Yesterday I referred to the axiom, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” but I didn’t talk about how it matters. This week we are looking at Deuteronomy 11, and how to grow love for God, and I promise that I’ll eventually explain how the axiom about the apple tree relates to this. But today, we look at more ways to grow our love for God. If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, you can do so here.
Yesterday we looked at the first of seven sections in Deuteronomy 11, verses 1-7, where Moses tells the people of Israel that they can grow their love for God by remembering what he did in their lives. That brings us to the next section, which covers verses 8-12.
In this second section, the thing he wants them to do is found in verse 8: observe all God’s commands. Sounds similar to the first section, doesn’t it?
But this time, Moses’ rationale changes. Why does he want them to observe all God’s commands? Do you see he uses two “so that” statements? Observe the commands…so that…what? The first is in verse 8: “so that you may have strength to go in and take over the land.” That is really interesting to me. Observing God’s commands, Moses says, gives them strength.
The second “so that” is in verse 9. “Observe all the commands, so that you may live long in the land.” Observing God’s commands, then, will give them strength and longevity in the Promised Land. Then Moses reminds them that the Promised Land is amazing, so they will definitely want to be there. In verse 10, he says the land is not like Egypt, which they had to work hard to irrigate. In verses 11-12, he says the land across the Jordan will be irrigated from heaven by the Lord. If they obey God’s commands, then, it will be like they get a bonus farmer with super farming powers that will be working along with them.
Once again, God is prominent in Moses’ rationale. In the first section, God was their savior. In this second section, he is their provider. But they have to obey his commands to access his blessing.
That brings us to Section 3, which covers verses 13-15. Go ahead and read those verses for yourself. Are you starting to see the pattern? Let’s take a closer look.
What is the thing he wants them to do? Yup, there it is again in verse 13: “faithfully obey the commands, love God, serve him with all your heart and soul.” Seems familiar!
And what will the result be? In verse 14, if they obey and love God, then God will send rain and they will have a wonderful harvest. Likewise, in verse 15, God will provide grass for cattle. The conclusion? If they obey and love him, they will have food! That’s pretty important in the days before supermarkets, especially considering the people he is talking to here. What have they just been through…for 40 years…in the food department? Nothing but manna and quail and a struggle to get clean water in the wilderness. We can’t imagine what that must have been like. It must have been glorious for these Israelites to have their minds filled with visions of a variety of tasty vegetables, fruits, grains, meats and drinks in the Promised Land. God is saying, “people, if you obey my commands and love me and serve me with all your heart, it will be a buffet every day for you.”
What have we seen so far? The people have loads of good reasons to love and obey God. His work saving them in the past, and the dream of their own land, and a bountiful one at that, in their future. Blessings abound for those who obey the Lord, Moses says. How, then, can we grow our love for God? By looking to him as our provider! God will strengthen, sustain and supply.
How will you look to God as your provider? One practical way is to obey his command to be generous. When we practice generosity in our lives, we are saying, “God, I will gratefully, joyfully, give back to you from the blessing you have poured out on me.” Some ways to practice generosity is through giving to your church family, or giving to local charitable organizations serving those in need in your community and around the world. Giving generously might require you to live more simply, to spend less on your selfish, so that you have more disposable income to give away. Will you take a step of faith and give generously, showing that you love God and depend on him as your provider?
Another way to depend on God as your provider is to follow him in ways that are difficult for you. Maybe it is working with a person or group that irritate you or rub you the wrong way. Maybe it is a ministry in your church that needs help, and you would much rather do something else, but you choose to lend your time and talent to that ministry anyway. By the way, in almost any church family, children’s ministry needs people to serve. Spend a Sunday per month in the nursery. Teach in a children’s class. You just might find that you learn more preparing to teach than realize! Or maybe there is a family in your neighborhood that needs help with yard work or cleaning. You have a lot of yard work and cleaning of your own to do, and you really don’t have time to help others, but you could choose to do so anyway. Are there any people from different ethnicities or cultures, or those who speak a different language, and they seem disconnected from your community? How could you help them connect?
How will you show your dependence on God, who is your provider?