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Sermon 11-1-09
Deuteronomy 6:5 - Love the Lord

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Sermon 11/1/09 – Deuteronomy 6:5 – Love the Lord

Love the Lord

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

One of the ways to learn about something is to study its opposite. Our Scripture is about love and so we will look at the words of someone who instead conquered, destroyed and took from others. Our quote is from a man called Temujin Khan who lived from 1162 to 1227 AD. We know him as Genghis Khan. He was the founder of the Mongol Empire, which stretched from China, Korea and the Caucasus, to large portions of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Here’s what he said: “The greatest joy a man can know is to conquer his enemies and drive them before him. To ride their horses and take away their possessions, to see the faces of those who were dear to them bedewed with tears, and to clasp their wives and daughters in his arms.”  Horrible, isn't it?

Last week we completed a ten-week study of the Ten Commandments, considering how they apply to us right now. The Tenth Commandment is the opposite of the words of Genghis Khan and it made all the other commandments extremely personal by telling us - "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s" (Exodus 20:17). That commandment reveals our problem is deeper than the outward sinfulness of idolatry, carved images, swearing, Sabbath-breaking, disobedience, murder, adultery, theft, and lying. The way God views it – if you merely WANT to do something wrong, coveting whatever it is, you are guilty in the sight of God. And note the words of James: “Whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10).

It has been estimated by those who like to count things that there are 613 Commandments in the Old Testament alone. Our Scripture for today is a positive requirement in contrast with the “Do Not’s” we have been studying for the past ten weeks. This is an affirmative command to love the Lord our God with everything we’ve got. Loving Him is incredibly REASONABLE when you think about it. If you can, set aside any doubts you may have for a moment, and just THINK about some of the attributes of God as He is presented in Scripture.

He is your Creator. You thought you were created by your parents, or perhaps a mythical character like Mother Nature, or possibly the stork, or blind chance, or whatever. Psalm 139 is a good source for understanding – your body was carefully “FASHIONED” by God, for His good purposes. You may not like His choices, but your stature, parentage, nationality, the good things and the “bad” – it was God’s CHOICE, placing you in an optimum setting, enabling you to see your need of the Lord and place your faith in Him.

He is your Judge. You may think otherwise, but like the rest of us, you are incapable of becoming what God wants you to be. After ten weeks of looking at His commands, it is clear that we “fall short of the glory of God,” as observed by Paul the Apostle in Romans 3:23. As your judge, He does you a great kindness by pointing out what you've done wrong.  He shows what must change in order for you to live the rich, full, loving life you have always needed and should have wanted all the time.  His judgment is for you to receive the grace of God and be changed for the good.

He is your Savior. The penalty our Judge has pronounced on us all is that “the wages of sin is death,” and there is no way out, except that “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). He became our Passover, the innocent Lamb of God who died for your sins so you might be forgiven and know His love forever.

When a group of religious leaders asked Jesus, “What is the great commandment in the Law?” their question was designed to trip Him up, to gain evidence so they might reject Him. His answer linked our Scripture for today with another one. He said... You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40). The second part, “love your neighbor,” is from Leviticus 19:18.

God, your Creator and your judge, has observed that you, like everybody else, have fallen “short of the glory of God” and He pronounced “death” at your sentencing hearing. He is also God your Savior and He has provided a way for you, simply because of His love.

The problem with “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” is that, like the other commands to humanity - you can’t do it. Not God’s kind of love. Genghis Khan demonstrated in his life and words the opposite of the love that God expects from us all. He may have loved his wife and perhaps his sons, but instead of “love your neighbor,” his credo was: I will destroy them! If he was asked, “Who is your enemy?” he would have answered, “Everyone!”

A well-known parable that gives us examples of not only what love is not, but also what it is, can be seen in the story of the “Good Samaritan” in Scripture. You can read about it in Luke 10:25-37. Once again Jesus is asked a question by someone who wanted to “put Him to the test.” The man smugly quoted the Scriptures we saw in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus agreed, and then the man, “desiring to justify himself,” asked, "And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

The Jews of that time hated the Samaritan people and so Jesus recited events that His listeners had likely heard about. A man, apparently a Jewish man, was robbed, beaten and left to die. A Jewish priest passed by and ignored the man’s cries as did another Jewish man, a Levite. They did not want to be bothered. But a Samaritan stopped, cared for the man, paid for his further care and promised more. Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Luke 10:36).

And of course, that's exactly what the Lord is saying to you and me about what love is and how it is expressed.  Jesus' answer is: Do as the Good Samaritan did and you demonstrate that the love of God is in you.

The one who had smugly asked, “who is my neighbor?” reluctantly answered Jesus, admitting that the Samaritan was a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers. “The one who showed him mercy,” he said. Jesus looked right in the eyes of the man who had asked the question and said, “You go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).

We must ask: HOW can we be like that Samaritan? The key is found in places like 1 John 4:19 – “We love (God) because He first loved us.” We are profoundly loved by God and when we trust in Him, we receive His infinite grace. His love fills us and we find a need to share it with others. We love the Lord and we can love one another because “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Lord, we have cared for ourselves and have neglected the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. We receive You and trust in Your love. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
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