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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:Hear and Remember!
Text:Deuteronomy 6:1-12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2022-05-23
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Judges 2

Text: Deuteronomy 6:1-12

 

HEAR AND REMEMBER!

  1. So that you can teach properly

  2. So that you can worship properly

  3. So that you can live properly

 

1. Psalm 135: 1, 2, 5, 7, 9

2. Psalm 119: 41, 42, 44

3. Psalm 114:1-4

4. Hymn 84: 1-4

5. Hymn 54: 1, 2, 6, 8

 

Words to Listen For: selfie, backbone, hobby, hundredth time, dream

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. Why is it important that Moses is not designing a curriculum?

  2. What is so special about Deuteronomy 6:4?  What’s it called?

  3. What if we’re not good at talking about God?  What do we do?

  4. What two things does true worship depend on?

  5. What is the danger of God’s blessings?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Do you know how you were saved?

I don’t mean THEOLOGICALLY, how it all worked out.  Many of us are very good at explaining the “golden chain of salvation.”  Many of you can probably rattle off what Paul teaches so beautifully in Romans 8

Those whom He predestined

    He also called

    Those whom He called,

        He also justified

        Those whom He justified

            He also glorified

It is important to know, theologically, how you were saved.  But that’s not what I’m asking you.

Do you know how YOU were saved?

You individually.  Zeroing in on your life in particular, zeroing in between the call of God and the justification of Jesus Christ...zeroing in on your faith.  How did God work in your life to bring you to the point of faith?

This story is called your testimony, and each and every one of us should have one.  Even if you were the “typically good kid” growing up in the church, marrying your high school sweetheart, never experimenting with drugs, never abusing alcohol...you still have a testimony.  You still have a testimony because you were saved from death and brought into life.  Even if you can’t remember it...each and every one of us was once a child of wrath.  Even our covenant children, even children of God are, by nature, children of wrath.

Not having a dramatic testimony, like those being set free from a gang, or set free the destructive power of Islam...all that this mean sis that the sins that you struggled with are so-called respectable sins.  Sins like discontentment, pride, selfishness, and judgementalism.  And these sins are much easier to keep secret than a life of crime.  These sins are much easier to justify to ourselves and to others.  These sins are ones that aren’t typically challenged off the pulpit.

But my point in saying all of this is...your testimony is important.  Your testimony is important for you to know, and it is important for you to share.

But this testimony, when you think about it, when you tell it...make sure that it is testifying to the thing it is supposed to testify to: the power of God’s grace in your life.  Don’t make your testimony, as one writer put it: a spiritually tinted selfie.  All about you, with just a hint of God.

Instead, our job as Christians is to hear and remember.  Hear God’s voice in His Word, and Remember what He has done in your life.

HEAR AND REMEMBER!

  1. So that you can teach properly

  2. So that you can worship properly

  3. So that you can live properly

Now this is the commandment - the statutes and the rules - that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess.

As we may or may not remember, Deuteronomy is the record of Moses’ farewell speech.  Moses’ last lecture to the people.  Here, Moses is acting as teacher, just as he had been for the last 40 years.  Moses is their teacher...but not for too much longer.

By the end of this farewell lecture, Moses’ time on this earth would have run out.  Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.  God simply called him home.

And Moses knew that this was going to happen.  Moses knew that he would not be around forever to guide the Israelites and teach generation after generation.  This was the second and final generation that he would teach.

And so, what we see here, could be called a curriculum.  This is the guide and the pattern for what should be taught to the people.  But, unlike a school teacher or catechism teacher, Moses was not DESIGNING this curriculum himself.  He wasn’t designing the curriculum, but rather he was recognizing it.  He was HEARING it from God.  Moses heard and the people are to hear too.

We see this word “hear” in verse 3 and 4, and it is a very important word.  The Hebrew, Shema, means to hear, to obey, to understand, or even to witness.  To testify.

HEAR therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them (the commandments of the LORD), that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

HEAR, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

This is God’s chosen method of education.  We can remember, back in Deuteronomy 4 that Moses explains: The LORD said to me, Gather the people to me, that I may let them HEAR my words...then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire.  You HEARD the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.

Hearing is important.  Time and again, we see this in the Bible.  God works through WORDS.  Though there were times He sent visions, these visions were always accompanied by words.  By instruction.  By explanation.

Hearing is important, and we should not be wiser than God and invent our own ways of educating our children.  Your testimony, the testimony of Scripture, will do far more than anything else ever could.  Even when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead IN FRONT OF THOSE WHO DOUBTED HIM, what happened?  While some believed, far more of them went out and plotted His death.

The people gathered around Jesus Christ to hear His words, because He taught differently than the other Rabbis.  He taught as one who had authority.

Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.

These 11 words are foundational to Orthodox Jews.  Dating all the way back to the time when Moses said them in the desert.  For more than 3000 years, Orthodox Jews have been saying this twice a day as a call to faith and a call of faith.

This is known as the Shema, named after the first word “Hear.”

This call would sound like this: “Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Elohenu, Adonai echad.”

Twice a day: “Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Elohenu, Adonai echad.” for over 3000 years.

Parents would teach their children the Shema, and children would dutifully repeat it back, just like prayertime at meals with our young children.

But this was just the start of what parents were supposed to do.

Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.

You see, there was no room for the people of Israel to be Sunday Christians.  Or, perhaps I should say, for Sabbath Israelites.  Your faith is not just something to do when you would appear with your families at the temple twice a year, or later, when you would go to the synagogue.

Instead, their theology, their witness to what the LORD had done, was to be foundational for their whole life.  Their backbone, the structure that held everything else up.

We can see this in how they celebrated the Passover.  In Exodus, the people were commanded to observe this memorial meal and have it as a statute for them and their sons forever.  When they would enter the Promised Land, they were to keep this ordinance.  And God says “when you children say to you, “what do you mean by this service?” you shall say, “It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for He passed over the house of the people of Israel in Egypt, when He struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.”

We can see it also with the stone monuments that the Israelites were to build.  When the people crossed the Jordan river into the Promise Land, they were to take twelve stones from the river and set them up as a monument, that this would be a sign for the people.  And when your children ask in the times to come, “What do these stones mean to you?” then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD.  So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.

Each and every animal sacrifice was to bring to mind the death that came when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit in the garden, and God clothed them in animal skins.

Every part of this religion worked together for it to be remembered forever.  Never forgotten.

And yet what happened?  We read of the tragedy that started the cycle of sin in the times of the Judges, in Judges 2.

After Joshua died, at the age of 110, and all those of the generation who heard Moses’ final instructions died, we read “and there arose another generation after them, who did not know the LORD or the work that He had done for Israel.

The very generation that heard these words from Moses, the very generation that had experienced being fed with manna and quail, who had drunk water from the rock.  The generation who had walked through the Jordan River and build the monument of 12 stones...they did not teach their children!  They did not teach their children as they were instructed to!

And the consequences were disastrous!  It’s a little long, this list of consequences, but WE must not forget.  We must hear and remember

The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. They abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.  So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress.

Now, we might be tempted to feel sorry for the Israelites here.  After all, not everyone is a teacher.  Not all of us are blessed in that way.

But, in reality, it’s not hard.  For each and every one of us has a passion, don’t we?  Each and every one of us has a hobby.  We might not all be able to teach physics or chemistry, but ask us about cars?  Or television shows?  Ask us about art, or photography, or hiking...fill in the blank...and we could talk your ear off.

And that is how it should be for each and every one of us with God.

We might not know all the Bible stories…

    But there’s a solution for that.  Your Bible is right in front of you.  HEAR its story.

We might not know church history and how God worked with John Hus and Martin Luther…

    But not every child will be interested in that anyways.

What they are interested in, what they really want to know, is how the gospel has affected YOU.  How it has affected YOU PERSONALLY.  Your children want to hear your testimony.  Your children need to hear your testimony.

They might not know the questions to ask...they might need to be taught, just like the Israelite children were taught what to ask at Passover and when they saw monuments in the land.  But teach them!  Teach your children the most important lesson they will ever learn!

Teach them about the story of salvation.  God’s power.  God’s faithfulness.  God’s love.  Teach them why you are where you are today.  Grandparents and great-grandparents have wonderful stories...but so do parents.  You don’t have to live to 80 or 90 to have examples of how God has worked in your life.

Talk to your children about answered prayers.  Talk to them about the blessings you have received.  Tell them about the trials that God saw you through.

Talk about your faith like it is something real.  Like it is something joyful.  We need to show our children and all those around us that the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ is the best thing in all creation.  The gospel message of salvation BY Grace.  The gospel message of salvation THROUGH Faith.  The gospel message of a God who was willing to die to save His people. This the most rewarding thing in all creation.  New life for the dead.  Food for the hungry and thirsty soul!

Because the world is hungry.  Your children are hungry.  And thirsty for meaning, and for truth.  If your children ask you why they have to go to church on a Sunday...the first time they ask, it is a wonderful opportunity.  But if they ask a second and third and hundredth time, take that as a sign that you need to share more with them about what really matters.  You have the true meaning of life.  You have the real truth.  Don’t keep it from them!

But instead, teach them.  Teach those around you, with every chance you have.  When you sit in your house.  When you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise.  And when we hear God’s word, when we listen, remember, and teach, then it will transform the way we worship.  Our second point.

Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.

It's not just about saying the Shema, not just pronouncing the words and getting your children to memorize it, but rather, the meaning was important.  Just like the stone memorial, just like the Passover, it was about the meaning behind it.

Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.

You may notice in your Bibles that “LORD” is in all capitals.  That means that the original Hebrew has the name “Yahweh” here.  In an overzealous desire to not take the Lord’s name in vain, an orthodox Jew would substitute Lord (Adonai) for Yahweh, and never pronounce God’s personal name.  That’s why you didn’t hear me say “YHWH” when I spoke the Shema earlier.

But it is important for us to know that this statement of faith is a statement of the exclusivity of Yahweh’s claim to divinity.  Yahweh was the one true God, and Yahweh alone.  He does not share power with Satan, as though there are equal powers of good and evil.  He does not share His heavenly throne with other gods, making up a pantheon with Zeus and Allah.  But it is Yahweh, and Yahweh alone.

The next generation, the generation who did not know the LORD, who had forgotten Yahweh, had also forgotten His exclusive claim to divinity.  We read that they served the Baals.  We read that they went after other gods.  That they abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.

The people went after other gods, following the example of the nations around them.  Because, congregation, because it is ingrained within us to listen, to learn, and to imitate.  And since their parents were not teaching them what to listen to and who to serve, they turned elsewhere.

And the world around them in the Promised Land wasn’t much different than our world today.  This world thrives on a nameless God.  It thrives on a nameless God.  Let me explain what I mean.

The reason that a secular country like the United States can continue to have the phrase “In God we trust” on their money, and a secular country like Canada has, so far, kept the phrase “God keep our land” in the national anthem, is because the word “God” can be understood in many different ways.  In schools, children are encouraged to think of any god they choose when they sing these words.  What really matters is to have some sort of belief, they are told.  A belief in some type of higher power.

There is a certain respect for religious leaders in this world, no matter what religion.  The religion itself can be mocked, but the religious leaders, whether pastors, priests, rabbis or imams...there is still some respect there.

But the truth is, we are not all the same.  A Pastor will preach that Islam is a false religion, and an Imam will say the same of Christainity.  Worship is not just important because it is worship, but it has to be worship of the true God.  True worship of the true God.

Moses makes it very clear that true worship depends on 2 things

          True worship is about WHO

          True worship is about HOW

Who is deserving of worship?  Only Yahweh.  Baal and Asherah are not deserving of worship.  They are false gods.  We sung of this earlier in the service: Idols are but precious ore, fashioned by the hands of men.  They have eyes, but cannot see; nations worship them in vain.

And true worship is about who.  Worshipping a false God, however sincerely, is not right.  You can be sincere...and you can be sincerely wrong.

True worship is also about how.  And this, Moses explains to the people as well.

Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Who are we to worship?  Yahweh.

How are we to worship?  In love.

Our God wants us to worship Him with everything that we have.  With our heart, with our soul, and with our might.  In this command, we find no room for divided affections.  We find no room for divided allegiance.  Our God wants us to serve Him with everything.

He wants us to serve Him with our whole heart.  Everything that you love with your heart must be in service to Him.  We are allowed to love His gifts.  We are encouraged to love His gifts and use them.  But always out of our ultimate love for Him.

He wants us to love Him with our whole soul.  Our souls are not just our spiritual selves, but in many cases in Scripture, soul literally means life.

Moses started in the heart, but has moved one step larger by saying that Yahweh wants us to love Him with EVERYTHING.  Not just emotionally, but in all our actions.  In our work and in our play.  In our eating and in our exercising.

He wants us to love Him with our whole might.  Our whole strength.

This means everything we have at our disposal.  Our physical might.  Our financial might.  Our emotional might.  Our spiritual might.  Whatever God has blessed you with, He expects you to use properly.  For Him and for His kingdom.

One pastor puts it like this: Everything that you do with your hands.  Everything that you love with your heart.  Everything that you think with your mind...it’s all His.

Beloved, when we worship properly, we have our foundation right.  We have a solid foundation, one that will never crack.  And so, even if the earth gives way into the heart of the sea, and the foundations of the world teeter, our foundation never will.  When we worship properly, we can live properly.  Our final point.

When we hear and remember, we can live life as it was meant to be.  This does not mean a life that is completely absent of suffering.  It is not a life that is easy, or even always happy.  But it is a life of blessings and a life that is characterized by joy.

We can see the life that was promised to the Israelites in the Promised Land:

The LORD your God will bring you into the land that He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob to give you - with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plan...you will eat and will be full.

But this isn't just a description of blessings.  It is a description that comes with a warning.

When all of this happens...then take care, lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

All of these blessings...the cities, the houses, the vineyards and olive trees...none of them will do the Israelites any good if they do not remember and obey.

Let me say that again.  God’s blessings cannot do you any good if you do not have God Himself with you.

A life made up of blessings sounds like a dream come true, but in reality, Satan can use the blessings of a good life to drag you away from God, just as easily as he can use the struggles of a bad life.

Take care, lest you forget the LORD.

When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, they cried out to the LORD.  They called out to Him, again and again for deliverance.

When the Israelites were wandering in the desert, living from day to day in terms of food and water...they did not forget God.  Satan used this time in the desert to get them to rebel, but they never forgot.

But on the other hand, prosperity has a dark side to it.  When everything is going your way, when you are happy and life is easy, turning to God might be the last thing on your mind.

But Moses reminds the people of where they came from.  He says, Take care lest you forget the LORD, WHO BROUGHT YOU OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, OUT OF THE HOUSE OF SLAVERY.

Don’t forget what life was like.  Don’t continue to live as a slave, don’t continue to live in your brokenness after you have been healed, but also don’t forget that brokenness.  It is part of your history.  It is part of God’s history with you.  His history in the world.

Living right, living properly means that each and every day, you live for God.

          In the happy moments

               Praise God.

          In the difficult moments

               Seek God.

          In the Quiet moments

               Worship God

          In the Painful moments

                Trust God

          In every moment

               Thank God.

No matter what kind of moments your life is filled with right now, God has brought you here.  To this place.

At any moment along the way, He could have left you.  At any moment, God had every right to show you justice without mercy for your sins.  This is true of me too.  Just as much as for you.

But our God will never leave us or forsake us.  He won’t abandon us in our sins.  But instead, what He did when things were hopeless is He sent His Son.  He sent His Son to bring us the ultimate salvation.  Saved, not from Egypt, but from sin.  Saved, not from Pharaoh, but from Satan.

Set free, and given, not the Promised Land of Canaan, but a Promised heavenly land.  A land full of blessings and free of sin.  The new Heavens and the New Earth.

So live your life in the freedom that God has given you.

Live your life in thankfulness for all His blessings.

Live your life in faith, trusting in God because He has come through for you, time after time.  Preserving you and loving you each step of the way.

Live your life proclaiming the perfections of your God, testifying to His triumph and victory, and His Kingdom that rules over all.

AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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