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Living Into Focus

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A World of Distractions

We live in a world ...
of information overload
without ‘borders’
of seemingly unlimited choices
With so much bombarding us on a regular basis it is easier ...
to let someone else decide for us
to not think for ourselves
to be deceived and distracted
The resurgence of “dumb phones” and the desire to simplify
Our faith is not immune to inundation
“Just tell me what I need to believe”
Kind of like the teacher who asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment (‘just simplify it for me please, Jesus’)
His answer: “Love God, love neighbour”
BUT even “love” can be defined any which way we might say
So how did Jesus mean it?
Lets look at the text Jesus was quoting when he answered this question

Love the LORD

The opening lines make clear that there is only one God and his name is YHWH
The Bible is written to answer ‘which God do you serve’ not ‘does God exist’?
The devotion which is called for in these verses is to this one God and this one God alone
As we will see in a moment, devotion and obedience go hand in hand - we show we love by obedience, we obey because we love and we love because we obey
As we will see in a moment, devotion and obedience go hand in hand - we show we love by obedience, we obey because we love and we love because we obey
But he is not only the only true God, he is OUR God = he is personal and in relationship to us
One God, singular devotion - doesn’t get much simpler than that
But the LOVE that the Scripture is calling for here is so much more than the love we tend to think of

with All Your Heart

Doesn’t help us that it starts with “all your heart” - which we think of as mainly emotions
For the ancients, the heart was not just the seat of your emotions, it was (and is) the core of your being - who you really are
But in Hebrew the word actually means your ‘guts’ = the seat of your emotions
The basic idea is the core of your being - who you really are
It includes emotions, but also your thoughts and desires
Your heart is your ‘lifeblood’ - without it you cannot live (you can feel it beating, nothing else)
So to love the Lord with all your heart, means to focus your entire inner self on him in love and obedience

with All Your Soul

with All Your Soul

Hebrew word “nephesh” - which has an airy and breathy sound to it no?
It has a wide range of meanings, but the imagery associated with it is powerful enough
It is used at creation when the Lord breathes the breath of life into Adam and he became “nephesh” - a living being
The heart has a rhythm and is essential to life, but so is breathing - if you’re still breathing - you’re still alive!
But what does it mean to “love” God with all your soul?
Again, if we come back to the understanding of “love” as complete devotion, then we might say it means “give God every breath that you take”

with All Your Strength

This one is a little more tricky to pin down - even the NT had a hard time translating it (‘mind and strength’, ‘strength and mind’, ‘mind’ in Mark, Luke, and Matthew respectively)
It is not an actual entity like a heart or soul (we typically put those together easily in phraseology)
The Greek version of the OT uses the word “dunamis” which means ‘power’ or ‘ability’
In the Hebrew, is is mostly an adverb meaning “exceedingly” or “utterly”
So literally we might translate it “with all your exceedingly-ness”
So what does it mean to “love” God with all your strength?
It means you give him everything you’ve got in the tank!

Shema!

One God, singular devotion - doesn’t get much simpler than that
The heart, soul, and strength are not considered 3 separate parts of a person (although in ways they are)
They comprise the totality of the person and the kind of commitment God calls us to as his people
These two verses were recited twice daily by the ancient Israelites (and still many today)
They are recited at morning and evening - which is a good practice
A bad day without socks
Vs. a bad day without Scripture
It is a call to complete and total commitment to God in everything = it is to be our one and only focus
The word ‘all’ means totality - its root is in a perfect circle (kll - circumference)
ALL your heart … ALL your soul … ALL your strength
Give God EVERYTHING you can to bless
We haven’t always set the best example in this, but may God grant us strength to change the course
Start these habits now so that become a part of who you are when you are older
Start these habits now so that become a part of who you are when you are older
That’s why Moses says to impress these things on our children
Start these habits now so that become a part of who you are when you are older
Nothing matters more than your relationship to God - everything else is secondary, including love for neighbour
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