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Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love theLord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

These verses make up the ‘shema.’ (Shema is the Hebrew word for ‘listen’ and is the first word of the verse).  It is, historically, the most quoted verse in scripture as faithful Jews did as it says—they recited these words when they arose and when they lay down, in their coming and going, and ultra-orthodox Jews actually strapped little boxes that contained these verses to their arms and their forehead.  It is for no small reason that Jesus quotes this verse when He is asked what is the greatest commandment?  This verse summarizes the entire Christian life—it is at the very core of who we are and whose we are.

            A filter on a pool is a pretty vital aspect of its maintenance.  Through the pumps and pipes water is cycled through a filter.  It’s purpose is to ensure that all that which passes through meets the standards it is trying to set.  A filter fails to be productive if it begins to let contaminants through.  It is equally ineffective if it fails to let the good things through—if it gets clogged.  Deuteronomy 4:4-9 is the filter for our lives.  It is the constant reminder that when we leave the cabin we are headed out to love the Lord with heart, soul, and strength.  As we come home we are called to love the Lord.  When we go to work and during our free time.  When we lay down at night and when we get up in the morning we are to be about the business of loving the Lord with everything we’ve got.   Furthermore, If these verses are bound to our hands—than it forces us to contemplate the things we are doing with our hands and run them through the filter of “If I do this, will I be loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and strength.”  If the answer is no, then maybe we should rethink whether we should continue doing these things.  Attaching these verses to the forefront of our mind challenges us to filter our thoughts and our words through that same mesh screen.  If the words I speak don’t bring honor, praise, and glory to God—maybe I shouldn’t speak them.  This is the power of the Shema.  It helps us as we filter our lives for the sake of loving our God.  The clincher of our focus today is this—When we get this right and the filter is working it is only because of the Holy Spirit that is at work within us.  And, when we get it wrong (which happens a lot) God’s grace is sufficient. 

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