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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 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?”

We must have no other gods besides the Lord our God, Who is our Creator, Redeemer, and Lord. Whatever He requires of us, we must do. Thus far we have four things which the Lord requires of His people, as these are outlined in the passage cited above.

Fifth, the Lord requires that we keep or guard His commandments and statutes. This is the way to be righteous and blameless before Him (Lk. 1.6). There is more to this “guarding” the commandments and statutes than just “walking” in them. That is certainly implied, but it has already been covered in the list of things God requires.

To “guard” the commandments is to preserve them from corruption, from whatever might cause us to compromise, neglect, or transgress them. Adam’s failure to “guard” the garden of Eden brought about the fall into sin (Gen. 2.15). He failed, first, to recognize the threat to God’s plan. Then he failed to resist it once the serpent began to deny the Word of God. Thus we also must be vigilant against every temptation that would encourage us to set aside or neglect the Law of God.

Moreover, we must teach that Law to the generation to come, guarding the pure teaching and obedience of God’s Law by imparting and entrusting it to our children and grandchildren (Deut. 6.4-7; Ps. 78.1-8). We must make every effort to teach the commandments and statutes of the Lord to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2.2). We will more readily and eagerly guard the Law when we have begun to obey it and serve God through it in every area of our lives.

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To Serve the Lord

June 22, 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?”

Fear the Lord, walk in all His ways, and love Him. This is what the Lord requires of us, as He Himself explains in His Law.

Fourth, our Creator, Redeemer, and Lord requires that we serve Him, and that with all our soul and strength. “Heart” here comprehends in itself the three components of the soul: mind (thoughts), heart (affections), and conscience (values and priorities). “Soul” can also be translated, “life,” and probably here is intended to stand for the various aspects of everyday living – all our strength.

God has a plan – a divine economy – for His creation. Through Jesus Christ He has reconciled all things back to Himself, and He is in the process of restoring all things so that the knowledge of the glory of God can cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2.14). It pleases Him for us to share in this great work as His servants. He has put all things under our feet so that we might rule over them in His Name and bring them to such a condition and use that they glorify Him. Now we do not see this happening as God intends; but, keeping our eye on Jesus, and walking in all His ways, we may certainly expect to make progress in seeing His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven (Heb. 2.8, 9).

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To Love the Lord

June 21, 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?”

The Lord is our Creator, Redeemer, and Lord. He is all-wise and all loving; therefore, we need not fear anything that He might require of us. As we have seen, the Lord requires that we fear Him and walk in all His ways. It makes eminently good sense for us to do so.

Third, the Lord requires that we love Him. Now the order of love’s appearing in the requirements of God may strike us as strange. Should we not first love the Lord, then fear and obey Him? No. First we fear God, then, by faith, we take up His commands. Then we love Him. It will be much easier to love the Lord once we have begun to walk in His paths, for when we do, we will discover how good and true those paths are, and how much our Redeemer and Lord loves us by showing us to live so well.

The love we feel for God will flow from the fear and obedience we show Him. If we wait to fear and obey the Lord until we love Him as He commands, we will never get there. Let us keep the order that God requires, daily, in prayer and meditation, renewing fear of God; daily, in prayer and obedience, walking in the paths of the Lord; and daily, in the blessings and joys of these two, improving love for God Who faithfully loves and cares for us.

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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?”

Second, the Lord requires that we walk in all His ways. The idea of “walking” gets at our normal, everyday routines, those activities and practices by which we sustain ourselves and make progress in our lives. God requires that, in all of these, we bring our practices into conformity with His “ways,” which He has revealed to us in His Word, beginning with this Law. Paul says that in whatever we do we must seek to glorify God (1 Cor. 10.31). This is what the Lord requires of us.

But we must note that it is not always necessary for us to understand the ways of the Lord before we agree to walk in them. Indeed, it is too much to expect that we can (Is. 55.8, 9). Certainly we must understand His ways well enough in order to carry out what He requires. For this we must apply ourselves to reading, meditation, study, and conversation with other believers. But we need not understand His ways entirely before we consent to walk in them. For example, how can we understand the command to give thanks always and in everything, when trials, sorrows, and obstructions come in our path? Job’s mistake was failing to give thanks and to rest in the grace and wisdom of God. Instead, he insisted on knowing what only God can know.

We must strive to understand as far as we can the ways that God requires us to walk. But we must walk them in obedience, by faith in the wise and good counsel of our Redeemer and Lord.

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Fear the Lord

June 19, 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?”

So then, what does our Lord and Redeemer require of us?

We note first of all that He requires that we fear Him. To fear the Lord is to know Who He is, who we are, and what we deserve of Him, and what He is capable of – and justly so – doing to sinners such as we. Even though we are redeemed and delivered from slavery to sin, yet we fall into it from time to time. And, lest we become casual about such lapses, the Lord promises to act in discipline in order to return lapsed sinners to the path of righteousness (Heb. 12.1-11). Such discipline is not pleasant and can be very hard to bear. We should fear the Lord because of His power and resolve to discipline us.

We should also fear Him lest we be found to be not His children at all. The fear of the Lord keeps us striving for holiness to prove, day by day, our calling and election (Heb. 3.12-4.1; 2 Pet. 1.5-11). The fear of the Lord’s discipline and wrath is wholesome and good, and is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. By nurturing fear of the Lord we may press on day by day to bring holiness to completion (2 Cor. 7.1). Thus, because God wants us to be holy (Matt. 5.48), and because He knows that sin is destructive of our wellbeing, He requires that we fear Him, so that, fearing Him, we may walk in the holy and righteous and good path He has marked out for us in His Law (Rom. 7.12).

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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?”

How can God require anything of men? There are three reasons.

First, He made all men, and He sustains them by His steadfast love and faithfulness. The all-powerful and all-wise God knows what conduces to mankind’s wellbeing, having conceived, created, and cared for us from the beginning. There is a way that seems right to men, but unless that way comports with what God requires, it must always disappoint (Prov. 14.12).

Second, He is Lord. He is holy, pure, righteous, good, true, and eternal. Whatever He does is right and true. The earth and everything in it are His (Ps. 24.1). He is able by virtue of Who He is to require of every creature whatever He ordains or determines, and we, His image-bearers, should realize that He only intends His commandments for their good (Lev. 18.1-5).

Third, He is our Redeemer, Who has graciously given His own Son for our salvation, and Who would, with Him, also freely give us all things (Rom. 8.28-32). He Who has done so much for us can in no way intend evil for us; thus, when our Redeemer informs us what He requires of us, we, out of gratitude, must listen, heed, and obey.

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Listen to Paul and be blessed.

Off and On

June 13, 2012

Sanctification is our calling and our primary work.

Exodus 20.3; Deuteronomy 5.7

“…You shall have no other gods before me.”

God commands His people to “have” Him, which is to enjoy an eternal relationship of love, trust, and obedience to the God Who graciously redeems and takes us to Himself. To “have” God is to pursue Him as earnestly as He pursues us, setting aside all other “gods” and counsel as false and unreliable.

Third, to “have” God is to do so conscious of His presence with us, and us with Him. God keeps His people and all their doings “before His face.” Everything is open to the eye of Him with Whom we have to do (1 Pet. 3.12; Heb. 4.13). All human beings are continuously in His sight, benefiting from His steadfast love and faithfulness.

Moreover, God guards His people continually and never sleeps (Ps. 121). Thus, they should be mindful of taking unto themselves anything other than God as objects of devotion and trust, for He will certainly see, and, in mercy and love, He will certainly act to discipline His wayward children (Heb. 12.7-12).

Further, they should work to know as fully as possible the presence of God, and to live before Him in such a way as to honor and please Him. We exist “before” Him and should demonstrate our love for Him by the way we conduct our everyday lives.

God takes His people unto Himself, devoting Himself to their entire care and provision; He expects the same in return from a people grateful to exist, to be sustained and provided for, to have been redeemed, and to have been constituted as a special people unto the Lord of heaven and earth (1 Pet. 2.9, 10).

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Exodus 20.3; Deuteronomy 5.7

“…You shall have no other gods before me.”

To “have” God, as we have seen, means to possess Him with all the conviction, commitment, and faithfulness with which He has come to possess us. It is to find our eternal satisfaction and love in Him alone, and not in created things. This is the first aspect of what it means to “have” God.

Second, God regards all creatures and things, other than Himself, as “gods”, albeit, false ones, when His people ascribe to them the blessings they daily enjoy. Here we must not think only in terms of pagan deities or the false gods of major religions, past or present. Whatever human beings turn to in order to secure the blessings of God through their own hands are gods, after a fashion. This also implies that all worldviews other than that which God reveals in His Word are, in the nature of the case, religions, since they focus on unseen promises, give devotion to supposedly ultimate powers (even if only the human imagination and will), and involve rituals and routines designed to engage those powers for those unseen but hoped-for ends. Made in the image of God, all human beings have a sense of transcendence and of the ultimate good, toward which they strive in order to achieve wellbeing.

God would have His people know that He will tolerate no other gods, of any kind, as objects of His people’s devotion and service. God requires exclusive devotion to His Name, in the form of love and service, from those He has redeemed. One implication of such devotion is that we who have been redeemed would seek no other word or law by which to live than that which our eternal and loving God provides for us. To have God involves taking His Word to heart and working out the salvation He has accomplished for us through obedience to His Law (Phil. 2.12, 13; Matt. 5.17-19; 1 Jn. 2.1-6; Rom. 3.31; etc.).

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No Other Gods

June 15, 2012

Exodus 20.3; Deuteronomy 5.7

“…You shall have no other gods before me.”

In His infinite mercy and love, God redeemed Israel from Egypt and captivity that He might possess them unto Himself as a people for His glory. He gave them His Law as a temporal means of enabling them to live together in a way that was approved by Him and beneficial to all other human beings.

But for Israel to realize the full benefits of God’s covenant love, they must reciprocate love to God as their highest priority. They must “have” God as their God with as much zeal and love as He had shown in taking them as His people. What does it mean to “have” God?

In the Hebrew language the sense of the possessive is expressed by a state of being verb together with the preposition, “to,” and either a noun or a pronominal suffix. In the first commandment, God literally says to His people, “Not there shall be to you other gods before My face.” Let us note three emphatic aspects of this commandment, the first today, the other two on subsequent days.

First, the commandment begins with the negative particle, “Not.” The commandments of God are phrased in terms meant to negate our natural, sinful tendencies. In our natural, unsaved condition, human beings tend to attribute their wellbeing to all manner of things, circumstances, and other people. They turn from the knowledge of God, which He makes known to them in the creation, to worship and serve created things, as though these were the source of their wellbeing (Rom. 1.18ff). Therefore, people attend to such things, circumstances, and relationships with a devotion and determination by means of which, in their own best efforts, they intend to provide for their maximum wellbeing. Rather than trust God and rest in Him, they attribute to unreliable sources, together with their own strength and wiles, the responsibility for providing the blessings God promises and God alone can provide.

Hence, emphatically at the beginning of this and all the commandments, God puts His people on notice that being His people requires that they resist all sinful tendencies to rely on any creatures, or their own efforts, in order to realize the blessings He alone can give. He alone is eternal and unchanging and loving to the point of self-sacrifice. He alone has redeemed and possessed Him. Thus it would be an affront of eternal consequence to ascribe to anything other than God that which is proper to Him alone.

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We Are Not Our Own

June 14, 2012

Exodus 20.2, 3

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

Deuteronomy 5.6, 7

“‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.’”

The Law, which God gave to His people upon their deliverance, was intended as an administrative means by which the people of the covenant could know the blessings of the covenant in fellowship with the God of the covenant and His people. The Law, therefore, is, like the deliverance of God, a gesture of His covenant love, given to Israel entirely by grace and wholly for their good and God’s glory.

Consequently, the redeemed of the Lord are not their own; as Israel belonged to God Who delivered them from captivity in Egypt, so believers belong to God Who redeemed them through Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6.19, 20). We have been redeemed by grace through faith so that we, belonging to God, might do the good works which God has before ordained for us in His Law (Eph. 2.8-10).

Thus the Law of God, written on our hearts as the image-bearers of God (Rom. 2.14, 15), is now being re-written on our hearts by the indwelling Spirit of Christ (Ezek. 36.26, 27). We should expect, given the presence of the Spirit and the changes wrought in God’s relationship with the world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that certain aspects of the eternal Law of God would need to be adjusted and adapted to this new age of grace.

The triumph of the Gospel and the reality of salvation by grace does not negate the Law of God (Rom. 3.31). The Law remains holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7.12). Thus we need to understand the intent of the Law as it relates to us today as the redeemed people of God.

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