The Heart of Christ in Deuteronomy

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 5.28-29
28 The Lord heard you when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. 29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever! 

Reflection: The Heart of Christ in Deuteronomy
By L E Mulford

We see the Ten Commandments illustrated clearly in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Christ expounded on the Ten Commandments, showing his desire for his people just as God the Father showed his desire for his people here in Deuteronomy 5.

This desire is deeper than a cursory obedience to the Ten Commandments. Christ referenced the sixth commandment in Matthew 5.21, but more than to “not murder” he wants us to find the root cause of why we murder. Hanging the Ten Commandments in a building just for show requires no more faith than a nail in a wall. Writing the Law of Love in our hearts puts nails through all our sins (Jeremiah 31.33). Christ takes each commandment and goes to the heart of each sin. 

Christ’s message shows that the Ten Commandments were intended to be a gateway to loving God. The people heard God’s voice and were afraid (Deuteronomy 5.29). But just as God had graciously shared his heart with them, he wanted their hearts in return as demonstrated by the first commandment: you shall have no other gods before me. Christ repeated this idea by stating that the greatest of all the commandments is to love the Lord (Matthew 22.37).

But do any of these laws apply to us today? “In the land the Lord your God is giving you,” in verse 16, seems only to apply to ancient Israelites. And yet, in verses 3 and 4, Moses says that when God spoke to the Israelite ancestors, he was speaking to every Israelite. God is still speaking to us today. He wants more than mere obedience or lip service. He wants to write this law on our hearts.An overemphasis of the 10 Commandments in our lives makes us lose focus on Christ’s desire for our entire hearts: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10.27) By following Christ in his selfless pursuit of love, we will more than surpass the legal requirements of the Ten Commandments. God gave us a glimpse of his heart with the Ten Commandments and gave us his entire heart in the gift of his son. How is the Spirit calling you to give more of your heart to him?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling;
That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness; and on the harp, I will give thanks to you, O God my God. — Psalm 43.3-4

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 5 (Listen 4:25)
1 Corinthians 15 (Listen 8:06)

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Who is the Sabbath There For?

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 5.15
15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. 

Reflection: Who is the Sabbath There For?
By John Tillman

A “preacher joke” many preachers have alluded to is that when there is a “therefore” in scripture, one must look back to previous verses to see what the “therefore” is there for. Therefore…why is it that God commands the Israelites to observe the Sabbath? 

Because you were slaves. (v. 15)
Because your workers need rest. (v. 14)
Because work should have limits. (v. 13)
Because holiness is connected to rest. (v. 12)

Repeating the sabbath rules, Moses adds the remembrance of slavery. This emphasizes that not only must Israel not work, they must not compel others (even animals) to work for them. Moses seemed to realize that sabbath rules could be twisted to enable abuse. 

British manors were often divided into areas for masters and servants. Pulling a cord in the “upstairs” rang a bell in the “downstairs” summoning a servant. Today, however, even low-wage workers carry a device in their pocket through which the “master” can “ring a bell” to summon them at any time.

In the late 90s, I remember an acquaintance having to bail on plans because she got paged to go to work. She wasn’t on call to perform life-saving surgery or another similarly urgent task. She was on call to stock sweaters and shirts on shelves and attend to customers in fitting rooms at a mall retailer. Being “on call” for a part-time job making near minimum wage seemed like an overbearing, outrageous expectation even then. Today, it seems like a quaint practice from a gentler time.  

The invasion of work into private places and times is near complete. As much as smart phones have blessed our lives (such as enabling us to receive email devotionals) they have also allowed work to become, for many, a demanding and omnipresent god.

Let us center our weeks on the sabbath rather than on work, but without allowing sabbath to become a self-obsessed, self-care day which compels others to provide for our rest. Gods of modern economics demand we work harder in their presence, our God begs us to rest in his.

God’s model of the sabbath says, “I rest so that all can and will rest.” Jesus says the sabbath is for humans, not for God. Our rest, observed rightly, is an act of faith in God’s holiness and an act of kindness to all around us. May our rest bless others, not just ourselves.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms. — Psalm 95.1-2– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 5 (Listen – 4:25)
Psalm 88 (Listen – 1:58)

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Generational Faith Transfer

Deuteronomy 4.9
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Deuteronomy 6.6-9
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Reflection: Generational Faith Transfer
By John Tillman

Moses, as he commissioned the Israelites to move in and begin to establish the nation, could see that the failure or success of the nation would depend on intergenerational transfer. In 1986, John Paul II, said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.” I would, echo that in a smaller way. As the family goes, so goes the church in which we worship.

Whether you are a parent or not, a part of every Christian’s faithfulness is to ensure that intergenerational transfer is enabled and supported by the church.

The following tips are condensed from a blog by Jason Tilley that was written specifically to be shared with parents:

Take Your Own Faith Seriously
You cannot expect your kids to see the effects of the gospel in your life if you are not pursuing God in everything you do. Spend time in God’s word, make prayer an active part of your life. Apply what you are learning to your life. Talk about God and how he influences everything in your life often and out in the open. Your kids can tell if you believe what you say you do.

Have a Plan For Your Child
Be intentional with your child’s spiritual development. Set aside time during the day to engage your child. It could be Bible reading in the morning, prayers before bedtime, a weekly walk where you talk about how God made the world, how he loves us, how he gave his son for us. Make a plan and follow it through.

Make Church Participation A Priority
Active involvement in the church is a powerful force for shaping your child’s spiritual growth. So is not participating. Your child values what you value, so if soccer practice or lazy Sunday mornings always win over going to church, don’t be surprised when they value sports over God. Between the ages of 4 and 14 what a child learns, informs their thinking for the rest of their life.

Participation involves connecting with the living body (read: the people of the church) on a regular basis. This includes (in no particular order) attending services and other programs, serving somewhere in the church, spending time with other believers, and being generous.

*For Jason’s full post see the link above the condensed section. Jason is one of our ministry partners and board members and we work with him to aid and support children’s ministers and parents. You can find more information about Jason and Ministry Accelerator at Ministry

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Everyone will stand in awe and declare God’s deeds; they will recognize his works. — Psalm 64.9

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 4 (Listen – 4:33) 
Psalm 86-87 (Listen – 2:26)

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 5 (Listen – 4:25) Psalm 88 (Listen – 1:58)
Deuteronomy 6 (Listen – 3:13) Psalm 89 (Listen – 5:29)

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