Summary: encouragement for the year ahead

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Don’t Look Back

People often get nostalgic around this time of year. As a new year approaches there is something in our hearts and minds which make us reminisce about the past. Just the other night I turned on the radio to hear the 11.55pm news and there was country and western music on. Now, I hope I don’t offend anyone hear, but country music is not my first choice. You see I grew up with it being played by my dad all the time and if he wasn’t playing it he was singing it. He is a good singer unlike myself. Now the music set my mind racing back through the years to childhood and all the songs I had heard. The next morning when I was preparing this sermon I came across a list of funny titles of country songs – let me share some of them with you – now I kid not these are actual song titles:

May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.

You cant roller skate in a buffalo herd.

I’ve got tears in my ears while lying on my back thinking of you.

Keep forgettin I forgot about you.

If the phone don’t ring, baby you will know its me.

Fell in a pile of you and got love all over me.

There is another great country song and it was written by George Jones, not the guy from radio Ulster. In March 1999 he had a bad car accident and was almost killed, it transpired he was drunk at the wheel. After he had recovered he wrote a song and the title was this:

I’m living and dying with the choices I made.

Now that in my opinion is an excellent summary of the passage which I read to you from Deuteronomy 30. Turn to it now if you would. Let me set the context of this passage for you. The people of God are standing on the banks of the river Jordan. On the other bank lies the Promised Land. Moses is addressing them for the final time, just before they step into and over the Jordan to claim the inheritance promised to them by God. Moses can see the promised land but he is forbidden because of his sin to enter it. The people of God have wandered in the wilderness for a generation, 40 years, as punishment for their sin in not taking the land the first time they stood on these banks, but now they are back again and this time they will cross and enter the land flowing with milk and honey.

They stand before Moses as he outlines to them the choices they have to make. Friends those choices are still the same many millennia later. As we stand on the banks of time and look over to another new year we are faced as individuals and as the people of God with the same choices. So let us look at what God through Moses says to the people of Israel and what He would say to us today through His Word here.

Verses 11-14 It is not that difficult.

Do you remember as a child telling your parents ‘I can’t do that’ and they would not let you give up? Do you remember how frustrated and angry you could become over something that you just could not do? Moses has just given the Law of God to the people of God and now God through Moses says to them – don’t tell me I can’t do that. Moses says to them listen this command, this Law, this Word from God is not locked up in heaven, it is not many miles away – you do not have to go a great distance and spend lots of money to receive it. It is not unintelligible, it is not impractical, it is not impossible to obey, it is not unknown to you. In fact it has been spoken by God to you in your own language and the knowledge of it is so close to you that it is in your heart and on your lips. Look at the verses closely and see what God is saying to his people here. Verses 11-13 it is not difficult, it is not beyond your reach. God says to them look I have revealed my Word to you, I have made it plain and simple, I spoke it in your language so that you would understand. You cannot use as an excuse for your disobedience and sin that you do not know, you do not understand or you have not heard. Friends if the people of God standing on the bank of the river Jordan were without excuse before God for their disobedience what makes you think you or I have a legitimate excuse this morning for our disobedience of his Word.

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