Introduction: Do you easily fall in love with another person? How would you react to a command to love someone? Love is a complicated thing that generally requires time on task! The title of our lesson this week comes from Deuteronomy 6:5 that instructs us to love God with “all your heart and with all your soul and all your might.” You might reasonably ask, “How can we possibly do that?” Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see how that is possible.

  1.         Defining Love For God

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37-38. What should we conclude when both the Old and New Testaments have a nearly identical instruction?

  1.         What does it mean to love God “with all your heart?”

  1.         If I told you that the heart was considered the seat of human emotions, would that help? (I think it does help. This tells us to have a total emotional love for God.)

  1.         What does it mean to love God “with all your soul?”

  1.         If I told you that the soul was the considered the center of human personality, would that help? (I think it does because it suggests that love for God must fill your consciousness.)

  1.         What does it mean to love God “with all your might?” (This pulls the human body into the command.)

  1.         Read Mark 12:30. What does Mark add to this? (Mark adds “with all your strength.” Mark includes the Matthew 22:37 statement of “mind,” and the Deuteronomy 6:5 statement of “might” in his mention of strength. Thus, he shows that there is no conflict between the Old and New Testaments, not even a small one.)

  1.         If you look at these four factors, heart, soul, mind and strength, would it be fair to say that this calls for a total commitment of your emotions, your mind, your personality, and your physical effort?

  1.         Can you give this total commitment simply by deciding to do it?

  1.         If not, how do we go about making this a reality?

  1.         The Love Plan I – Just Do It.

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 6:6-7. What does this teach us about how to make the total love commitment to God a reality? (Start teaching children about God at any early age. Spend a lot of time doing this.)

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 6:8-9. What does this teach us about how to make the total love commitment to God a reality? (Have regular reminders of your relationship with God.)

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 6:10-12. What does this teach us about making our love commitment a reality? (When God blesses us, as He will, we must be grateful. We must attribute the good things to Him.)

  1.         At this point you should be asking yourself, “How does doing things change my heart?” Do you have an answer to that? (I think we change our attitudes all the time by what we do.  Eating is an excellent example.  By eating certain things at certain times you are able to modify when you are hungry and what tastes you prefer.)

  1.         Read Malachi 3:10. Is this totally a “doing” thing: you pay your tithe and you get a tremendous blessing? (Yes. This is written like a business proposition. No need for any emotion.)

  1.         Read 2 Corinthians 9:7. Has someone waived a magic wand and people in the New Testament are now cheerful givers?  They are not driven by compulsion? (Again, I think this shows the natural progression. You simply obeyed when you read Malachi, but the results made you make a voluntary, cheerful decision to give.)

  1.         The Love Plan II – Breaking Your Heart

  1.         Read Ephesians 2:1-2. How would you react if you learned that you would be executed in one week? What if you learned that you would die from cancer before the end of the year? (These would be terrible things to learn. It would be very discouraging.)

  1.         What does this text tell us about our impending death? (It speaks to us. We are “dead in … trespasses and sins.”)

  1.         Read Ephesians 2:3. Is it Satan that we should worry about when it comes to sin? (Not primarily! We should worry about us. It is our “desires of the body and the mind” that make us naturally “children of wrath.”)

  1.         Read Ephesians 2:4-5. Are we still destined to die? (No. God made us alive.)

  1.         Why? (Because He loves us.)

  1.         How did He make us alive? (He saved us by grace through Jesus Christ.)

  1.         Read Ephesians 2:6. What else has God done for us through Jesus? (Seated us in “the heavenly places.”)

  1.         Read Ephesians 2:7. What is God’s plan for you for the future? (He is going to show us “immeasurable riches of His grace.” He is going to be kind to us.)

  1.         Read Ephesians 2:8. Is this a “doing” thing? (Absolutely not! This verse tells us that it “is not your own doing.” Rather, it “is the gift of God.”)

  1.         Now, let’s circle back and consider those texts in Deuteronomy that I suggested tell us to just do it. Is that an improper understanding of those texts?

  1.         What do the verses we just read in Ephesians teach us is the way to totally love God? (I don’t think the “just do it” in Deuteronomy ever gets us to the total picture of love that God demands. Rather, I think it is simply the beginner’s approach. We get to the total picture of love in reaction to the total love that God has shown us.  He has rescued us from certain death. He has substituted a life of riches and kindness in heaven – and He did it all as a gift.  That should change your heart!)

  1.         Read Ephesians 2:9. What does this tell us about the works approach? (It does not get us where we need to be.)

  1.         What is wrong with it? Why is that approach rejected? (We would take pride in our works. We would boast of our superiority.)

  1.         Read Ephesians 2:10. Wait a minute. This is now telling us that God created us for “good works” and that we “should walk in them.”  How did works get tossed back into the picture? (Jesus created us new. He saved us from eternal death. That knowledge changes our heart, soul, and mind. It causes us to make the decision to employ our body for good works.)

  1.         Let’s revisit Deuteronomy for a minute. Read Deuteronomy 5:10. What are the twin characteristics of God’s people? (They love God and they keep His commandments. The heart of love towards God inspires us to keep His commandments.)

  1.         Is this simply an act of loving gratitude on our part? (No. Somewhere along the way we got the idea that obedience was a negative thing. God gave us His commandments to make our lives better.  When we truly understand His love, we will understand why He gave us His guide to living.)

  1.         Read Ephesians 3:14-16. What is key as we progress from making the decision to love and walking in good works? (The Holy Spirit gives us strength and power.)

  1.         Read 1 John 4:19. Is this a fair summary of our motivation to have that total love of God that we discussed? (This is the plan in a nutshell.)

  1.         Friend, will you today start on the journey to total love for God? Why not begin by just doing the things He commands? Why not contemplate what He has done for you and all those you love? If you do, you will come to love Him because He first loved you.

  1.         Next week: The Stranger in Your Gates.