then the Levite shall come, because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, and shall eat, and be filled, that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest. Deuteronomy 12:29–14:29
- Therefore, seeing that we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not: But have cast from us the cloaks of shame, and walk not in craftiness, neither handle we the word of God deceitfully: but in declaration of the truth we approve ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. If the Gospel be then laid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds, that is, of the infidels, that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, which is the image of God, should not shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God that commanded the light to shine out of darkness, is he which hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:1–6
- Wickedness saith to the wicked man, even in mine heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, while his iniquity is found worthy to be hated. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to understand and to do good. He imagineth mischief upon his bed: he seeth himself upon a way, that is not good, and doth not abhor evil. Thy mercy, O Lord, reacheth unto the heavens, and thy faithfulness unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the mighty mountians: thy judgments are like a great deep: thou Lord, dost save man and beast. How excellent is thy mercy, O God! therefore the children of men trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be satisfied with the fatness of thine house, and thou shalt give them drink out of the river of thy pleasures. for with thee is the well of life, and in thy light shall we see light. Extend thy loving-kindness unto them that know thee, and thy righteousness unto them that are upright in heart, Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked men move me. There they are fallen that work iniquity: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise. Psalm 36