Love X 4

Love X 4
Mark 12:28-34
February 26, 2017

A number of years ago, a radio station ran a contest in which the disc jockeys asked their listeners to answer the question “Just for fun, when you wake up to the sound of FM-106, call and tell us the first words you said when you rolled out of bed.  If you’re the 3rd caller, tell us what you said, and you’ll win $106.”

The contest grew in popularity, as people began calling in and telling the DJ’s what their first thoughts and comments were – – – The DJ would enthusiastically respond, “Caller number 3, what did you say when you rolled out of bed this morning?”

They would hear comments like ~ “Do I smell coffee burning?” “Oh no, I’m late for work.”  Somebody else said her first words were, “Honey, did I put out the dog last night?”  With a muffled response in the background angrily telling her, “No, you didn’t.”  It was a funny contest and people were eager to win an easy $106.

One morning, something was different.  The DJ said his usual ~  “Good morning, this is FM-106. What did you say when you rolled out of bed this morning?”

A man asked him, “You want to know my first words in the morning?”

The excited DJ went along with him, exclaiming “Yes, sir!  Tell us what you said.”

The man responded with this “Shema, Israel . . .”

The DJ was clueless and thought it was a joke, and asked “what that means?”

The man said, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

There was a moment of silence.  Then the radio announcer said, “Sorry, wrong number,” and cut to a commercial.

Do you remember what you said this morning when you rolled out of bed?  Oftentimes those words set the tone for the rest of the day.  For the pious Jew the first words of each morning should be the same, and they were the words spoken that morning on FM-106.

They were first spoken by Moses, and I thought I would read these 3 verses in Hebrew, and also let you see the translation next to them. . .

4 Here O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is One.

5 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart;

When I was a young boy going to Hebrew School, I learned this prayer, and understood it was the most important prayer of the Jewish people.  Moses followed up that prayer with words which still hold true today and words which Jesus stated as the Greatest of our Commandments.

We’ve been talking about worship for the past few weeks and I wanted to look at this greatest commandment and see what it means for us as we consider worship.

To set the stage, we are in the gospel of Mark, chapter 12.  Jesus was being questioned by a scribe, someone who knew the law backwards and forwards.  I believe it was an attempt to trap Jesus, but everyone walked away a little more in awe of Jesus, including the scribe.

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that He answered them well, asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”

32 And the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher.  You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other besides Him.

33 And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”  And after that no one dared to ask Him any more questions.

Jesus could have chosen any of the 613 commandments, there were 365 which said, don’t!  And there were 248 which said do!  They were waiting to pounce on whichever answer Jesus gave, yet the scribe backs off when Jesus answers, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”

For the Jewish person, they understood the call to love God with all of their heart.  It’s the center of all passion and trust.  In Greek there are 4 different words for LOVE, the most intimate being agape.  That’s the word Jesus uses each time He says the word love in this passage.

Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will.  It’s not a sappy kind of self centered love.  It’s a love which comes from God to you and I.  It’s the love the Father has for the Son.  It’s the love we are to have in the fellowship of the church.  It’s a sacrificial type of love, which is not driven by our ego.  It’s not an easy love, because it is about sacrificing for the fellowship.  It’s what Jesus did on the cross for you and I.

So, what does that mean for us?  The expectation is we love the Lord.  Not with a sappy, temporary ‘what have you done for me today love’ – – – but our Love for God will be a chosen act of who we are.  It will be based on the love He has for us.  It will be a love which is ALL IN and not conditional.

Who wants someone to love them, conditionally?  We want it all, and we should have it all.  In the same way, when we love God, we love God with everything we have.  This is why Jesus said, Love God with ALL of your heart, and the same for every aspect of our being.  We give God all of ourselves in loving Him, just as He gave us all of Himself in loving us.

With love comes passion.  Our hearts should burn with love for God.  And when we have that burning love in our heart, that carries over into worship.  It means when we come here we are passionate, we have hearts on fire for the Lord.

Listen to these words from Jeremiah 20:9 ~
9 But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in His name, His word burns in my heart like a fire.  It’s like a fire in my bones!  I am worn out trying to hold it in!  I can’t do it! (NLT)

I believe God is calling each of us to worship Him with passion, with excitement, with a sense of celebration.  Even on our worst days, when we are struggling, we should be free to admit that.  To have those days when we struggle to worship because life isn’t going as we planned.  That’s when we come here as brothers and sisters in Christ, and you’re real!  You admit there’s some things going on in life which are getting to you.  That’s where that agape love kicks in.  We love God and we love one another.

We are to give our hearts to God, and give our hearts to one another.  It’s not easy.  It sometimes leads to pain when we don’t receive the love we hoped to receive, but we can’t give up on love.  Remember what Solomon said in Proverbs 4:23 ~
23 Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.  – Proverbs 4:23

True words!  Guard your heart, for all of life flows through your heart.  And as you protect your heart, allow God to protect your heart, because love flows through our hearts, and that very love has the power to change the world.

Next, Jesus said to love the Lord with all your soul.  In Hebrew thought, the soul is the breath of life, the part of us that is the breathing part.  Genesis 2:7 tells us when God formed man out of the ground, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.  The breath of God blew alive a human soul.

For the Jewish people, to love God with the soul, is to love God with every breath.  We affirm that the source of every breath is from God.  We breathe because God has breathed life into us.  We have the capacity to love God because God first loved us.  By commanding us to love God with our soul, God commands us to do what only God has made possible for us to do.

Back in the fourth century, some Christian monks attempted to practice this concept.  They talked about prayer as a breathing exercise.  They taught others,  “As you inhale, thank God for the gifts which you have received.  As you exhale, tell God how you are going to use those gifts.”

Breathe in and say, “Thank you, God, for daily bread.”  Breathe out and say, “God, strengthen me to do your work.”  Breathe in and pray, “Thank you, Lord, for forgiveness of my sins.”  Breathe out and pray, “Lord, make me a forgiving person.”  Breathe in, breathe out.  The early monks said, “Let every breath be a prayer.”

Do you know what the last verse of the last Psalm is?  Psalm 150:6 commands us~
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord! – Psalm 150:6

Can we do that when we come in here?  Can we come into this building and seek to have every breath we breathe praise the Lord.  No critiquing, because that is not what we are here for.  We are here to do what?  Worship the Lord.

When we come to worship, our worship should be about giving all of that soul, all of that breath to God.  All of what God has placed within us right back to Him in the very moment and movement of worship.  There is no compromising.  There is no waiting for another day.  It’s coming here and giving God everything we have.

Then Jesus said to love God with all your mind.

The mind is where we learn and understand and where our thought process takes hold.  Some people are more wired to live life through their minds.  They’re the ones who are thinkers, sometimes they’re slow to react and may drive those who live life off of their feelings a little crazy, because they don’t seem to react, but we lose sight of the fact that their mind is always at work.

They use their heads first and like to figure things out.  They tend to trust in their ability to use logic and reason, over feelings and soul.

Jesus had some thinkers around Him – – – Thomas and Philip.  Thinkers like empirical evidence and have a hard time trusting what they can’t understand.  In John 14 when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”  Philip asked Jesus, “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”  In other words, “Let me see the evidence so I can understand.”

And remember Thomas who missed seeing Jesus after the resurrection?  He told the others, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and touch the wound in His side, I will not believe.”  Jesus supplied both Philip and Thomas with the empirical evidence they needed.  Jesus knows how to work with head people.

We should use our minds!  Watch a program on television which shows an amazing scene from nature.  Your mind is exploding with what God is doing in the world through nature, and that is using mind to connect with God.

Prepare your mind before you come to worship.  Read scripture to open your mind, pray, even during worship, take notes, write down words of phrases which get you thinking.  Write down lyrics in songs which move you.  Maybe one week it’s about the heart, the next, it’s about the mind.  But come to worship with an open mind that you will experience Christ.

Finally, we are to love God with all of our strength.  Strength has to do with action and movement.  Some people are more focused on working and using their body.  They are the ones who love to work behind the scenes.  They want to get things done around the church.  They are the ones who see the church campus in ways others don’t.

When you think about it, Nehemiah was a doer.  He could work and govern like nobody’s business.  Ezra was a thinker, when he saw the sins of the people he pulled out his hair.  Nehemiah saw the sins of the people and pulled out their hair.  Jesus picked two strength people as Apostles.  For example, consider Peter ~

Peter, was a strength disciple.  He was in a boat in the middle of the night and he and the other disciples saw Jesus coming to them, walking on the water.  The heart people are scared to death, the thinkers can’t figure out what’s going on, but Peter, the doer, has to do something, so he yells, “Lord, if it is you, let me come to you on the water!”  Peter just has to DO something!  He’s not thinking, he’s not feeling, he’s acting!  When Jesus was arrested, what did Peter do?  He took out his knife and was ready for war!

Once when there was a huge crowd out in the wilderness following Jesus, he told His disciples to give them something to eat.  Philip, the thinker, looks around and figures out that there are 5000 people and it would take a years wages to feed them.  That’s a thinker.  Andrew, the doer, runs and finds a boy with some food and brings him to Jesus.

Mary and Martha are the classic heart and strength women in the gospels.  Mary sits and drinks in Jesus’ words as Martha works in the kitchen until Martha decides Mary needs to DO something instead of just sit and listen to God’s Son.

Understand this and this is vital to understand ~

Churches are made up of heart, mind and strength people.  What happens when you get a church filled with all these differences?

The danger is that the heart people, the feelers, will look around and notice that no one else is moved with compassion and emotion like they are.  They may think, “No one else is spiritual around here.  No one cares enough to weep at the Lord’s supper, or feel the spirit moving in the songs or weep over the needy or hug the visitors.”  If it weren’t for me, this church would fall apart.

The mind people, the thinkers, look around and notice that no one grasps the deep meanings within the scriptures.  They may think, “No one else is spiritual in this church.  No one understands the doctrinal truths of the Bible or comprehends the Bible with any knowledge or depth at all!  If it weren’t for me, this church would lose its way and fall apart!

The strength people, the doers, look around and notice that everyone else is just thinking or feeling but not getting anything done!  They may say, “People don’t show up on time, if they show up at all, they don’t even check to see what they are supposed to do and have to be constantly reminded of their jobs.  And if it weren’t for me, nothing would get done around here and this church would fall apart!

Jesus knows how to bring all these heart, mind and strength people together and He knows that the first thing we all need to do is this: love God.  Heart people, give all your feelings to God, mind people, give all your thoughts to God, strength people give all your works to God.

When you come here on Sunday mornings . . . we should be prepared to worship.  Whether you live life from your
heart
soul
mind
body

there’s a place for every person.

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