- Sermon Notes
The Most Important Words God Ever Said
Jesus was asked on several occasions what was the greatest and foremost of all that God has ever said. Each time He answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6, “The greatest and foremost of all that God has ever said is this, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.’ And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
If Jesus said these are the greatest and foremost of all that God has ever said, I suggest that these are in fact the greatest and foremost words of all that God has ever said. In other words, He meant it.
God is love, it’s who He is; it’s His nature to love. Therefore, because you were made in the image of God, love is the greatest and highest aspect of your life.
The leaders of Israel plotted together how they might trap Jesus in what He said. So they questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; tell us then, what do you think? Is it lawful to give a tax to Caesar, or not?” Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me? Show Me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” “Then render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and render unto God the things that are God’s.”
In other words, that coin is Caesar’s; his image is inscribed upon it. God’s image is inscribed on you. You were made in God’s image. God is love and it is the highest and foremost aspect in you as well. What you love most, therefore, says the most about you. It defines who you are; because love is a transforming power. You become like that which you love. This is why you must love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. You will become like that which you love.
In this last speech by Moses, God is showing them the way of greatest blessing. “O Israel,” Moses said, “you should listen and be careful to do these things and hold these words in your heart; that it may be well with you.”
This is the way of greatest blessing for you and me as well. You were made by God to love and be loved; to understand what that means is to live as God intended you to live. And to love God and be loved by God is first and foremost. This is the way of greatest blessing.
I. God Wants it to be Well with You
- Verse 3 — “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you.”
- This is God’s heart; He wants it to be well with you. He wants your life to be blessed. Because of His love for you.
1 John 4:19, We love Him, because He first loved us.
- God is saying through Moses, “I love you and I will give you the wisdom and understanding to do well in life because My blessings will go with you in the land I promised.”
- In other words, God is showing the way of greatest blessing.
A. Watch over your soul diligently
- In chapter 4, as Moses was building up to this great chapter, he said over and over, “Give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget all the things your eyes have seen unless they depart from your heart on the days of your life.”
- Verse 3 – “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to keep this word; that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as God has promised, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”
- Watching over your soul is a key to spiritual maturity and the blessings of God in your life.
- This is about spiritual maturity. The experiences of Israel are an analogy of the believer in Jesus Christ.
- God drawing Israel out of Egypt is a picture of God drawing you out of the oppression and slavery of the world; your salvation in Christ.
- Israel in the wilderness is either a picture of those who are stuck in the faith and refuse to grow; they will remain in the wilderness for as long as it takes to learn to trust God and take Him at His Word; and some people never come out of the wilderness.
- For others, Israel in the wilderness is a picture of growing in faith as God is preparing to bring them into deeper promises.
- When Israel entered the land which God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they entered a land flowing with milk and honey. The promises of God were connected to them being in the land and in relationship to God.
- This is a picture of Christians who are growing in faith, who are becoming spiritually mature.
- There are certain promises God gives when a person receives Jesus as Lord and Savior, but there are further promises you receive when you begin to mature in your relationship to Jesus Christ; when you watch over your soul diligently.
2 Peter 1:4, For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
Hebrews 5:13-14, Everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
- Think of the blessings that come with spiritual maturity. Watching over your soul and spiritual maturity are seen in these things — deeper love of God, in forgiveness, grace, kindness, peace, joy, a servant heart, and a kind heart, to name a few. These are qualities of the spiritually mature.
- These qualities certainly bless others; but they also bless you. Forgiveness blesses others, but it also blesses you. Grace blesses others, but also blesses you.
Matthew 5:7, 9, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy… Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
- In contrast, Paul describes the one who is immature in their faith…
Galatians 4:9, Now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?
B. Faith works through love
- Moses called Israel to believe the words of God and to have them on their hearts. “Keep these words in your hearts and watch your soul diligently.”
- In other words, he called them to maturity of faith. They must believe that blessings come from trusting God in faith.
- But what follows is absolutely essential to understand; he then connects faith with the highest and utmost love.
- In other words, faith must work through love.
Galatians 5:6, For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
- Trust God because you trust His love for you.
- Paul even said that if a person has great faith, yet is without love, he is nothing. In other words, love is what makes you something. It is the highest aspect of your character; it defines who you are.
1 Corinthians 13:2, If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
C. All laws come from this law
- In Matthew 22 Jesus was asked which was the foremost of all the commandments. He responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6. And then He added, “The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 22:40, “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
- In other words, loving God is greater that all other laws; and if you love God, there will be a desire to follow His heart and His ways.
John 14:15, 21, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments… He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
- Deuteronomy 5:33 — “You shall walk in all the ways in which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you…”
- In this speech, Moses reminds them of the statutes and judgments and the principles of wisdom and understanding — but of all statutes, judgments, and principles of wisdom, the greatest of them is love.
- Verse 5-6 — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.”
- God knows how to make it well for you. It flows out of His love for you and your love for Him. Because of His love, He gives the principles and the wisdom to direct your life.
Psalm 37:23, The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.
App – Too often, however, people have a short-sighted view of what God is doing. If God isn’t doing what they think God should do, when they want God to do it, then they wonder if God is really working in their behalf and if He loves them.
- God can make it well with your soul even in the midst of the storms of life.
Illus- The famous hymn, “It is Well,” captures the heart of faith; and when you love God and trust God, it is well with your soul; even in the midst of tragedy.
It is Well by Horatio Spafford
When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whenever my lot, thou hast taught me to say; It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blessed assurance control, that Christ has regarded by helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well; with my soul.
It is well; with my soul.
II. Love is Above All Things
- No doubt you’ve heard the expression, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I heard that when I was in bible college and it has stuck with me ever since.
- Love is above all things; that is the main thing; because love is a transforming power – you will become like that which you love.
- Love God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might, or you will love wrong things that will poison your soul.
A. Love is the law above all other laws
- In Jesus’ day, the Law of Moses was a heavy burden. The leaders of Israel often argued over which laws were heavier than others.
- The Ten Commandments contained 613 Hebrew letters. By using each of the 613 letters that organize the commands of the Law. There were 365 laws regarding things they should not do and 248 laws regarding things they must do.
- But what if one law conflicted with another law? Which one was more important, which one had greater weight? And thus the debate raged.
- We have that principle in our modern laws today.
Illus- When Jordi was pregnant with Chelsea and woke up with a terrible pain in her pelvis… I had to run through several red lights to get to the hospital.
- The leaders of Israel then challenged Jesus to answer; which of the laws was the highest of them all. He answered from Deuteronomy 6.
- In other words, this is the most important thing of your life; to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
B. Love gives meaning to life
- God gave this as a commandment; that they should love with all their heart.
- If they did something for God without love, did they really mean it? If you do something for God without love, it’s hollow, it’s empty, it has no meaning.
Isaiah 29:13, Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…”
Illus – It’s like earthly relationships, if you bring flowers on Valentine’s Day (it’s required after all), toss them on the counter and say, “Here’s your flowers,” did you really honor her?
- Love gives meaning to life.
App – That’s why it’s so important that we reach the heart of our children. There is a big difference between obedience and agreement. Amos 3:3, “Unless two are in agreement, how can they have fellowship?”
- In other words, if you love God, then you will want to honor Him in your life.
1 John 5:3, For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
Illus – I read a story in Farm and Ranch magazine about an old farmer who used to plow with two horses, but when one died, he decided to retire the other and buy a tractor. The horse would walk alongside the tractor every day as if to say, “Plowing is what I love to do.”
- What is it you love to do? If it flows out of your love for God, you will be greatly blessed.
Deuteronomy 6:1-13 NASB
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, 2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 O Israel, you should listen and [a]be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as [b]frontals [c]on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
10 “Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, 12 then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of [d]slavery. 13 You shall [e]fear only the Lord your God; and you shall [f]worship Him and swear by His name.