January 5

“See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6)

Israel, God’s chosen people were to keep God’s commands and not let go of them. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses reviews God’s instructions to the nation in order that they will remember and teach their children all God had taught them about himself and living for Him as a testimony to the world. Israel’s ways were to be God’s ways, in contrast to the customs and beliefs of the rest of the world. The prophet Jeremiah reminded Israel of their unique calling: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

 God has always been counter-cultural theologically and practically. The calling for His chosen people of Israel is a picture of the calling we have in Christ—to belong to God, being sanctified, and consecrated to the Lord, devoted to Him. Just as the nation of Israel was to be loyal to God, through His power, Christians are called to be holy and devoted to Christ, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Chapter 1, James, the Apostle defines religion that is “pure and undefiled before God” (v. 27). The second part of his definition is no less important than caring for widows and orphans: “to keep oneself unstained from the world.” If we belong to Christ we also must be counter-cultural theologically and practically. Evidence of our belonging to Christ, by God’s grace alone, includes our desire and ability to live by God’s wisdom rather than by the world’s simulated, artificial, and inferior imitation. This requires sincere and focused prayer, as the apostle notes in James 1:5-8 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” In what areas of life do you doubt the wisdom of God and yield to the world’s influence? Will you identify three areas in which you will seek the wisdom of God, asking and accepting His help to fight the strong cultural pressure to conform?

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