Daily Encouragement Net
The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Monday, October 19, 2020

Rutt farm sheep
Rutt farm along Donegal Creek
"Jesus said, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep'.” (John 21:16)

"Love God"

Message summary: Today we will consider what Jesus called the first and greatest commandment.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37). "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Pennsylvania, like many states, allows you to have a custom license plate often called "vanity plate". For an extra fee you can order a plate with letters and numbers to show your name or initials, your hobby, a viewpoint, etc. In Pennsylvania a personalized registration plate can contain a combination of up to seven letters and/or numbers so you have to be creative. We weren't thinking of this when we developed our ministry name 24 years ago and would never be able to get dailyencouragement on a state issued plate!

LOVE GOD license platePeople will also use the plates to express their faith as a witness. One of the earliest we recall seeing was in the 80's when Tim Casey, a friend of ours, had "psalm34" on his plate long before Shane and Shane's outstanding song with the same title was written. Yesterday on the way home from church we followed this car that has a license plate, "LOVE GOD", the only one in the entire state of Pennsylvania, so the owner must have chosen it early on when the choices were first available! This has prompted a consideration of our daily texts.

Loving God book coverMany years ago I read a book with the simple title "Loving God" written by the late Charles Colson. It was one of the formative books in my Christian growth as a younger Christian. Following his involvement in the Watergate scandal Colson had a life-transforming conversion experience and went on to live the remainder of his life as a committed and active servant of Christ. The book is a compelling look at the cost of discipleship and the meaning of the first and greatest Commandment that we are to love God.

Today's first text is a response to a question by an expert of the law who asked Jesus what the most important commandment is. "Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?'" (Matthew 22:34-36). The question was likely an attempt to trap Jesus.

But Jesus responds with one of the greatest summary explanations of how His followers were to be characterized.  "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments'" (Matthew 22:37-40).

ShemaJesus is actually quoting from the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 6 a statement known as the Shema. One of the best-known, most fundamental expressions of Jewish belief, as found in our second daily text: "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" (Deuteronomy 6:4,5).

We are regularly reminded of the fallen world we live in, where sin abounds.  There is much hand wringing with various proposals on how to "fix the problems". Especially during the election season so many think the answer will be a political solution and mistakenly make that their life focus.

But sadly for many the one true fix is mocked. That fix is expressed in these words from a Gaither song:

It's not complicated;
Don't need a lot of rules,
This is all you'll need to know.
Loving God, loving each other.

Authentic, culture-transforming Christianity comes down to loving God and loving each other. That which reflects who we are and what we do - our relationships, our work, entertainment, education, and every sphere of our life should demonstrate to an observant world our love for God. No success, status, or possession will matter at the end of our days, but how we loved God and others is what really matters.

So let us be characterized with a sold-out genuine and sacrificial love for God.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we know that You are a faithful God, keeping Your covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love You and keep Your commandments. Your love is so abundant that You not only provide for our physical needs but also our spiritual need of salvation. We have not seen, nor has our mind fully conceived of the things You have prepared for us but we eagerly anticipate all that You have promised to those who love You. We want to influence as many as possible, while traveling here below, to take hold of all your promises for life here and now, and life forevermore. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Loving God, Loving Each Other"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"O Taste and See (Psalm 34)"   Video  Shane and Shane

God Is So Good"  Video  Pat Barrett

"Waymaker/Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me"  Video  We both were especially blessed by this song set from yesterday's service at Calvary Church. This begins with a heartfelt prayer by Dave Ross, our worship leader.

Verses with the phrase "those who love Him":
  • "Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments"  (Deuteronomy 7:9).
  • "Then I said: 'Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and keep His commandments" (Nehemiah 1:5).
  • "I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and keep His commandments" (Daniel 9:4).
  • "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
  • "However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).
  • "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12).
  • "Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him?" (James 2:5).

Lancaster County River Walk
A pleasant day for a walk with friends yesterday afternoon on the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail. As can be seen by falling leaves, though our trees are still mostly green.

Rick and Rachel on Lancaster County River Walk
Our friends Rick and Rachel Caldwell in front of an abandoned rail tunnel.

Backyard campfire
The nights are chillier calling out for a blazing backyard campfire and on occasion some roasted marshmallows that melt the Hershey's chocolate bar on graham crackers, to which we usually say "We'll have some more s'mores."

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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