Recently I attended a church service where the message was a call to love God. Not just exalt Him and acknowledge His presence but to really love Him. There were several key points made about showing God how we love Him. Of course, Matthew 22:35-38 was referenced, but the main message centered around Deuteronomy 11. After a few days I wanted to review the points made so I started by reading the chapter but ended up receiving a lesson of promises and warnings.
In the reading, the Israelites were instructed to remember what God had done for them and to continue clinging to His directions. If they did this then things promised to go very well for them. Yes, they were about to experience something they never even knew to dream about. But God is telling them that they will have valleys and hills and water.
Coming out of a desert region where they had no place to hide from any desert storm that blew – no valley, no hill, no cover – a place with hills and valleys sounded wonderful. Then there’s water. When you think of deserts, you think of dry mouths from the lack of water. The new place sounds like the place to be.
But God speaks to the very nature of man in this chapter. When things get going well, we tend to forget about God. Hence, the warnings. In order to continue the new harvests, new wine, new olive oil, lush pasture for livestock, and food for eating then they needed to keep God’s anger away. It wasn’t that hard a thing to do. They were to love God, talk about God, and follow whatever God decreed for the people to do. Following this, He would drive out opposing forces. Sadly, we know from the other books in the Bible that they failed to hold to this simple instruction.
As I read the chapter, I felt the Lord was speaking to me about the new year and the continuation of the new path I am on. All of us are heading into a new year full of new experiences. Some of these we can see coming, like having a president who is not the normal politician. But, mostly, the new year holds mysteries; some big and some small, but definitely something different. This new year promises to bring me new experiences I’ve only dreamed of, like the publishing of my first novel, One Way Out.
God has always been with me, but in the past year I have seen His hand of provision and encouragement in new ways. He has taught me through His Word, and held me when I was lonely, sorrowful and angry. The lessons He has given me, the patience He has shown me, the love He has imparted to me through others has opened my eyes to how important I am to Him. We all are. Knowing it completely is the tricky part.
Near the end of the chapter it states that God has been cultivating this new land. I get the sense that this new year is one God has been preparing. Who knows what all we have ahead of us. I do know that the land the Israelites took over had hills and valleys. That means there will be good times and tough times in our coming year. There will also be water. Jesus said His water would cause us to never be thirsty again. This year may bring us plenty of Jesus so that our souls’ longing is quenched. (John 7:37-38; 6:35; 4:13-15)
I like the way the end of the chapter reads in the Message version. When we enter the new year we will be at a crossroad. As is the way of God, we have freewill. We choose what path we take. We either remember and follow God and thus receive His promises, or we ignore what He’s done for us in the past and fall into the curses that follow.
This new year is a new adventure for all of us. We are entering a time that God has had His focus on. He has tended it and has prepared it for us to enter. I don’t know about you but my plan is to do my best to remember what God has done for me and to follow the path of promises so I can soak up all that God has for me. God will bless our steps and actions and take us to places we didn’t think were possible.