Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Habits of this Highly Effective (but lost) Church Lay Leader: Manipulation and the Inner Circle (Part B: Making Friends in High Places)

"Hear, O Israel! The Lord, Your God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord, Your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul and all of your might. " - Deuteronomy 4:4-5 (ESV)

Last week, we discussed a familiar text that runs throughout the entire Old and New Testaments. We found that in the New Testament, Jesus added the second greatest commandment of "loving your neighbor as yourself." As a matter of clarification, most scholars believe that Jesus was actually referring to two key pieces of Judaism - The Ten Commandments, and a familiar daily prayer called the Shema, which is the text found in Deuteronomy 4-5.

I believe that last week's lesson comes easy to some of us simply because God has made us in His image and has created us with the desire for affection. Because we are imitators by design and we learn so much by imitation, our desire for affection comes with the ability to mirror what is given to us. So, even in a fallen world, a fallen people can almost grasp the idea of showing affection toward others to some degree or another. Having said that, however, it is not until we are able to love God that we are able to love others the way that God loves them (unconditionally.)

So, this week, we're going to talk about Loving God Fully.... with all of our heart, soul, and might.
But that's the second half of the Shema. Let's first discover some truths about the first half.

As I said before, this was (and still is) a familiar daily prayer for Judaism. It is recited morning and evening, and it is the first prayer recited at the end of every worship service. The main point of this prayer is that God alone is God and He is King.

The literal translation of the first part of the Shema (according to Wikapaedia) is as follows:

Shema - Listen, or hear and do (according to the Targum, accept)

Yisrael- the people of Israel or the congregation of Israel

Adonai- often translated as "Lord", read in place of YHWH (*Adonai was a personal name for God)

Eloheinu- our God (this is the same as Eloheim, which is translated THE LORD in all caps in the Old Testament)

Echad- this word has a dual meaning in Hebrew - it means both the number one (1) and alone.

With the Shema came two things: a premise and a promise. The premise was that it was a given that God is KING and that we must accept that as fact. The promise came with it was that if you were to keep this particular commandment all of your life, life would go well for you and you would multiply greatly. (Deut. 6:3)

The commandment was found in the second half: loving the Lord Your God with all of your heart, soul and might. This was to be taught to their children (v.7), hung on their doorposts and on their gates.

So what kind of love is this???

Matthew Henry's commentary says that this kind of love is a sincere love, not just in word, saying we love Him when our hearts aren't with Him, but "inwardly and in truth, and finding solace in Him." He goes on to say that this should be a "strong that is carried out with great ardour and affection." The idea here is that God - and only He - should have our entire beings.... our all! This is a love reserved only for Him. It is higher than any love for any other.

In addition, we are to know God, so that we can share Him with others. When we love God with our minds, our thoughts are centered on Him. We cannot think without considering Him in the thought. His thoughts become our thoughts. The mind of Christ becomes our mind as we grow to love Him and know Him more fully each day.

This is a nothing held back kind of love. It is a following hard after Christ in all that we do! We leave nothing for another. And we wouldn't dare chase after anyone but God! He is IT! He is the God of above all gods... The King above all Kings and the Lord above all Lords! He alone is God and there is absolutely no other.

There is no Higher God.
There is no Higher King.
There is no Higher Lord
There is no Higher Name.
There is no Higher Way.
There is no Higher Desire.
There is no Higher Agenda.
There is no Higher Life.
There is no Higher Design.
There is no Higher Plan.
There is no Higher Path.
There is no Higher Passion.
There is no Higher Love.

Not even one.

And there is none who deserves our Praise except Our God! It is in Him Whom we live, move and have our being. (Acts 17:28) It is He Who brings us (the followers of God) together in one Body, the church.

From a personal view, this is where the rubber meets the road. Quite simply: we either love God fully, or we don't love Him at all. We're either going to love God and obey Him and desire nothing and no other but Him, or we have placed someone or something above our desires for Him... and bowed to another god. If we, as the Bride of Christ, have set our affections on another rather than on God Himself, then we have committed adultery with Our Heavenly Bridegroom! And if we give credence to other circumstances or other things that are not of our God, then we are not being faithful to the One Who has been Faithful to us!

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, the very first words out of His mouth were, "I am THE LORD Your God Who brought you out of Egypt. You shall have no other Gods before me." (Exodus 20:2-3) He is a jealous God. (Exodus 20:6) But His love is steadfast toward all who love Him and keep His commandments. (Exodus 20:7)

This is a full-throttle love, dear readers. This is the kind of love that transcends any other love. It does not find itself lurking in the shadows or waiting on someone else to move you. It is the all out, sold out, fired up, flipped out, crazy kind of love. And it cannot be found anywhere else but in the person of Jesus Christ! And it is all about Him, all for Him, and cannot be found without Him!

Got your heart revved up for God?? Or is He God at all to you??? Check your heart.

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