The Greatest Commandment and Its Meaning

The Greatest Commandment is about how we love God by being faithful to Him first and only, and with our whole life and understanding of Him and do our best with varied and creative methods to bring glory to Him.
Last Saturday Ps John Liu's Sermon on "Deeper Relationships" shared on "The Greatest Commandment". Some of his key points are captured here with my further meditations on the Word.

Mark 12:29-31 NIV
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”

In the very short form, Love God and then Love Others.

1. The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
There is only One true God who we should worship and love. There are no other gods. Our source is only one and He should be our focus and attention. There shall no others idols or others that will distract us. One is so simple and easy to follow. But men like choices. If we have many choices, then we have to decide and we actually become our own God. That is the sin of Adam, wanting to be his own judge of right and wrong. But we are not self-existence, God is. We are created by God and we are to worship our one and only Creator God. In Him, shall be our trust and no one nor anything else. Not people nor money nor power etc.

2. How do we love God? Love God with Our All
Ps Liu gave very good answers for the four components of how to love God.

  1.  Our Heart - Our Intention and Desire to be devoted to Him alone
    Pro 4:23  Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
    The core of our being is our heart - the center of love and desire. So we must guard it carefully and only be devoted to God, loving Him and no others.
    How do we love someone? We must find out and know His desires. His likes and dislikes. And then we do above His expectation to please and satisfy Him. God does that for us in Ephesians 3:20 ... to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us...
    How much love is there? Mary shows us in John 12:3 pouring a pint of pure nard that cost a year wage on Jesus vs Judas who thought it should be sold rather than waste on Jesus.
  2. Our Soul - Breath & Life
    The word for Soul is G5590 which is also breath. We all need to breathe to live. So it actually represents our life. We are warned in Mark 8:35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. We are to offer our lives as a living sacrifice Rom 12:2.
  3. Our Mind - Be creative. Think of various ways and methods to love God. Have understanding and knowledge of God's character and mind. 1 Jn 5:20 God had given us the understanding to know Him. Luke 5:18-25 shows the men using their brain overcome the obstacles to bring the paralytic to Jesus for healing.
  4. Our Strength - Do it with Excellence to Glorify God. Our Time, Efforts and Money.
    1Pet 4:11 We serve with the power that God has given us to bring glory to Him.
    Philippians 3:8 ... I(Paul) consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.
    Mark 12:41-44 The Widow gave all that she had whereas the rich gave out of their excesses.
We begin with our heart with the full intention to love God and full commitment of our life and using our mind to think of the best ways and using our full strength to do with excellence to glorify God. There is only the right response to His creation and love of us. We love God by being faithful to Him first and only, and with our whole life and understanding of Him and do our best with varied and creative methods to bring glory to Him.

3. Loving God is Seen in Loving Others as Ourselves

'Love your neighbor as yourself.’ has two lessons for us.
  1. Who is our neighbor?  The parable of the Good Samaritan tells us clearly it is anyone in needs that we meet or know of. 
  2. As of ourselves? Isn't it selfish? It is extending our boundary to include the others in us. It is removing the dividing boundary between others and us. It is about becoming one, close to husband and wife. It is like Christ in us and we in Him. Hence, we have the golden rule of Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (This verse assume that others and you share the same values and likes).  The passive form is a good guide too "Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.".
  3. Other related verses include Rom 13:8, Gal 5:13-14, James 2:8
4. The Branding of Believers - Loving One Another like How Jesus Love

Joh 13:34  A new commandment I give to you, 
    a. that you love one another:
    b. just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

The Branding: Joh 13:35  By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have the love for one another.”

We can work backward to the Greatest Commandments:
1. loving one another as Jesus.
2. because we are 'loving our neighbor as ourselves'
3. doing and serving with excellence,
4. using our creative mind and understanding of God and people needs
5. giving our whole life in His service
6. devoted and faithful to our One and only Source, God.

Lim Liat (c) 28 May 2018


The Right Balance = Power, Love and Self-Control - 2 Timothy 1:7

In 2 Timothy 1:7, we find the three attributes of the Spirit is described together. This is how we should always do in balance. Love gives the motivation, Power gives the ability and Self-control enables to do the right thing in the right time and circumstances and in the right amount. Either of them alone leads to problems.
(2Ti 1:7) for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power, love, and self-control.  

The Context:

The interpretation of any verse in the Bible should be done in context. Paul was encouraging Timothy not to hide his gift but to boldly exercise it. He reminded Timothy that the Spirit gave us three attributes of power, love, and self-control. Subsequent verses showed us what Timothy was worry or fearful about. He was ashamed of Paul's imprisonment, afraid of the possible persecutions, and unsure of the power of salvation.  We can see that one aspect of Power is to overcome the fear that Timothy had.  Paul gave his own testimony and conviction that it was all God's grace and power to enable him to accomplish the tasks God has given him. Our trust is in God and not in our own ability. He also gave the examples of his co-workers like Onesiphorus. Despite the abandonment of Phygelus and Hermogenes, they continued in their task. All these demonstrated the love, power, and self-control of the Spirit are being exercised by Paul and his co-workers.

The Fruit of the Spirit

The attributes of the Spirit is also described in Gal 5:22-23 as the fruit of the Spirit. There are nine attributes described which can be grouped and matched with the three described here.

  LOVE:     love,     kindness,    goodness,    faithfulness,    gentleness
  POWER:     joy,     peace,     forbearance
  SELF CONTROL     self-control.

We can see that love is the motivation, power is the ability, self-control is the management of such to stay the course, or wait for the right time, circumstances and exercising the right amount of love and power.

Good things did irrespective of the time, situation and people will bring forth bad results. We need self-control to manage our good intentions of love and the exercise of our abilities.

Lim Liat (c) 23 May 2018


Who Should Know What - Psalm 139

The purose of Psalm 139 is not just about how much God knows about me. It is about asking God to let me know more about myself and be led by God to live rightly.
The Outline:

  • O LORD, you have searched me and known me! v1-6
  • You are Always with Me, no matter where and how I hide myself. v7-12
  • You Made Me and hence know me better than myself,  v13-16
  • You think about Me v17-18
  • Away with Evil v19-22 --- But Wait! Is there evil in me that I did not know?
  • Lead Me v23-24
The Purpose:

    Psa 139:23  Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
    Psa 139:24  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
The 3 Component of our Life:
  1. Heart - our motivation, intention, and will. It is the core.
  2. Thought - what are we thinking? Are they for evil or good? Right or Wrong?
  3. Walks - our behavior. The paths and the ways that we walk through. It is the thought and intention executed and shown to the external world. The walks are our testimonies to the world.
    Do they bring glory to God? Who can tell them best but God who so intimately know me?
It is about asking God to let me know about myself - heart, thoughts, walks that I may be corrected and lead in the paths of everlasting. The best judge for yourself is but God only.  Ask God to search us, correct us, and lead us. May we have the right intention, the right thinking and the right walk that bring growth to ourselves and glory to God.

Lim Liat (c) 22 May 2018


"Coming In & Going Out" - Keys to Your Growth - Learning from Robert Morris

We must use the Bible to interpret the Bible to get the true and most powerful meaning of words and phrases. We learn from Ps Robert Morris for the rich meaning of "Coming In and Going Out", the very reason that Solomon asked God for because he did not know how to come in and go out.
We tend to interpret the Bible according to our own understanding of the meaning of words. A typical example is Grace (See "Grace is Unmerited Favor" - This Common Definition is wrong.) We either misinterpret the Bible or we lose the rich meaning. We must let the Bible interpret itself. Here is another phase found in 1King 3:7b where Soloman said, "I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in". The true, powerful and rich meaning is given by Ps Robert Morris in his sermon Living In His Presence - His Entryway.

The ABP Bible  (Apostolic Bible Polyglot English Text)
1Ki 3:7  AndG2532 now,G3568 O LORD,G2962 G3588 my God,G2316 G1473 youG1473 gave reign toG936 G3588 your servantG1401 G1473 in place ofG473 DavidG* G3588 my father.G3962 G1473 AndG2532 IG1473 amG1510.2.1 [2boyG3808 1a small];G3397 andG2532 I do notG3756 knowG1492 G3588 my enteringG1529 G1473 andG2532 G3588 my exiting.G1841 G1473 

Without the Strong Numbers:
 ABP) And now, O lord, my God, you gave reign to your servant in place of David my father. And I am [2boy 1a small]; and I do not know my entering and my exiting.

The different translations of 1King 3:7 can be found here.

Most of the translations like KJV, ESV, NABS etc keep the original 'go out and come in'. So we don't really know what the phrase means. We can guess at it from the other translations such as:

Some Possible Meanings:
NIV has it as do not know how to carry out my duties.
NLV has it as doesn't know his way around.
CSB has it as with no experience in leadership.
GNT has it as don't know how to rule.
HCSB .... no experience in leadership.
NET & GST .... inexperienced.

The Verses that has "Go Out and Come in"
The correct meaning for "Going Out and Coming in" is best determined by where else the same or similar phrases are used in the Bible.
  • Num 27:15-17 And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying, Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, (17)  Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.

    Here the meaning is about a Shepherd leading the sheep out and bringing them back in. Out is to conquer the land and in is coming back for rest and preparation to go out again.
  • Deu 31:2  And he(Moses) said unto them, I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in:Here we can see Moses is talking about leadership to lead the people out to conquer and coming back in for rest.
  • Deu 28:5-7 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. 6  Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.  7  The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.

    Here we can see that OUT is to conquer the enemies and IN is about the storehouses full of goods.
  • Joh 10:9  I am the door: by me, if any man enters in, he shall be saved and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

    Here we see Jesus as the door that enables us to go out and come in safely. The devil goes by another way into the house to steal, kill and destroy.
  • Jos 14:11  As yet I(Caleb) am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so, is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.

    Here again, we see going out is for war, to conquer the promised land and coming in is take rest and make preparation to go out for war.
  • 1Sa 18:12  And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul. 13  Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. 14  And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.

    We see here that David lead the men out to victory and come back for celebrations. One more key point is when he went out, the Lord was with him.
    Whether in or out, the Lord's presence is most important.

The Real Meaning of Going Out and Coming In:
From the above verses, we can see that "Going out and coming in" is about leading the people out to war and coming in is about resting and preparation to go out again. The success of going out is depending on what we do when we are in.  The key is the Presence of the Lord. 

Robert Morris said that "They came in to worship". If they won, they came in to celebrate. If they lose, they came in for repentance. If they are in the middle of a war, they came in for rest.

The Order is In-then-Out
The ABP verse gets the order right - my entering and my exiting. We must first come in, into the presence of the Lord, be charged up and filled, that we may be fully equipped to go out. If we do nothing when inside, we will go out with nothing and that is sure to lead to defeat. We came in to be with the Lord and we may also go out with the presence of the Lord and then all is secured and victory is assured.

Here are the 3 points given by Robert about Coming in:

1. Worship brings God's Presence in our Lives
2. Come In First to be filled and then Go Out with the Presence
    If you don't have God's presence, you go out with nothing.
    Luke 24:49  but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
    Stay until you are empowered. Before you go out, come in, to the presence of God.
    We don't go out from God, we go out with the presence of the Lord

3 Entering His Presence
    Psa 95:1-2  O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.  (2)  Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
    Psa 100:1  A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 

So, "Coming In and Going Out" is about leading the people to build a strong nation in the presence of God and going out to conquer victoriously with the presence of God. 

We need to spend time in the presence of God, to know Him and be filled with His presence, that we may boldly go out and do the right things to bring glory to God.

Lim Liat (c) 14 May 2018