June 14, 2020

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit



Epistle Lesson; Romans 3:21 – 25a

                          Romans 3:27 - 28

Gospel Lesson; Matthew 7:15 - 29                           

Sermon Text; Deuteronomy 11:18 – 21

                       Deuteronomy 11:26 - 28


We have a hymn in our hymnbook that states this. 

Take my life and let it be

consecrated Lord to Thee

Take my moments and my days

let them flow in ceaseless praise.


Take my hands and let them move

at the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet and let them be

swift and beautiful for Thee


Take my voice and let me sing

always only for my King.

Take my lips and let them be

filled with messages from Thee.


In a moment, I will share with you why I am beginning this sermon this way.  But, before I do that, I want to look at what happened right before our text for today.  Our text is from the book of Deuteronomy.  Deuteronomy is the fifth book of The Bible.  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.  Moses wrote these words.  Moses wrote these words one month, before he died.  He wrote these words one month before The Children of Israel entered in to The Promised Land.  The word 'deuteronomy' means 'second giving'.  So, here is the second giving of The Law.  God gave The Law the first time in Exodus, twenty.  Now, this is the second giving of The Law, right before they crossed in to The Promised Land.

The first city they would come to would be Jericho, when they crossed over the Jordan River.  That town fell. 

But, this is what Joshua, chapter eight, tells us God commanded the people to do.  He told them to go to Shechem.  He told them to do this in keeping with what our text says.  (I want to talk it through, before I read it.)  But, when you come to Shechem, when you are looking toward the west, there were going to be two mountains.  Mt. Gerizim would be to the south.  Mt. Ebal would be to the north.


God wanted The Children of Israel to divide up in to two groups.  Half of them would be on Mt. Gerizim.  Half of them would be on Mt. Ebal.  They were to proclaim the blessings of God from one mountain, and the curses of God from the other mountain.



I am going to give you an aerial view of this area.

The red line depicts a distance of one mile.  You can see it is kind of like a natural amphitheater.  Scientists recently have looked at this, and it works.  You can, with a group of people, talk back and forth from these mountain ranges!  So, it was to be this very memorable moment for The Children of Israel, as they entered in to the land God had promised to them - the blessings, if they obeyed, and the curses, if they disobeyed.

Here in our text for today, we see an intense concern Moses has for his people.  It is a real care, and concern he has for his people.  As we look at this portion of God's Word, may we also have an intense care, and concern for others.

This is God's Word, which are selected verses from Deuteronomy, chapter eleven.  God here says, through Moses:


Put these words of mine in your hearts and in your soul, and tie them on your wrists as signs and as symbols on your forehead.  Teach them to your children by talking about them when you sit in your house and when you travel on the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may

be many on the land that the Lord promises to your fathers with an oath, as many as the days that the heavens remain over the earth.

You see, I am placing before you today a blessing and a curse:  the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, or the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God and you turn away from the path that I am commanding you today by walking after other gods whom you did not know.


These are your words, Heavenly father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



So, how are we to take these words of Moses, today?  I want you to know there are people who have taken these words literally, in The Old Testament, in The New Testament, and today, who look at this section of scripture, and literally do what it says.

Here is a picture of that. 




They say, “God's Word says we are to take His Word, and put in on our forehead.”  

The name of that box on the forehead is called a phylactery.  In The Old Testament, in The New Testament, and today, there are people who do this.  They put a box, literally, on their forehead.  They say, “I am placing God's Word on my forehead”.

On the right hand side of the picture you see the inside of a phylactery.  There are four things inside there.  There are four Bible passages.  One of which is our text for today.  They are passages that talk about placing God's Word on your head, placing God's Word on your forehead.

There are people who take this section in scripture, again, literally where it says, “Write them on the doorframes of your houses...”  In the Old Testament, in The New Testament, and today, there are people who take God's Word, and they nail it to the doorframe of their house.  You see that red arrow pointing there to a portion of God's Word on their home. 



This is not what God meant, when He said placing God's Word on your forehead, or the doorframe on your home.  This is Matthew 23.  Jesus was speaking about the Pharisees, and He was speaking about the teachers of The Law.  Jesus spoke out against those abuses, in His ministry.  This is what He said to them. 

“Everything they do is for other people to see.  They make their phylacteries wide, and their tassels on their garments long.  They love the place of honor at banquets, and the most important seats in the synagogue.”

And so here Jesus is saying, “Don't just do this for show, by putting it on your forehead, or on the doorframe of your house for other people to see.”  Rather, in keeping with our text for today, Jesus is saying, “Put these words, God's Word, in your hearts, and in your soul.” 

Think of the verbs in our text for today that maybe help to bring this out - what we are to do with God's Word. 

We are to put God's Word, we are to tie God's Word, we are to teach God's Word, we are talk about God's Word with our family, we are to write God's Word.  God is telling us, “I have given you my Word.  Now, I want you to take my Word, and I want you to put my Word in your hearts, and in your souls.  Now, I want you to take my Word that I have given to you, and I want you to teach it to your children.  I want you to hand God's Word down to your children.”

That is the reason I quoted that hymn.  It is a wonderful hymn that talks about taking God's Word, and now putting it in to practice.

Take my life and let it be.  Take my hands, my feet, my voice, my lips.

Take God's Word and put it in to practice.  Hand it down to your children.

Within the last couple of weeks we confirmed five youth, here at Holy Cross.  A little unusual circumstance, because they were all done privately.  But, over the past couple of weeks it reminded me of my confirmation and my preparation for being confirmed.  We, just like the youth here, had to go through an examination process at the church.  Before the examination process at the church, we had an examination process in the home.  For a few weeks, leading up to confirmation, it was the person getting confirmed who was being examined at the dinner table.  Now, I am one of five kids.  During that process, it was the parents who were asking the questions.  It was the confirmand who was answering the questions.  Yes, the Bible passages we had memorized, yes the portions of The Catechism that were memorized, but all of the answers that simply came from the heart, as well.  Here is what made it easier.  It was made easier because the person who was teaching it was living it.  Again, taking God's Word, putting it in your heart, putting it in your soul, and now putting it in to practice.

Take my life.  Take my hands.  Take my feet, my voice, my lips.

Our text for today is telling us to ingest God's Word, to make it ours personally.  But, now to also teach it, to talk it, to write it and to live it.

We can see for today, maybe it comes out pretty loud and clear, as it is talking about The First Commandment:  You shall have no other gods.

Martin Luther asked the question and answered it when he wrote:

What does this mean?  We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

As we look at our text for today, we see that come out with just this part of the text.  “If you obey the commandments of the Lord, if you listen, you will be blessed.  But, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord, and walk after other gods, you will be cursed.”

We can see what happened with The Children of Israel, as they walked in to The Promised Land, and forgot God's Word.  It is good to apply these words to us, today.  And, in light of the last three months of this pandemic, we have been going through, I have seen, and I have heard plenty of this.  How easy it is for us to become jealous, and greedy for the things other people have.  The devil is very affective at what he does.  We see what other people are getting, and we become jealous, and greedy for the things they have.  That infiltrates our heart, and we think to ourselves, “Wow, is he so good at what he does.”

Or, the devil may have this happen.  He says, “I am going to get you so consumed in doing other things, being concerned about the news that is happening in our community, our state, our nation, and our world.  I am going to have you step away from God's Word.  I am going to have you say, 'I am too busy to hear God's Word.  I am too busy to study God's Word.  I am too busy to listen to God's Word.'” 

Again, the devil is very affective at what he does.

Here is the thing that is so easy to do, as we look at our text for today.  It is so easy to look at our text, and say, “I have failed.  I have not done what God's Word has asked me to do.  I see the Word in front of me, what I deserve.  I deserve to be cursed.”

But, here is what I want you to know before I conclude.  I want you to know that the same God who spoke these words wants you to hear the words of promise.  He wants you to hear the words of blessing.  I am going to share with you just one of those words of blessings He spoke in one of the Psalms.  This is Psalm 103.  I have explained this before, but I want to do it again, today.  In Psalm 103 the God who makes promises speaks a blessing to you, when He says,

“As high as the heavens are above the earth

so great is His love for those who fear Him. 

As far as the east is from the west,

so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Now, just think about that for a moment.  You can go north, and you can keep going north, but there will come a time when you have to start going south.  It's just the way it is. 

But, that is not how it is when you go east, or west.  When you go east, and you keep going east, you will always be going east.  If you go to the west, and you keep going west, you will be always going to the west. 

So, think about what God is promising here. 

“As far as the east is from the west,

so far has He removed your transgressions.”  

So far has He removed your sins from you! 

It is the God who speaks our text for today, who speaks promises that He wants you to hear.

I am going to propose this, or contend this.  In a sense, every time we gather together for worship, 'we stand on Mt. Ebal, and we stand on Mt. Gerizim'. 

In every single worship service, and every single sermon, 'we hear from Mt. Ebal'.  We hear the Law of God.  We hear Him tell us what to do, and what not to do.  We hear what the consequences will be, if we don't do this, or we do something we should not do. 

But, in every worship service, and in every sermon we also get to hear the blessings that come to us from Mt. Gerizim.  It is the God who promised the blessings of our text for today, is the same God who makes promises to you. 

Do you remember what I said to start the beginning of our sermon for today?  The Children of Israel were within one month of crossing in to The Promised Land.  It was right on their minds.  They were getting ready to go in to The Promised Land.  But, here is what God wanted them to do.  He wanted them to take a step back, and take a look at the greater promise.  He wanted them to look at the greater 'promised land', 'the eternal promised land' He had won for them through somebody who would come – The Messiah. 

In our life, maybe the same thing happens to us, where we get so focused on the day to day living.  Here is what God wants us to do.  He wants us to just take a step back, and He wants you to look at the greater promise He has given to you, and to me.  That is 'the eternal promised land' He has won for you, of everlasting life in Heaven.

Think about our Epistle Lesson for today, in which that promise comes through loud, and clear.  Romans chapter three says,

We are justified freely by His grace,

through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

That word 'justified' is a courtroom term.  At the end of a trial, a judge can say one of two things.  Either you are guilty, or you are not guilty.  When God says you are 'justified', it means, 'He proclaims you to be not guilty'.  All because of a promise He made, and kept.

God promised He would send His Son to be our Savior, and He did that.  So, at the cross, when Jesus, our Savior said,

“It is finished”,

He made full, and complete payment for all of your sin, so that we have everlasting life with Him, in Heaven.

So, what is God's Word for?  It is not just for show.  It is not just something we should have on our forehead, or something we should have around our neck, or a religious picture we have hanging at home.  God says,

“Put these words of mine in your hearts and in your soul...” 

Have it be a part of your everyday living.  Then, it is part of your life.  It is part of your hands.  Part of your feet.  Part of your voice, and it is part of your lips, as well.

Another verse in that hymn says,

Take Thy Will, and make it Thine

It shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart

It is Thine own

It shall be Thy royal throne.