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The Command to Love God

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The Command to Love God

Deuteronomy 6:4,5

LaearsiY amhS

Dache ianodA unieholE ianodA

As a child I was taught to “Stop, Look and Listen” when crossing train tracks.  I recall seeing the train crossing sign and the three words written one below the other everywhere I looked – in books, on billboards, in the school classroom, on the television.  The educational campaign was very thorough.

I was about 20, it was in the spring, I was riding the train back home to Kitchener from Strathroy and friends from our youth group were going to meet me at the train station.

As usual the sounds and motion of the speeding train had lulled me into a state of semi numbness when suddenly I lurched forward as the brakes hissed us to a screeching halt.  What I learned later was diesel fuel sprayed along the one side of the train covering the windows with their sludge.

During the two hours the train sat crippled on the tracks we learned that yes, the train had been involved in an accident with a car.  The car had hit the locomotive and ripped open the diesel tank.

It was confirmed later that the lone occupant had been killed in the accident.  She was a school teacher – a friend of a friend of mine.

The law is for your own good; when approaching a train crossing:  STOP – LOOK – LISTEN!

Hear, O Israel

·       Listen to me > this is important for your own well being

·       Listen with a mind to obey

 “Hear, O Israel…”

Listen – verb is in the imperative.  It is a command.

Hear with the ears so that you will obey with your mind and respond with a glad heart.

Can you hear a parent trying to get a young child to listen:

“Look at me…

       Look me in the eyes…

              Stop what you are doing…

I want to see your eyes so I know you are listening…

       Now this is what I want you to do.

              Tell me what I just said…”

What do the Israelites do with this command?

They memorize it.

       They repeat it every day.

But do they understand it?

       With their mind?  With their heart?

              Do they obey?

Whenwe first moved to the city of Montreal we lived in Jewish community of Cote St Luc. 

I chose to go to a Jewish barber near where I lived. 

Over the visits we struck up a conversation and he told me of relatives in Jerusalem – one a rabbi. 

He showed me a poster on his bulletin board of a specific Psalm that had tremendous meaning to him. 

It was written in Hebrew and he was able to recite it flawlessly. 

It gave him great comfort.

I asked him to translate it for me; to tell me the meaning of the words.  He had no idea!

In high school Latin class I learned the ‘Pater Noster’.

Pater noster, qui es in caelis,
sanctificetur Nomen tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum.
Fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in caelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
sed libera nos a malo.

“Our Father who are in heaven; hallowed be Thy name.”

We monotone our memorized phrases without any thought for their meaning much less with a desire towards obedience.

God never intended The Lord’s Prayer to become a meaningless repetition of sounds on the lips that never reach even the mind much less the heart.

God never intended the law, summed up in two commands, to become mere sounds in the original Hebrew language recited religiously every day.

Look at the context.

Deut. 1 > The date was: Year 40, Month 11 day 1 of the wilderness wanderings.

The Israelites were camped on the east side of the Jordan River.

They had already defeated enemy armies and the land given to two tribes of Israel.

It was about time to cross the Jordan and begin the conquest of the Promised Land.

Before they broke camp, God spoke to them through Moses.

The book of Deuteronomy is basically that teaching.

And the teaching can be divided into two categories:

1)     Remember all that God has done for us.

2)     Remember to obey all that He has commanded us.

What has God done?

Last week Anson brought us to the burning bush to that pivotal, commanding encounter of Moses with God.

Last week we read the sign that God gave to prove He was the One providing the miraculous deliverance from Egypt and the certain fulfillment of the promised gift of the Promised Land;

The sign that would tell them with certainty that this deliverance was God in action

- would be the Israelite people as a whole worshiping God on this same mountain. 

Here they are in Deuteronomy, Moses reminds them of that day when yes, indeed they Israelites in their entirety had left Egypt and met with God on – Mt Horeb. 

There they had listened to God and heard His 10 Commandments and worshipped Him.

God has done all this for you – when you go into the Promised Land and receive houses you did not build and lands you did not work, do not forget who gave this to you.

And do not forget how to remain within that blessing.

And so the two pronged speech of Deuteronomy was to remind Israel how to live within the blessings of God.

And the principles are still the same today.

1)     Remember all that God has done for you. 

His works demonstrate His true love towards you. 

I will never leave you. 

I will only do what is best for you. 

My plans (Jer. 29:11-14) are to prosper you, not to harm you.

I love you with a jealous love.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

(Joh 3:16 AV)

2)     Remember to show your love for God through obedience to all that He has commanded you.

If you do this you will continue to live within in that love relationship with the One who has provided such blessings.

Therefore obedience on the part of the Israelites demonstrated that they loved God. Jesus laid down a similar principle for Christians.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

How quickly we – like the story of the Israelites in the Old Testament stories – reduce God’s love from a relationship, to a fact, to a demand for obedience, to a restriction to be chaffed against.

What is in the ‘shema’? this command to hear with a willingness to obey?

Hear O Israel – the Lord your God is one.

Monotheistic:

The verse means that the Lord (Yahweh) is totally unique.

He alone is God.

The Israelites could therefore have a sense of security that was totally impossible for their polytheistic neighbors.

The “gods” of the ancient Near East rarely were thought of as acting in harmony.

Each god was unpredictable and morally capricious.

So a pagan worshiper could never be sure that his loyalty to one god would serve to protect him from the capricious wrath of another.

The monotheistic doctrine of the Israelites lifted them out of this insecurity since they had to deal with only one God,

And their God dealt with them by a revealed consistent righteous standard. [1]

Today people serve many gods.  And these gods seem to offer happiness and fun and excitement.  But if they do deliver on their promises it is short lived and comes at a great loss of freedom and enduring joy, peace and contentment.

 “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (De 6:5 NIVUS)

Families:

Tell your children

7  Impress them on your children.

Talk about them when

you sit at home and

when you walk along the road,

 when you lie down and

when you get up.

8  Tie them as symbols on your hands and

bind them on your foreheads.

9  Write them on the doorframes of your houses

and on your gates.” (De 6:7-9 NIVUS)

       Use every means possible

Let your everyday living tell the importance of obeying God in love.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” (De 6:6 NIVUS)

Moms and Dads, grandparents, adults who have influence upon our children – love God with all your heart, your love for God will show in your obedience to Him and then your teaching will have credence – your children will believe you.

20  In the future, when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?" 21  tell him: "We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” (De 6:20-21 NIVUS)

Church:

At our annual business meeting we chose a Mission Statement for our church. 

 

Mission Statements of Well Known Enterprises
The following are some examples of mission statements from real enterprises.

3M  "To solve unsolved problems innovatively"

Mary Kay Cosmetics

"To give unlimited opportunity to women."

Merck Pharmaceutical     

"To preserve and improve human life."

Wal-Mart

"To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people."

Walt Disney "To make people happy."

At our annual business meeting we chose a Mission Statement for our church. 

“Our purpose is to grow in our love for God

and our neighbours.”

Our Vision Committee wrote these words based upon the words of Jesus. 

Matthew 22:

35  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

36  "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

37  Jesus replied: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

38  This is the first and greatest commandment.

39  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

40  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

The Jews added verses to the Shema which then included this Second Command of love for the neighbour.

[My plan is to speak on this second command – the command to love others – next Sunday.]

Friends, it appears to me that we the people of Scotland Baptist Church are entering into a time of numeric blessing.

Our attendance has jumped 25% in the past 12 months!

My prayer that our baptistery would be used was answered in Sept. as two Mexican farm workers gave their life to the Lord Jesus Christ and chose to show that decision by being baptized.

We included in our Vision Statement that we would like to see a youth group and almost immediately one has started.

These are exciting times for us.

However we must never, never lose our love and devotion to the One who is the head of the church and who will give any lasting blessing to this congregation and through this congregation to the community around us.

10  When the LORD your God brings you into the land … — then when you eat and are satisfied, 12  be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (De 6:10-12 NIVUS)

What a warning for us.

Let’s keep our Mission Statement – our God given purpose for being a people under the name of the Scotland Baptist Church – let’s never forget to: grow in our love for God and our neighbours.”

Individuals:

What about our devotion time?

When you set aside time daily to sit quietly in the presence of God; read His word, sing His praise, listen to His creation, bask in His Spirit.

Do you find time to:  Stop, look and listen?

For me (as with many pastors) the temptation is to study the Bible throughout the week with one intention > to prepare a sermon for Sunday morning.

I find this is not enough.  My soul has not been nourished.

I need to nourish my relationship with God if the words of the message I speak will have Spirit life in them.

(This is not saying that God cannot speak to you even when I am not spiritually overflowing.  As someone reminded me this week God can even speak to you through a donkey.  But He wants so much more.)

As we close, look at the last verse of Deut 6

“And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness."” (De 6:25 NIVUS)

We know that the Israelites were unable to keep the commands of God.  These commands were meant to be lived within a love relationship with God.  Instead they became harsh restrictions to avoid the punishment and wrath of an angry God.

The prophet later would say:  ‘All our righteousness are as filthy rags’.  Jesus would instruct His hearers that unless their righteousness was greater than that f the Pharisees they would not enter the kingdom of heaven.

When rules become simply rules, we trip over them and while we break them, discover that we too are broken.

Where will we find our righteousness?

Jesus has become our righteousness.

Our faith must never be in our accomplishments, in our attempts to make promises of obedience to God.

Our faith must be in the Son of God – Jesus Christ, our Saviour, and in His finished work of salvation for us.

When we tell our children what God has done, we must always bring them to the cross, we must point them to Jesus.

When Moses concluded his lengthy speech to the Israelites we move to Deut 30:11-20 > He gave this invitation to them:  Choose life.

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

and that you may love the LORD your God,

listen to his voice,

and hold fast to him.

For the LORD is your life….” (De 30:19,20 NIVUS)

This week, when the busyness of life threatens to crowd out God’s voice, when temptations come with attractive promises, when doubts cloud your thinking,  Stop – Look – and Listen > to God who loves us with an everlasting love.


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[1]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (1:274). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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