Deuteronomy 6:1-25 (Part 1) – Right Back Where We Started From

Posted: January 3, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 6:1-25 (Part 1 of 6)

Love the Lord Your God

Right back where we started from. That’s where the Israelites were as they stand perched a generation later to take the Promised Land. It could have all been theirs some 40 years earlier, but they screwed it up. Now, they have gone forty years to just get back to where they were. How true is that of our lives?

 

One of the things that is frustrating for me personally is that here I am at age 54 and I am awaiting my time to serve the Lord full-time but it could have so easily happened thirty years ago if I had just met Jesus when I was a young man instead of waiting until I was 39 years old to accept Christ as my Savior. Although, in my secular career, I have done well and sit in a nice position professionally and financially at the moment, I am like Chandler on Friends when he decided to change careers from whatever he did before to advertising. He was the oldest intern at the ad agency when he first started the journey. He was not taken seriously at first because he was so much older. In my exposure of working full-time and of going to school to get my master’s degree in Christian ministry, I have seen all these young bucks who have the pastoral career path all ahead of them. They dress the right way to be the hip pastor types. And they have been dedicated to going into ministry since they were like 12 or something. They have wives who met the criteria for hip young pastors wives. They just seem to have it altogether. You know that they are going to be hot commodities and will get snatched up by some church somewhere. They seem to know all the right people and are in the right places to hear about the next good job in full-time ministry.

 

At the same time, you run into pastors that have been in “the business” for 20 to 30 years and seem to have all the right words, all the respect, and just seem to have it altogether. They seem to have a unique relationship with the Lord. The Word seems to permeate who they are and what they say. They know a whole bunch of folk in ministry. Even when they are 10 to 15 years younger than you, they have your respect because they have dedicated their lives to the Lord. They seem to do and say all the right things by second nature. Where I have to think and sit down and right about it, the words flow naturally from them. And, then, here I am and I often feel like they see me as a “poser” at worst and a nice little puppy at best but not someone who is taken seriously as a pastoral candidate. I am Chandler changing careers from whatever he did before to advertising. But Chandler had a passion for his second career. And if there was a follow-up movie to where Friends left off, I am pretty certain that Chandler would be writing commercials for GEICO (don’t they just seem like Chandler material!).

 

For me, the Lord has been after me in a relentless pursuit since I was a teenager long before I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. He has pricked my heart over the years since that time to be a full-time pastor. Watching my dad do it as part of a pastor’s family, I have been exposed the calling all my life. My dad when he was young, though somewhat academic in his approach and delivery, was an amazing preacher. The way he used illustrations to enlighten the gospel. The way he brought it home at the close of his sermons was always so good. My brother became a pastor. Though I have not heard my brother preach as much as my dad, my brother stays 7-8 years wherever the Methodist church in South Carolina sends him so he must be a good one. My uncle Doug was a pastor until he passed away a few years ago. I hear he was a good pastor as well. My brother’s father-in-law was a pastor as well. I have lived around the business all my life. But I was too busy pursuing my own personal lusts in life to have time for salvation much less the ministry. However, the Lord has been after my heart all these years. Although my secular career has given me much, sometimes, I feel as though I have hidden away there not willing to enter the land that God had designed for me.

 

Here I stand at age 54, a generation later, entering a new year when I will turn 55. God finally got my attention fifteen years ago and I accepted Him as my Savior and then He has proceeded to remove every objection that I have ever thrown up at Him for why I cannot go in the ministry full-time. Then, when I do accept the call without any further objections, He makes me wait. What does it all mean? Was all the time before wasted. Was the wilderness wandering wasted? Was there any purpose to it all? And what is the purpose now? I just imagine the Israelites listening to the book of Deuteronomy as it was being spoken by Moses for the first time (before it was written down). They were like come on, Moses. Come on. Let’s get to the business of conquering the Promised Land. Hurry up! Let’s get to the material that will become the Book of Joshua, already! I have been the same way during the past year until recently. God, you have my attention, my desire, and my passion to serve you. Come on, already! I ain’t gettin’ any younger here!

 

My own personal journey to the Promised Land and the waiting to conquer it is what I thought of this morning as we enter into the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 6:1-25, which reads as follows. We will spend a few days here on this chapter and today we will concentrate on the opening, 6:1-3

 

6 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, 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 ancestors, promised you.

 

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 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.

 

10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

 

13 Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. 16 Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah. 17 Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. 18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors, 19 thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the Lord said.

 

20 In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” 21 tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 Before our eyes the Lord sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. 23 But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. 24 The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. 25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”

 

Here in this passage, we see a nation that had wandered for 40 years in parched wilderness. The Israelites could have had the land flowing with milk and honey a generation earlier but they missed their chance (Numbers 13-14). Now, Moses was determined that this new generation of Israelites would not make the same mistakes by clearly explaining the conditions that God has laid out for them to enter and occupy it. They must understand the mistakes of their fathers and mothers and be willing to hear and be taught the ways of the Lord. The Lord wanted to use the experience of the parents of this generation to instruct them on what they should and should not do. The wilderness wandering did have that purpose. Now, the new generation must listen and learn so that they will not reach the same end. They must be patient and see and learn these lessons. Without the instruction of the wilderness wandering, they will not be prepared. Without the wilderness wandering they would not have appreciated the land, the Promised Land, flowing with milk money and honey.

 

That is the lesson for me also. There may be those who have been lucky enough to have accepted the Lord at an early age and have gone into the ministry at a young age. Good for them. But I must remember that God is writing my story not me. He has given me wilderness wanderings so that when I am a full-time pastor, I will be able to speak to people who are in the wilderness of sin and destruction. I have been there, done that, got the scars. I can be like the guys in the film Jaws when they are in the galley comparing scars. Sheriff Brody, not a lifetime seafaring man, could not compare stories. Sometimes, lifetime pastors are this way. They can sympathize but not empathize. My wilderness wanderings will serve a purpose in my fulltime ministry when it comes. I can so relate to the mistake-filled lives that I will encounter. Right now is the instruction time on how to be a minister. I must listen and learn. I must see how the guts of the church work so that I will not be dismayed in my idealism. I must be patient until God opens that door, maybe here in 2017. I must study, listen, and learn from those who have more experience in ministry than me. I must not be jealous of their long histories in service but rather embrace the experience that they have and seek out the knowledge that they have. I must be also a voice of wisdom to those young, idealistic bucks who have not had to wander in the wilderness, those that have chosen ministry from the beginning. I must listen to God’s instructions during this time while the Promised Land is in sight. I must make sense of it all and understand fully what God wants from me. I must prepare. I must listen. I must learn. I must see how my past and my present will serve my future. I must trust the Lord.

 

Amen and Amen.

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