09/27/2015 – Deuteronomy 5:11 – “Hallowed Be Thy Name”

For an audio version of this message, click this link: http://ppl.ug/gCxsgPbHBvA/

Mark Wheeler

Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11; Matthew 22:34-38; Mark 12:28-30

“10 Rules for Faithful Living: Hallowed Be Thy Name”

September 27, 2015

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

We come to worship today, O Lord, some of us filled with discontent, some with fear, some with anger, some with hurt feelings. But, dear Lord, we all came here today. Empty our hearts and minds of malice and bitterness right now. Help us instead, to seek Your perfect power and presence, Your righteousness and redemption, Your Law and Your love in front of all other possible priorities, through Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Last Sunday the Green bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, walked over to the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson, and said, “Knock-knock.”

Wilson said, “Who’s there?”  

“Owen.”

“Owen who?”  

“O and 2, Loser, that’s who!”

 OK, that didn’t really happen – I’m sure Aaron Rodgers is a better sport than that. But it plays into the importance of names.

 Names are super important. Choosing a name for a new baby can occupy a couple right up until birth – sometimes even beyond. Jennifer and I had agreed on Caitlin’s name fairly early on, but Brianna’s was not really decided until her actual birthday, and we’re still not agreed on Angus’ – er, Andrew’s – name.

And it seems that names come in cycles. When I was a kid, you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting some boy named Mark – but that is way less true today. And I had only heard the name Caitlin once in my life (and loved it), but when we told the hospital nurse our first baby’s name, she said, “Oh good, another Katelynn.”

It seems that Madeline is making another comeback, and maybe Henry…. Dweezil and Moonbeam may never make the top ten American names (I can only hope)….

In some cultures, names are meant to actually mean something. Do you know what your name means? What language it comes from? Last names, or family names (sir names), are different. They tell us where we came from (Johnson, McNeil, Wheeler), but not necessarily where/who we are today.

I’ve heard that in Iceland people are listed in the phonebook by their first names because all the last names simply indicate who their father was.

Names are important. They identify us with a community and a place. We can all tell an Irish name from a Russian name. I’ll bet many of us have been quizzed by new acquaintances about our relations to someone else they know with our last name.

And sometimes names are just fun. In Tacoma our pediatrician was named Dr. Hurt. Here at LPC we sit and worship with a Jack Kennedy every week.

Have you ever done any name-dropping? You know, dropping the name of someone famous or important that, maybe, you had an accidental meeting with? I had a pastor once who sat next to Muhammed Ali on an airplane from NY to LA. 5 hours of conversation with “the greatest”. You can bet he dropped that name as often as he could.

In today’s passage from Deuteronomy 5 (and from Exodus 20) we hear a Commandment about God’s name. Remember how and why God gave us these Ten Commandments? ·

Israel in Egypt for 400 years·

Egyptian kings forgot how valuable Israelites had been to Egypt’s economy·

New Pharaoh, out of fear of the large number of these immigrant people, becomes a tyrannical power player and puts the Israelites in poverty·

God gives the Israelites Moses as a deliverer·

Moses meets God in a burning bush, and God tells him His name is YHWHI am who I am (whenever we read the word Lord in all caps, that means the Bible actually says YHWH [or Jehovah], but God’s name is too holy for the Jews to actually utter, so they say Adonai which means Lord

Moses rescues them from Egypt and they wander for 40 years in the Wilderness on their way to the Land God had Promised their forefathers

While in the Wilderness God gives these delivered Israelites a new way of living from what they had known under the power-broker Pharaoh – the Ten Commandments Listen to the Word of the Lord from Deuteronomy 5:1-6, 11…. —-

Moses summoned all Israel and said:

Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:

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

11 You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

This is a Commandment that declares the importance of God’s name! It is Holy! Hallowed be Thy name!

Middle Eastern cultures know the importance of namesMoses’ namedrawn out” from the Nile like Noah was drawn out from the great flood, like the Israelites were drawn out from the Red Sea. God’s nameI amalways present tense. God is inescapable. King David asked, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:7-12)

That’s all right there in His name!

The Israelites knew that. You can’t separate the name from the person. You can’t just use someone’s name without having the person it belongs to dragged along behind it, willy-nilly. So before we start tossing anyone’s name around in conversation, we better know what we’re getting into. Don’t do it carelessly, and don’t do it ignorantly.

That’s what the 3rd Commandment is all about. “You shall not take the name of YHWH your God in vain: for YHWH will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

Remember why God gave us these Ten Commandments:

  1. to show us we need a Savior (just like the Israelites needed a savior from Pharaoh),
  2. to keep us from killing each other (restrain evil-doing),

3.                to tell us what God’s character is (and therefore as people created in the image of God what our character ought to beguide for living the Christian life as we grow to resemble our Lord Jesus Christ) – sanctification

So, what does this Commandment mean? What does it mean to “misuse” YHWH’s name (NIV)? What does it mean to “take YHWH’s name in vain” (KJV)?

The Hebrew word “shav” that is usually translatedin vain” means “emptily”, or falsely, or without substance. What are some ways we use the Lord’s name emptily or falsely or with substance lacking?

God gave His name to the Israelites as a gift. God gave His name with the understanding that along with His name He was giving them the right to call upon Him and in some sense YHWH God now belonged to them as they belonged to Him (I will be their God and they will be my people). This gave them the right to call themselves the people of the Lord, and invoke His name, claim His power – for protection and justice and wisdom. But there are limits to the ways we can use His name! “Not in vain!

Can you name some ways you have heard othersmisuse God’s name”? Not you, of course, but people you might know of? How do people break this Commandment?

  • Use God’s name to curse with (“Gol durn it!”)
  • Use God’s name to validate a false statement (“I swear to God”)
  • Use God’s name to make an oath (“on God’s honor, I will …”)
  • Use God’s name to argue something against God’s Word (“No one will go to hell, because God is love”)

Remember the three reasons why God gives us these Commandments? One of those reasons is to reveal God’s character. His character is wrapped up in His name, and we human beings, all of us, including you and me, will start using God’s name for our own purposes; we’ll borrow a little power, appropriate a little authority, grab a little glory. Little by little, we human beings will substitute our own agendas for God’s – thus breaking the First and Second Commandments as well.

How do we gain victory over our natural tendency to misuse the Lord’s name? One solution would be to follow the Jewish Rabbis’ rule: never ever say the Lord’s name at all. Remember when I told you about why the word “Lord” is in all caps? But that doesn’t seem like the right way to use a precious giftGod did not give us the gift of Himself, either in the form of His name and the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, or in the form of His Son Jesus Christ, so that we might just tuck Him away in a safe place and only bring Him out when the pastor visits or our Mom is coming over. He gave Himself to us for everyday use, for all of life.

So, it seems, the only real solution is to learn how to take care of this gift.

Almost always, the first example people give of “taking the Lord’s name in vain” is to use it as a cuss word! Why is it such a common cuss word? My theory is that it is because it is a name with power – it is used to damn people to hell! What is more powerful than that?! But I believe that some of the other ways we mentioned as misuses of God’s name, while more subtle, are even more common and dangerous.

How do we properly use the name of God? Look with me again at the Call to Worship, from Deuteronomy 6. In that passage who is expected to learn the Law of God? Who was expected to know the Ten Commandments? Who does this say should meditate every day, all day, on the Word of God?

This is super-key! The answer is everyone! From the richest to the poorest, from the oldest to the youngest, from the most influential to the ones with the least impact. Everyone is meant to study God’s Word so that everyone, from the greatest to the least, can know God personally and grow in His character traits – we are, after all, created in His image; we should start to look and sound and act more like Him!

This was very different from the Pharaoh of Egypt (or the kings of any of the other neighboring great nations). The more you know, the more power you can wield – therefore they did not want anyone to know their law – that way they could punish you for breaking it, thus creating more power for themselves and more poverty for the rest.

Shema Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Ehad: Hear, O Israel, YHWH our God is one Lord; and you shall love YHWH your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and 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.

Israel’s God, our God, does not play favorites. Israel’s God, our God, calls each one of us to responsibility in the covenant relationship we have been called into. The study of the Word of God is a major priority and a serious faith-duty. Spending time in God’s Word is the only way we can keep our faith-lives consistent with the character and purposes of God. It is too easy to slip into a way of life that has more to do with our own desires than the nature of God, and the requirements of discipleship.

The name of God is more than just a sound. The name of God is the whole person of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The name of God is the whole history of God with his people; the name of God includes His requirements for and promises to all those who love Him. God’s name is never empty. Let us never act as if it is empty by trying to fill it with anything other than His own truth.

Our challenge today is to ask ourselves how full of God’s truth, God’s Word, our own lives are. How much time do you invest in learning the Word of God, in meditating on it, in making sure that our lives as Christians conform to the purposes and character of our Lord? Do you spend time daily in the Bible? Do you meet with fellow Christians, helping one another to be accountable?

If the Church ever turns our backs on the authority of these Commandments, may God have mercy on our souls. Let us worship the Lord our God, above and before all else, today and foreverPsalm 119:20 proclaims: “My soul is consumed with longing for Your Laws all day long.” Amen. 

Let us spend a moment in silence asking God to give us a hunger for His Word, and to give us the discipline to make regular time for Him. When you claim God’s name as your own, is it empty or full?

Resources:

Bucklin, Alison; “A Full Name”; Vashon Presbyterian Church (USA); Vashon Island, WA; January 1998.

 The Law of Liberty; “Unfolding God’s Glorious Law”; Project Restore, Inc; Locust Dale, VA; 2006; P. 5.

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09/20/2015 – Deuteronomy 5:8-10 – Ten Rules for Faithful Living: #2 “No Icons on the Desktop”

http://ppl.ug/_kx6cz4h314/

Mark Wheeler

Exodus 20:4-63; Deuteronomy 5:8-10; Matthew 22:34-38; Mark 12:28-30

“10 Rules for Faithful Living: No Icons on the Desktop”

September 20, 2015

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

We come to worship today, O Lord, some of us filled with discontent, some with fear, some with anger, some with hurt feelings. But, dear Lord, we all came today. Empty our hearts and minds of malice and bitterness right now. Help us instead, to seek Your perfect power and presence, Your righteousness and redemption, Your Law and Your love in front of all other possible priorities, through Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen. 

A Sunday School student was asked to list the 10 Commandments in any order.

His answer? “3, 6, 1, 8, 4, 5, 9, 2, 10, 7.”

 

Martin Luther once said that “anyone who knows the Ten Commandments perfectly knows the entire Scripture.” (The Larger Catechism)

We all know that Jesus agreed with Martin Luther when He was asked, by people who perhaps hoped to trip Him up, which of the 10 Commandments was the greatest, most important one. Both Matthew and Mark record this story. What is Jesus’ answer? (Mark 12) “29 ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”’Jesus is merely quoting from Deuteronomy (look again at your Call to Worship from Deuteronomy 6). Love the Lord your God with all that’s in you, with all you’ve got, always, never-ending, without failhave no other godsno desire for riches, no dreams of popularity, no over-extended hopes for glamour, no worries, no fearshave no other gods!

The 10 Commandments, brief enough to be memorized by Sunday School children and comprehensive enough to guide our every thought and action. These Commandments are a far more than just a list of “thou shalt nots”, but it is a list of promises from God and they each contain the secret power to have the ability to obey them. For the next couple of months we will listen as God’s Word reminds us what He demands.

The historical/social context of the 10 commandmentsescape from Pharaoh and unjust system of power and poverty

The three reasons for the Law – 1)to show us we need a Savior,

2) to keep us from killing each other (restrain evil-doing),

3) to tell us what God’s character is (and therefore as people created in the image of God what our character ought to beguide for living the Christian life as we grow to resemble our Lord Jesus Christ) – sanctification

Here are the opening words, and then the second of the Big 10 Commandments from the book of Deuteronomy – the second reading of the Law of God. Hear the Word of God….—-

Moses summoned all Israel and said:

Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:

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

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10  but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

May God bless the reading, hearing, receiving of His Word which never fails. “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image … [to] bow down [to] or worship ….”

We got the First Commandment last week pretty clear – but what does this Second Commandment mean?

It seems straightforward – no idols, no icons, no things, that you might worship as more essential than God Himself.

This is really a Command about our inner-desires, isn’t it? Desire Goddo not desire whatever it is that might take God’s place.

There have been debates and church splits over how to define and obey this Commandment – does it mean no art work of any kind? Churches have been vandalized and torn apart and destroyed because of a statue or a painting in it. It does say, after all, “do not make any image of anything in heaven, on earth, or in the water ….” But the Commandment adds the phrase about bowing down and worshiping. When the artwork becomes more important than that which it depicts, it becomes a sin. I think the issue here is about when our desires become disordered by yearning for what is enticing us as if God does not exist!

Why is there a Commandment about not making forms and images? Let’s ask this question another way: What are God’s physical characteristics? God is Spirit, right? So how do we accurately depict that with an icon? How would one appropriately make something that looks like God?How do we meet God in the Old Testament? ·

Fire … burning bush, pillar of fire·

Smoke … pillar of smoke·

Wind … hovered over creation – no way to precisely depict something that is ever changing shape·

Voice … God speaks with Adam and Eve, with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses, with Jesus! (with Paul.)

God reveals Himself through voice – sometimes spoken, sometimes written. So, God forbids the worship of the true God by way of any images or resemblances – there are to be none. In the time of Moses many nations claimed that their images were gods, others that their images were mere reflections of gods; but the God of the Bible says, NO IMAGES.

This Commandment includes some harsh wordsI, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me. The sins of one generation often have consequences that fall on the next. Parents and grandparents, we do teach our offspring right and wrong – take that role seriously.

But this Commandment also comes with amazing promiseI, the Lord your God, show love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Parents and grandparents, we do teach our offspring right and wrongtake that role seriously.

 

But the real reasons why worshiping idols don’t work is that idolsicons on our desktops, figurines in our parks, flags on our poles, money in our banks, dreams and desires that pretend that God doesn’t really existidols cannot engage with us, cannot be in relationship with us.

Listen again to the voice of God remind us why He gives us the Ten Commandments: The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today.

God wants honest relationship with you, with us. If He is not in a living relationship with us, we might have an idol.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah tells us that idols are nothing more than extra baggage we carry around with us – made of stone or wood but with no more integrity or glory than vanity or a puff of wind. Can we name our idols? We can probably all name idols that our neighbors have, or our pastor….

But let me step on some toes this morning with some generalizations that are at least partly true.Generationally we all carry some idols in our lives, things we value and worship, sometimes more than we value and worship our relationship with God. Ready?

I’ll start with the newest generation – those that are in what is sometimes called Generation Z (born after 2000). People in this Generation value “Beauty”. Beauty, above all else, is what is important. Beauty is good, and important, but should it surpass receiving the relationship with the God of Beauty?

Millennials (born between 1985 and 2000). People in this generation value that which is Good. If it is Good, for the poor, for the environment, for those who need “good”, than it is valued as most important; but should “Good” go beyond the God who created Good from nothing and expects, demands Good from His followers?

Busters (born between 1964 and 1985), sometimes called Generation X. This generation values what is Real, authentic, transparent. If it is “Real” it is worth our attention and time. But is it better than the only Real God there is?

Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1963). This is my generation. We value that which we recognize as Truth. Truth trumps all else, but should concepts of Truth outshine the One who is the Way and the Truth and the Life?

Builders (born between 1924 and 1944), most of us in this room. This generation is known more for their religious fidelity than the younger generations (as is evidenced by attendance in churches like ours across this land); and so they have come up with sayings like “I stand for God and Country”, “God and Flag”, “God and Duty”. But sometimes the tendency is to place Country, Flag and Duty as co-equal with, even out-doing, God.

This Second Commandment, along with the First, tells us that God does not want, does not need, and shuns these icons on our desktops – the God-ands we proclaim, the Truths we preach, our Real feelings, our Moral judgments, and even our Beauty admirations. These all become “forms” of a god. What God wants is our desireabove and before our desire of anything else, God deserves to be at the head.

How do we possibly gain victory over any of these idols that call our names, how are we successful over whole generational ideologies of value?

Let me give you two simple strategies: worship and prayer.

When we worship the only True God, when we gather together to sing His praises and when we come before His throne all on our own, we put God first – and all the idols of prestige and importance, the icons of philosophy and valued perspective, the forms of want and fancy become desire for God Himself!

If the Church ever turns our backs on the authority of these Commandments, may God have mercy on our souls. Let us worship the Lord our God, above and before all else, today and forever. Amen.

Psalm 119:11 tells us: “Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Amen.

Resources:

Hauerwas, Stanley; William Willimon; The truth About God: The 10 Commandments in the Christian Life; Abingdon Press; NY, NY; 1999.

The Law of Liberty; “Unfolding God’s Glorious Law”; Project Restore, Inc; Locust Dale, VA; 2006; P. 5.

Wilson, Tobin; “No Eikons on the Desktop”; sermon preached at Placentia Presbyterian Church; 08/16/2015.

09/13/2015 – Exodus 20:1-3 – 10 Rules for Faithful Living: “No Other”

Mark Wheeler

Exodus 20:1-3; Deuteronomy 5:1-7; Matthew 22:34-38; Mark 12:28-30

“10 Rules for Faithful Living: No Other”

September 13, 2015

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

We come to worship today, O Lord, on this weekend when we remember the devastations of 9/11/2001, and we are humbled by the gift we have – the gift of freedom and the opportunities to live into that freedom. Help us, right now, to put away any lingering anger or fear, any prejudice or hate, even any thoughts or wonderings about those who perpetrated such evil or the direct victims of that evil. Help us instead, to seek Your perfect power and presence, Your righteousness and redemption, Your Law and Your love in front of all other possible priorities, through Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Ma and Pa made their annual visit to church for the Christmas Eve service.
As they were leaving, the minster said, “Pa, it sure would be nice to see you and ma here more than once a year!”
“I know,” replied Pa, “but at least we keep the Ten Commandments.”
“That’s great,” the minister said. “I’m glad to hear that you keep the Ten Commandments.”
“Yup,” Pa said proudly, “Ma keeps six of ’em and I keep the other four.”

 

7 habits of,  3 steps to,  10 rules for …

Too simple to be real, but often offer something of substance …

The right place of order/law – keeps us in line (speed limit, good neighbors=good fences)

The historical/social context of the 10 commandmentsescape from Pharaoh and unjust system of power and poverty

The three reasons for the Law – 1)to show us we need a Savior,

2) to keep us from killing each other (restrain evil-doing),

3) to tell us what God’s character is (and therefore what our character ought to beguide for living the Christian life as we grow to resemble our Lord Jesus Christ)

Page 2 of The Law of Liberty – “O How I Love Thy Law”

The 10 Commandments, brief enough to be memorized by Sunday School children and comprehensive enough to guide our every thought and action. These Commandments are a far more than just a list of “thou shalt nots”, but it is a list of promises from God and they each contain the secret power to have the ability to obey them. For the next couple of months we will listen as God’s Word reminds us what He demands.

Here are the opening words, and the first of the Big 10 Commandments. Hear the Word of the Lord….—-

Exodus 20: And God spoke all these words:

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

“You shall have no other gods before me.

 

And from Deuteronomy 5 (Latin or Greek majors? What does “deuteros” mean? Second – that’s what this whole book is about – the 2nd time Moses tells us about the Law.) Hear the Word of the Lord….—-

Moses summoned all Israel and said:

Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:

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

“You shall have no other gods before me.

May God bless the reading, hearing, receiving of His Word which never fails. Let’s do this sermon a little differently today – turn to someone near you and tell that person what this Commandment means. Both Exodus and Deuteronomy tell it in exactly the same way: You shall have no other gods before me. What does that mean? Now, let’s hear what some of you said – anyone? Would anyone like to yell out a god that maybe threatens this Commandment? What gods in our culture seem to come before the Lord our God?·       Money·       Success·       Education·       Being right·       Fun·       Stuff·       Worry·       Fear·       FOMO

How do we have victory over these “other gods”?

Exodus 20: And God spoke all these words:

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

“You shall have no other gods before me.

And the second time Moses said this, when he reminded the Israelites, and you and me, of these Commandments, he said it like this:

Deuteronomy 5: Moses summoned all Israel and said:

Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:

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

“You shall have no other gods before me.

How do we have victory over these “other gods”? Trust in the Lord our God! He is the One who rescues, redeems, saves, and secures us in His presence!

We all know that Jesus was asked, by people who perhaps hoped to trip Him up, which of the 10 Commandments was the greatest, most important one. Both Matthew and Mark record this story. What is Jesus’ answer? (Look at your Sermon Notes page…): (Mark 12) “29 ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”’

Jesus is merely quoting from Deuteronomy.

In Luke’s Gospel some lawyer who wants to be a follower of Jesus asks Jesus how to follow Him, so Jesus asks the lawyer what the greatest Commandment is – and this lawyer gives this exact same answer (Luke 10:27).

Love the Lord your God with everything you’ve got, always, never-ending, without failhave no other godsno desire for riches, no dreams of popularity, no over-extended hopes for glamour, no worries, no fearshave no other gods!

 

This first Commandment sets the tone and the pace for all the Commandments which follow. If we can remember that the Lord our God, Yahweh, the eternal, self-existent, uncreated One, Himself the Source and Sustainer of all that is – if we can remember that He alone is entitled to supreme reverence and worship – and that anything else that we might cherish lessens, weakens, our trust and relationship with Him – if we can remember that, then the next 9 Commandments become easy.

We might argue and debate over whether or not these Commandments belong in our Court Houses or classrooms – but there should be no argument that they belong right here, in our hearts and lives. If the Church ever turns our backs on the authority of these Commandments, may God have mercy on our souls. Let us worship the Lord our God, above and before all else, today and forever. Amen.

Psalm 119:2 tells us: “Blessed are they that keep God’s testimonies, and they that seek Him with their whole heart.” Amen.

Resources:

The Law of Liberty; “O How I Love Thy Law”, “Unfolding God’s Glorious Law”; Project Restore, Inc; Locust Dale, VA; 2006; Pp. 2-4.