Lent Devotion for March 10
Reader: “Show love to the Lord your God…”
Response: “…by walking in His ways and holding tightly to Him.”
SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 10:12–16
12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Moses continues his instructions to the people. For any follower of Christ, this section is most helpful. How are we to live? What does God want from you even as you read this? God wants you to fear Him. What does that mean? He answers the question in the rest of the sentence. Live in a way that is pleasing to God. Love Him and serve Him with a singular heart, an undivided heart, as the psalmist writes, with all your heart and soul. Sounds strange like the Shema doesn’t it? All of this obedience and walking with the Lord is for our own good. And who better knows our own good than God? Moses reminds the people that everything; the earth, the heavens, the universe — all belong to God, your God. Yet, and what a powerful word “yet” is, this God of yours set His affections on your ancestors and loved them and you as a result of His faithful love. You (we) did nothing to deserve God’s love, yet He loves us. As a result of His love, change your hearts and stop being stubborn, or in a word, “stiff-necked.” Moses goes on in the following chapters to express the numerous benefits God bestows for those who obey. If you are like me you are wondering why these people didn’t get it! Obedience brings blessing. Disobedience brings disaster. It seems pretty simple. The New Living Translation puts it clearly in 11:22, “Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.” That is about as concise a description of the Christian life as I’ve read. Why is obedience so hard? One of the reasons I believe is that we underestimate the influence of those around us and overestimate our self-control. Why do I say that? Read the rest of chapters 10-12. The bulk of the conversation is to avoid the pull and influence of the pagan nations. God makes very clear the Israelites are to worship in the place He articulates, in the manner He articulates, and with the people He articulates. Corporate worship always involves people in physical presence together. Corporate worship is essential for the follower of Christ. It's by God's design.
"I Love the Lord” by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (Watch on YouTube)
Heavenly Father, with bitterness and true compunction of heart I acknowledge before Thee the gross and selfish thoughts that I so often allow to enter my mind and to influence my deeds. I confess, O God—that often I let my mind wander down unclean and forbidden ways: that often I deceive myself as to where my plain duty lies: that often, by concealing my real motives, I pretend to be better than I am: that often my honesty is only a matter of policy: that often my affection for my friends is only a refined form of caring for myself: that often my sparing of my enemy is due to nothing more than cowardice: that often I do good deeds only that they may be seen of men, and shun evil ones only because I fear they may be found out. O Holy One, let the fire of Thy love enter my heart, and burn up all this coil of meanness and hypocrisy, and make my heart as the heart of a little child. Give me grace O God in the name of Jesus.
- from John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer, p.75