Aloha Friday Message – November 2, 2018 – Me First

1844AFC110218 – Me First

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   Mark 12:28-3128 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

   John 14:23 23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! The LORD has done great things for us! We are filled with Joy! (See Psalm 126:3) Can you think of the greatest thing God has done for us? Well, certainly, it must be gifting us Salvation. Wait, maybe that should be creation – he created us; but then he had to implement his plan for Salvation. How about forgiveness? Is that his greatest gift to us? How should we decide which is the Greatest Gift? Jesus? Life? Eternal Life? Love?

Ahhhhh, LOVE! Creation, Salvation, Forgiveness, Jesus, Life, Eternal Life – all of these are manifestations of God’s Love. No one else can Love us the way God loves us, and he loved us before we even knew him (See 1 John 4:19). He created us in Love, for Love, to be Loved by him. There’s certainly no entity anywhere that is anything like God. Only God is God, and there’s just one thing he wants from us: Love.

If we give God the Love we have for him we will also give him everything else he wants from us – respect, obedience, community, friendship, worship and adoration – all the things we think we cannot do because we are sinful humans we can do if we just LOVE HIM. As simple as that sounds, for many of us the how of Love remains elusive. How can we love God as he fully deserves given that we are incapable of anything near that level of perfection?

Perhaps if we look to the ways we sustain our love for each other, we can find some ideas about how we can sustain our love for God. When we love someone, we want to be with them, to share our lives with them, to listen to them and share our thoughts with them, to be attentive to their needs, and – as much as possible – to do whatever pleases them. We have a special regard for their needs, and in many instances, try to place their needs and even wants above our own. We think about our loved ones when we are separated; we miss them. We share their joys and sorrows, their victories and defeats, ups and downs, good days and bad days; we think of loved-ones as “us,” more than we think of them as “other.” We are always aware they are part of our lives because of the love we share for each other. We sometimes even look for ways to be like them. It is the same with loving God. He is an acknowledged part of Every Moment of Every Day. (↔ Music Link)

Sometimes we act as if the capability to Love God is a total mystery. However, it’s not as if he never told us, or gave us any examples, of how to love him. Where can we look for clear instruction about how to love him? Yes, of course, you already know that answer! We have The Word of God – The Bible – to teach us what we need to know. We can begin with the commandment Jesus mentioned in verses 29-30 of our Key Verse: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is also known as the Shema Prayer. It is the foundation of every Judeo-Christian doctrine and creed. There is ONE God, who alone is God and there is none other bedsides him. He, The One, is ONE – the only primary integral Entity as he himself declares in Isaiah 43:15 15 I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King. Let’s look at the Shema and see how it’s put together:

(This image is also a clickable link.)

This declaration conveyed to us by Moses is so powerful! The connotation is “hear, listen to this, and obey.” In this “hearing” one achieves consent, agreement, understanding because what is heard is so undeniably clear it goes straight to our hearts. We know we have heard Truth speak. And when Truth speaks, there is life. Do you remember what Jesus said about truth? John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. And Truth? John 14:6b “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That is the Life that comes from the listening. It is life that renews us in holiness.

God is HOLY, and what (or who) he consecrates – sets apart and makes unique – is holy. If we wish to Love God, we first need to know God and since God is HOLY and ONE that means we need to be when and where he is. That’s pretty easy! God is everywhere all the time; all we have to do is look!

1 Chronicles 28:9c If you seek him, he will be found by you

Isaiah 55:6 Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near

Joshua 1:8a This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night

Psalm 119:97 97 Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long.

Psalm 119:11 11 I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

1 Peter 1:13-16 13 Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. 14 Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. 15 Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Leviticus 11:44a 44 For I am the Lord your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.

Belovéd, it is not as if God has made himself unavailable to us! He has called us and we are his. (See Isaiah 43:1c) Nor can we claim that we don’t know what he expects; he gave us the entirety of Scripture to help us figure that out. Given the volume of all that information, how do we go about sorting out what’s most important. Again, looking at Scripture, we can take our cue from our Key Verse. What did Jesus say was most important? First, we must love God; second, we must love one another. Is there any evidence that loving one another is efficacious?

Leviticus 19:18b … you shall love your neighbor as yourself

Romans 13:8b … the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Which is the above commandment in Leviticus.)

1 John 3:11 11 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 Corinthians 16:14 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:16 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it.

That pretty much brings us full circle. There is ONE God who is the HOLY ONE. No one and nothing in our lives can ever, or should ever, supersede God. He alone is God and he alone is worthy of all our love. Christ Jesus commands us to love one another (See John 13:34 and John 15:12) “Love one another as I have loved you.”  When he says “as I have” it means just as or in the same way as – in Greek καθὼς [kathos] (kath-oce) – in exactly the same manner, to precisely the same degree, to the complete extent, and in a way that is identical to. We could go back to the identity expression we have used in the past when we said

LIGHT ≡ GOD ≡ LOVE ≡ TRUTH ≡ WAY ≡ LIFE ≡ FOREVER

We can therefore say

YOUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER ≡ MY LOVE FOR YOU

This mystery is the Stewardship of Love. Everything we have – including Love – comes from God. We give back to God that which he has given to us. I recommend to you 1443AFC102414 – All You Need is LOVE. You will find some tables there summarizing the Two Great Commandments. If we love our parents, or our siblings, or our friends, or our spouses, or our neighbors, or any other person, then we know how to love God. We love God first before all else; as he said, ME FIRST. It works like this:

  1. God loves us, so
  2. We love God first, so then
  3. We love each other second, and
  4. Repeat step 1 – 3.

Then God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – will come to us to make their home with us. You see, God loves us so much he still wants to be with us all the time! That is why he has prepared eternity for us – to be together.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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