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"MUST" says so much!

You must follow the Lord your God. Respect him. Obey his commands and do what he tells you. Serve the Lord your God, and never leave him. (Deuteronomy 13:4 ERV)
Follow, Respect, Obey, Do, Serve, and Stay - all seem like pretty easy-peasy kind of stuff until you put them ALL together and then you expect ME to actually live them out in my everyday life! This passage starts out with an "imperative" - you MUST. Must is a small word, but there isn't any wiggle-room in the action that is expected when MUST precedes that action. All of us must eat to live - the need to eat overrides reason sometimes. If you don't believe me, just watch one of those survivor shows where they have to live off the land and see what kinds of stuff they actually eat just because they are hungry! I watched one guy trap rats and eat them; another something that had been found dead on the ground - each seeking to meet that need for protein, but each making less than desirable choices. When we receive the imperative that we MUST follow the Lord, it isn't that we cannot look to have the deep inner needs of our hearts met in other ways, because there are always going to be other "options". The fact is, nothing and no one will meet those needs quite so well as he does - period!
Follow - when we follow anything, we are not only going after it, we are moving in the same direction as that which we are following. I think God starts with this because he knows if he can get us on the same page as he is on, we actually find ourselves growing quite pleased with the results. 
Respect - when we begin to follow him, it makes sense that we would defer to his movements and listen to his voice. To respect God means we simply defer to his judgment in our lives - we stop trying to control everything and we give him the ability to lead us.
Obey - along the way, we will be asked to do things we aren't always that comfortable with, or familiar with, simply because the things of the Spirit of God are different than what has been active in our lives up to the point we begin to follow him. Obedience stems from respect - we give way to his control and in turn, we begin to make choices which are in alignment with the truth he reveals.
Do - the outward evidence of obedience is always in the actions we perform. If our alignment is correct, our choices are likely to be at least "bordering on" correct choices, making our actions more likely to be good ones. At first, this may be harder than one might think, but in time, those good choices are easier and easier to make because we defer to him more and more.
Serve - all service is really is the idea of being of use to someone. We submit our time, talents, and treasures to God and he makes use of them. 
Stay - remaining consistent is the hardest part of any journey. We often start well, give it our all at the outset, and then peter out somewhere down the line. Why? It isn't for the lack of "want to", but more for the lack of focus. It means we somehow forgot we were following. 
To follow, one needs to focus upon that which is being followed - like the directions on how to bake chocolate chip cookies. We could "wing it", but if we do that the first time we are about to make them, we might just not realize there is a difference between baking soda and powder! Following the directions yields much better tasting cookies. Yes, in time, we can recount the "recipe" without even consulting the recipe book again. This is where obedience becomes a way of life for us. It isn't that we don't want to be obedient, it may just be that we aren't always remembering it is an "imperative" to life! Just sayin!

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