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God wants our love for him to grow.

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 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

 

When it comes to remembering, maybe you’re the person who ties a ring around your finger. Maybe not. More likely, you set a reminder on their phone, you ask a friend for a phone call, you make copious to-do lists or load up your surroundings with sticky notes. Why? Because you’re forgetful. We all need reminders and often times physical and external triggers help bring important details to mind.

This is how many Orthodox Jews apply the instructions surrounding the Shema. They take the command to “bind on your foreheads” and “tie as symbols on your hands” literally in order to have a physical reminder of God’s spoken commands (Deuteronomy 6:8 NIV). Not such a bad idea, huh? Well, when you see the phylacteries, Pastor Ryan referred to on Sunday, you might second-guess this idea. Yet, I find their dedication to obeying this command quite astounding. Despite discomfort and possible humiliation, they take God’s Word seriously.

Now, it’s one thing to bind a box around your wrist with a leather strap or wear a symbolic bracelet. It’s another thing to bind something on your heart. The latter seems to be the intent of the passage. God wants our love for him to grow and by setting up physical and external triggers, we designate even just one more moment to remembering God and his love. So, whether you agree or disagree with how this verse should be applied, I think we can learn from the Jews. Set up a physical reminder of the Shema – God’s desire for you to love him with everything in you. You might put a note on your mirror in your bathroom or car that you will see frequently. Get creative, but be strategic. This could be visual, spatial, kinesthetic, or interpersonal, but allow it to be a personal and consistent reminder of God and his love for you this week.

 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
-Ephesians 3:17-19

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By Yvonne Biel 

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