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Love The Lord Your God

by David Johnson

Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program.

 

     Its wonderful to be together again as we look into the Word of God. As we study together, as we share these truths with others and, of course, incorporate these principles in our own lives. The title for the lesson is “Love the Lord Your God.” And our text is taken from the Old Testament, our main text, Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 4 through 7. Please listen to the Word of God.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

This is the Word of God. May He add his blessing to the public reading of his Word.

     Jack Eckerd in the United States was owner of the Eckerd chain of drugstores, who eventually sold partially to and was absorbed by the CVS Pharmacy Corporation in the year of our Lord 2004. Mr. Eckerd teamed up with Chuck Colson, founder of ‘Prison Fellowship ministry, which was advocating restitution to victims of crime, a proposal that both were passionate about.

     As they went from place-to-place advocating reform in the criminal justice statutes on Eckerd’s business jet, Eckerd would introduce Chuck Colson to the crowds. Eckerd would state: “This is Chuck Colson, my friend…He’s born again; I’m not. I wish I were.”

     Colson would speak of his concerns about the criminal justice system. Chuck Colson you should understand was a lawyer, and they would move to another location. When they returned to the plane for their next appointment, Colson would spend the time witnessing to Mr. Eckerd about the Lord Jesus. Then they would land, and Eckerd would give the same introduction of Chuck Colson, and the whole process was repeated over and over again.

     When Colson left, he gave Mr. Eckerd several books by Christian authors including C. S. Lewis’s book entitled ‘Mere Christianity.’ A fine book regarding what Christianity is all about basically. They continued to correspond for about a year, and Eckerd kept reading the Bible and Christian books written by Colson that he sent to him. Eventually some of the things Colson had written in his book entitled ‘Loving God’ broke through, and Jack Eckerd decided that in fact Jesus had risen from the dead, that He was alive, that He was Savior and Lord and so he received Christ as his Savior and Lord.

     Shortly after his conversion, Mr. Eckerd, Brother Eckerd was walking through one of his drug stores and noticed copies of ‘Playboy’ and ‘Penthouse’ magazines for sale in his store. He had seen them before, but they had never bothered him; now this pornography did bother him as a Christian. As a born-again baptized Christian, a believer. When he returned to his office, he called in the chief operating officer of his drugstores, all of his drugstores at the time. Which were over 2,800 stores in 22 states, and said, “Take those magazines out of my stores.”

The chief operating officer responded: “You can’t mean that, Mr. Eckerd. We make three million dollars a year on those magazines.” Eckerd stuck by his decision: “Take them out of my stores.”

     When Chuck Colson heard about this, he called Eckert and asked, “Did you do that because of your commitment to Christ?” Eckerd answered, “Why else would I give away three million dollars? The Lord wouldn’t let me off the hook.” And there’s more to this story!

     Then Eckerd wrote the heads of other drugstore chains and challenged them to do likewise. At first, they all ignored him. Then, as Eckerd’s stores began to see significant sales, that is sales increases coming from people who appreciated Eckerd’s moral stand regarding pornography in their stores, his stores, they also began, these other drugstore chains and their leadership, to follow suit. And take these objectionable magazines out of their stores. Eventually, eleven thousand retail outlets across America removed the objectionable magazines from their store shelves, and it all started when one Christian who could not be comfortable with professing a love for God while ignoring moral principles from the Word of God. To use his own words, his love for God wouldn’t: “Let me off the hook.”

So, we should ask ourselves, how, really, is our love for God supremely, exclusively, and earnestly regarding our daily living – and that means all aspects of our daily lives it?

     In Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 4 through 9 it is known as the ‘Shema,’ S H E M A, Anglicized in English, known as the “Shema” which in Hebrew means ‘hear,’ H E A R. To ‘hear’ carried the sense of obey. A hearing of the word of God that leads to obedience in all aspects of life was and is commanded of all of God’s people. Whether Old Testament or New Testament saints, all of God’s people. This became the Jewish confession of faith, recited twice daily by the devout, pious Jews even today.

     Verse 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one,” This verse manifestly as its intent of these words to give a clear statement of the truth of monotheism, that is, that there is only one true God. Mono, one God. Mono is “one,” “Theism” is God. Refers to God. The original Hebrew could be translated as “The Lord our God, the Lord alone.” The word used for ‘one’ in this passage does not mean ‘singleness’ but instead actually means ‘unity.’ Thus, while this verse is a concise statement of monotheism, one God. It does not exclude the concept of the Trinity. We believe in the New Testament as it teaches for Christians. That we have one God, but he is manifested, or revealed in scripture as three persons in one. The mystery of the Trinity, of the Godhead. And yet we believe it, although we cannot fully comprehend the Trinity, the Godhead. One God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

      Israel’s recognition that God is unique in the universe was to bring them (and Christians today) to love God genuinely with all of their facilities. This statement Jesus would use later to summarize the whole duty of man, and the essence of all the Scriptures.

     Consider Deuteronomy chapter 6 and verse 5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Just as Jesus’s words in Matthew chapter 22 and verse 37, in the New Testament. So, reinforced, repeated by Christ to which Jesus added: “This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it ‘love your neighbor as yourself.” Here Jesus repeated the concept that is found in the Old Testament, to love your neighbor as yourself in Leviticus chapter 19 and verse 18. Jesus underscored the truth of these two commandments’ unique position with His words: “All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew chapter 22 verse 40. Meaning to keep these two pivotal commandments is to keep the whole Old Testaments word of God.

These same two categories of Love, first of God, second of fellow mankind also take in the first four toward God and the last six toward mankind of the Ten Commandments respectfully.

      Therefore, the heart and spirit of the entire biblical religion or godliness are to obey these two commandments of love and so conform one’s beliefs and behavior accordingly to these two commandments. Jack Eckerd understood this, not just intellectually but put it into his daily life practically as we as Christians today should all do likewise.

     Jesus would also insist “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” John chapter 14 verse 21. Therefore, a lack of consistent obedience to Christ’s commands surely must be confessed and repented of. Lack of repentance of disobedience of sin could mean that that person never really converted to Christ to begin with. And doesn’t really love God regardless of what he or she professes. And this should not be.

     It is futile for parents, for example, to convince their children to believe and practice these truths of Scripture if both parents are not living them out themselves consistently before the eyes and ears of their children. Our words and our lives must match. Love for God, love for others, in action, with worship and service, should saturate all our relationships. Children and grandchildren listen and watch and usually imitate parents. There need to be consistency in Christ Jesus.

     Consider Deuteronomy chapter 6 and verses 6 and 7 “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Impress what exactly? All the ways we can show, we can evidence our love of God and of all others. No one can outsource God’s teachings. Moses didn’t tell his listeners only to take their children to the Tabernacle so-to-speak. He tells them to teach their children in the home. This is where children, grandchildren really learn to stand alone against the pressures of the world, at home.

     Any person who only relegates Christianity to Sunday, to one day of the week, does not stand strong Monday through Saturday. Christianity isn’t just a Sunday school lesson – it’s a lifestyle. It’s a daily, yes struggle, but a worthwhile struggle for Christ but today with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It also includes a morning around the table, and an evening training for those in the family about especially loving God and loving others. Along with all of the important principles of scripture. Those that are commanded of us. That’s: ‘the faith’ living the faith. Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself, teaching and living consistently for ourselves, for our families and as we reach out to communities for Christ’s sake in Christ’s name and for His kingdom.

 

                       David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10