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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

Deuteronomy 11.1, 2

You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always. And consider today (since I am not speaking to your children who have not known or seen it), consider the discipline of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm…”

The message is thus: Don’t lose sight of what God has promised, or of how He has thus far moved to fulfill those promises. And realize that further enjoyment of those promises is along the path God Himself has marked out in His Law. Believe, obey, and enjoy: here is a formula for blessedness.

This is “always” the way God brings His people to higher stages of blessedness. We must “always” walk in obedience to what God has revealed, beginning in His Law. There will never be a time when we will not be dependent upon God’s revealed Word in order to know how we must live before Him. Those, therefore, who scorn the Law of God, preferring to be “led by the Spirit” or to live “by the law of love”, are deceived. They would substitute for what God has revealed some subjective and sentimental standard of righteousness that seems right to them at the moment. Such has “always” been the way of death (Prov. 14.12).

God is appealing to Israel’s love for Him – because of His promises and redeeming grace – but, as we recall, Israel was not merely to love the Lord. They were also to fear Him. Sadly, love for God is never a completely adequate motivation for obedience, not even in the age of grace. God commands His people to run their race with energy and obedience, looking to Jesus, the quintessence of God’s promises and the agent of God’s redemption (Heb. 12.1, 2). But, in the same context, having reminded them of His grace and called them to faith and obedience, He also reminds them of His ability and determination to discipline those who fail to adhere to the way of righteousness unto which He has redeemed them (Heb. 12.3-11).

Such discipline is not pleasant. The people of Israel, assembled on the plains of Moab, would know that their hard-hearted fathers had all perished in the wilderness. Those hearing Moses would have seen God’s discipline, known its pain and sorrow, and have therefore been motivated to obey Him out of fear that such might befall them yet again.

God calls His people to obedience out of gratitude and love, but also out of fear.

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Deuteronomy 11.1, 2

You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always. And consider today (since I am not speaking to your children who have not known or seen it), consider the discipline of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm…”

That “therefore” cues us to look back to the preceding passage for the reason God requires the obedience of His people. Deuteronomy 10.22 reads, “Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.” This is a direct reference to God’s promise to Abram in Genesis 15.1-6, and it invites the people to respond to the grace of God just as their forefather did: “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”

This is how the divine economy operates: God graciously selects a people to be His own, and draws them after Him by holding out precious and very great promises (2 Pet. 1.4). They respond by faith, demonstrated in obedience, thus making it possible for God to bring them into His promises, if only in an initial phase. Receipt of the promise at that level engenders renewed faith on the part of the faithful, leading to obedience and further realization of the promises, and so forth.

God had just delivered His people from Egypt, graciously “remembering” His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 2.24). Now, on the plains of Moab, east of the land of promise, Israel was poised to begin enjoying the next phase in God’s covenant promises. And how would that happen? How would they gain further benefits from the God of grace? By looking to the promises and walking in obedience to God’s Law.

How thorough must their obedience be? Israel is to “keep” God’s charge, defined as His statutes, rules, and commandments. Exhaustive obedience to all the Law of God: this is the key to continued enjoyment of the promises. Let us keep in mind that obedience is not unto redemption. Redemption has already been accomplished and was all of grace. Israel – then and now – was not saved by works, but unto them. Obedience is to be out of gratitude for redemption, unto further realization – higher stages of realization – of the precious and very great promises of God, and is therefore by faith.

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Deuteronomy 10.17-19

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

Again, the Lord asserts His greatness and integrity. He can do what He promises as well as what He commands, and He will not change His mind (Mal. 3.6). He is incorruptible and worthy of our deepest admiration and love. We would not exist without Him. We would have no hope without Him. We would not know how to live without Him, nor could we continue to exist even for a moment. Whatever way we might design to pursue our endeavors, apart from Him, can only lead to disappointment and death (Prov. 14.12).

So let us hear this Lord, fear this God, receive His Word, hope in His promises, and walk in all His ways, looking to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our salvation (Heb. 12.1, 2). Thus we will know full and abundant life (Jn. 10.10) and all the promises and blessings of our God (2 Cor. 1.20; 2 Pet. 1.4).

And lest we should think that God’s Law is only incumbent upon or intended to bless the elite few of society, the Lord emphatically declares that the blessings He intends through His holy and righteous and good Law (Rom. 7.12) extend to the very least of Israelite society – orphans, widows, and strangers. This is why pure and undefiled religion is defined in the New Testament as extending the grace and blessings to God to such as these (Jms. 1.27). His grace is sufficient for all our needs, and it flows in wave upon wave to all His chosen people through our Lord Jesus Christ and the grace of God’s Law.

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Deuteronomy 10.14-16

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”

In order to bless us with His “good”, God requires of us something we cannot accomplish: He requires that we “circumcise” our hearts. And what God requires of us, He will hold us accountable to perform (Gen. 4.6-12).

Here again, the grace of the Law is evident. For what God requires of His people, He promises to perform on their behalf (cf. Deut. 30.1-10). God promised to circumcise the hearts of His people so that they would be able to keep His Law and, thereby, know the blessings of His covenant. He is powerful to conceive the Law and to require its obedience; He is also powerful to enable His people to love and walk in it.

Ezekiel and Jeremiah assign the fulfillment of this promise to the time of the New Covenant (Jer. 31.31-34; Ezek. 36.26, 27). All those, therefore, who have come to faith in Jesus Christ have received a new heart, a clean heart, and the indwelling Spirit of God. And all who have that Spirit in them will have hearts formed by the Spirit to know and obey the Law of God, unto their good.

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Deuteronomy 10.14-16

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”

Given that God loves us and intends His Law for our good, why does the Law of God languish among men? Why do even those who claim to know Jesus Christ seem to have so little regard for God’s Law?

It’s not that we don’t acknowledge the Ten Commandments. We do; we just don’t take them very seriously: witness the way the Lord’s Day is regarded by most Christians, and the easy way the fifth, seventh, ninth, and tenth commandments are ignored or rationalized away.

The answer is that, like ancient Israel, we are stubborn in our hearts. We want what we want, when we want it, and we will do our best to bend the Word and Law of God to our own selfish interests. Israel’s stubborn heart cost her dearly throughout the course of the Old Testament. Her story of stubbornness was written for our benefit (Rom. 15.4); yet it often seems as though God’s covenant people today simply aren’t listening.

The solution to our stubborn hearts is a circumcised heart. God commands His people to acquire something which, on their own, they simply cannot do. We cannot “circumcise” our hearts. We cannot remove the encrusted wickedness that corrupts our souls and keeps us from taking the will of God, as revealed in His Law, as our priority in life (Heb. 9.8, 14). The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked: who can know it (Jer. 17.9)? And if we cannot know it, how shall we be able to repair it by removing all that wickedness which keeps us from loving God and His Law?

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The God of Love

June 26, 2012

Deuteronomy 10.14-16

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”

What is God’s motive in requiring so much of His people?

Nothing that inheres in the creatures; rather, God’s motive in giving this Law for our good is that He loves us. Of His own free will He set His love on our forefathers, entering into His covenant with them and ultimately fulfilling all the terms of the covenant through our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1.20). In Jesus Christ we attain to God’s precious and very great promises, and, through these, actually participate in the very life of God – the life sketched out in His Law.

Thus, God’s covenant love, redemptive purpose, and sanctifying intent come together in His Law, for the good of His people whom He loves.

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Deuteronomy 10.14-16

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”

Who is this God Who requires so much of His people?

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind respecting the question of Who stands back of the Law of God. He is Creator, Sustainer, and Owner of all created things. Simple observation of the cosmos tells us that this God is powerful, wise, good, orderly, and unchanging.

Further, He is completely free and independent of His creatures; He has no need of the cosmos nor of the men who inhabit it (Acts 17.25). He is immense, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. He lacks for nothing. All the holy and eternal being and power of God have gone into the proclamation of His Law. Men must not doubt for a moment His intention of seeing this Law obeyed – not because of God’s desire to dominate or tyrannize His creatures, but because of His determination to bless them.

He who promises that the Law He has commanded is for our good is able, as we see from the creation around us, to cause that Law to accomplish its desired intent.

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Light? Me? Now?

June 22, 2012

Where will you shine your light today?

True Shepherd

June 20, 2012

Patrick was a true shepherd of God's flock.

In the world we will have trouble, and trouble is never pleasant.

We are called to make lasting contributions.

For Our Good

June 24, 2012

Deuteronomy 10.12, 13

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?”

Moses reminds us that God intends all that He requires of us for our “good.” That word is deliberately chosen to invoke God’s original plan for the world by recalling the many repetitions of “good” in Genesis 1. God’s plan for His people – to bless them and to bring forth His glory in and through them – has not changed. His Law is the blueprint and roadmap to restore that lost condition.

The Lord made all things good and upright, but men, by their many sinful schemes and devices, have brought ugliness, pain, hurt, sorrow, waste, destruction, and ruin to the world (Eccl. 7.29). Israel was guided onto the path of restoration in the promises of God; however, the people of the Old Covenant did not have the heart necessary to realize God’s purposes for their good (Deut. 5.29). A New Covenant, with better promises, was required before the people of God would be able to know and do His Law for their good (Jer. 31.31-34; Ezek. 36.26, 27).

In Jesus Christ reconciliation has been achieved and renewal of all things has begun; now those who trust in Him for their redemption are charged with joining in that work, as Israel of old had been charged, through the fear of God, obedience to His Law, love for Him, serving Him in all things, and guarding His Law, so that all the “good” that God intends for His people may increasingly be theirs.

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