Our Highest Priority

February 26, 2005

Introduction:

Input:  Opportunities for outreach/evangelism?
[Outreach Contacts – envelope – pass it around – put a number on a piece of paper, put in envelope]
[Prayer Time for US to grow & for others to come to know Christ]
1.  Last week in our series, “A Contagious Christian” – we studied Luke 5:1-11:
How Big Is Your God – the focus was on being willing to take a small step of faith and later a bigger step of faith because of our view of God
 Is God really able to help you be a ‘fisher of men’
 Is He really big enough to change the lives of the people around us?
ILLUSTRATION:  Last week – traveling from Portland to Denver – a lady named Jennifer – talked to her about salvation; she is not saved, believes truth is relative, the bible is not her source of truth (her own logic reasoning is); no one person can claim truth (I pointed out that she was claiming truth by her very statement – and that if I was right, she in big trouble for eternity – but she doesn’t believe in hell either.)
Point:  I think God can change her – He’s done it with other skeptics – He’s a powerful God – I really encouraged her to read the Gospel of John and to look over our Reasons to Believe series!
2.  Our focus today:  Our Highest Priority – of all the things that we could do, what is the most important from God’s perspective?
3.  Let’s think for a minute about what is NOT our highest priority (may surprise you):
 building a big church
 sending missionaries around the world – that’s the Great Commission, but not the Greatest Commandment
 reaching out to people in our community
 baptizing all the people we can
- interesting what Paul said in 1 Cor. 1:14-17a
• 1 Corinthians 1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel . . .
- these are IMPORTANT – but they are NOT the highest priority – Jesus made that very clear in Matthew 22 and Mark 12
[READ Matthew 22:34-40]
4.  In the Gospels, the Pharisees were always coming up with some extra-biblical standards to measure righteousness
- sometimes the things in and of themselves were not wrong – but they became so important that issues like someone getting healed on the Sabbath was considered ‘sin’(Steve dealt with that last week in our worship service)
Point:  They were focusing on the outer man (behavior, actions) rather than the ‘heart’ or the ‘inner man’
- that’s the whole point of Matthew 5, 6, and 7 – it’s not about keeping the law – you can’t do that anyway – it’s about what’s going on in the heart
- the Pharisees didn’t get that
- they focused on DOING things in order to = righteousness (to be seen of men) rather than BEING righteousness which is an issue of the heart and only possible if a person has been forgiven of their sin and is found ‘in Christ’
* Self-righteousness = I do these things, therefore I love God!
* True righteousness = I love God, therefore I do these things!
5.  The guy who asked Jesus this question was a scribe (Mark 12:28), but was called a lawyer by Matthew to indicate his unusual expertise in understanding and articulating the Mosaic law as well as being able to stand his ground in a dispute about these things
Q: What was the nature of the question?
> in asking, “Which is the great commandment in the Law?” he was asking what was the greatest commandment of Moses
> Moses was the ‘big dude’ of the OT – the scribes and Pharisees were said to ‘sit in Moses’ seat (Matt. 23:2) – that represented the ultimate authority in Judaism
- but Jesus made it very clear, He did not come to ‘do away’ with the Law, but to . . . FULFILL the Law!
- and His preaching and teaching in no way rendered the law unnecessary
Quote:  But because Jesus’ teaching of Scripture was so utterly contrary to theirs, which for centuries had been encrusted by thousands of humanly-devised rabbinical interpretations, the Pharisees were convinced that He must be teaching a message He considered to be greater than that of Moses. And it was evidence to that effect that they now hoped Jesus would disclose, because to contradict Moses was to contradict God and be guilty of heresy. Their purpose was to expose Him as an apostate and thereby turn the people against Him.
Q: How did Jesus respond?
[Matthew 23:37-40]
> loving God was the FIRST and GREATEST commandment – that’s our highest priority!
> you can punch all the right buttons and do all the right things, but the greatest way to obey is to have a love for God!

I.  What is LOVE?


Quote:  Jesus quoted the “Shema” (Deut. 6:4), a statement of faith that was recited daily by every orthodox Jew. (The word Shema comes from the Hebrew word which means “to hear.”) The confession of faith begins with, “Hear, O Israel!” The greatest commandment is to love God with all that we are and have—heart, soul, mind, strength, possessions, service. To love God is not to “have good feelings about Him,” for true love involves the will as well as the heart. Where there is love, there will be service and obedience.
A.  Definition of love (3 words for love)
1)  agapa =  (primarily of Christian love) show or prove one's love; long for, desire, place first in one's affections; self-sacrificing kind of love; God’s kinds of love
- it’s what John wrote in John 3:16 [quote]
- it’s what John was referring to when he wrote:
• 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
• 1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
• 1 John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
2) phileo = brotherly kind of love (not as deep as agapa)
file,w =  love; as devotion based in the emotions / feel affection for – this form of the word is distinguished from . . .
avgapa,w((agapao – verb form of agapa) which is devotion based in the will like,
[Note:  Consider John 21:15-17 later in our study]
3 ) eros = erotic kind of love (does not appear in NT, but used in other Greek literature)
- the focus of the world is on eros, sexual pleasure, arousal
-  which in the context of marriage is ‘very good’ (Gen. 1:26-31; Gen. 2:25 – they were both naked and not ashamed)
- as Christ answered the lawyer/scribe’s question, Jesus wasn’t expressing “separate and technical definitions of each element of human nature or a compartmentalizing of love into three or four categories” (MacArthur)
- instead, Jesus was emphasizing the . . .
B.  Depth of ‘love’
All your heart =  referred to the core of one’s personal being.
• Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
All your soul = closest to what we would call emotion
- same word Jesus used when He cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was arrested: “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death” (Matt. 26:38).
All your mind = used here in the sense of intellectual, willful vigor and determination, carrying both the meaning of mental endeavor and of strength.
- the word corresponds to what is usually translated “might” in Deuteronomy 6:5. The Hebrew term had a broad connotation and carried the general idea of moving ahead with energy and strength.
Point:  Every part of our being ought to be in love with God! Nothing left out!  God gets it all!


II.  Why should we love God as our HIGHEST PRIORITY? [


- to understand this fully, you have to keep in mind the context in which this command was written
[READ Deut. 6:4-19]
A.  Because of Who God is:
• Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
LORD = Jehovah "the existing One" – the proper name of the one true God;  the covenant keeping God of Israel
God = Elohim (plural form) pointing to the Trinity; general word for God
- He is the only true and living God – He’s our Creator, Redeemer, Sovereign Lord, King of Kings
- He’s holy, righteous, just, full of truth, grace, love, mercy – He’s longsuffering and a God of comfort, wisdom, and eternal life – He’s all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present!
Point:  There is no other God like our God – and He is worthy of our love and loyalty!
B.  Because of what God has done:
Old Testament New Testament
Creation
Flood
Exodus:
• 10 Plagues
• Red Sea
• killed Pharoah’s army
• provided in the wilderness
Jordon
Jericho
David & Goliath
Daniel (lions den)
3 Hebrew guys (fiery furnace)  Virgin Birth
Perfect Life (sinless)
Miracles (raising dead, blind to see, etc.)
Crucifixion
Resurrection
Ascension
Holy Spirit sent
Pentecost (3,000 people saved)
Completed Scriptures


III.  What does love for God look like?


A.  Obedience to God’s Commands
• John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
- that involves being holy – Example: Joseph – “How can I do this evil and sin against God?” – when tempted by Potiphar’s wife
• 1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:
• 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
* Our obedience ought to result in things like: reaching out to others / sending missionaries / baptizing people / etc.
B.  Commitment to the Word
• Psalm 119:97 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
• Joshua 22:5 "Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul."
• Mark 7:6 And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
C.  Compare to 1 Cor. 13
Q: Is love this stoic, emotionless, no passion formality?
- Love is a choice, an act of the will . . . but there is the DESIRE of the heart, soul, mind that is involved!
* Love never fails (it’s loyal and unstoppable)
Example:  Peter – I’ll never deny you – but he did, 3 x’s, cursed & swore he didn’t know Christ
- go to John 21:15-17 – Jesus asked him the question 3 times:  Peter, do you love me?
> the 1st  two times, Jesus used the word agapa, and Peter responded with phileo’
> then Jesus said, “Do you phileo me?” – Peter was honest and said, ‘I phileo you”
Note: Jesus response to him was the same – feed my lambs, shepherd my sheep
Point: No matter what level of love you have, do what Jesus commands – that’s loving


IV.  How does a person get to this place?


*  Walk in the Spirit – for the fruit of the Spirit [explain submitting to the Word, growth & change]
Genuine love of the Lord is intelligent, feeling, willing, and serving. It involves thought, sensitivity, intent, and even action where that is possible and appropriate. God has never sought either empty words or empty ritual. His desire is for the person himself, not simply what the person possesses. If He truly has the person, He inevitably has all that the person possesses as well. And just as God loves us with His whole being, we are to return His love with our whole being. His love for mankind was so great “that He gave His only begotten Son” for their redemption (John 3:16). Godly love, whether as His love for man or man’s love for Him, is measured by what it gives, not by what it might gain. It does not love because love is beneficial but because love is right and good. 
A Contagious Christian
Our Highest Priority – Matthew 22:34-40
Introduction:

Q:  What is NOT our highest priority?
* Self-righteousness = I do these things, therefore I love God!
* True righteousness = I love God, therefore I do these things!
Q: What was the nature of the question?
Quote:  But because Jesus’ teaching of Scripture was so utterly contrary to theirs, which for centuries had been encrusted by thousands of humanly-devised rabbinical interpretations, the Pharisees were convinced that He must be teaching a message He considered to be greater than that of Moses. And it was evidence to that effect that they now hoped Jesus would disclose, because to contradict Moses was to contradict God and be guilty of heresy. Their purpose was to expose Him as an apostate and thereby turn the people against Him. MacArthur
Q: How did Jesus respond?
I.  What is LOVE?
Quote:  Jesus quoted the “Shema” (Deut. 6:4), a statement of faith that was recited daily by every orthodox Jew. (The word Shema comes from the Hebrew word which means “to hear.”) The confession of faith begins with, “Hear, O Israel!” The greatest commandment is to love God with all that we are and have—heart, soul, mind, strength, possessions, service. To love God is not to “have good feelings about Him,” for true love involves the will as well as the heart. Where there is love, there will be service and obedience. Wiersbe
A.  Definition of love (3 words for love)
1)  _________ =  show or prove one's love; long for, desire, place first in one's affections; self-sacrificing kind of love; God’s kinds of love

2) ___________ = brotherly kind of love (not as deep as agapa)

3 ) _______ = erotic kind of love
B.  _____________ of ‘love’

All your heart =  referred to the core of one’s personal being.

All your soul = closest to what we would call emotion

All your mind = used here in the sense of intellectual, willful vigor and determination, carrying both the meaning of mental endeavor and of strength.
II.  Why should we love God as our HIGHEST PRIORITY? [Deut. 6:4-19]
A.  Because of _________________:
LORD = Jehovah "the existing One" – the proper name of the one true God;  the covenant keeping God of Israel

God = Elohim (plural form) pointing to the Trinity; general word for God

B.  Because of _______________________:
Old Testament New Testament
 

 

 

III.  What does love for God look like?
A.  _____________ to God’s Commands
Example: Joseph

B.  ______________ to the Word

C.  Compare to 1 Cor. 13
Q: Is love this stoic, emotionless, no passion formality?

IV.  How does a person get to this place?
*  _____________________ – for the fruit of the Spirit
Genuine love of the Lord is intelligent, feeling, willing, and serving. It involves thought, sensitivity, intent, and even action where that is possible and appropriate. God has never sought either empty words or empty ritual. His desire is for the person himself, not simply what the person possesses. If He truly has the person, He inevitably has all that the person possesses as well. And just as God loves us with His whole being, we are to return His love with our whole being. His love for mankind was so great “that He gave His only begotten Son” for their redemption (John 3:16). Godly love, whether as His love for man or man’s love for Him, is measured by what it gives, not by what it might gain. It does not love because love is beneficial but because love is right and good.MacArthur

A Contagious Christian
Our Highest Priority – Matthew 22:34-40
Introduction:
Q:  What is NOT our highest priority?
• 1 Corinthians 1:14-17
* Self-righteousness = I do these things, therefore I love God!
* True righteousness = I love God, therefore I do these things!
Q: What was the nature of the question?
Quote
Q: How did Jesus respond?
I.  What is LOVE?
Quote
A.  Definition of love (3 words for love)
1)  agapa =  show or prove one's love; long for, desire, place first in one's affections; self-sacrificing kind of love; God’s kinds of love
• 1 John 4:7, 11, 12
2) phileo = brotherly kind of love (not as deep as agapa)
3 ) eros = erotic kind of love
B.  Depth of ‘love’
All your heart =  referred to the core of one’s personal being.
• Proverbs 4:23
All your soul = closest to what we would call emotion
All your mind = used here as intellectual, willful vigor and determination, carrying both the meaning of mental endeavor and of strength.
II.  Why should we love God as our HIGHEST PRIORITY?
Deut. 6:4-19
A.  Because of Who God is:
• Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
LORD = Jehovah "the existing One" – the proper name of the one true God;  the covenant keeping God of Israel
God = Elohim (plural form) pointing to the Trinity; general word for God
B.  Because of what God has done:
Old Testament New Testament
Creation
Flood
Exodus:
• 10 Plagues
• Red Sea
• killed Pharoah’s army
• provided in the wilderness
Jordon
Jericho
David & Goliath
Daniel (lions den)
3 Hebrews(fiery furnace)  Virgin Birth
Perfect Life (sinless)
Miracles
Crucifixion
Resurrection
Ascension
Holy Spirit sent
Pentecost (3,000 people saved)
Completed Scriptures


III.  What does love for God look like?
A.  Obedience to God’s Commands
• John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
Example: Joseph
• 1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:
• 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
B.  Commitment to the Word
• Psalm 119:97
• Joshua 22:5 "Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul."
• Mark 7:6
C.  Compare to 1 Cor. 13
Q: Is love this stoic, emotionless, no passion formality?
IV.  How does a person get to this place?
*  Walk in the Spirit – for the fruit of the Spirit
Quote