February 27

What a great blessing it was to witness the baptism of Tanner Parrish this past Sunday night! Our hearts overflowed with joy and gratitude to our God as we saw the sincere, genuine response of faith from this fine young man, a faith that has been lived out for him by his family. And special thanks to David and Kiera Keen for the impact they are having on our young people and their families. I hope that you continually keep them and all our children and their families in your prayers, and offer them encouragement at every opportunity.

If you are caught up with your daily Bible reading, and are using The Daily Bible, you know that we are just now getting into the section on God’s Law. We have just completed some of Moses’ final messages to Israel before he blesses the tribes and transfers the leadership of God’s people to his protégé Joshua. Part of that included these words from Deuteronomy 6:1: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

As I was reading some of this section, a question occurred to me that I really hadn’t thought of in exactly this way before. We are all familiar with the scene in Mark 12:28-34, when Jesus is asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” And we know that he quotes from Deuteronomy 6, as well as Leviticus 19:18, and says that the greatest and most important commandment is to love God; and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.

I wonder why our Lord did not respond to this question with the first of the Ten Commandments, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3; Deuteronomy 5:5-7) I wonder why He didn’t say that the greatest commandment in the Law is to worship and serve no other god but the Lord.

I understand that if you love God, you will serve Him only. True. And I suppose that you could possibly serve and worship Him only, without really loving Him. Perhaps this is why our Lord chose Deuteronomy 6 instead of Exodus 20. God wants us to love Him. He wants to be in relationship with us. He wants us to serve and worship Him only, to be completely obedient to Him. But He wants us to be close to Him, to have a relationship with Him that is not simply marked by our obedience, but by our love. It is this relationship with your Creator and Savior that I wish and pray for you, Tanner, all your life, and for all of us as well.

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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