March 24

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NIV) 4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

The Jewish people refer to this passage as the Shema. Jesus said it was the greatest of all the laws of God. He also said that all the Law could be summed up in this passage. First it tells us that JHWH (LORD in all caps) is our Elohim (plural for God in Hebrew). Then it tells us JHWH is one. Here we have the mystery of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are one. There is no difference amongst them. Religions with many gods distinguish the differences and purposes for each god, but the God of the Hebrews is one. We refer to that as monotheism. A perfect God can only be one.

Then we are commanded to love our JHWH our Elohim with all our heart. In other words, all our desire should be focused upon Him. In Hebrew, this word includes our thoughts. We should love our God with all our soul. That is all our will and emotions, our very life. We should love the LORD our God with all our strength. Our best and most diligent efforts should be exerted in glorifying Him out of love. It seems impossible to do one of these completely without combining all the other parts of our makeup. An abbreviated form of this command might be expressed as, "love your God with all you are!"

As we focus on just what this is saying, we should get a sense of just how short we fall and of areas in our life that are competing with the first place in our hearts. The Jews put this verse in a small container and put it on the entryway of their homes. When the orthodox Jews worship, they put it in a box on their foreheads. We should keep it before us always as a check of where our heart and soul and strength are being exerted.

Admonition: Do all to the glory of God.

March 24

Matthew 23:37-39 (NIV) 37"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

Jesus presented Himself to Jerusalem on the Sunday in which the families of Israel selected their lamb for Passover sacrifice. He came into town on a donkey as the kings of Israel did when they were coming in peace. The crowds seemed to be receptive, welcoming Him, but Jesus wept and uttered the lament that is our passage for today. He saw that the people were seeking a military savior and not the spiritual Savior. He looked beyond the crowd, caught up in the moment, and could see their next enthusiastic shouts would be "Crucify Him!" He looked even further into the future and saw the Roman army leveling the city and the Temple.

His heart was to save them from the destruction they were bringing on themselves, both physical and spiritual. The crowd did not have ears to hear or understand. We look back and wonder how they could be so dull in heart. How could they see the miracles and yet insist on their own agenda? Yet, we tend to live in the same pattern. Jesus comes to give us new life and we welcome it with shouts of "Hosanna!" Before long we are making decisions against our Savior. We are all of like nature. That is why Jesus made this journey to the cross. He came to deliver us from our nature, not material difficulties or hardship.

He longs to gather us, too. What a beautiful picture! The mother hen sees the hawk and calls her chicks under her wings. She is willing to be the one that endures the talons to save her little ones. Won't you run under the wings of Jesus? Those who reject His shelter now will one day see Him coming on the clouds in glory. Then, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is the Lord.

Consider: Why not bow the knee now? It is the only safe place to be.