Deuteronomy 4:15-31 (Part 2) – Those Decisions That Change the Course of Your Life

Posted: December 9, 2016 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 4:15-31 (Part 2 of 3)

A Warning Against Idolatry

There are decisions that you made in your past that still effect you today. We all have those fateful decisions that hang over you for years or even decades. We all have them. I have them. You have them. What is your one? That one decision that you would like to have back. You made it. You have had to live with it and its consequences. There are those decisions that you have made that were poor decisions and, even though you have recovered from them, they altered the direction of your life forever.

 

For me, you would have to go back to a decision to let my kids, after having gained custody of them, go back and live with their mother after only one year of living with me and what was then my second wife. After my first wife and I split up, she went bonkers for a while. She became totally consumed with the break-up of our marriage and hatred for me and my new wife. For the first three years after our break-up, she was obsessed with making my life difficult as payback for leaving her as if making my life difficult would make me want to return to her. Because of her insane behavior, DSS got involved in our lives and finally the kids were remove from Lisa’s care. They lived temporarily with my parent. And finally, in 1996, the girls were awarded to me and my second wife, Trena. However, that began what I call the year from hell. Although Trena reveled in having this victory over Lisa and I was just glad to give the girls a stable home, Trena and I had little training in how to make a blended family work. Certainly, Lisa did not help matters with her clandestine efforts to destroy our family through the games she played through the girls. However, I did not realize how blended family jealousies raise their ugly head and could ruin a marriage even without Lisa’s help. Trena had three boys and I had my two girls. We were a family of seven. Boys from Trena. Girls from me. I always wondered what would have happened if the situation was reversed, but this was the hand that was dealt. I don’t know if you have ever rather raised both boys and girls, but disciplining them is different. It just is. That created jealousies. I had to be harder on the boys because prior to my coming on the scene, they had little if any discipline at all. On the other hand, if Lisa and I did anything right, it was how we disciplined the girls with consistency. They learned early on that the rules were the rules and there was no bending them. The boys on the other hand had rules made of rubber, bent all the time. So, jealousies came from me being on the boys all the time and not on the girls. Further, with the girls, you could pretty much tell them once not to do something and that was it whereas with the boys, it would be repetition not to do the same thing over and over and over.

 

We became two camps – Trena and her boys, me and my girls. It was hellacious as the year progressed. Trena and I would fight often about the differences in treatment, about what one set of kids had that the other set didn’t. And, at that time in my life, I was ruled by sexual approval. My self-worth came from how much access I was being granted by my wife. I lived and died then by how she felt about me. Everything was measured by whether it would make her angry enough to cut off access to my validation in the bedroom. Every decision was made with that in mind. So, as things began to escalate with the blended family jealousies, Trena became a series of land mines to me and I was tenderly walking around the mine field waiting trying to make sure that I did not step on one to make things explode between me and her. But it all came to boiling point eventually. Lisa had finally settled down after getting remarried, finally. With me trying to keep the peace at home and keep Trena happy, it seemed like the best alternative for my girls to let them return home to live with their mother. They would be able to leave the house of tension and mine fields. It was a decision that everything turns on.

 

For in order for my girls to live with their mother, we would go from receiving child support from Lisa to paying child support to Lisa. It was going to amount to about a $800 per month swing in our family budget to the negative. It was going to be noticeable. However, instead of being honest with my wife about the truth of our finances, I began making foolish financial decisions at work and otherwise to keep giving Trena the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. That was my trump card with her was that I was able to give her such a better standard of living than her previous husband and how she had been forced to live since their breakup. So, if I lost the ability to give her that, I would not be special. I would lose that approval. I would lose that bedroom approval that I measured my life by. These decisions all came to a head eventually and cost me my job, that led to a separation for 9 months, that led to more foolish financial decisions, that I carried back quietly into our relationship when we reconciled.

 

Further, when I came back into the relationship after we reconciled, I came back with my oldest daughter, now 16. Meghan had come to live with me while Trena and I were separated. However, the old jealousies about my kids eventually reared their head again after Meghan went off to college two years later. After Trena’s son passed away in an accident, and when Meghan began having those final high school things like junior and senior proms, graduation plans, senior trips, and graduation, it seemed this jealousy reared its head again. It became especially fierce when Meghan went off college. College costs more than tuition and I had to begin hiding my financial assistance to Meghan so that I could keep the peace at the house and keep my bedroom approval going. It was my chameleon nature to keep everyone happy. I wanted Meghan to enjoy her college experience and I wanted to keep my wife happy. Fateful financial decisions finally came to a head. The conflict between my need to care for my child at college and my need for bedroom approval from my wife came to head and the marriage came crashing down for good. After we read the passage, I will tell you how things worked out, but as you can see, the decision to let my girls go back and live with their mother and how I choose to handle set two precedents in the marriage that caused its undoing – one was that leadership of the marriage was ceded to Trena and two that I would do anything to keep her happy. That decision and its results has had its effect on my life for many years after. Our sins can have long lasting effects.

 

Those fateful decisions that we make that have long-ranging effects is what came to mind when I read through the passage, Deuteronomy 4:15-31, this morning. For today, let’s look at it from the perspective of my illustration for today, how our sins can affect us long after their commission:

 

15 You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. 20 But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.

 

21 The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance. 22 I will die in this land; I will not cross the Jordan; but you are about to cross over and take possession of that good land. 23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

 

25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.

 

Here in this passage, we see that God is a devouring fire. Because He is morally perfect and pure, He hates sin and cannot accept those who practice it. Moses’ sin of disobedience when it came to the “water episode” in Numbers 20. It was flat out disobedience by Moses. He had grown so tired of leading these whiny babies known as the Israelites, that he struck the rock and made it about him rather than commanding the rock to give forth water (making it about God). Moses was prevented from entering the Holy Land as a consequence even though they arrived at the Promised Land years later. Nothing Moses could do to change that. He had to live with the consequences of his sin.

 

In my case, yes, there is that one decision. That one decision that has an affect on your future. You have to live it. My second marriage ended for issues about money, sex, and you name it. It was a marriage destined for failure because God was not in it from the beginning and I had made a person my god. Tracing back to that decision to let the girls go back and live with their mom set a course of action that led me to where I am today.

 

Sin keeps us from entering God’s presence and it has long lasting effects on us. However, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and removed God’s judgment from us forever through His death on the cross. He redeems our lives through His resurrection so that we have hope for the future. Trusting in Jesus will save us from God’s anger allow you to begin to redeem your life from the mistakes, the sins, and the consequences of those sins. Sometimes the consequences of sin follow us after salvation but God is working in and redeeming it.

 

For me, the course of life rooted in decisions made in the late nineties led to where I am today. God redeemed the mistakes. Without the results, I would not have moved to Rock Hill. I would not have met Elena and would not have married her. We would not have then moved to California. Elena would not have met Luke and Felisha and maybe her walk to the cross would not have happened when it did or maybe not at all. We would not have moved back to South Carolina and we would not become servants of the Lord in the manner in which we pursue Him now. God can redeem all the mistakes that you have made. He can do it through your giving your life and your plans over to Jesus Christ. He can redeem your mistakes and make them part of your ministry to the world. Your mistakes can lead others to the cross.

 

It is all part of His plan. I can vouch for it. He has redeemed my life. My valleys followed me for a long time after salvation. But it was all to make me appreciate the high dry place I stand right now. I have a great wife who loves me. I have a great job that I do really appreciate and do not take for granted. I have my church service to the Lord that I dearly love. All that would never be appreciated if it were not for the valleys of my sins of my past that Ied me to where I am today. It’s all good! God redeemed it. God uses it. And it is not lost on me how He has changed my life and lifted me up from my sin and put me on safe, dry, and high ground.

 

Amen and Amen.

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