October 23, 2022
Pastor John Hering
12 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, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 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. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 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. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 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. 22 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.
In today’s gospel lesson the ruler approached Jesus to ask him a very important question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life.” That’s a great question! In other words we might say, “What does God want from me?” Jesus answered his question by listing up a bunch of commandments:
“‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother’”Luke 18:20
You heard the man’s answer. “All these I have kept since I was a boy” (v21). We’re not sure why the man asked his question. Maybe he thought he had really done what God expected from him and wanted confirmation of this, or maybe he was really searching for what God wanted from him. Whatever his reason for asking the question it is really a natural question for people to ask. Here’s why.
“What does God want from me?” is a popular question to ask no matter where a person is on the path of faith. A person who is searching for who God is wants to know what is expected from God. A person struggling with guilt will also ask, “What does God want from me?” The one with doubts, or trials, the person trying to fix his life’s problems and wants to be closer to God can also ask, “What does God want from me?” Even the life-long Christian still asks, “What does God want from me?” Today Moses answers that question. He teaches us to
Cling To God
With Hearts of Repentance
“What does God want from me?” is not a new question. It’s the very question that starts out the Word before us today. “12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you.” This is Moses talking to God’s people after wondering around in the desert for 40 years and right before they were going to enter into the Promised Land. Moses recapped the history of Israel for them. “22 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.” God had freed them from slavery in Egypt and graciously provided for them (manna, quail, water, clothes, protection, large nation). Then Moses asks them this soul-searching question: “What does the Lord your God ask of you?” Here it is.
“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, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.”Deuteronomy 10:12-13
You can sum up what Moses said by reciting the 1st Commandment: “You shall have no other gods.” You might use the explanation Martin Luther wrote: “We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.” Yes, God wants us to Cling to Him. Why?
God wants to be #1 in your heart. God wants you to have a respect, desire and to depend on him more than anything else in your life. God wants you to Cling To Him. However, when the man asked Jesus, “What does God want from me?” Jesus gave him the answer that sunk right into his heart.
“Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Luke 18:22). Jesus caused the man to see that he was clinging to his riches in this world and sadness filled his heart, because he was very wealthy. The man found his honor, joy, security, comfort, and dependance in the things he owned instead of trusting in and loving the Lord. He couldn’t deny the truth that he did not Depend on God.
We all struggle with this same temptation. What do you cling to for honor and prestige—an expensive home and car? Where do you find your lasting joy—in the people and events of your life? How do you hope to have security—by controlling the events in your life? What is your source of comfort—having bills paid and money in the bank? What are the things to which you are dependent—addictions, job, family and friends? The world loves to fill our hands with money and job because we feel like we can’t survive without these things. To cling tightly to doctors and medications because we feel like they are the essential things to heal or body and keep us alive. We put high value on relationships and achievements because that’s where we think we’ll find worth. Then we fill our pockets with justice, goodness and love because these are the things we can bring before the Lord. And while all these things in and of themselves are wonderful blessings for us to enjoy, our temptation is to fear, love and trust in them, to allow them to take first place in our hearts over the Lord God.
You recognize all these things can become idols to which we cling. You also know these are real temptations because we are warned about them.
“15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”1 John 2:15-16
When we recognize this very serious and real condition in our life, we come before the Lord with repentant hearts with this plea: Forgive us, O Lord, for the times we let the things of this world fill our hearts so that we failed to fear, love and trust in God above all things.
With Hearts of Dependance
Moses wanted the Children of Israel to examine their hearts that belonged to the Lord. He then gave them a list of reasons to let go of the things of this world and Depend on God.
“14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 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.”Deuteronomy 10:14–15
Everything they had, and would soon have in the Promised Land, all belonged to God who created it all. Rather than finding honor, joy, security, comfort, and dependance in the things that can so easily pass away, his call to action was to put their trust in the Creator. The Lord God chose them to be the people through whom he would send Jesus. He did this NOT because of who they were, but because of who God is. They brought nothing to God to earn this favor, but received God’s favor because of his grace, love and mercy in Jesus Christ.
Moses gives us some of the characteristics of our Savior God.
“17 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. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”Deuteronomy 10:17–18
The Israelites had experienced the greatness of God, saw his awesome power, enjoyed victory in battle with the confidence, experienced his impartial love to all people. There is no bribing the Lord God either! And this gets to the answer to our question: “What does God want from me?” There is nothing that God wants or expects from us to earn his favor. He loves, defends and blesses his children for one reason—His grace for Jesus’ sake. Today we rejoice because God demands nothing from us to earn his favor. It was all accomplished through Jesus on the cross.
So, does that mean God wants nothing from us? For our salvation, no. But, when we realize all God did to redeem us by sending Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty of all our sins, then the answer is, “Yes,” God does expect something from us. “21 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.” God is the one who gives us true and lasting honor, joy, security, comfort, and dependance. The things of this world will pass away, but life with God in heaven through faith in Jesus Christ is eternally yours. Depend on your mighty, loving, forgiving, and loving God with all your heart. That’s what God wants from you.
I want to picture this for you. I want you to picture a cute, little boy with his arms filled with treasures. His favorite blanky that he slept with and offered him security and comfort was draped over his shoulder. Stuffed under his arm was his favorite stuffed dog that never left his side. In one hand he held his favorite truck & book. In the other hand he held his “Oh, so delicious blue Freezee” he couldn’t put down, dripping sticky juice down his hand and arm. This little guy was clinging to everything that was so important to him. If you even tried to lighten the load for him he would throw a fit. But, as soon as he heard the front door open and his father walking into the house the boy dropped everything to the floor and went running into the arms of his loving father. There wasn’t room for anything else in his hands but his father. Got the picture?
We all have the things in this world that are so very precious and important to us. It is wonderful that people honor you because of the car your drive or the home you live in. You worked hard for those things. It is wonderful to have joy watching the people and events in your life that are successful. It is a good thing to use the blessings God has given you to create a secure life around yourself. And there’s nothing wrong to have a feeling of comfort knowing that all your bills are paid and there’s some money in the bank. These are all precious and important to us. However, don’t sacrifice the Lord’s loving embrace on the altar of earthly things. Don’t let these things take over your heart so you are not able to fear, love and trust in God above all things. Cling to God for your honor, joy, security and comfort in the Lord Jesus Christ.
What does it look like to Cling to God? Moses told us. “19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name.” You recognize these as practical applications of the 10 Commandments. But understand WHY clinging to the Lord looks like loving our neighbor, trusting in him and taking wholesome oaths in his name! God doesn’t need you to do these things to get right with him. That would be impossible. Rather because God already secured our salvation in Jesus Christ our life of obedience and love is a thankful reaction for the salvation that already belongs to us. We want to, yes, we get to love God and love our neighbor for all Jesus has already done for us.
We have the answer to the question, “What does God want from me?” For our salvation? Nothing. As a thank you gift for all he has done for us? Our Whole Heart to love God and love our neighbor. So, when you find yourself struggling to love God and love your neighbor it’s probably because you are clinging and dependent on something of this world. Today, we heard the solution. Listen to God’s Word and hear the precious Good News of Jesus Christ who saved us all. Come and feast often on the Lord’s Supper where the Lord forgives and gives us strength to Cling To God. Amen.