Do you ever wonder what God wants from you? Maybe you’re evening wondering it right now. Even when we faithfully go to church and read the Bible on our own, sometimes it seems like there are so many things we’re supposed to do that it gets confusing to pinpoint the most important ones (not to mention overwhelming!). We can leave our personal Bible time with such a long list of personal traits and godly characteristics that we don’t even know where to start. Similarly, our time at church can add the social pressure of serving in multiple capacities while pretending we have it all together. What a shame! This is not at all what the Lord intends, but this is how the Enemy exploits. But wouldn’t it be helpful to have everything boiled down to a couple of categories to focus on instead of a long list of commands? This is what we find tucked within the pages of our journey through Deuteronomy.
But before we dive into discovering what God wants from us, it is important to first take a look at WHY he wants it, but also why he deserves it. Deuteronomy 10: 14, 15 says: “To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations- as it is today.” Isn’t that awe inspiring? I love the phrasing here. He “set his affection” on them, loved them, and chose them above everyone else. He deserves what he asks of us because of this. This is the main motivation of everything we are going to discuss. And it’s important to keep it in mind so it doesn’t turn faith into a series of tasks but stays as a loving response to our Father.
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” Deuteronomy 10: 12, 13
Let’s break this down with some practical applications. If this is what God asks of us, it is always helpful to come up with some ways of how to get there!
1. Fear Him: How do we create or encourage the fear of the Lord in our lives? Now, I don’t know Hebrew, but my Bible has a note on the phrase “to fear the Lord”. It says that fear can also be translated as awe or wonder. We tend to think of fear as a response to something dangerous or threatening. And yes, God is powerful. But God is also love. And our fear needs to be inspired by awe and wonder of him and who he is instead of a fear that he is going to punish us. One of the easiest ways to do this, we have already experience in our time today. When you read Deuteronomy 10: 14, 15 above, did that inspire awe and wonder in you? The more we read passages like that one, the more the fear of the Lord will become a part of how we view him.
Try: Maybe keep a running list of verses like this that you can read to remind yourself why God is to be feared, awed and wondered. Try reading a couple every morning. Or memorize a favorite to recite when you need to realign your perspective.
2. Walk in Obedience: We talked about this in another post, but they key word here is walking. This is different than “Observing His Commands.” This is not following a list of things not to do. Walking in obedience is much harder than that. When I think of this, I think of the verse that talks about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. Doing that is not just following a command, but is a daily choice to choose what is right, even when it is hard.
Try: The things you know you struggle with, find verses that talk about that. Then pray them over yourself. One of my favorite verses comes out of 1 Peter. “Be holy, because I am holy.” I would pray this over myself. I would ask God to help me desire holiness, simply because he is holy. I would ask him to create in me a desire to be like him. Ask the Lord to reveal things that you might struggle with this but are unaware of. Take your blinders off when you read the Bible, maybe even try reading it in another translation. And believe the Bible. When it says something, it actually means it.
3. Love Him: I feel as if this is the most abstract of these five. It can be hard to define. But remember that God is a “person” (you know what I mean….). You have a real relationship with him like you would anyone else. If you don’t interact with him like that, it’s going to be hard to love him, not just love what he does. Spend time with him, like you would anyone else. Talk to him and let him talk back!
Try: I love the idea of The Five Love Languages, which comes out of a book by Gary Chapman. The idea is that you give and receive love in five different ways, but we each have ones that we naturally gravitate towards more. The five areas are: physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time (I do think food is missing!!). Try expressing your love to God in each of those ways. Get creative! He is very creative and won’t mind you doing something out of the box.
4. Serve Him: “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10: 18, 19. One easy way to serve him is to serve others like he does. These verses are clear examples of how he serves people, and he asks us to do the same thing. Sometimes we miss our opportunities to serve him because we’re simply just moving too fast. It’s hard to recognize an opportunity to serve God at the grocery store when our focus is on beating our record for getting back to the car. But all around us are people that desperately need Jesus and we can serve God by reflecting a little of him in their direction. Serving God means serving him and his purposes instead of ours. So what is an area that your plans or purposes are above God’s and you need to choose to serve him instead?
Try: Pick one person a day to serve. Maybe you pick one stranger in every place you go to serve and bless. Maybe you pick one fellow believer a day. Maybe you even do both. Bring someone dinner, let a mom with fussy kids go ahead of you in line, pray for the person that is having a hard time on the spot! But be intentional, and let people know why you serve them. We can be nice all we want, but we need to attribute it to Jesus.
5. Observe His Commands: This is what we normally think of, following the Ten Commandments etc. We’ve read a lot of commands so far in our journey through the Bible, but it’s not enough to know them, we need to follow them. The language here reminds me of how we observe national holidays. It’s not that we obey holidays but we honor them. The same idea applies here. We don’t just obey his commands but we honor them.
Try: TAKING A SABBATH! Literally. A day off. And I’m not talking about a few hours over the course of the week that adds up to 24 hours. Pick a day and rest. We all rest in different ways, so do whatever is restful to you. But try to actually follow what we’ve read about the Sabbath. Try to plan ahead and not cook!
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations- as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths to his name. He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky. ~Deuteronomy 10:12-22