The following was an early write up for the sermon, however, it turned out a bit differently when it was straight from the heart.
In Matthew 22, a man asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the law is. Jesus said,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”” [NKJV + NASB]
. . All of the Law and the Prophets are based on these two commandments.
I believe these two commandments are eternal. They are ‘Go and do’ commandments, laws of liberty, as opposed to the ‘Do not do’ commandments. While based on these, do not do’s were given as a result of sin, and meant to be put away along with the evil one.
Paul wrote to timothy saying,
“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. We realize that the law is not enacted for the righteous, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for killers of father or mother, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for homosexuals, for slave traders and liars and perjurers, and for anyone else who is averse to sound teaching…” [ESV]
1 Timothy 1:8-10
We might consider that when God created the Sabbath day before sin happened, surely he said “go, keep my Sabbath, and have rest”, another go and do instruction, and one we see people keeping throughout eternity in Isaiah chapter 66.
God did also say ‘do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ – since Adam was a prospect for sin at the time. But again, the “do not do” commandment was meant to be done way with along with the evil one.
Today we are going to discuss an analysis of the first of these, the first and great commandment from Deuteronomy 6:5-9. Lets go read it, and we’ll start at verse four so we can see the complete statement. I’ll start reading it when I hear you are there.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6And these words, which I command thee this day (this is in regards to the ten commandments in chapter 5), shall be in thine heart: 7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.b8And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9And thou shalt write them upon the doorposts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Verse 5 is the first and great commandment that Jesus quoted. The verses that follow it are the basic recipe or cooking instructions for doing just that – Loving our God.
Notice verse 6.
6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart
You know, when someone goes to bake an apple pie, there’s one thing they need to be sure of first. They need apples to put in the heart of it.
Proverbs chapter 25 it says,
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
That’s sort of like apple pie isn’t it? Golden at the heart, set in a silvery crust.
I think it’s safe to say, a word fitly spoken has everything to do with Gods word, and that it has come from the heart. So I’m going to use apple pie as an object lesson here and there. Word of God = Apples, the crust = our flesh.
Its like this: without apples in the heart of dough, salt, sugar, and spices, there is no apple pie. I mean, we could use turnips, but that would be a counterfeit if we called it apple pie.
The instructions in Deuteronomy are like a recipe.
Step one: Recognize apple pie = all the apples in the heart of it
Or in more simple terms
“these words which you have received today, shall be in your heart”
Without God’s instruction in our heart, we can’t ever get to step two: ‘with all of our soul’, or even step three: ‘with all of our might’.
On a side note: I think for those who never received a chance to hear Gods word, Paul speaks of men who have not received the law, but kept it anyway. Somehow the word was still in there, and according to the Saviors master plan.
Love God with all of your heart
For the rest of us: how do we get the word in our hearts?
Ellen White wrote in “Letters to young lovers”
“That which we allow ourselves to look upon oftenest, and think of most, transfers in a measure to us.”
EGW (LYL 61.2)
The fulfillment of loving God with all of our heart requires that we will look upon Gods words oftenest (as in more than other leisurely images or likenesses), and we will also ponder them in our heart oftenest.
When these words are stored up in our heart, something will happen. The Holy Spirit will be present with us.
By the way, Deuteronomy 6:6 is directly referencing the ten commandment. They were the last thing Deuteronomy was speaking of just prior to saying, “these words which I command you today”. So, we ought to recognize this also means within the context of Jesus for us, because Jesus is the one who has taken away the condemnation of the law for those who believe in him.
Here is what we’re about to find out in verses 7-9. When we love him with all of our heart
- We will speak of His words
- We will do His words
- And we will choose according to His words
The love languages
If you are familiar with the concept of the five love languages, they are
- giving and receiving gifts
- quality time
- words of affirmation
- acts of service
- physical touch
For those of you who aren’t aware, the concept is that each of us has only two love languages that we express or speak fluently. As it turns out, we often need love shown to us the same way we naturally express it, otherwise we might not notice it so much and feel a bit deprived.
With those you love, it can be important to know their love languages, that is unless they have the exact same ones. For example: if your partners love languages are completely different, then its even more important than ever to know what they are. Knowing their languages helps us recognize when they are expressing love, and also what they need a bit of this type from us too.
Without it, real effort can get lost in translation, leaving both parties feeling like something is missing.
My two love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. So let say I speak to someone with words of affirmation and they don’t speak that love language fluently: It’s likely they wont recognize it and in some cases even mis-interpret what just happened. *And lo, and behold!*, the reason for many a headache or two.
Things getting lost in translation.. It reminds me of the bible a bit. We can have great intentions, but we also need to understand the language spoken to us. .
While I find the love languages concept very interesting and useful, I’ve mentioned them today because their expression can be categorized into three types of expressions of the heart, the same ones outlined in Deuteronomy 6:6-9.
- With our words (words of affirmation, quality time)
- With our hands (physical touch, acts of service)
- With the choices we make (giving or receiving gifts)
Up until now we have discussed loving God with all of our heart, and the ways the heart expresses itself. Lets move forward and look at the first way, with out words: And that is to say, loving God with all of our soul.
Love your God with all of your soul
The word Soul, or in Hebrew, Nephesh (neh’-fesh), literally means breath. We literally speak with our soul.
And thou shalt teach them (the words stored up in your heart) diligently unto your children, and shalt talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lay down, and when you rise.
So context here is in light of verse 6. Without having the words stored up in our hearts, we wouldn’t be speaking of them in verse 7.
Verse 7 is referencing the ten commandments again. Once more, we ought to talk about them in the light of Jesus,
For it is by grace that we have been saved through faith, and this not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, and not by works, so that no one can boast…
One evening not too long ago, I was here in church practicing the PA system with David.
The previous evening, I had read the entire book of Mark, and I’ll tell you what, the next day, I couldn’t keep quiet about Jesus.
Deuteronomy 6:7 is saying, when your heart is full of Gods word, they are going to come back out, and that’s just the way it is.
.. let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
Next step: Love God with all of our strength. This includes two categories: Using our hands, and using our choices.
Love God with all of your strength
Deuteronomy 6:5 states,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
But in Matthew, Jesus said,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
I think Jesus’ statement bides well with the anatomically incorrect yet metaphorically sound statement, “the mind is a muscle”, don’t you?
And surely there is something to this. Jesus was pointing out what verse 8 specifically says. Lets read it.
You shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house, and on your gates.
DId you know people used to misunderstand this text and literally wear pieces of scripture rolled up and strapped to their forehead? Its because they didn’t understand what Jesus was saying there in Matthew 22.
Deuteronomy 6:8 is saying,
Mark yourself according the the words that God commanded you, (for you and i) according to the life of Jesus, and do accordingly. Do what they say, and also, mark yourself according to the choices you make with your mind.
Be marked by the things you do with your hands, be marked by the choices you make from between the eyes. Between the eyes, that’s where our awareness is from when we are healthy and well rested, reading books, and especially when we are making good choices.
Verse 9 goes on to speak of our house and it’s gates, and to mark them also. This house we are in today, she bears her own marks. She is marked by what is going on at her doorposts whether literally or figuratively, and out at the gates, there is a sign or a mark stating what goes on here.
Jesus said, “you will know them by their fruits”, and this is to say, for example, people know what Seventh Day Adventists do. Some of them don’t have very nice things to say, but I disagree with them. In the words of Jesus, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
And so her marks show what she does, what the body of people here do.
We know a woman in the bible to be churches, and its actually a very natural pattern. Consider that a pregnant woman is more than one, she is a body of people by definition. A man can’t be that, not naturally anyway.
There was once a woman, and like a church, she raised her voice in a crowd and said to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and blessed are the breasts that nursed You.”
Jesus replied to her saying, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
That womans comment sounds very close to the deification of Mary, Jesus mother, doesn’t it? Her statement was of the flesh, and not the word of God.
“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”, Jesus said.
That means we require God in our hearts first, because what is in our hearts naturally is of no value to us.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
The sign upon our hand and between our eyes then, are fruits, they are proof of Jesus – the word – being in our hearts, and our hearts being in him also.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Or what of Psalm 91? I know the entire chapter by heart, and it is about God being our dwelling place, our strength and hiding place, our protector, and the one who will answer us. He is the one who will satisfy us.
If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.
In the book of Job it says, “Wisdom is fear of the Lord”, and in James it says, “God gives wisdom to all who ask”.
?What strength do we have on our own?
The only place I have seen a man strengthen himself in the bible is when Jacob strengthened himself and pulled his feet into bed. He died moments later.
Our strength is our shield and buckler, the Rock. Our strength in walking as Jesus walked, is in Christ alone, and not by our own power.
In closing, we need to have a talk.
It’s about McDonalds apple pie..
McDonalds, has since repented of their ways by the way, and that’s great news in this object lesson. A lesson about what God said would become of his original recipe for our success, having his word in our hearts.
There was a time when McDonalds apple pie in Canada used turnips instead of apples. That’s something I learned in business administration classes at CUC, or Burman University as they now call it.
Using turnips served McDonalds Canada well in the late 1970s. Turnips cost less, and apparently promoted the idea of freshness with their crunch. There were turnips at the heart of Canadian McDonalds apple pies because it served them well, especially their bottom line.
That pattern reminds me of someone else. Nearly every prophecy I see regarding the Beast in the old testament says he’ll be serving his bottom line well, and we see that his chest will be puffed up while promoting idea of freshness with substitute ingredients in his message. While his label may say Jesus Christ, this is a Jesus of another kind.
When it comes to our heart and having Gods word in there, we can’t have it puffed up with something *like* Gods word, it has to be the real thing – words fitly spoken (that is to say, the scriptures) at the heart of who we are. When we are on Gods side, they will be in what we say, in what we do, and what we choose.
Paul while writing to the Corinthians for a second time said,
“Bear with me in a little folly, and indeed you have born with me” (In the words of the New American Standard Bible, it says: I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me.)
2nd Corinthians 11:1
Paul here is saying, he doesn’t always get his apple pie right. Maybe its not salty enough, maybe it’s too salty,
whatever the case may be.. And that’s okay, because he gets the main ingredient right, God’s word. There was no proverbial turnip in his message.
Paul goes on to say,
“If one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well accept it.”
Receiving another Jesus than the one we received in the bible is folly, it’s foolishness, and so is receiving another conscious understanding than what the bible teaches. Paul witnesses that if anyone preaches another gospel not in the bible, watch-out! Because there is no light in him, and we may well accept it.
Continuing on, Paul says,
“I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.”
2 Corinthians 11:6
Paul is saying, I fumble my words, but I tell you the truth according to the bible.
Paul writes in another book, speaking of his appearance of being intimidated or very weak, while at the same time reminding them that he was there to bring the gospel of Christ and not for himself. This was never about Pauls bottom line.
Paul may have fumbled through his words at times, but the mark upon Pauls hands was an expression of the true word of God in his heart; and the frontlets between Pauls eyes, they were a sign of his choice to express the love of God first, and Paul second.
You and I, we can do the same thing. With the fruits of the Spirit, we can be weak, still fumble our words, or whatever our quirks happen to be, but we can do it bearing the mark of God upon our hands and our forehead, and someday receive the seal of God. Otherwise, we are in grave danger of receiving another mark.
Its at times like that when we can end up feeling a lot more like apple cobbler than apple pie. You know, where everything is all mixed up, there’s still some apples in there, but they’re not exactly at the heart of it.
In Isaiah it says “All flesh is grass”, and we don’t want flesh at the heart of ourselves, we want God’s first and great commandment, Gods word at the heart.
If we are patient and persistent, the rest will be within reach. Otherwise the sign upon our hands (which are our deeds), and upon our foreheads (which are our choices) will be according to the flesh.
Today, tomorrow, and the next day ..certainly today we can make a choice. Make a choice to look to Gods word, to look upon Him oftenest, and think and pray to Him most. To recognize and remember why it is we believe in Jesus.
I want everyone here to remember it’s not about our works, we can mess up and through repentance we can still live to praise God. But together with me this week: remember, our works are a sign of our faith, and ultimately, they show that Jesus has gone before us, that we are doing his will and walking in his footsteps. If it’s in our heart to do it, no matter how painful, we will want to do it, and that’s always going to be a safe place to be.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.