Loving God With Our Soul Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Pastor Carey January 14, 2018

Off of the top of your head, what do you think would be the top 3 or 4 greatest speeches ever given in recent history?  Monday we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Would his “I have a dream” speech make your list?  How about FDR’s speech the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 (a day that will live in infamy)?  Maybe Churchill’s address to the UK to fight the Nazi’s and that they would never, never give up?  How about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or his second Inaugural Address?  Or Kennedy’s Inaugural?  Great speeches come at intersectional moments of history where, in a multitude of possible directions, one person helps others discern the pathway forward.

Deuteronomy is the final book of the Torah (Law) or Pentateuch. As the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, Moses began a series of actions and teachings before entering the land so that once they were there they would remember what God had promised, what God had done and what God would continue to do with, for and among them forever – if they would remain faithful and true to God.

In our scripture reading today, these two short, yet profound verses are part of a greater teaching and instructions, but they could also stand alone as one of the greatest speeches in the Bible.  For in these few words Moses places the focus of an entire nation, and ultimately all humanity on the single most important aspect of human life: there is one God and we are to always love that God with our entire being – our soul.

Moses begins his speech with the ultimate word of faith: love. To love something is to become attracted to and devoted to something or someone.  The love with which we love God is more than just a feeling.  It is a purposed decision to totally place our trust, our hope, our very lives into following, honoring, obeying and relying upon this God who has already proven his love to the Israelites by freeing them from the bondage of Egyptian slavery, and to us (while we were still sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8).

Some things are easy to love, some take time and still others are a daily focused effort to love.  And because humanity is sin-stained and sin-altered creatures, we are limited in our ability to love God and love others as fully as we were created to love originally.  But, the awesome news is that through faith in Jesus Christ we receive God’s justifying grace that restores our relationship with God. And through the presence and continuous working of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying grace we are able to grow into being a new person in Christ able to love Jesus and love like Jesus more and more each day.  The love of Jesus is a totally devoted, sold out, fully sacrificing and giving without limits love. This type of love comes from the core of our existence – our souls.

Our hearts are the place of our devotion and feeling.  Our strength is the place of our ability and talent.  But our soul is the core place of our true being.  Our soul is the life center of every human. Every single human is a soul made by God, for God and to need God.

Our soul is that deep place in each of us that connects our thoughts, our sensations, our gratitude and our will that sends a message to our entire being.  That message can be sent to others and it can be sent to God.  When our soul is healthy and connected to God no external circumstance can destroy our life. If our soul is not healthy and not connected to God, no external circumstance can redeem our life. Our souls are totally dependent upon God for everything that matters.  And Moses captures that deep spiritual truth in his 2-verse speech.  Love God with the place and thing that matters most to God and that matters most to us – our soul!  Notice Moses doesn’t say to love God with all of your-SELF.

Unfortunately, we seem to live in an era where we have forgotten “soul” language.  We rarely use that term to describe human lives. Tragically we have transitioned to “self-language” to describe our humanity. Many believe that humans are really “selfs”.  We even have our own “self-language”: myself, yourself, our self.  The “self” is totally opposite of the soul. The self is not connected to God, the self is independent from and toward God.

The self is a stand-alone, “I’ll do this by myself” being. Independent spirit is highly valued in our culture, and is admirable when it comes to being able to care for one’s self.  But from a divine perspective, it is that stand-alone, independent and self-seeking lifestyle and thinking process that began our problem with God in the first place – in Eden’s paradise. We live on the planet of “lost souls”. This is our human problem and only Jesus provides the cure.

To totally love God with our souls requires us to seek to keep our souls healthy. Soul health is a purposeful exercise every day.  It starts with our recognizing that everything we are involved in marks our soul – the good, the bad and everything in between. Then it branches out into our prayer life where we connect with the creator, author and perfector of our soul – Jesus, every day, allowing the Holy Spirit full access and guidance that then is lived out in our words, our deeds and motivations.  Our soul can be just fine even when everything in our world is all wrong, and vie-versa.  A soul becomes healthy when it loves God first and foremost every day.

Great speeches come at intersectional moments of history where, in a multitude of possible directions, one person helps others discern the pathway forward.  Moses’ speech may invite us to do our own “soul-searching” as we begin a new year together. So how is your soul today?

 

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