MOSES (PART TWO)
Several years ago, Lauri and I visited Bozeman, Montana where she was born and grew up. One place where we spent some time was at the First Presbyterian Church, her childhood church. In the Sanctuary balcony she showed me the very pew in which she had sat with the youth minister and prayed to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
On another occasion Lauri and I returned to Eagle Lake Camp where we had first met as camp counselors. It was also at Eagle Lake, as a boy, that I first realized that although I had grown up in a Christian home and believed in God, he desired for me to make a personal commitment to his Son. I prayed and asked Christ to be my Lord and Savior.
Our scripture passage this morning is taken from Moses’ message to the Israelites in which he looks back at the 40 years they have wandered in the wilderness. They are preparing to enter the Promised Land, and Moses does not want them to forget all they have learned and experienced. So, in our text, we see Moses summarizing the faith commitments they have made, and he challenges them to remember those commitments and to share them with their children. I invite you to turn with me to Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
For the Israelites, their faith story was about a God who loved them enough to bring them out of Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. For Lauri, her faith story includes a church and a youth minister who shared the gospel with her and provided the context which encouraged her to accept the faith as her own. For me, my faith story is about coming to a personal understanding about the faith I had grown up in. What are the elements of your faith story? Who has played key roles in what you believe and how you came to believe it? And, with who have we shared our faith story?
“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” Listen, O follower of Christ, the Lord is our God and he alone is Lord of our lives. This is the starting point. This is the basic statement of our faith. If we don’t get this right, then everything else that follows will be off track. We have no other Lord, no other master, no other philosophy or guiding principle or worldview than this: Jesus Christ alone is my Lord and Savior.
Next, says Moses, that he is our Lord and Savior means we love him with all our heart, soul and strength. This means that we love nothing else more than we love God. We love our parents, our children, our neighbor, but only insofar as we first love God and our love for these other things are a reflection of our love for God, not a substitute.
Such wholehearted love for God includes taking the time to learn, and making the commitment to obey, the commandments of God. Our obedience is not to be a formal legalism - obedience for its own sake - but because we understand that God’s rules are for our good, given to us by a loving God who wants only the very best for us.
Lastly, Moses points out that what we believe and are committed to needs to be passed on to others, including our children. Do we want our children to pray? Then pray with them. Do we want a friend to read the Bible? Then offer to read the Bible with them. Do we want someone to be kind and generous? Then let them see us being kind and generous. You get the picture. It’s not complicated, but it does take some careful thought and the willingness to wholeheartedly share Christ with others.
“Listen, O Israel!” Pay attention, O Christian. Keep coming back to the basic truth about your life which is that God is God alone, and he is your Lord. No other gods, no false idols, no commitments or values or priorities that are more important than him. Keep him first in your life, and you will find yourself passing on to others the faith that energizes your life and gives you an eternal purpose.