O MY PEOPLE, HEAR MY VOICE; FOLLOW MY TEACHINGS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
3 NOVEMBER 1991
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verse: (Psalm 111:10)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever.
O My people!
Hear My voice!
Follow My teachings!
Thus the Lord our God has been crying out to us through the ages.
All I want is good for you.
I want every one of you with Me forever.
Won't you hear My plea, and accept My love for you?
Do we hear the Lord calling to us in this way?
I pray that we do, and that we never cease hearing His call to us.
At the end of Israel's 40 years in the wilderness, Moses spoke forth to remind the people why they had spent those forty years in the desert, and what they must do to prevent such chastisement again.
God does not delight in chastising His people.
He delights in giving them the best of everything.
Listen carefully to what Moses says to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 6:1-9), for through these recorded words the Lord is speaking to each and every one of us.
1. "Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it,
2. so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.
Do you hear the compassion of the Lord?
He's telling of all the good He has in store for us, if we will listen.
Even when He says we are to fear Him, it is not that we are to be terrified of Him, but that we should reverence Him – for He is God.
Perhaps those who disobey Him should be terrified of Him; but those people seem to fear the least.
As we continue with the words of Moses and the Lord, hear His compassion, as a loving parent speaking to a straying child; for He knows what awaits His child if he chooses the wrong pathway.
And note the positive persuasion.
There is no negativism, or threats of punishment.
There is only the promise of good for those who follow the Lord their God.
3. "O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
The expression 'flowing with milk and honey' is an idiomatic term and should not be taken literally; it means that the land will have the best of everything they need to live a happy life.
And then Moses relates for the Lord the key to our life's growth, and how we can have all that the Lord has promised us.
4. "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!
5. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
This means that we are to put nothing before the Lord our God, and that we are to love Him with every part of our being.
And if we truly love Him in this way, then we will also love the whole of His creation (our fellow human beings, all the animals, and the environment in which we all live), and do everything in our power to prevent anything from harming any part of it.
Let's go on.
6. "And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart;
7. and you shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.
In essence, there is no time in our day when we should not be thinking of the Lord, for when we do this we will be far less likely to stray away from God's word, and do any harm to His creation.
However, we let the cares of the day and the stress of earning a living and the strain of raising our children distract us from the Lord, just as was happening to the Israelites.
So Moses presented a series of reminders for the people, in order that they would remember the Lord their God and return to Him before they strayed too far.
8. "And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
9. "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The commandments of the Lord were to be remembered and thought about often, so they were symbolized by a series of knotted strings attached as fringes in their clothing, or as an undergarment that was wrapped around their arm or around their waist.
For religious services, they would put a copy of the commandments on small scrolls that were placed in blocks and bound to the forehead by straps.
These scrolls were also placed in little containers and mounted to the gates and doorposts of houses and businesses.
There was no place that a Jew could go or can go today where these reminders are not easily seen.
But most importantly, we need to remember that if we truly loved the Lord with every part of our being, we would never to any of the things these commandments were to prevent.
Our unconditional love would fulfill all the Law.
Remembering and loving the Lord and His commandments is also meant for the Christian today.
We hear of Jesus Christ on the radio and television.
There is church news in almost every paper in the land.
There are churches in every town and village in our land.
And most of us have Bibles.
The whole of God's creation is surrounds us.
We have plenty of reminders; but do we heed them?
Moses reminded the people that they, and we, must learn of these commandments and statutes, and of the greatest of them all: love.
But as part of this learning process, we must teach them diligently to our children and to each other.
We are to learn of them, and speak of them, and live them, until they are a part of every aspect of our lives.
Our problem today is like that of the Israelites: we have plenty of reminders, but we pay very little attention to them.
We try to bend God's ways to our ways, so that we don't have to take the time to learn of His ways.
We don't want to accept the fact that we have sins in our lives, and we much less want to be reminded of them.
We don't want to hear of them, even when we are shown the way of forgiveness.
Our communion service this morning is one of these reminders.
Nothing in the serving or eating of the bread or juice can take away our sins or forgive us.
But what we are doing is reminding ourselves that we are personally to reach out to the Lord our God.
We are to acknowledge our own sins and the sins of our society, and if we are truly sorry and desire to turn away from them, then the Lord is ever faithful to forgive us.
This is where reality is!
It is not in the eating or drinking; that is only to remind us.
Without our coming together, without our reminding and encouraging each other, we all too quickly lose sight of the true meaning and purpose of the Church.
It is the place where we come together to reinforce our belief and faith in the Lord, so that we would not stray and so that we would have all the good things the Lord has in store for us.
The Lord instructs us in this way because He has compassion for us.
He loves us!
And He wants us to learn more about His love by our sharing it with each other.
We cannot learn of God's love and compassion while still being proud in our hearts.
We must let our hearts be broken, just as Jesus did for us, so that we would follow His example.
O My people!
Hear My voice!
Follow My teachings!
Your Comments are welcome
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