YAL: Week 8 – Monday: Matthew 22: 37-38

As we begin our final week of our study, our theme will be love as a way of life. Today, we will look at what is the greatest commandment of all; Love God, love your neighbor as yourself. Let’s begin our study.

Scripture

The Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

~Matthew 22:34-40

Let’s also read Mark’s version of this same scene:

The Greatest Commandment

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

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 your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

~Mark 12:28-34

Observation

Two beautiful descriptions of what our greatest commandment is, and it is so very powerful as to the power love has. These verses really solidify our theme this week, love as a way of life.

In Matthew, these verses stand the test that Jesus is given in verses 34-36. Was there ever any doubt as to what could possibly be the greatest commandment God gives to us? And Jesus doesn’t hesitate in the least, for verse 37 reminds us where our greatest love is to be directed, and not just with the heart, but with our soul and mind. This is our first and greatest commandment…love God.

What I like about Mark’s recollection is how the teacher repeated it, and Jesus approved.  He knew how to love God and put God first. I think we often forget this…until we are needing God for something. Our thinking can change with these verses in that we can find so much comfort from knowing that loving God is the greatest commandment we’ll ever have.

And here’s a little secret…when we love God as God wants us to love God…nothing else matters. We don’t have a thing to worry about because our hearts, souls, and minds are exactly where they are supposed to be. If you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, then loving your neighbor isn’t even a second thought.

Interesting how it says love our neighbor as yourself. That’s because it takes away any reservation of how much love we should give someone. This takes away any revenge we would ever want to place on someone…because you would never plan revenge on yourself, but rather want others to forgive…and love. We cannot expect what we do not do ourselves.

Application

Love is the most power action we have. Love is not an emotion, it is an action. It covers so much beyond what we can comprehend, but it never gives up and is always there. But love is the only thing you can never keep for yourself…you have to give it away. It’s not something you can just store up, and that makes obeying this commandment that much easier. Yes…easier. Give your love away freely, as God has given it to you. And by loving God with everything you have, you will love others with that same magnitude.

My application is to put love at the forefront of my thoughts. Because by doing that, I am honoring God with the greatest commandment He demands of me.

Prayer

Lord, As I enter this last week of the study, You have taught me so much beyond the simply world of love. I have seen the value it has and how Your love is above everything else. And yet I know that I don’t always love as I should. Lord, as I continue my journey, please help me to see everything with love. I want it to be my way of life, without any reservations of any kind. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen

YAL: Week 7 – Friday: 1 John 3:23-24

We end this week back in the book of 1 John. The chapter is just a mere 24 verses, but the message is so much more than that! I actually want to focus on the beginning of the chapter before getting to our SOAP verses.

Many of you may know the song, “Hello, my name is” by Matthew West. First time I heard that song I was like, yeah…that’s me! One who is bound by the chains of my past. But the amazing part about that song is that it tells us who we truly are…We are a child of the one true king! We are children of God’s! It’s one thing to hear it in a song, but another to read it in the bible.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. ~1 John 3:1-3

Let’s continue with that thought as we dive into the last two verses of this chapter!

Scripture

23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Observation

Two commands are given here, but they are not new. We are to believe in the Jesus, and love one another as He commanded us to do! For by doing that, we are given Him to remain inside of us through the Spirit! Believe and love…and if you truly love, then you cannot hate!

Application

I’ve really learned this week how I cannot claim to love and still have bitterness or hate. Hard pill to swallow sometimes, however, it should become so much easier when we think of the sacrifice God made out of pure love.

If there was any miniscule amount of hate for any of us, I cannot foresee Jesus dying for us. You don’t lay down your life and die for those you hate. It’s not my place to judge another. And if I love them, then I can leave all the judging to God…as it should be.

Prayer

Father, Your love is amazing and as your child I cannot thank you enough for caring so much that I would know You. Thank You for loving all of us and never showing us what hate was. Forgive us, Lord, for the hate we put on one another, and the distance we put between ourselves and You.

Lord, help me to continually see Your love and to freely pass it on to others no matter what. For You do that for me, and I want others to see You through me. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

YAL: Week 7 — Thursday: John 15:12-13

As we continue with our theme of kingdom work, the recurring theme is more than obvious…Love one another! When looking at this entire chapter, it is all the words of Jesus. A few extra verses added here because the context of the message shouldn’t be overlooked.

Scripture

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:9-17; NIV)

Observation

Jesus made it so clear that we are to love one another, for He has loved us! Halley’s Bible Handbook Notes tells is so well:

The ideas that keep recurring in these chapters are that the disciples must love one another, that they must keep Christ’s commandments, that they must abide in Him, that they must expect pruning and persecution, that it was necessary for Jesus to go away, that the Holy Spirit would take His place, that their sorrow would be turned to joy, and that in His absence wondrous answers to their prayers would be granted. The blessed Master going into the depths of His own sorrow and suffering was doing His best to comfort His bewildered disciples.

For they did not understand why he was about to leave them. I’m not so sure they understood all the lessons, but they were equipped…and had the greatest commandment to ever be given…love one another.

Application

Christ showed us His love not only through His Words, but by His sacrifice of death. Peter thought he could lay down his life for Jesus, but denied ever knowing Him…and not just once, but three times. I’m learning that we make loving others hard and very difficult because we want to choose who that love goes to.

But the commandment doesn’t give an option, it gives a command! So, I must let go of all other thoughts, and just know that I am to love all, for God loved all of us…and died knowing all we would ever do.

Prayer

Father, Your love is amazing, and I am able to see and feel it everyday. My prayer is simply to help me not to put up the road blocks so that I can pass that love onto others! I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

YAL: Week 7 — Wednesday: John 13:34-35

Today’s scripture includes our memory verse for the week, and takes us back into the Gospel of John. And context couldn’t be more important here. These verses comes from when Jesus was predicting Peter’s denial. Such contrast…A new commandment to love one another, and the denial of knowing someone he’d claim to love. Let’s begin today’s study.

Scripture

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”

37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Observation

When I read the study notes, I was immediately brought back to God’s promise of making everything new again. For this was a new commandment…for them, but we can see how God took something old, and made it new again. Remember, to follow Christ, is to love, and if we love God, then we cannot hate.

13:34A new command. In a sense it was an old one (see Lev 19:18 and note), but for Christ’s disciples it was new, because it was the mark of their special bond, created by Christ’s great love for them (cf. Mt 22:37, 39; Mk 12:31; Lk 10:27 and notes). As I have loved you. Our standard is Christ’s love for us. (NIV Study Bible Notes)

Application

Sometimes, we cannot just see things in the words, but rather in a visual. I see that visual from God four times a year…through our seasons. I’m fortunate enough to live where there are four very distinct seasons and each has it’s own beauty. And each brings something new, but nothing compares to Spring.

After a long, hard, cold, and dark winter, there came the delivery of the promise of making everything new again. Spring…the time when blooms and buds remind us of the beauty that comes from that dark cold winter. This year, it was that much darker and colder, and it took that much longer for all the newness to come about. But God’s promise still didn’t cease, for everything returned…and it was all made new again. It’s God symbol (visual) of His love.

Prayer

Lord, Your love is seen in the seasons, and in the season, we see Your promises to make everything new again. Often, I look for a start and finish…but never something continuous in which this promise remains. The seasons that You’ve given us are a wonderful reminder of making things new, and Your constant love for us. From this visual, we can see You and see that love. Thank you for creating that bond with us, and for always reminding me of what true love is. In Jesus Name, I pray. Amen.