Week 50 Blessings or Curses – Which Do You Choose?

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 50

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 26-28

Key Scripture Verses: Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 28:15 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all of his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey your God.”

“However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you.”

Moses was reviewing the laws and decrees of God before his people were to enter the Promised Land of Canaan, “the land of milk and honey” that was promised to their ancestors by God. Moses makes no beans about it—the people had free will to choose how they were to conduct themselves: love God and follow his laws and be blessed or turn away from God in disobedience—be blessed or cursed!

It’s December, so you might be reminded of Christmas songs and sayings such as being “naughty or nice” but, God was not playing Santa Claus here. Moses was talking about fearing God, honoring him, respecting him and warning the people that if they did not, they were subject to his wrath. He warns them that God has many blessings for them—that was the whole point of sending them to Canaan—to bless them. But, the Israelites needed to understand that just as they were commanded to destroy the wickedness and evil in Canaan before inhabiting it, God was not going to allow them to choose a similar lifestyle for themselves once they were there.

Was God being too harsh on the people, promising curses for disobedience? God was disciplining the people he loved and preparing the people and their lineage for a future date when he would come in human form as their Messiah. This was planned from the beginning, as the gospel says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

We have the opportunity to choose curses or blessings, too! As we prepare for Christmas, the first Advent, we should prepare our hearts to receive him. In our day-to-day lives looking beyond our Christmas remembrance of the first Advent, we should be preparing for the second coming of Jesus Christ. We are in preparation for the Second Advent when Jesus returns to earth to claim what is rightfully his.

God gives us free will because he wants us to love him and to come to him willingly. He wants a relationship with us; but, because he is pure love, he cannot commune with us if our hearts are evil. Evil will be destroyed.

The remnant of the Jews who are faithful in the final hour will inherit God’s kingdom and enjoy the fruits of his love. Gentiles are given the same choices—follow Jesus or reject him, receive his blessings or choose curses instead. The nature of God is the same today as it was in the time of Moses.

Jesus said that he came not to condemn but to give us life, abundant life in communion with him, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit–he died a brutal death to give us that gift.

May we “fear God” and receive the blessings of his love. May we choose his blessings and not his curses. May we walk in faith and love the rest of our days and inherit the forever-love he offers us.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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