Deuteronomy 31:9-13 – Have You Ever Felt Like You Had to Work Twice As Hard Just To Keep Up?

Posted: May 2, 2017 in 05-Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 31:9-13

Public Reading of the Book of Instruction

The youngest child of a couple that are dear friends of ours is graduating here within the next two weeks. She is an intelligent, thoughtful young lady and it shows in how she talks to adults. She seems like a really smart girl. Her dad would agree with you but he would say that she works really hard at it and puts in the work. She is right at the edge of being one of those brainy types where it all comes so easy, but he says she has made great grades all through school not because it is super easy for her but because she busts her butt academically. I know that she will be a success in her career ahead, because she already knows how to work hard.


That reminds me of myself. My brother was the one with the eidetic memory. My brother can remember volumes of things as a natural gift. School for the most part was easy for him. Me, on the other hand, I was smart and had a ravenous desire for learning, but I had to work hard at it. Sunday-Thursday nights during the school year growing up, I was hard at work on my school assignments. I worked hard and it showed in my grades. I was a good student and I made really good grades but I had to put in the hard work. When I went to Furman after graduation from high school, I found out that I was not as smart as I thought I was. I was among intellectual giants there. All of those kids had grown up privileged and rich They went to the best private schools and had the best teachers and tutors. They were like two blocks up the street ahead of me. I could see them ahead of me and I was running to catch up with them. Man, for me, college was hard, especially at Furman University, “the Yale of the South”. I really did have to work hard there. Carrying a full load each semester, working full-time, and being married (for the last three years of college), man did I have to work hard to just keep up. I finished with a 2.7 GPA and it could have been better were it not for a horrid spring semester my sophomore year. I worked my butt off to almost pulling off a cumulative 3.0 GPA at a prestigious school like Furman. But there were friends I had there that had 3.9’s and 4.0 GPA. They were brilliant people that are doctors, lawyers, preachers now and are the best in their fields. Me, I have done Ok. I managed to garner a 3.8 GPA in my business master’s degree. I am good at what I do because of Furman, Southern Wesleyan (for my masters degree) and because of a lot of hard work, attention to detail, and that burning desire to be excellent at whatever I do, both academically and professionally.


Then there was my ministerial master’s degree and now my pursuit of my doctorate in ministerial studies. In both these situations, I am going to school with people who have been in ministry for years and seem to have their Christian walk and biblical understanding that is so far beyond my base level knowledge of Scripture, I feel like I am back at Furman again. Living among intellectual superiors who have forgotten more than I know. I feel like they know a language and a set of buzz words that I don’t even know. I feel like I came to the party late (and I have). I feel like that I don’t have the innate spiritual knowledge that they have. I feel two steps behind and walking a peg leg with a bad back compared to these guys, particularly in the doctoral program that I am participating in now. It’s kind of that feeling that you get when you have a dream that you walk into class in nothing but your underwear and everybody knows it but you until you realize it and it’s too late. I am working hard at my doctorate right now but it is because of working hard at it that I have had success so far.


It is the same with my relationship with the Lord. Some people seem to come natural to it. I have to work hard at it. That’s the reason for this daily blog. I am trying to connect the dots of my life experiences to Scripture. I am trying to show myself how Scripture applies to my life as I move forward through it. Some people can remember Bible verses and passages like they remember to brush their teeth in the morning. For me, I must read a passage, think on it, and write about it before it becomes part of my background operating system of my brain. I will never know Scripture front ways and backwards like some. But I am working hard at it. I love doing this blog as much for myself as for my readers. I need this. It is how I process and learn. Working hard at it. Living the Christian life requires me to study at it as it is not something that is naturally there. I am passionate about my faith. I am passionate to learn more and more and more about Scripture. I love those light bulb moments when Scripture comes alive in my brain and I get it! I love helping others to do the same. I have to study and study and study God’s Word. I bust my butt spiritually just to be a good student of the Master.


Thinking of how I have to work harder and study constantly in my academic pursuits and in my relationship with the Lord is what I thought about when I read today’s passage, Deuteronomy 31:9-13 and how there was a plan to keep God’s Word before His people:


9 So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Festival of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”


As we see in this passage, the laws were to be read to the whole assembly so that everyone, including children, could hear them. Every seven years, the entire nation would gather together and listen as a priest read the law to them. There were for the most part no books, Bibles, or websites to spread the Word of God, so the people had to rely on word of mouth as an accurate memory. Memorization was an important part of worship because, if everyone knew the law, ignorance would be no excuse for breaking it. To fulfill God’s purpose and will in our lives, we need the content and substance of His Word in our hearts and minds. For the Israelites, this process began in childhood. Teaching our children and any new believers should be one of our top priorities. Our finest teachers, best resources, and most careful thought should be directed toward showing young believers how to follow God in all life’s situations.


The same is true for us as believers who have been at this Christian thing for a while. We must keep God’s Word ever before us. We must never think that we have arrived. We must never get to a place where we think we have arrived and thus are not in need of God’s Word. Even as mature Christians, we must have dog-eared Bibles. We must have Bibles where the binding is beginning to fall apart from daily use. We are never too old to learn something new through biblical instruction. We may think we are above basics for believers classes because we have been Christians for a decade, two decades, or three. We may think we are above needing to read the Bible every morning or every night. We know this stuff, we say. I think we need to get back to the basics and relearn our beliefs because we are still finite humans. We should never be so arrogant that the basics of God’s Word and the basics of the Christian faith that have sprung from it that we cannot ever be in a state of learning. I went back and took our basics for believers class at church along with the new believers. It was an uplifting experience. It’s like reading a passage over and over through the years and then there’s that one day that you read for the 999th time that it just blows you away.


We never should get spiritually complacent and arrogant such that we are above the need for hard work and study. We are trying to keep up with an infinite and all-knowing God who reveals rich treasures to us in His Word that are not always evident to our finite minds. We must always be in a state of learning from our Master. We will never “arrive”. We will never be accomplished. We will never be on the mountaintop. We must work hard at this Christ following thing. We must work harder and harder and constantly be learning about our wonderful God and why we believe what we believe about Him. We must stay immersed in His Word so that we will know Him and so that He will reveal new things that we never knew before. He is infinite and we are finite. We must work hard always and for a lifetime learning what we can learn about a God who is mighty and so far beyond what our feeble minds can comprehend. He will reveal to us what He wants us to know when He want us to know it. But we have to work hard at it and have a ravenous desire to learn and a ravenous desire to know more and more and more about God.


Amen and Amen.

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