Roger's Postings

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Deut.6:1-9. The Lord is only God!! 5/11/06

(1) These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, {2} so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. {3} Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. {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 upon 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.

Hear this, you who call yourselves Christians: God's people; the Lord is our God - the Lord is no 1. In fact he is the only true God. The only real thing that has any worth and value for all of life. So, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. Never - never forget, that without him, life is nothing. And above all, make sure that you do all you can to impress the importance of God for all of life on your children and those around you.

This message is of utmost importance for us today; because our country is not in good shape at the moment. Even though we have had good rain these last days, we as a nation are still it the midst of a huge drought. This is having a huge impact on many lives; with many suiciding as a result. But even that aside, there are many, many people who despite the outward glitz, are really struggling and looking for a way out. They are searching for that something that will fill that emptiness within.

It is not until we come to an understanding of what God is saying to us here that we today and our nation will find that which truly brings peace, contentment and a sense of wellbeing. For far too long now, so many in our country, and too often we ourselves have chased after and made our own god's. We have looked to money, technology and material success for all our answers. We have look to health, pleasure and an easy life, as to what life is all about. But now we are finding that these gods that we have made ourselves, are no gods at all. When we really need them, we find that they are nothing but frauds; resulting in even greater problems and heartache. Here today, God is saying, have a good long and hard think about all of this. Ask yourselves who really is God - who is your Lord, Master and Boss. Then also think about where you stand in relation to him. Are you prepared to take him seriously?

For Moses as he addresses the Israelites, there is no question. Yahweh was their God. In fact he is the only God. He is No.1. Our translations give this God of Israel the title 'The Lord,' but for the Israelites his name was Yahweh. That is not a title but a name. That brings him down from being someone distant and remote; and thereby allows himself to be someone who we can be in relationship with. In giving of his name to them, he gives himself. He places his presence among his people.

So where this name was used and called on, there God was. What an awesome and great thing this must have been for the Israelites. Yahweh, the only God, present among them. That presence always meant one of two things. Either his awesome power, judgement and destruction, or his grace, deliverance and blessing. We see this come through very clearly in the history of the Israelites.

What power, might and judgement the Lord displayed in Egypt, when he brought that lowly bunch of downtrodden slaves out from the mighty forces of the Egyptian army; with their technologically advanced chariots. They were the ones who thought that they had the knowledge to do great and wondrous things. They were the ones who had a god for everything. Even their leader, Pharaoh, was thought to be a god. They had an answer for everything. It all sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it? But when they chose to defy the Lord, they were crushed and outsmarted by the awesome might of the one God who controls everything.

But the Israelites also experienced time and time again this same power and judgement work against themselves when they deliberately went against him. When they turned their backs on him and thought that they could go their own way and do their own thing, God also used it against them to remind them again that he truly was the only God and they needed to turn back to him.

However on the other hand, we can see how again and again Israel experienced tremendous grace and blessing from Yahweh. Who were these Israelites that God should take an interest in them? After all they were descendants of a nobody called Abraham. They were a lowly bunch of slaves: the scum of society. Nobody but Yahweh would come to their aid. But not only did he help them, but he gave his name to them. He made them a great nation, to live in relationship to him, and he blessed them abundantly.

That is the whole thing with this great God; the Lord; Yahweh. He chooses to give his name to us all so that he can be near to us and we with him. So that we can live in a close relationship with him and that he can extend his grace and blessing to us. But then best of all, he came in person and lived among us as a human being. He did this so that we can know, in an even greater way, who this God is and what he is like. Of course, most importantly, he came to rescue us from God's judgement because of our being less than perfect: Dying on the cross so that we might be forgiven and be able to live with him both here and in eternity. He rose again to prove to us that he was God and that he does give us a reason, purpose and power to live and enjoy life.

So now we have the name of Jesus, the Christ, as one whereby we can know, experience and have the presence of God with us. Everything, and more than the name Yahweh was Israel, the name Jesus is for us. We are told that there is no other name now under heaven by which we can know and experience the awesome wonder of God's grace, deliverance and blessing. No other name by which we might be saved. And there is no other name whereby we can live in peace and contentment with God and each other. Jesus is Lord - he is all important. Lets us now then live close to him and follow him all the way.

Our text here encourages us to hold onto the name of Jesus and make it central to our whole life. As it was for Israel; it is all or nothing. And if it is nothing, beware of that other aspect of God – his judgement and destruction. Surely however the encouragement is for us to, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Here, love the Lord your God, could be translated as hold near and dear. We know that throughout history God has held his people near and dear to him. He is always looking for opportunities to love and bless us. At the same time, it is always important that his people never turn their back on and him, ignore or walk away from that love, forgiveness and relationship that he wants with us and for us.

If we want to continue to receive that love and blessing then it is essential that we stay in that close relationship with our God that has been given to us at our baptism. We need to continually focus on our Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. To do this, it is necessary for us to stay close to God's Word. To hold it dear and read it often, listening to it and letting it guide us throughout our life. This is made very clear for us in this text, of which I will give a free translation, of which I believe still holds true to it's intent.

"Stay close to the Lord your God in all your thinking; with all your living being, and with everything you have. Then God's Word will have a central part in all of your thinking, and it will be that which you will teach diligently to your children. Yes, even more than them getting a good education at school. Talk about God's Word when you are resting in your homes, and when you are up and about your daily life. Make that Word be seen in all the work you do, and in your very person. Let it be central to your family life, as well as to your relationship with everyone else you come in contact with."

Therein we have that which can again return the focus not only of our own lives, but also that of our society, to that which is most important and needed: to our Lord Jesus Christ and our relationship to him. Today our Lord is placing this challenge before us: let these things which of central importance be the major focus in our lives. As God's own people, let us set the example for our children and our country, so that they can once again see that Jesus is Lord. As you do, remember we have been given the name and the Word of the Lord and his very body and blood in the sacrament, so we can have all the help possible. He is after all our God - the one and only God, who has the grace and power to do all the important things of life. So let us go forward confidently and boldly to love the Lord our God with all our thinking, with all our living being and with everything we have.

Pastor Roger Atze
Redeemer Lutheran Church


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