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Restore the Table Week 2: The Family Table | Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Mary Ellen Ermis April 14, 2024 sermons, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, Deuteronomy, houston, Restore the Table, Roger Patterson,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, April 14, 2024 at our Crosspoint Church-Bellaire campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.


Do you know the single most important Scripture to a devout Jew? It’s the one Scripture that they recall and recite two times a day…in the morning, and in the evening.

It’s called the Shema. The Shema is found in Deuteronomy 6.

Let’s stand together today and read this together.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

“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.”

So much has been written about these verses in both Judaism and in the Christian faith.

Patrick Miller, in his commentary on Deuteronomy, says…

“The Shema was the touchstone for Israel’s faith and life, the plumbline by which their relationship to the Lord of history was constantly to be measured.”

Now, why is that? Why was the Shema the touchstone and plumbline? Why is it the standard?

I think the simple answer is because it established Israel’s identity – They were and are to be lovers of the ONE TRUE GOD – In a pluralistic, polytheistic culture, where many gods were worshipped, they were to always set apart the LORD, the ONE TRUE GOD, first and foremost in their lives.

Now, I want us to notice something.

Where is the primary place this was to be learned by God’s people? What location is expressed two times in this passage?

Let’s look at Deuteronomy 6:6-9 again.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

6 “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.”

Do you see the word “house” two times? Do you see the call for parents to teach this to their kids?

And do you see this part of verse 7 in particular?

Deuteronomy 6:7b

and shall talk of them when you sit in your house…

Where do we normally sit and talk?

Some of you have big houses and some of you live in one bedroom apartments…but I bet you one thing is true of both the big houses and the one bedroom apartments…I bet that the same type of furniture can be found in both – the table.

You see, I want you to see the table as an OPPORTUNITY. It’s an OPPORTUNITY to both learn and instruct. It’s a place where dynamic conversations happen, and where over time, we learn something significant.  And this is my thesis today…

My Thesis


And what was God’s commandment to Israel?

  • When you sit at home, talk about me.
  • When you gather around the table, make sure I’m present.
  • When you have time to circle up with those you love the most, whether that’s the traditional family, you and your roommate, or you and a neighbor, connect with who I have called you to be – one who loves me as the ONE TRUE GOD!

If you are a parent of young kids, have they ever asked you, “What’s that word?”

And you take the time to explain to them that this word, when you look through the rear-view mirror reads, Ambulance.

You know, what’s fuzzy or indiscernible in front of you, often times get clear when you can look at it through the rearview mirror.

In the Shema, Israel is being called to trust God with her future. They are still living outside of the promise land. They are still eating manna each day. They are still not where God planned for them to live. And He speaks about them living in homes and prospering – and as they prosper, they are be invited to sit at their breakfast table and talk about Him.

And as they talk about Him, they are going to be talking about what He did in their past and how that should inform their future.

How many of you flooded in Hurricane Harvey? Many of us did.

Julee and I and most of our neighbors flooded in that awful storm. And I’ve reflected on that season, and it will often come up in our conversations. And there are so many lessons I have learned that I now have language for it. It’s what I now call a HARVEY MOMENT.

A Harvey Moment is:

  • Overwhelming
  • Fearful
  • Uncertain
  • Lasts Way too Long
  • Difficult at Every Turn

And life is full of moments—whether that be days, seasons or even seconds—that often shape the way we think, live and love.

Life is also full of moments that, if we examine them, helps us see what counts…what matters most.  Hurricane Harvey was a moment like that for me, for our church, our community and our city.

But if we are not careful, we will forget the lessons of the Harvey Moment.  You see, the further we move away from that defining moment, the easier it is to lose sight of how it should inform how we live.

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders often debated what mattered most.  You see, they had a religious system that mandated that they pay attention to 613 commandments, 248 positive and 365 that were negative.

Warren Wiersbe says,

“No person could ever hope to know and fully obey all of these commandments.  So, to make it easier, the experts divided the commandments into ‘heavy’ (important) and ‘light’ (unimportant).  A person could major on the ‘heavy commandments’ and not worry about the trivial ones.”

Life is often like navigating the 613 commandments, isn’t it?  We rush from here to there and this way and that, hoping that we are accomplishing what we were put on this earth to do.  Yet we often pick our heads up as if to ask, “Am I really doing this right?  Is this the way I should go?”

We were invited to a friend’s home one evening for an art party.  There were easels all around the center of the room and we were all facing our canvases and one another.  The art director would give us instructions on what we were to draw. Now we were all a church group, so we choose to paint a church set out in the countryside. 

The key to the experience was to listen clearly to the instructor and then watch them as they painted on their canvas.  I remember many a moment where I would step back, look at what I had just done and what others were doing.  I wasn’t sure if what I was painting was going to lead to a church in the countryside or an old building that would need to be torn down.

That’s how many people live their lives…tentative, hesitant, and comparing their efforts with others to see if what they are painting will become a masterpiece or a piece of trash.

Wouldn’t it be better if we had a clear instruction on what mattered most?  Wouldn’t it be best if someone could simplify things down for us? 

Well, in Jesus’ life, there was a crystalizing moment…not for Jesus, but for anyone who would hear him.  That moment was a declaration of what mattered most and in declaring it, Jesus went to the SHEMA as part of what he declared!

Take a look with me at Matthew 22:34-40.

Matthew 22:34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

It’s Tuesday the week Jesus would be crucified on Friday. Jesus is 3 days away from being crucified. He rides into Jerusalem, where he would be arrested, he rides in on a donkey and people wave palm branches, and scream to the top of their lungs “Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Jesus also begins to heal people in the temple and he is being praised by all kinds of people, including kids. He is the One being praised, talked about and acclaimed, and the religious leaders of the day weren’t happy at all! They were completely jealous of the following and popularity he was gaining, and they felt threatened that they would lose their followers to Him.

  • The Chief Priests and Scribes were furious;
  • the Sadducees were furious,
  • and the Pharisees were indignant to say the least.

And one by one, each group attempts to trip him up with questions that would serve to discredit him, to put a dent in his popularity and followers. They are trying to CANCEL HIM!

Now notice with me the pressure that Jesus is under in verse 34.

Matthew 22:34

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.

Do you hear the pressure?  The Sadducees, a group of religious scholars who only held to the writings of Moses had approached him, and they were silenced.  This means that in essence, Jesus was able to gag them, or muzzle them.  He won that debate.

Now, the Pharisees are starting to Huddle Up.  More pressure is about to be applied.

The Pharisees, a rival group, see their opportunity. The Sadducees have gone down. On one hand they would have been happy to have the Sadducees succeed in discrediting Jesus because, Jesus would have been taken care of. But on the other hand, this is their opportunity. They huddle up.  “They gathered together.” They begin to plan out how they can discredit Jesus in order to stop him from gaining influence and robbing them of theirs. They land on a question and they elect a spokesman, one of their best guys, who happened to be a lawyer (an expert in the law) and they send him to Jesus.

This guy steps up…has his question gun loaded. Watch what he says:

Matthew 22:36

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

In other words, he is asking, “Which commandment carries the most weight / intensity?”

  • Moses, our Hero, gave us the commands, and we have added to those in order to keep the 10 and not offend God.
    • 613 (248 positive and 365 negative)
  • Jesus if you were to boil down the Law to the one commandment, to one thing, one precept, one directive from God’s heart what would it be? WHAT MATTERS MOST?

 And what does Jesus say?  What do we hear Jesus saying here, in the midst of pressure?

We hear him saying the simplest, most meaningful message…To love God and love others. 

Now, I know…I know.  In many of your minds, this is play talk, isn’t it?  This isn’t real world stuff.  We want our kids to get this stuff early on in their lives, because we know it is good for them, but really…this doesn’t work in the real world – to simply love God and love others.

You see, I would bet that many of you would say to me,

“Pastor, thanks for the moral lesson today, but this doesn’t work on the trading floor… the courtroom… the lab or classroom.  This doesn’t work in my marriage.  It’s a whole different world out there than it is in here. It’s a world full of pressure that you just don’t understand.”

I hear you…but hear me out today.  Harvey Moments are Full of Pressure.  And understanding the context of the moment is key to understanding your Harvey Moment.

That’s the first thing that I want you to see today.

I. Understanding the Context of the Moment is Key to Understanding Your Harvey Moment.

It is those that Jesus was receiving the most pressure from that he gave this response to.

And these are:

  • Two competing groups
  • Two power hungry, selfishly motivated, murderous groups of people.
  • They are politically savvy.
  • They are looking for any reason to get rid of Jesus.
  • They are hoping to pounce on him.
  • He is a threat to them.

Now, how is that different than your workplace?  How is that different from the trading floor, the courtroom, the ivory tower of academia?  How is that different from the athletic fields, where someone is praying for your injury so that they can get playing time?

Jesus is confronting a culture of selfish, egotistical, power-hungry men.  It sounds just like corporate America.  It’s not play stuff.  It’s an overwhelming, frustrating, long-lasting, fire-breathing environment that Jesus is in.  And he lived this way for three years.

And if you still think that Jesus’ answer is play stuff, let’s talk about the kinds of folks of the real world– not you of course.  Let’s talk about these Power-hungry, egotistical, stab you in the back kind of people.

If this is play stuff to you because that doesn’t work in the “REAL WORLD,” let me ask you:

  • Do you want their marriage? Or marriages?
  • Do you want their addictions?
  • Do you want their misery…their loneliness…their problems?

You may want their money, but at what price are you willing to pay to have it?

If you dismiss this as irrelevant and view it as moral teaching that you only want your children or youth to learn, but it is unimportant to you as an adult, the let me ask you, “What matters most to you?”

Let me tell you…here is what I have learned what matters most:

That I know that no matter the storm, season, moment or situation, I have a God I worship who is faithful to me and He will see me through.  Moment by moment through our Harvey Moment, we had protection, provision, and his hand of providence like you wouldn’t believe.

  • Here is what else matters most: That I know that if I have to walk out of my flooded home through flood waters up to my sternum…like a refugee fleeing with just one bag in my hands…that I have friends who will take me in…me, my wife, my three children…and my two dogs.
  • And what matters is that we belong to a community of Christians, committed to a local assembly called a CHURCH that come to you in your pain and hold up your arms and burdens through the struggle.
  • And every single person in that photo…every one of them, I have shared multiple meals with…both fathers and their sons.

Friends, I promise to you this is true.  As the water subsided, and we began the tear out process, we had a dozen cars in front of our home.  The rest of the street was empty.  Most everyone else flooded too, but we were the only ones who had men…strong men…in our home ripping out sheetrock and baseboards.

What matters most, is what matters in the storm!  What matters most is what matters when the flood waters rise!

But I learn what Matters Most at the Table…loving God with all of my heart, soul, and strength, — and the life that flows out of that…and when the Harvey Moments Happen, I’m still standing!

Listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27.

Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Jesus didn’t say “If” the storm would come.  It’s coming.  What are you building your life on?  What is your mindset? What matters most to you?  Because it will be exposed in your Harvey Moment.

PREPARE NOW. Use the Time around the Table to speak of our Lord…to establish your identity in Him, so that when it comes, you can stand!

Jesus says that the absolute most important things is that we love God with all of our heart, soul and mind.

And the Scripture calls us to impress this upon our children, and talk about it when we sit and when we rise…We establish our identity as lovers of God, and when the storm comes, we are able to endure!

II. So, what does it mean to love God, especially in Harvey Moments?

Look again at verse 37.

Matthew 22:37

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Love — The word Love here is a Greek word, “agapao” which means: “to take pleasure in something; to prize it above other things; to be unwilling to forsake it or do without it”[1]

[1] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G25&t=KJV

Now, what’s interesting is that each of us has something that we “Love” like this.  It is something or someone.  We prize something or someone above every other thing.  We prize something or someone in such a way that we are unwilling to forsake it/them and do without it/them.

Who or what is that in your life?

Who is it or what is it in your life that if you lost it, you wouldn’t be able to go on with your life?  This is the difference between sorrow and despair.

Tim Keller says…“Sorrow comes from losing one good thing among others, so that, if you experience a career reversal, you can find comfort in your family to get you through it.  Despair, however, is inconsolable, because it comes from losing an ultimate thing.  When you lose the ultimate source of your meaning or hope, there are no alternative sources to turn to.  It breaks your spirit.”

Tim Keller’s book, Counterfeit Gods, opens this way:

After the 2008 global economic crisis, a tragic string of suicides followed.  The acting chief financial officer of Freddie Mac, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, hanged himself in his basement. The CEO of Sheldon Good, a leading U.S. real estate auction firm, shot himself in the head behind the wheel of his red Jaguar. A French money manager who invested the wealth of many of Europe’s royal and leading families, and who had lost $1.4 billion of his client’s money in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, slit his wrists and died in his Madison Avenue office.

I would argue that those who despaired to death loved money more than anything else.  As a result, when it was gone, they saw no reason to continue to live.  Their Harvey Moment…the long, overwhelming, daunting moment that came to their lives, exposed what mattered most to them.  And when they lost it, despair came!

Look again at Jesus’ words.

Matthew 22:37

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

You see, it is important for us to see that this is a commandment.  A commandment isn’t a suggestion.  A commandment is an authoritative instruction.

Jesus instructs us to love God above all else. He commands us to:

  • take pleasure in Him
  • to prize Him above every other person or thing

Jesus instructs us to not forsake him.  And he proclaims it with authority.

Why?  Because God is worthy of it.

Exodus 20:2-3 states…

Exodus 20:2-3

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

Notice here, that we have God making a command of the people of Israel.  And that command is to have no other gods before him.  That command is to not forsake him, but to forsake the idols that they would encounter throughout life.

And this command…this authoritative statement comes to them from his Covenant relationship to them.  Notice he says in verse 2, “…who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”

In other words, “I have the authority to command this from you because I am God and you are not.  And I rescued you and saved you.  Here are the terms of our relationship.”

Friend, if your mindset is that this message doesn’t work in the real world, then you’ve given your heart over to idolatry, for the maker of this world demands your allegiance.

He commands you to prize him over any and everything else.  He does this from his authority…as Lord of all, and as one who has rescued you from sin and death and separation from him.

And here is what Harvey Moments do…They test your heart and your allegiance.  Yes, that’s right, the maker of this world will test your heart and allegiance.  He will test it through trials and tribulations.  He will see if you are devoted to him, or if your heart is to other gods.

Do you love the Lord and prize him over all things?  He will test you to see what matters most to you?

Harvey Moments will test what matters most.  That’s the third thing I want you to see today.

III. Harvey Moments will test what matters most in your life.

James 1:2-3

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

In his book, Moments: Making Your Life Count for What Matters Most, our friend, Mike Van Hoozer says that moments that define us have significant meaning and impact.  He says…

When you think about the moments in your life, I challenge you to ponder the following question: What comprises a moment?  The answer lies in the acrostic CAR:

  • Choice
  • Attitude
  • Response

What Comprises a Moment? — C.A.R.

  • Choice
  • Attitude
  • Response

Harvey Moments are those moments that come into your life where you ask, “What am I supposed to do now?”  And you realize that you have a Choice, and Attitude and a Response that you are responsible for.

What am I supposed to do now? 

That was the first question I asked when I got back to my house after the water had subsided.  I literally got on the phone with Julee’s brother, who was at that time a claims adjuster for Travelers Insurance, and began to ask him, “What do I do now?”

The moment was so overwhelming:

  • that I needed leadership.
  • It was so overwhelming that I needed help.
  • It was so overwhelming that I knew I would needed resolve to make it through.

I was with one of our church members who was going through her own Harvey Moment.  She had been diagnosed with cancer and it was going to be a long road.  She was closer to the front end of the journey than she the back end.  She couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet.  And she was both discouraged and afraid.

Harvey Moments are like that.  They last a long time.  They are overwhelming on many days and you don’t know when they will come to a close.

  • Choice: I told her that she had a choice to make – whether she would let fear rule her life or if she would face it head one.
  • Attitude: I told her that her attitude would be key and I invited her to choose one thing every day to be thankful for and one thing every day that she could laugh at – Gratitude sets the heart and laughter is good medicine!
  • Response: And I told her that she was still climbing up…it was the hard part.  But that she can’t quit.  I told her that there is a reward, if she will keep fighting…fighting the fear and fighting for her life.

And then I showed her this video.  And I want you to see it too.

It’s a video of a little boy whose life is filled with Harvey Moments every single day.

Take a look… Toddler without hands or legs cleverly climbs and goes down slide (youtube.com)

Romans 5:3-5

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

My friends…listen to me.  Our Harvey moments, if we love God with all that we are, they have a way of cultivating endurance and character and hope.

It took little Camden endurance and character to wrestle himself up those steps to get on that slide.

But did you see the hope in him?  Did you see that smile?  That can-do attitude?  Did you see that little boy who slid down the slide?

You see, when you obey God and prize him over all things, He will give you that same can-do attitude… He will give you that character and hope that does not put us to shame.  And you will experience his love in a way you wouldn’t have, except that you went through the storm and endured the flood and persevered through the contractors or the chemo or the hospitalization.

We know these challenges will come. We know that life is hard.

My friends, use the time at the table to remind yourself, your loved ones, your children…who you are and whose you are so that you can endure and persevere.

Friends, what matters most to you?

If it is anything that takes first place over and against Jesus, then you’ve got it backwards.

For those of you in your Harvey Moment right now…Don’t forsake the Lord.  He loves you and all of his ways to you are good.

Love him…persevere in the journey.

  • You have a choice to prize him above all.
  • You can choose an attitude of gratitude and find one thing each day to be thankful for and one thing each day to laugh at.
  • You have a response…may it be clear, that under pressure, that you love God will all that you are.