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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Impress, Tie, Bind, Write

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 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.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

We hear the phrase, "Be a doer of the Word."  Do we really understand what this means?  Putting the Word of God into action in our lives is really more demanding than we often imagine.  Learning the Word of God is one thing, actually doing what it says is quite another.  

Our passage today begins with a reminder about the the God we serve.  He is Jehovah (LORD) - the one who is unchangeable in his promises, righteous inside and out, the God of divine compassion who places man under a moral obligation to be righteous, too.  So, how do we get to the place that God looks at us as righteous?  It begins with our belief in the finished work of the Cross of Christ - the blood shed as a substitutionary sacrifice for us, making atonement for our sins.  Over the course of the rest of our lives, we move from the place of being "saved" into a continual walk of having that righteousness that was imputed to us at the point of salvation worked out in our daily choices.

Imputed really means to be counted as bringing our account into full payment - in other words, no debt is owing for our sins any longer as that debt was completely paid in full by Christ.  God tells the nation of Israel (and us) some interesting things about how this daily walk progresses.  First, he tells us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts.  This type of love is a devotion that is based on a kinship experience - there are strong personal ties to the one we are loving.  God brings us from a place of alienation into a place of closeness - in turn, we are adopted into his family, experiencing all the privileges of "kin". We are to cherish God - experiencing a repeatedly expanding desire for our God.

We are to love him with our whole heart - our whole personality, including our intellect and emotions.  We need to stop here and remember that love is more than a state of mind - there is a ton of emotional investment behind it.  It may begin with emotion, get stalled a while until the mind catches up, then get reignited again with emotion.  The important thing is that it is growing and that it involves our whole being - every part of our character, feelings, inclinations involved in the pursuit of God.

To the heart, he adds that we are to love him with our entire soul.  The soul is that which animates us - it makes us different from every other creature roaming this earth.  It is our moral and emotional nature - that which gives us that sense of conscience.  Love that is animated is indeed evident to all who look upon it.  There is an evidence of that love manifest.

If that is not enough, God asks us to love him with all our strength - with our total capacity.  Nothing held back!  There is to be an intensity, a potency, and a power in our daily walk with God.  When we go through "dry seasons" when this is missing from our walk, we wonder if we are really still "connected" with our God.  We feel "dry" - vitality is missing in our spiritual walk.  The reason God ask for us to give our total capacity is that he wants us to be filled to capacity - with his love, grace, peace, truth, etc.  When we hold nothing back, he is free to hold nothing back in filling us with these good things.

The instruction goes on to say that we are to impress them upon, tie them, bind them, and write them.  God wants his Word to be in constant contact with our innermost character, affecting every inclination we have.  His words gives support to every choice we make.  The Word is designed to influence us, but it is also meant to transfer or transmit to us that which will mark us as Christ's.  When we tie the Word to our hands, we are using the Word as a restraining power, or an influence, that affects everything we set our hands to do.  The Word is a symbol (a visible sign) that is manifest through the hands.  

Binding the Word to our foreheads can be likened to causing our thoughts to be confined to, restrained or restricted to that which is honoring, worthy, and holy.  This will make our minds firm and settled - experiencing peace in our thought life.  The Word of God is to be written ALL OVER our lives - in our speech, our actions, every impulse we respond to.  It affects our entire being, directing our entire course of action.  In turn, we become a channel for the life flow of God.