July 5, 2010

To Live is Christ — loving God

God selected Abraham, then the nation that came from him, as the people through which He would reveal Himself and His glory. As a distinct people, they were given distinct commands. In contrast to the pagan nations around them, their religious practice and moral standards were not only higher, but unique, as shown in Deuteronomy 6:1–9.
Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.
The other people groups had many gods and idols, but these were silent. The commands and rituals associated with them were a product of the superstitious minds of those that worshiped these so-called gods. Their idols of stone and wood had no power to communicate, but the God of Israel spoke to His people.
Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you — ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’
Further, the nations worshiped a host of gods that in their minds were capricious and unpredictable. Who knew what the gods would next decree? These pagans had no certainties, no assurance. In contrast, the God of Israel made promises to His people, promises that He kept. They could count on Him to do what He said He would do.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Idols of wood and stone never asked their worshipers to love them. How could they? They were not alive. However, the living God of Israel wanted a personal and intimate love relationship with His people.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The gods of the nations did not command anything or ask anything yet their followers were terrified of what these gods might do. They made sacrifices to appease them or try to control them. They cut themselves, or worse — they offered their children to their gods. In contrast, the God of Israel commanded his people to learn what He said and teach their children His will. They were to live out His instructions in their daily lives. Everything they did was to be a reflection of their faith in Him. This was no “holy-day-only” God, but the One that they loved and obeyed every day and in every way.

The pagans had religious zeal, and that fervor might compel a person to 24/7 activity. But is that compulsion love or fear? Religious zeal might motivate great sacrifice. Is that at the command of their god or from their own desire to appease or satisfy that which they worship?

I can only guess what motivates others. For me, living for God is not about fear, at least not terror/fear, but more awe and wonder. It isn’t about guessing what He wants either, for He clearly makes it known through His Word and His Spirit.

For me, loving God with all my heart is about obedience, but is also a learning curve. Something like loving a person, it takes some trial and error to learn exactly the meaning and implications of His commands. For instance, most of them are for my own good as well as for His glory.

Besides, loving God is a 24/7 thing. There are no ordinary days, for God is in all of them making all of them holy days. There are no ordinary activities either, for God is with me 24/7, speaking to my heart, encouraging me to do His will all the time.

Learning to listen, interpret, understand and obey does takes a lifetime. I look back and often wish that I knew then what I know now about obedience. However, I also know now that my Father understands His children and has had His hand on me through the steepest learning curves.  The Lord is my God; the Lord is one! Even with my stumbling and many errors, with great patience He still teaches me to how to express my love for Him with all my heart, soul, and strength.

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