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Remain loyal - how?

Remain loyal to Him! Fear Him and obey His commands. Listen to His voice. Worship Him alone. Be fervently devoted to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:4 VOICE)
As Israel was about to become a nation of their own among a whole lot of other nations who would eventually desire to put them into servitude, take their fertile land, and ravage them as a nation, they receive this command to remain loyal to the God who had made them a nation. This would not have been unusual to require this degree of "dedication" to the God they served, as the nations around them all "served" or "dedicated" themselves to some form of one or more "gods". The difference is that they are to serve the One True God - remaining loyal to him and him alone, despite the temptation to become wrapped up in the false worship of these other gods.

It should not come as a surprise that scripture refers to remaining loyal, steadfast, committed, and dedicated so frequently. It is probably linked to how easily we become distracted and enticed by the things others have, what they do, and how much "fun" it looks like they are having in whatever it is they are doing! What does it mean to remain loyal to God? We find our answer in the five other things outlined in this verse.

Fear him: Not that trembling in your boots kind of fear, but the right respect for both his authority and his love. As a child, I had a hard time accepting the fact parents were both the authority figures in my life AND the ones from whom I would learn the power and sacrifices of deep, sacrificial, and unending love. I think God gives us these "human" examples of "blended" authority and love because he wants us to know him in this way - as the one in ultimate control who deserves our attentive dedication, and as the one who yearns deeply for only the best in our lives.

Obey his commands: The worst part of obedience is that we must admit our way isn't always the best way, or the only way something can be done in our lives.  I think that is why God starts with respecting both his authority and his love - then submitting to his will for our lives doesn't have to "chafe" us so doggone much!

Listen to his voice:  It is hard to be obedient to his commands when we just plain don't listen to what he is saying. As a child, when my parents said to do something, that meant I was supposed to do it. There wasn't a whole lot of "negotiation" or "challenging" done over the matter. I think we may have lost a little bit of our obedience factor because we don't really listen intently to what he tells us.  We think we have things figured out - I might just ask how that's been working for you lately, but I know the answer would be the same as I would have to admit!

Worship him alone:  It comes as no surprise that he would ask us to put him in a place of prominence in our lives, not as "one" of the gods we might turn to in our times of need, but as the ONLY God we will ever need, serve, or honor with "first place" in our lives. That means he becomes the object of our focus - the one who holds our attention and isn't relegated to the "backseat" every time some other "remarkable thing or person" tries to gain our attention.

Be fervently devoted to him: We have come full circle here, for what we give our attention to is what consumes our lives. That which we are devoted to is that which infiltrates each and every fiber of our being. God isn't asking for us to just give him "a" place in our lives, but to let him fill "every" place.  Just sayin!

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