“I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one comes to the Father
except through Me”
Pastors Noreen & Henry Kevern
The Great Commandment
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 of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your mind, and with all of your strength. 31.The second is this: love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus Mark 12:29 – 31
I have always taught that Jesus made obeying God with this command. This is the beginning of the Shema, and the ending of the Shema. Shema means, ‘hear’. This is the prayer that is to be said every day so that we never forget God and what HE requires of us. “Hear” God says to us. Are our ears open to listen? “O Israel” Israel is the root of our faith in Jesus. HE is Jewish. So this prayer, this commandment is for all of us as well. Do you hear and obey God as HIS disciple? “The Lord our God the Lord is one.” God, Jesus, is telling us here that the Father and HE are one. Jesus is God, manifested as a human, to show us what is required of us when we surrender our lives to Him. Jesus is God becoming human because He loves us and wants to show us His love in a way that we can understand. Jesus takes our sin and punishment because He loves us. God’s love for us is so great, that even though Israel, the people chosen to show the world God through their lives, failed to commit their lives to Him. Time and again, the Israelites failed to continue to follow the way of the Lord. After following false gods and giving into every sin, and when life goes crazy bad, they call out to God to save them. And as a Parent, God loves them and disciplined them and them brings them out of their captivity of sin. And GOD will do the same for you. God is our Father, Parent; Jesus, God becoming human; THE HOLY SPIRIT, is the part of God living in us. Not three but one God. Are you following the one true God? “Love the Lord”. This is our first command that we are to love God before all else. GOD is love, in HIM there is no darkness. For God so loved the world that HE gave HIS only begotten SON that whosoever believes in HIM shall not perish but have eternal life. (JESUS John 3:16) Are you putting God first?
“With all of your heart” God wants us to use our hearts first because love comes from the heart. On Valentine’s Day we use a heart to symbolize love. Our hearts are where our love is, the emotion that should guide us in how we treat GOD, others and ourselves. Love is the most important thing. It is the thing that Jesus commands us “to love one another”. True love is what causes us to love others no matter what. That’s what God’s love is, true love. He loves us knowing that we sin. He knows all that we do. Nothing is hidden from God. Are you loving God with all of your heart? “And with all of your soul” Our souls are our connection to God. It is the part, so to speak, that God’s Spirit lives and works in us, if we allow God to live and work in us. Jesus promised that he would send the helper, the Holy Spirit, to come and live in us. God never leaves us alone, His Spirit lives in us, and if we allow Him, His SPIRIT will make His presence known to us. Are you listening to hear God’s Spirit speaking to you? “And with all of your mind” Here God tells us we are to also use our minds, the part of us that our intelligence is in. We learned knowledge of God through His Word. In order to know God we must use our brains and read His Word. Are you using your mind to read the Word of God and to learn what He requires? “And with all of your strength” God wants us to love Him physically as well as with our bodies, with our hands and feet, and with what we do. This is faith in action. We must put 100% into following God, with all of our heart, and with all of our soul, and with all of our mind, and with all of our strength. Are you putting your faith in action?
So we see God wants us to first love Him with the emotions, with our love. God’s love for us is a love that never ends. And our love towards HIM should be the same. Our souls are the connection, or plug into God; with our minds we love Him in knowledge; and with our physical strength, our lives. He wants all of us, not a portion. Are you loving God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your mind, and with all of your strength? So that’s the first part of this prayer. Pretty simple, this is the way that we honor God, we love Him, from the depths of our hearts, we love Him truly, freely, beautifully, honestly, and we love Him because He loved us first.
Now let’s go on to the second part of this prayer, this command. “And the second is this” The second part is what completes God’s commandment for our lives. Our lives are actually a three-part thing. God and others and self. God is first, others are second, and we are third. Where do you place yourself, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd?
Gale Sayers, a football player from back in the 60s and 70s, wrote a book, “I Am Third”. It is a book describing the time that he spent in the NFL. It was during the time right after Martin Luther King Jr was killed. Gale, is a black man, was put into hotel rooms with another player, Brian Piccolo, a white man. It shows a relationship develop and how a friendship starts. Gale believes, that God is first in his life, that his family and others are second, and that he is third. It’s because of this attitude that Gale and Brian become friends. Gale gets hurt on the football field and in his rehabilitation he and Brian learned that it doesn’t matter that they are black and white. Brian gets cancer and watching these two grow in brotherly love, overcoming racial tensions, and learn in that they are just human beings. Gale is a good man, the book is a book worth reading. Gale shows how living in a time and place where struggles, which still test us, defines who and what type of person he is. Brian, put Gale before himself, to help them recover from his injury. In Gale, put Brian before himself, when cancer came. This is loving one another as you love yourself. This is how God wants us to love others as we love ourselves.
Jesus was asked this question in Mark 10:25 – 37. A man was on a journey and was attacked. Three people went by, a priest, a Levite and the Samaritan. The first two don’t help him, but the third, a Samaritan does. He performs first aid, takes him to an inn to care for him, pays for him to stay there, and when he has to go he promises to come back and make restitution for any extra expenses. The neighbor is a stranger. The first two the priest and the Levite, supposedly holy unto God, their lives for His service, do not want to defile themselves by this person laying on the side of the road. Now the priest and the Levite think Samaritans as unworthy, defiled, people who they don’t want to associate with. But the Samaritan, he stops and he helps this person. Our neighbor is everyone; our brothers and sisters in Christ; our brothers and sisters are all God’s children. We are made by God, for God, and to show others God’s love. It is who we are and who we were created to be: God’s children and as such brothers and sisters to each other. We are to show mercy, compassion and love to all, so that all will see God working through us. We often find it very hard to love others. We are often like that priest and that Levite, not wanting to get involved. We don’t know the person, we do not want to be hurt by that person, and honestly we really don’t want to get involved because it may require something of us. Are you treating others as your neighbors? “As yourself” Each of us are God’s child and as such we are loved by God and we love ourselves because we are loved by God. Some people do not love themselves because of things that have been done or what they are doing in their own lives. Addictions, sexual immorality, abuse – sexual, physical or emotional – or any sin that destroys our love of self; these are the things that make us hate ourselves and causes us to think we are not worthy of God’s love. But as Paul puts it: “nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39). God sees us all the time. Nothing we do is hidden from God and He still loves us. It brings me to tears when I think back, sinner that I was, that God forgave me and when I asked Him to forgive me, He did, right there and then. But it took me years to forgive myself. It was such a free and moment when God broke through the walls I had set up to protect me from being free in His love. I thought I had put those walls up to protect me from being hurt by others but it was only keeping me from receiving God’s forgiveness. That’s what the devil does, tries to implant doubt, dragging you down and telling you that God cannot possibly forgive what you do. I know I thought it. My sin was too awful. And through the years of self-doubt, through not forgiving myself, I was in essence, telling Jesus that His cross did nothing for me, that my sins were still on me and that it was impossible that He could forgive me. But praise the LORD, He continued to love me and talk with me, telling me that His cross took care of all my sins and that He remembers them no more. What a poor sinner I was, trapped by the lies of the devil. Now I have taken upon saying to myself, “I am the apostles that Jesus loves”, as John said in his gospel. And yes, the devil keeps trying to put me down, to lie to me, to use circumstances in my life and in my children’s lives and in my husband’s life. But I wrap myself up in God’s Word and I will keep wrapping myself up in His Word. I use it is a wall between the devil and myself, just as Jesus used the Word between the devil and Him when he was trying to tempt Jesus. Have you forgiven yourself as GOD has forgiven you?
Here again Jesus teaches us. That is what the Gospels are, teachings of Jesus. They are the Good News, the fulfillment of the Scriptures, the promise of new life, and God’s love for us. God’s love is never ending and we are never too far away from God. Sometimes it is as if we don’t try to really know Him. Remember, nothing can separate us from the love of God. No sin, no thought, nothing. God loves you. He loves you so much, that he made himself human, and died on the cross for your sin and for my sin. We are forgiven, we are redeemed! We are all God’s children. He does not see us as black or white, or fat or thin, as male or female, but He sees us each as beautiful children that He created to love us and for us to love Him. There is so much out there to scare us if we don’t have our eye on God. Jesus said, “There is no commandment greater than these”. He made a quite simple for us; just “love the Lord your God with all of your heart and all of your soul and all of your mind and with all of your strength. And the second is this, love your neighbor as yourself”.
The more we travel and meet with people, the more I see God reaching out and still want people to follow these two simple commands. But sadly, we are such prideful humans and so want whatever we want. We see people who don’t know God; we see people involved in churches; we see the pious; the righteous and sinners like me. We see people confused, hurt, depressed and angry. And honestly, most people just don’t know what to do. They’re scared of what man would do to them. But we don’t need to be afraid of man. Paul says in Romans 8:28: if God is for us who can be against us. It doesn’t matter because God is for us. We just have to realize that. We have to remember that when we put God first, that nothing, nothing that the devil will do can hurt us. I know what it is to be confused, hurt, depressed, and angry. And I understand why people feel that way. It took me years to learn…no it took me years to hear what God was saying to me. God’s voice doesn’t come loud like the devil does. God’s voice comes as a whisper. We have to calm ourselves down, we have to quiet our being. And this is the hardest part; we have to wait upon God. No matter what is going on around us, God is there already and He really is in control. In His perfect love, He has given us free will, and that’s where the trouble begins. Free will is what the devil uses against us. Free will makes us think that we can do things better than God. God doesn’t want us to be forced into loving Him. He wants us to freely come to Him and love Him because He loved us first. Oh my dear child, God loves you. You are especially dear to God.
And as we travel along on our journey and we talked to people, we tell them to trust in the Lord and to persevere. But for many, trust in God is hard because they don’t know how. Many people wonder how to give up control and give it all to God. They are scared that they will have to give up so much if they surrender all to God. Others feel like life as a fully committed Christian would be boring and they would not have any more fun.
But that’s what God wants from us, full surrender, loving Him as He loves us and loving others the way He loves them and as we love ourselves. We have tried it our own way and our lives are such a mess. It’s time to give all to God and learn to walk in His way. The road is narrow and there is a lot to learn but it’s worth traveling along that road. And believe me, it’s not boring being a fully committed Christian. I have a lot of fun. I have love. I am the apostle that Jesus loves.
What we need to learn is in His Word. It’s His love letter to us. It’s His plan for our lives. Flee from the devil into God’s mighty arms. We will still have problems but God is holding you in the palm of His hands. He will never leave you or forsake you. You will find rest for your souls; and oh such sweet rest it is. Learn to look at life with God’s eyes, full of love and mercy and grace. Take life a step at a time, knowing that God is always walking with you. He knows your pain; He was whipped and scourged for our sins. He has walked to the cross with our every sin, nailing it to the cross with His life. His arms are wide open, to hold you and to let you cry out all your pain that sin and rejection in life has given you. He knows how it feels when you are at the worst time in your life and there is no one there. But Jesus knew and knows everything that we go through. The FATHER was there with Him when all the apostles ran away; when one of His disciples betrayed Him; when you’ve had a friend or family member betray you; when one of His disciples denied knowing Him three times, oh how sad it must’ve made Jesus, but He knew that Peter would strengthen others when he returned to Him. Jesus knows we need Him and He gives us His SPIRIT. Jesus knows we are redeemed because HE redeemed us with HIS LIFE. We need to realize it ourselves.
This is my prayer; “FATHER, we pray that those who read this, will stop and reflect on the words. We pray that these words become seeds planted and we ask You to water them with Your Holy Spirit. We pray that hardened hearts will be softened; that people will come to you and repent in accept You as their Lord and Savior. God, we pray for those who feel that Your forgiveness is impossible, let them know they are forgiven through Your cross. May hearts surrender to you, let sins be confessed and new life and new beginning start. Thank You for Your cross and for Your resurrection. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen”.
If you are ready to begin a relationship with God and make Jesus your Lord and Savior pray this prayer or just talk with God with your own words.
Father, I am at the end of this selfish life I have made and I need you. I don’t know what to do. All I know is that I need you. I’ve made a mess of my life. I confess my sins. Thank you for dying on the cross and taken my punishment for my sins. Thank you for forgiving me of my sins. I am redeemed! I make you the Lord and Savior my life. Amen.