Generosity Begins with Gratitude

David Au   -  

Watch the video summary of Deuteronomy

Day 1: Deuteronomy 4:1-14

God is like no other. He is different than the other gods.

Verse 7 says this:

What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

The Message translated puts it this way: “Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us?”

Do you notice what aspect of God is being valued here? It is God coming near his people; it is the intimate relationship that God has with his own.

Human beings worship and covet powerful things and people and gods for what they can give us: status, admiration, stability, health, and etc. But with our God, he gives us something even better, he gives us himself.

When and how does God himself come near? It’s when we decide to pray to him. There is no secret password, it’s hidden in plain sight. We only need to pray.

Through the many years the Israelite spent in Egypt as slaves, where the Lord brought them out of, and through the wandering years in the wilderness, God was always with them. He never left them. God was merciful to them despite all of their waywardness and disobedience.

God is always with us.

How have you experienced God’s presence in the past? Can you recall situation where you felt he was near? Do you believe that God is with you right at this moment?

Take a moment to pray to God. In your prayer, first acknowledge that God is with you right now. And as the Spirit leads you, give thanks to him for being with you.



Day 2: Deuteronomy 5

God, our God, made a covenant with us at Horeb. God didn’t just make this covenant with our parents; he made it also with us, with all of us who are alive right now. (5:3)

After God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, he made a covenant with them. Showing how faithful and loyal he has been to them. The writer of Deuteronomy does not shy away from making it clear that God is looking for a response from his people to complete this covenant relationship. There shall be no other gods in their lives, that God is to be their only God.

What’s more striking is that this covenant relationship is not just for their ancestors but for those who is alive and living! The covenant is not for dead but for those alive!

God desires to be in a faithful, covenant relationship with his people, with us!

In the ancient days, this covenant naturally gave way to the God giving the Ten Commandments as a set of governing rules to live by. The Israelites are to learn and to follow them, so that their lives may go well and prosper. There is a sequence and pattern to this: God redeemed, God covenanted, his people listened and follow.

What is that rule and pattern for us today?

From the teaching of Jesus in Luke 10:27, known as the Great Commandment:
“”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

That is the one rule (or two) to live by.

The pattern is very similar to the Israelites, that we were once enslaved by sin and in need of God’s grace. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection he has made a new covenant relationship with us. Jesus will be with us always. We proclaimed that we have no master and Lord other than Christ Jesus, and we learn the way of Jesus and follow him.

Do you remember what life was without God? In what ways have Jesus set you free? If you are exploring faith, what hope does entering into a covenant relationship bring about? Or maybe you need God’s grace right now, we all do, take some time to ask God to reveal to you his faithfulness and loving-kindness.



Day 3: Deuteronomy 6:1-14

Deuteronomy 6 is where the morning and evening prayer called Shema finds its roots. The word shema means to hear or to listen. The deeper, more comprehensive meaning of the word, however, is to listen and to obey.

What is to be listened and what is to be obeyed you might ask? Well, the obvious answer is to listen to all of God’s decrees and commands and to obey all of it.

You are right! But the Shema, in its prayer form found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, points us to a different focus.

The Shema points us back to the Lord our God, the Lord is one. That there is only one God and one only in all of heaven and earth, and that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength.

The emphasis is on loving God rather than, shall I say, loving the rules… What I mean by that is the doing and following the rules and the laws stem from our love for God, and more important is that our love for God stems from God’s love for us in the first place.

Often times, we have all sorts of rules and structure to help us love God and others. Spiritual disciplines like reading the bible, praying, giving, gathering on Sundays and other times are very good to help us do that. When we’re not careful, however, these structures may become gods in our lives rather than instruments that help us respond to God and be more aware of him. Or for some of us, you might believe that you no longer need to do anything anymore, and before we know it, our hearts stop listening and responding to God.

Take some time to think about your relationship with God. Where do you stand with God right now? Everyone is at a different stage with God, maybe for you, the rigidity of the disciplines have overshadowed your focus on God himself? Or maybe you are on the other side of the spectrum, where the lack of spiritual disciplines in your life has given way to a forgetfulness about God. What does it take for you to refocus on the Lord your God? Spend some time praying your thoughts with God, ask him to help you focus on him.



Day 4: Deuteronomy 7

In your knowledge and experience, who is God? Is God the judge? The Heavenly Father? Lord Jesus? Saviour? Creator?

Take a moment to think about that.

Chapter 7 can be a difficult read for us who live in 2020. It involves instructions from Moses (the presumed writer of the book) to the Israelites to destroy their enemy in complete obliteration. “You must destroy all the peoples the Lord your God gives over to you.” To the Israelites, triumph over another nation directly equates to “God on your side.” This understanding of God, a God who destroys, can be quite a stark contrast to what we know about God, a God who is compassionate, merciful, slow to anger. It sits diametrically opposed to the theme of generosity that we have been focusing on for the past couple of weeks.

When we look at the history of the Israelites, we might remember more about the mighty warrior-king David, or his Son Solomon whose fame travelled to countries far away. But the Israelites had a humble beginning, starting from Abraham responding to God’s call by leaving his familiar home to later when the entire nation was enslaved and oppressed by the Egyptians. They were insignificant, weak, and helpless. It was Yahweh the warrior who came to the rescue; who saved them from the hands of their enemies, brought them out of Egypt and set them free. it was Yahweh who intervened and brought about justice and thereby changed the trajectory of not just a nation’s life but the history of the world forever. Yahweh is a warrior in the hearts and minds of the ancient Israelites.

How does the Lord (Yahweh) as a warrior compare to your understanding of who God is? Does it offend you? Or do you find a sense of refuge in God? What do you think it means for our world today to know the Lord as a warrior who comes to rescue the weak and the helpless? How does that change the way you pray and intercede for the world?


Day 5: Deuteronomy 10:12-22

So much of our faith and spiritual life depends on how we think about God. It affects how we relate to him. Imagine someone believing that God is always angry and is out to get them, how do you think they would relate to God?

Today in our reading, we come across a few verses that reveal to us who God is and what he is like. By knowing God, we discover who we are.

I trust that these verses are helpful in shaping our hearts and our posture towards him and the world around us.

Let’s have a look:

“To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” (v12)

What this is saying about God and about us:
God is the creator of all things. And these things belong not to us, but to him.

We belong to him.

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.” (v17)

What this is saying about God and about us:
God is the most powerful over all other authorities and powers that we know of or may even be bowing down to. He deserves every ounce of our adoration and worship. He is just and cannot be cornered, monopolized, or lobbied for selfish gains.

We can trust him to carry out justice.

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” (v18, 19)

What this is saying about God and about us:
He stands up for those who are weak and are without help. He loves the outsider among the insiders. He does not neglect the minority but gives his loving attention to them.

We are to care about who and what God cares about.

“he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” (v22)

What this is saying about God and about us:
He is the God of wonders. He can do what we cannot do.

We stand in awe of him.

Did any of this surprise you? Was there anything mentioned that’s fresh or new to you? Which part troubles you about God and about who we are and what we are to do? Why do you think that is the case? Bring your thoughts to God through prayers, lay them bare in front him, ask him to show you what he wants you to find out.