Love God 

“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30 

The world is fascinated with love. Innumerable songs, books, plays and poetry have been written on the subject. Love is the favorite theme of Hollywood movies, gossip rags and television shows. We even have Valentine’s Day, where we celebrate love with flowers, candy and romantic sentiments. 

I grew up hearing the words “all we need is love” heralded through the airwaves. Love was an important subject in the times of Christ as well. When Jesus was asked what was the most important of all the commandments He responded, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30 

The scribes understood exactly what Jesus was saying and agreed with Him fully. They said “to love God and to love others is more than all the offerings and sacrifices.” We have taken the greatest commandment and put it through the word processor of modern times and reduced it to one word: love. Even those who do not follow Jesus (and a few who do not even believe in Him) will quote Him as saying the greatest commandment is love. They will go on to espouse, that if we want to live and die right, all we need to do is be loving toward one another. Since Jesus declares that this is the most important of all commandments, it is vital that we understand that the command not only states love is the greatest responsibility of man, but also declares who we are to love. 

Just to love our family, or be compassionate toward those less fortunate than us, or to be kind to our fellow man, does not satisfy this commandment. We are only fulfilling the great commandment when we are loving God first, and loving others as an expression of our love for God. Ask yourself this morning, do I love God first? If you do, He should have first place in your life, which means He will have first place in your living. If you love Him, you will spend time with Him, in His Word and in prayer. You will seek to please Him with your actions and express your love to Him in worship. Just to love, or to herald the importance of love, does not satisfy the greatest commandment. Instead, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. ’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Pastor Jim

  

Man Up 

1 Kings 2:2-3
“I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

Israel is facing some very serious challenges. Their beloved king has grown old and is on the eve of his death, and the nation is divided between two drastically different successors. Surrounded by enemies and struggling with an array of internal conflicts, Solomon is chosen to take the throne and lead the nation. With what amounts to his final words, we read of a charge given by King David to his teenage son,

“I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man…

Today, there seems to be great confusion regarding what it means to be a man. An iconic figure from a few years ago was the Marlboro Man; a cowboy with a cigarette. More recently, we have been introduced to the most interesting man in the world; an aged playboy who consumes alcohol. We have movies like Fight Club, or the Fast and Furious series that portray manhood as living a fast paced life, not worrying about the consequences, and social media taught us a new term – YOLO – meaning you only live once. David had none of these things in mind when he charged Solomon to be a man. Instead, he defined true manhood when he said,

“Keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

A real man is one who looks to the word of God and lives by its principles. A real man is one who will not let culture shape him, but will be transformed by the Scriptures, into the image of Christ. It was Pilate, who looking at the beaten Christ declared, “Behold the Man.” And it is Christ who is the true image of manhood.

Like David, I believe that what our world needs is young people who will step up and act like men. Young men who will not be swayed by culture, but will seek to influence it, by taking heed to the Word of God and live accordingly.

Pastor Jim