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Deuteronomy 29:1015; 30:13, 6, 1114, 1920comment (0)

June 21, 2007

By Matthew S. Kerlin

Related Scripture: Deuteronomy 29:1015; 30:13, 6, 1114, 1920

Minister to the University, Samford University, Ph.D.

Renew Your Devotion Today
Deuteronomy 29:10–15; 30:1–3, 6, 11–14, 19–20

American history is peppered with stories of spiritual awakening, periods in our nation’s history when God’s Spirit has seemed tangible to a critical mass of people whose lives were deeply changed. Many Christians today seek comparable experiences, but little evidence exists to suggest that many are willing to commit to following Christ with radical devotion. This is not to suggest that sincerity of commitment will inevitably lead to widespread revival but rather that people often desire an experience with God more than they display dedication to knowing God.

The covenant established between God and the Israelites meant that God’s promise of land and descendants was to coincide with Israel’s devotion to following God alone. While God remained faithful to the covenant, Israel often did not, and so the covenant often needed to be renewed. Our focal passages for this study appear in the context of a covenant renewal service, a time for the community to review God’s law and renew its commitment to it. As such, the passage may serve as a model for us as we seek to renew our devotion to God and to ask for spiritual awakening for our own churches.

Enter God’s Presence (29:10–15)
As the Israelites renewed their covenant commitment to God, they saw themselves as standing before the Lord to be re-established as the Lord’s people. We know from Israel’s history that God’s presence should not be taken lightly. They knew Yahweh to be a God of compassion and a God of fury. Their worship embraced the many dimensions of God and the harsh realities of life. A full awareness of God’s presence results in worship that is heartfelt and honest about sin and suffering as well as salvation. Such worship invites a response of repentance and full trust in God’s provision.

Return to Passionate Obedience (30:1–3, 6)
The covenant renewal ceremony included not only an acknowledgement of God’s presence but also a renewed call to obedience. The Israelites would not experience God’s blessing without committing themselves to God’s law. In other words, the desire to experience God means little without a willingness to obey God. Renewed passion for obedience will always accompany revival. Only people willing to commit themselves to God’s way will experience spiritual awakening.

With this in mind, we should examine church life and ask some difficult questions. Do our worship environments seek to create spiritual renewal through emotional experience or a renewed commitment to discipleship? Do our emotionally charged altar calls beckon people to walk an aisle or to alter radically their lives in conformity to Christ? Are we inviting people to join the American Christian culture, or are we calling people to follow Christ and die?

Know God’s Commands (30:11–14)
God made His commands evident to the Israelites. Likewise the question for us is not whether we know God’s will but whether we will follow it. Often people ask for God’s direction for big decisions such as choosing a career or finding a mate. Yet when the Bible speaks of God’s will, the issue more often concerns doing what God has commanded already. In other words, when we follow the commands God has made known, then we will have wisdom and clarity for our future.

Choose Life Today (30:19–20)
God’s invitation to the Israelites to “choose life” extends to us as well. There is no secret to success, no self-help strategy, no political ideology and no get-rich-quick scheme that can put our lives aright. God’s way is far simpler: choose life. When we obey and remain faithful to God, we choose life. When obedience to God becomes more important to us than emotional experiences, we choose life. When we seek to follow God rather than merely seeking revival, we choose life. Remember that Jesus came so that we might have life and “have it in abundance.” The choice is ours.

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