shema

Learning the Shema, Part 3: How to love God with all your Soul

Hear O Israel

This morning many Jewish families all over the world recited these verses around the breakfast table before they started their day.

This Deuteronomy scripture is the beginning of the Shema, the three sections of the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11: 13-21; Numbers 15:37-41) that God gave to the Israelites so they would not forget His law. They have been reciting it for thousands of years. Roughly 1400 years after God gave Moses these words, Jesus used the Shema when He taught. So even though the Shema is central to the Jewish faith, it is also paramount to Christians.

If you are new to my site, I hope you’ll click on the last two Friday posts. We’ve learned about Loving God Alone, and how Loving God with our hearts is actually loving God with our thoughts. That will help catch you up to where we are today. But maybe God has led you here now just for this message. . . this teaching to love the Lord with all our soul.

How do we love God with all our soul?

When I think of trying to love God with my soul I automatically think of loving Him with all my emotions. That seems hard. My emotions are fickle, directly proportionate to how my day is going or whether or not the sun is shining.

But the secret to loving God with all our heart is again found beneath our English language. Discovering the ancient Hebrew word penned by Moses sheds light onto the mystery. I don’t think Moses intended for us to attempt to love God with all our souls. I believe the commands God gave him were much more tangible.

This is the key: “Souls” has been translated from the word nepes. And this is its definition.

Nepes: breath, inner emotions. . . most of its uses fall under the category of breath literally and figuratively. (Key Word)

“Love the Lord your God with all your breath. . . “

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If we take this literally, we focus on telling God we love Him with every breath. We awake each morning aware that with every breath we are alive because of Him.

We don’t take one breath for granted.

We use each breath to remind us of His goodness, power, Presence, kindness _________ (you fill in the blank).

The words that come out of our mouths need breath to form. So, we are to love God with every word that comes out of our mouth–every breath. 

When God formed Adam and Eve He breathed life into them. It is His breath that gives us life and with our breath we return our love.

“Love the Lord your God with all your breath. . . “

Breath in, “I love you Jesus.”

Breathe out, “I love you Lord.”

Breathe in, “I love you Father-God.”

Breathe out, “I love you Holy Spirit.”

How would our walk with God change if we become intentional about focusing on His goodness and wisdom and kindness with every possible breath?

I think it would help us love Him with our minds.

You know, it’s all connected. And I can’t wait to show you how Jesus connects this  Old Testament passage of the Shema to the New Testament next week! It’s my favorite part. Until then, I’ll close us today with the rest of the Deuteronomy section of the Shema with my modern additions:

Hear  O my friends, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Not money, children, wealth, health, success, relationships, or new shoes can be your God. Love the Lord with all your mind and breath and strength. These commandments I give to you today are to be on your minds. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you drive to Walmart, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Amen.

How will you love God with all your breath?

 

Jesus loves you,

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