Based on Deut. 6:4-5
Just before the Israelites moved into the Promised Land, Moses offered them some advice for life. Settling in Canaan exposed the Israelites to the principles and practices of many different pagan cultures. And to be honest, the Israelites struggled to stay focused on God when there were minimal external pressures. God knew that; Moses knew that. God’s instructions were simple–Love God with every aspect of your life!
Let’s analyze exactly what God said through Moses:
- “Hear, O Israel:”>>> Moses addressed the nation challenging them to hear (shama) what God had to say. Hearing is more than passive acknowledgement that something was said; it includes the concept of obedience.
- “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”>>> Israel had encountered polytheism before and was about to encounter it again. The blanket statement negated any polytheistic religious practices. In other words, any concept promoting multiple deities could not be true, no matter what it claimed.
- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…”>>> In the Bible, the heart is more than the blood-pumping muscle; it is the center of the physical being. Therefore, Moses challenged the Israelites to make sure their lives were centered around God.
- “and with all your soul…”>>> The Hebrew word for soul literally means “life” and is used to indicate the entire person. Moses’ instructions, therefore, began with being centered on God and then letting one’s commitment to God affect the entire person from inner thoughts to actions toward others.
- “and with all your strength.”>>> The concept behind the Hebrew word for strength is “wholly.” This indicates that the heart and soul are inseparable. What a person does reveals that person’s inner thoughts. Moses emphasized that spiritual survival in Canaan would require complete devotion to God-something the Israelites hadn’t proven they could do!
- What does this passage have to do with us today? Though not technically polytheistic, our culture presents a variety of “idols” that compete for our attention.
- What are some of the things that compete for our attention?
- List responses on the board. Draw the diagram of circles on the board. Label the inner circle “heart”, the middle circle “soul”, and the outer circle “strength.”
- Point out the importance of making one’s relationship with God a top priority.
- Ask volunteers to share some practical suggestions for making worship a daily priority. List suggestions on the board.
Excerpt from the WorshipLife Small Group Leader’s Guide, Week 1, pp. 5-6.