Matthew 22:35-40 35 One of them, a legal expert, tested him. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being [Deuteronomy 6:5] and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself [Leviticus 19:18]. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
In this passage we join in with Jewish Rabbis of the day in debating what commandment is the greatest. Here they ask Jesus this question and Jesus answers directly but gives them two:
The first was from Deuteronomy 6:4: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind.” The second came from Leviticus 19:18: “You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Jesus said all other truths or orthodoxies have ultimate value only as they lead us to more fully love God and neighbor. Imitating Jesus in creating loving relationships is a key to living as God calls us to live.
What Jesus is saying here is that every key principle the Bible teaches, all the truths we know about what God wants, “depend” on the two commands he quoted. In other words; the teachings of God, our beliefs, should never lead us to be unloving. Long before our modern psychological insights developed, Leviticus called God’s people to “love your neighbor as yourself.” That implicitly asked: how well can you love your neighbor if you don’t have healthy ways of loving and caring for yourself? As I read what Jesus teaches and the commands God has put before me they all center around my relationship with the Father, my relationship with me. How well have you learned to nurture and value yourself, outwardly and, even more importantly, inwardly? I hope to see you all this morning as we discuss prayer. Pastor Carl
Almighty and Holy God. I thank you for the gift of life, the teachings through Your Word and the love of Your Son, Jesus. Lord, lead me this day as I prepare to lead worship. Lead me in each encounter I will have to day. You have blessed me this morning Lord in putting me in the right place. May I have glorified Your name. Lord I ask for Your forgiveness, I ask to give me strength in forgiving others. Father I pray for this church family, for each gathering and study and for the upcoming projects and services we will participate in. Father bless the Warren church this day as well as all churches. I pray for the missions of this church. Lord, thank you as I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen
Colossians 1:25-28 25 I became a servant of the church by God’s commission, which was given to me for you, in order to complete God’s word. 26 I’m completing it with a secret plan [or mystery] that has been hidden for ages and generations but which has now been revealed to his holy people. 27 God wanted to make the glorious riches of this secret plan [or mystery] known among the Gentiles, which is Christ living in you, the hope of glory. 28 This is what we preach as we warn and teach every person with all wisdom so that we might present each one mature in Christ
Once again we see the language of yesterday and the language of today collide with the words "secret plan". Unlike today, when we may think of a secret plan as a devious or shadowy doing, Paul meant something very different. Paul’s understanding of the ‘mystery’ is quite different from this. It is acknowledged that the truth had been ‘hidden’ in ages past but is hidden no longer.
In reality, there are gifts that God has blessed us with that is not for everyone. There are gifts that you may have that others will not or groups you can belong to while others simply look in. Physical gifts differ greatly. I will never conquer the great mountains of the world or play in the NBA. There are privileges some are born into while others are not. Many are gifted but not everyone will attain the same heights and Paul understood this, which made his determination to teach each person the secret plan much more remarkable. Available to every person, Paul says, is the good news of Jesus Christ. The love of God and His transforming power is not hidden or gifted to the few but open to the entire human race. In this gift there is not an us or them but an all. The glory of this mystery lies not in its exclusiveness, belonging to a few, but in its inclusiveness, for it is intended for the nations and it is brought to people not by semi-secret rites but by public proclamation.
Today, you and I called are called to continue the message Paul began. I hope I see you later this morning and/or at the church picnic. God bless, pastor Carl
Almighty God, in Your vastness of love You have given all people access to eternal life. May I, as Paul declared, be an instrument of Your love by proclaiming publicly for all to see and hear. Lord, bless my families, my country and the world around me. Dwell among us. I ask this in Your Son's Holy name. Amen
Psalm 136: verses 1,26
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever."
I remember when I was much younger, sitting under the tutelage of my Rev, Merrill, Tom Vining and my dad, and I understood that God put a timeline on our existence. One hundred and twenty years it is said in Genesis and an average of 70-80 in the Psalms. I remember as a child in my walk, I would think of my life in terms of 120 years. Like a timeline. When I was twenty for example I would think, well I am only 1/6 of the way there, or only 1/3 if I live only half of 120.
Today, getting ready to turn 60, I no longer think, "how much time do I have left?" Instead, the question and desire is "how I am going to live whatever years I do have?" I do not look at life from a linear view but from a Godly view from above, from God's perspective and His Word. Looking at it this way I realize life, love in Christ, has no end. Showing my love of God to others does and this understanding makes me want to love even more. I want to claim the love God offers from eternity to eternity.
This morning I hope you can join us as we look at Naaman's journey and how we can gleam life experience from it. In Christ's love, Pastor Carl.
Almighty God, I thank you for the teachings of so many that has brought me here today. I thank you for the love they have shared with me and the love You have promised to me forever. May I live this truth in all aspects of my life. Lord, forgive me of my sins and may the words of my mouth reflect Your teachings and love. Father, I thank you for the bountiful gifts You have blessed me with, and may I pass them forward to the best of ability. Lord, I ask that You walk with me in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006