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Pentecost 21 – Wednesday Devotion 

Readings: Deuteronomy 30:1-20 and Matthew 19:1-15

Deuteronomy 30: 19-20 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

 

“What Do You Choose?”

It doesn’t seem like such a difficult choice, does it? Choose life or choose death. Which of us, given that choice, would choose death? Or, could that depend on the situation?

There are cases of soldiers, in order to save their fellow-combatants, have thrown their bodies on grenades and taken the impact of the explosion. They gave their life for their friends.

How many of us, as parents and spouses, if we saw one of our children or our spouse about to be run over by a truck would not throw our bodies against theirs to knock them out of the way and save their life? Or, during gun-fire, would not use our body to shield our loved one from harm and death? We give our life for the life of our loved one.

Of course the greatest example of this is the love God shows to us in His Son, Jesus. He, Who had life, and had it to the fullest, came down to earth. Imagine giving up all the glories of heaven to become a man and live on the earth. But Jesus is more than just man, He is God and man together in the person of Jesus. He, Who is from eternity, knew not death, yet came to bear our death for us.

The last night, before His trial and the crucifixion, Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. His prayer was that if there be another way, “let this cup pass from me.” (Matthew 26:39)  But, He continued, God’s will be done. He accepted death. Why? To give us life.

In John 15:13-14 Jesus tells us: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.  It was that great love that Jesus had for you and me that sent Him to the cross to give His life. Here we find full and free forgiveness.

Have we chosen life? As Lutherans we often question that word “choose”. No, we do not choose to believe in God or follow Him. If we had that choice, because of our sin, we would all reject Him. Every one of us would choose death, for we are already dead – in our sin. 

He, however, has called us. He chose us to believe in Him. Each day we choose to live out that calling by a death and a life. We put to death the old sinful nature that so readily clings to us by remembering our baptism. Then we call upon God to help us follow the life He has laid before us, protecting us from Satan’s onslaught, and asking that our life may be pleasing to Him.

If we choose life, and living, then we would also choose to hear the voice of God. We would want to hold fast to Him and His ways, obeying Him and serving Him. But is that what we do?

Too often, we turn back to death. Yet, each time we repent, every time we ask God for forgiveness, He is more than ready to give us just that and so much more! He would lead us to His life. He would pour out on us His blessings. Are we ready?

How do we know that gift of life is before us? Because of the closing words above. God is referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Each of them had lived years before these people were ready to enter the Promised Land. They had all left this world. But God is not the God of the dead, He is the God of the living. By referring to these men Moses is reminding God’s people, then and now, to choose life!

 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we, too often, have turned from the life You want to give us. Too many lives have been cut short in the name of pleasure and for our convenience. Forgive us for devaluing life and lead us to choose instead to follow You and the life You hold for us, now and through all eternity. Amen.