When we lived in the woods, my husband and I would sit out in the backyard in the mornings and listen to hundreds of birds. It was quite the symphony. When we moved, I missed those familiar sounds. This morning, our cat meandered out onto our porch, leaving the door ajar. My ears were delighted to hear brand new sounds, unlike any I had heard before. I drew closer so I could hear each distinct sound. As they sang, the cat sat nearby making chattering noises. Before the sun rose, silence had been awakened with sounds unique to this area. I commented to the family that perhaps our cat meditated more than we had this week! It was a crazy, busy week.

Our culture has been characterized as not only hard of hearing but “not being willing to listen” to one another. Partisan politics, special interest groups, and a new generation of youngsters who have forgotten the “war stories” of their grandparents has all culminated in this characterization. The loud protesters who line our streets with deafening demands to “be heard” come from all kinds of lifestyles. The writer of Deuteronomy yells out through history: Hear! Listen up! Hear this now—the Lord thy God is One. He is priority, worthy of attention, and an audience. He is greater than all our individual needs and demonstrations. More than anyone, God wants to be “heard” in this hour.

Unlike a waffling parent, God speaks truth and delivers consequences. You can count on it. While there is grace, He is still a jealous, holy, and angry God. To know Him is to know these aspects also. In His mercy, He waits, warns, and strives but as Genesis 6:3 tells us—there is a limit, and only God knows when that limit will be. Check out 2 Peter 3:9 also.

The message of Deuteronomy was God’s second attempt at helping the nation of Israel know and follow Him. He wanted them to go into the Promised Land, yet only Caleb and Joshua seemed to have received the message. All those who left in the Exodus had aged (or rebelled) out and this new group would need a refresher on what was essential for this next phase of the journey. God had sort of pulled over on the side of the road until the kids in the backseat got the message, and they would not continue if the behavior did not change.

Step One: HEAR.

As I write this, my cell phone ringer is turned to silent and all I can “hear” is the steady rhythm of a dishwasher and washing machine gloriously drowning out the sounds of the city.  Also vying for my attention is a smart TV, Alexa, a tablet, and traffic noise. It is imperative to get away to “hear” God and one’s own heart, soul, and mind. If we don’t intentionally set that time aside, the loudest voice will win. Many times, that loudest voice is the enemy. God’s signature is usually a whisper or nudge.

Sometimes the absence of a voice can be loud as well. This week we no longer hear the thoughts of Tucker Carlson on Fox News or the pontifications of Don Lemon on the morning show—at least not for now. It was reported that 60 million people were searching for Tucker’s voice Thursday night. The financial loss for the news program was in the millions—imagine the absence of your voice costing that much!

What is the absence of God’s voice costing us in this generation?

No search report was done for Mr. Lemon that I am aware of.  Some are relieved, some angered, and some were not listening in the first place. Life will go on; parents will travel to work; teens will trudge into school, and countless others will proceed with their routines. While they do, in courtrooms around the country, the law (nomos) will be tested as righteous (and unrighteous) lawsuits will be brought—trying not only the constitution but our hearts as well. We will question what was said, done, and heard—and then go back to our routines. While this swirls daily, the focus on God, the priority of communion, the story of God’s Covenant will fade further, further into the past. . . . 

Currently, news about the Nashville families has been muffled more than previous similar tragedies. I remember the tears though and they still speak to me. It is noteworthy that the school in Nashville is named Covenant. I was just studying about Covenant in Leviticus and Deuteronomy when this took place. Morality, love for life, and dignity/honor of each human is a necessary topic in today’s world. Maybe we have lost something when we replaced God’s word with people’s opinions and polls? While children and teens will watch the Avengers on television, how many know who the first blood Avenger was and how he impacted the Israelite cities? Our very laws were founded on passages like Deuteronomy 19 and speak much louder than any news sound bite, yet we spend most of our time glued to the smart, but not wise, television screens, dooming the next generation to miss their God- given destinies.  It’s not too late to remember, to remind, to hear.

Then, like now, we will face the choice of turning a deaf ear or asking questions. George is no longer curious because he has been playing video games for hours. Deuteronomy still calls us to “Pay attention, focus, hear”—what the Lord is saying in this hour. To us, to the Church, to the Nation. God laid out a plan for His people as they traveled out of Exodus, through the Red Sea, past Mount Sinai, and into the Promised land. They, like us, are concerned that this next generation will not be equipped for the trials, will not know where to turn in moments of darkness. God’s “redo” of Deuteronomy included more heart, but they still missed it. They were instructed to really hear what God wanted so He focused on one word—“SHEMA.”  It means to really focus. It means to listen with the intent to understand and DO what is said. It means to not just physically listen with your ears or mind but to embrace with your whole life. It means to HEAR—obey the One speaking—the One True God. These corrections and invitations of divine love were imperative to follow. It will mean life or death—not a small matter.

Today—we must hear also.  The choice is ours—rehearse the Covenant and obey it or miss God’s rewards. Choose life or choose death, neutrality is not an option. God’s voice is not just another opinion it is authoritative. Romans 8:14 tells us that “Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God.” If only there were 60 million people missing GOD’S voice tonight, longing to hear His instructions and willing to follow His heart!

Jesus, the master Teacher still says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt. 22

Remember, they had heard the commandments already in Exodus—but blew them off. They knew the letter of the law but not the “guts” behind it or the spiritual application for their hearts, families, or neighbors. You can take a guy out of Egypt, but it takes a lot longer to take Egypt out of the guy. They might have had Pharoah syndrome—we’ll obey “tomorrow.” Let’s look at some of these instructions:

Love the Lord with your whole heart.

What we prioritize, what our checkbooks and calendars detail—is what we truly love. My youngest son is currently studying anatomy in school and shared the importance of a healthy physical heart. Perhaps living long enough to love others should be included in our dialogue. Do we plan to love God in a year while tempting fate with high cholesterol, blood pressure, or A1C counts? Is loving with our whole heart impacted by our choices and decisions to love? If we let sin run rampant (or bitterness, lust, anger) can we still have room in our hearts to love God and others? Lesser loves take a toll on our spiritual pulse.

Love the Lord with your whole mind.

Feelings are fickle. My husband shared with us that “Having the mind of Christ greatly affects our walk and living out Philippians 4:8 influences how we love and serve God.” I agree and feel convicted that I spend more time on Facebook than I do on scripture memorization.  Opening the floodgate to news daily could be advantageous if we are informed intercessors, but what if we just focus on the enemy’s spoils or chaos? Can we freely love God if our minds are inundated with crime? Fearing tragedy, the unknown, or countless other things keeps our minds so full it’s hard to keep our minds stayed on Jesus (Isaiah 26:3-6). What if our minds instead became seed beds for ideas, creativity, and intelligence just waiting to be used by the Father? How are we stewarding our thoughts? In Deuteronomy 31:8, God commands us to not fear or be discouraged. Not suggests—He commands. Do we heed that instruction and guard our minds?

Love the Lord with your whole soul.

It has been said that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Each of us is driven either by the Lord or our passions, desires, and appetites. These and the whole range of emotions are common to the most sinful and most saintly person. We ALL will encounter anger, joy, sadness, etc., throughout the course of our lives and on any given day. Are our feelings and motives surrendered to His Lordship? Do the intents of our souls line up with His Kingdom? Is His will supreme or merely an afterthought? While Jesus tells us that he “sits with us in Heavenly places,” are we more content to leave him in the pew as we exit church on Sunday? What would it look like if we did life, and soul care from His perspective, in the spiritual realm? “Come up higher” would change some of the ways we do business, wouldn’t it?

Love the Lord with all your strength.

I included this one because the New Testament does. My oldest son added “We need to use our strength to serve not only the Lord but others for Him.” That really stirred my heart! What if how we serve Him is also how we serve others? Do we use our strength—first thing in the morning, to kneel and pray? To loudly worship? To dance with abandon at the altar? To bring food to the poor and water to the weak? Is our strength reserved for baseball games and shopping and housecleaning or—to be ready in a moment’s notice for the service of the King? How exactly do we love the Lord with all our strength? Are we surrendering our best hours to fasting, to outreach?

Each of these categories can also be influenced by psychological, biological, and environmental factors. One author stated that over 90% of all our behaviors are influenced by our subconscious. I believe our upbringing and spiritual walk impacts these as well.  God in His sovereignty gave the solution for empowering each of these—Hear oh Israel, Listen to ME. He called them to love Him in each of these areas. The Master of the Universe knows exactly what we need and when. He knows how we can run at optimum speed and high performance and desires to help us complete our journey. He doesn’t just bring us out (Egypt), His greatest desire is to bring us in (Promised land, Heaven).  He is the ONLY one who has the map. Maybe that’s why Jesus tells us that he is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

While studying this I put on the top of my notebook page the letters A.D.  It stands for absolute devotion. I used to think Christians were just people who wore WWJD bracelets and put fish logos on their cars. After years of serving Him, I think it looks more like AD—absolute devotion. That’s what Deuteronomy is prescribing for us. It’s what Jesus had for the Father.  Devotion—to His heart.

Years ago, as a spiritual training discipline, I offered five people $100 to read and reflect on Deuteronomy 28. Two that took the challenge are still walking in blessings and continual overflow. They not only accepted the challenge but followed the instructions written therein. The other three who scoffed at the suggestion, have lost everything. One died. Their excuses ranged from “I’m too busy” to not being “very religious.” We are guaranteed so many blessings by doing things God’s way, in covenant with Him. He knows all, He sees all, He sustains all, and the will of God will prevail.

We will never know how much impact we would have had, if we had lived “full throttle.”  I think God in His wisdom can reign us in, if needed—but will we ever really, fully know Him or ourselves if we don’t hear (Shema) and listen? Not just tomorrow or on the journey, but today. Hear oh Israel. Hear oh America. Hear oh (insert your nation . . . and family).

How can we love God? By giving Him our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. That’s His desire. How we wholly love God and ourselves will determine how, when, and why we love our neighbor.

Shhh. . . .  He’s speaking now. Please share how you follow. . . .


Ps. Shout out to our friends in Deaf ministry. This month is national deaf awareness month. So glad that the God who calls us to hear Him, also promises, to hear us!