Love God

DO YOU HAVE CLEAR PRIORITIES?

20141124192705-priortitize-when-everything-priority

What should be your greatest priority each day?

Do you have a ready answer?

Have you ever thought about it?

Do you think it even matters whether you have an answer?

For those who claim to be Christ followers and submit to God’s word, there is a clear answer to this question about our priorities.

(drum roll)

Love for God is to be our highest priority.

This has been a consistent theme in the Bible.

When God first presented his covenant with the people of Israel, these words accompanied it:

 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)

After the people had sinned with the golden calf, the Lord reaffirmed his covenant with them by saying:

 “Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 10:12)

When the Lord spoke about future rebellion by his people, he also spoke of how he would restore them and how he would restore them:

 “The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6)

After Israel conquered the land God promised to them and were ready to settle in it, the Lord gave this warning:

Be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5)

When Jesus was asked, “Which commandment is most important of all?” He answered:

 “The most important is ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:28-31)

The context in each of these passages is what it means to be the people of God.

The Old Testament passages come at times of confirmation to Israel that they are in a covenant relationship with God. In the New Testament passage, Jesus is answering the question of God’s priority for us.

As believers, we should recognize that it’s God’s job to establish our priorities and it’s our responsibility to act upon them. And God has consistently declared that profound love for him should be the identity of his people. Indeed, failure to deeply love God should be almost be unintelligible to us – something makes no sense at all!

Each morning, regardless of circumstances, our highest priority is to love God today.

This not only gives direction to life, it is an enormous help when we are in those moments when we have no idea what to do. Take a breath and remember, whatever we are to do in this moment, it should involve showing God that we love him!

 

WHAT IS YOUR CULTURAL DIET?

Not long ago I was reading an article in which the author gave what I think is wonderful advice:

Take stock of your cultural diet. Evaluate and re-evaluate your movie-watching, music-listening, clothes-wearing habits. Are you feeding or starving the lust of your flesh?

We all live in a culture. More accurately we live in the midst of several overlapping and often co-mingling cultures.

As Christians, we are alert to the extreme violations of biblically defined culture, but too often we float along without serious examination of our “cultural diet”.

The point is not to make us rigid; it is to make us biblical – which by God’s definition is always wise and good!

This exercise is not an infringement upon our Christian liberties; it is a sifting to make sure our liberties are in fact God-honoring and Christian.

I will press the point a little further to say, if we are unwilling to examine our cultural diet, then we are not actually serious about being Christ-followers. For Jesus unceasingly leads to love the Father with all that we are. This includes honoring Him in all that we take in.

FULLY YOURS

absolutely

entirely

positively

thoroughly

totally

wholly

from A to Z

altogether

every inch

heart and soul

all in

Many Christians sing about living fully for Christ on Sunday mornings, but then are hesitant to express the same commitment to him in prayer on Monday mornings.

We know what the Great Commandment says about loving God with “all” of our heart, mind, soul and strength – but we squirm when God presents us with the details.

Yet, the wonderful truth is that God is good, wise and perfect!

Everything that God asks of us, will be for our greatest good

There is no degree of faithfulness that we will exercise now that we will not be wholly thankful for in eternity

There is no half-heartedness or compromise now that we will not regret when the Lord appears

On one hand, as “believers” we believe in the goodness of God, yet at the same time – we don’t believe it as fully as his goodness deserves. We are like the man who called out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief”.

All of us stumble in how we live, but a more serious condition is when we knowingly hold back from even the idea of Great Commandment Living.

We are afraid that life will not be as good. But that is a theological impossibility. Life may not always be easier (in the moment) when we live fully for God – but it will always be better!

Maybe you are aware at this moment of an area where you struggle to entrust your life completely to God. Or, perhaps there is an inconsistency between belief and practice that you have not noticed.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to see obedience clearly. And the Holy Spirit wants to guide us into all that is wise. If we will earnestly ask God to reveal what it means to live fully for him, he will bring increased clarity to us.

But we don’t have to worry about God dumping too much on us at once; he knows we can only take one step at a time.

To help us think through where our steps may need to begin, consider which of these statements are difficult for us to honestly declare before God:

Take the leadership of my life into your hands

Take all my sinful desires away

Show me the practices I need to eliminate from my life

Lead me into gospel sharing opportunities today

I trust whatever you want to do with my life

Sift my heart for what does not belong

Take me out of any relationship that doesn’t honor you

All that I have is for your use

Convict my heart where I need it

Help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me

Show me where my life is not consistent with your Word

If you can identify what is difficult for you to declare before God, begin asking him for the grace to step forward in trust. But you also need to take hold of that grace as he gives it. If there is someone you can trust, ask them to pray for this with you.

If all of this seems too hard, consider how wonderful it will be to honestly tell God, “I am fully yours!”

THOUGH YOU HAVE NOT SEEN HIM, YOU LOVE HIM

I Peter 1 8-9

 

by Debbie Huber

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8–9).

It is easy to tell my husband that I love him. My love for him is deepened when I think about how much he loves me. Our confidence in our love for each other is partly based on what we SEE each other demonstrate every day. It is a wonderful thing to be confident in someone’s love for you.

We do not see God but through faith we have great confidence in His love for us by what is revealed to us by our salvation and through His word.

Through our salvation, we are forgiven, set free from condemnation, a new creation, and partakers in His glorious nature! What love God has for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Reminding ourselves about the truths of our salvation and being thankful every day for our salvation only increases our love for Jesus.

The more we love and treasure Christ and His salvation, the more we desire to be with Him and cheerfully serve Him. This love should result in an “inexpressible joy, full of glory” that cannot be described in human terms and is not related to our circumstances.

Our lives can demonstrate this supernatural joy to those around us. May we know this joy in all its fullness and may it be a testimony to the work of Christ.

WORTH EVERYTHING

great-commandment

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

God asks for everything from us.

No apologies. No exceptions.

God provides lots of grace and patience for our slow, gradual and stuttering progress. But in the end, there are no compromises, God wants and expects all that we are.

We refer to this expectation of God, as The Great Commandment (GCT). We do so because Jesus when asked to identify the “most important” commandment of all gave that answer.

Why does God expect so much?

Because He deserves all that we are – since all that is, comes from and is sustained by Him!

There is nothing unreasonable in God’s expectation; there is great unreasonableness in our resistance

Our response to the Great Commandment is a good test for how we love God

If GCT living sounds wise and is desirable, that indicates our heart is soft and wise open to God.

But if this command seems, intrusive, unfair or burdensome, it indicates our heart is at least partially closed off to God.

Assuming that we truly want to grow in our GCT living, there are still significant obstacles. Part of the challenge is that we don’t fully understand what it even means for God to fully have our life.

Great Commandment living is something to affirm each day as our great desire for “today”

God is worthy of our all and God having our all is all good. Indeed there is no better way to live our life, walk through our day, or use our time and resources. There is no fuller beauty of character, no higher nobility of purpose

Great Commandment living is something to be offered up to God each day

We need to freshly submit our hearts to Him, because each day we are freshly and routinely distracted from doing so. If we don’t intentionally hand over the keys to God each day, we will automatically live as if we are in charge.

Great Commandment living is something to be discussed with God throughout the day

We know partially what it means to give our all to God, but the fact is we are ignorant of GCT living, and we are often blind to where we fail at it. We need the Holy Spirit’s ongoing conviction, instruction and inspiration.

Great Commandment living is something to be discussed with one another

We need encouragement and help from one another if we are to consistently think about, desire and improve in GCT living.

Great Commandment living is our destiny

The GCT is not only an expectation of God; it is a description of what God will fulfill in us. This is how we will interact with God throughout eternity. For Great Commandment living describes what Jesus’ heart is like. And 1 John 3:2 wonderfully tells us, “when (Jesus) appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is”.

At this moment, does God have all of your heart?

How would you know?

What would be different?

These are good questions to talk with God about today.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.25.15

 “How Love Lives”

Matthew 5:27-30

The Sermon on the Mount is not simply what Jesus said, it’s how Jesus lived

This is Great Commandment living; it is what life looks like when we love

God with all that we are, and love our neighbor as ourselves

Jesus makes a series of six clarifications about the law in chapter 5

“You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you . . . ”

Something was wrong with how people saw righteousness

The so called righteousness being paraded in Israel was a facade

The Pharisees were diligent rule followers, but that was missing

What is the righteousness that Jesus is calling for?

It is not that we must try harder, with higher standard – like a track meet where the high jump bar keeps being raised

That was what the Pharisees had been doing for years with their increasing complex regulations. But success in keeping more rules doesn’t make anyone righteous (Colossians 2:20-23)

The righteousness God wants, is to have all of our heart committed to him

Paul tells us love is the fountain of obedience and righteousness (Romans 13:8-10)

When we come to Christ by spiritual birth, a love for God is created in us

The process of growing in righteous living, is a process of that love growing in us

Let’s bring all this back to our text

Love for God and neighbor is not complete because we stop all actions of sexual sin

Love for God follows the intention of love in our heart and mind

Guarding against lust is not trying harder, it is loving more fully

This section of the Sermon on the Mount (vs 21-48) emphasize two truths

1. All sin is a serious matter

The text is saturated with a sense of seriousness:  lust is adulterous, the admonitions to tear out, cut off, lust is deserving of hell

The sin of lust is not noticing attractiveness in someone – it’s when we have pursuing thoughts (this includes romantic fantasies that replace our spouse with someone else)

2. We have an urgent need to take action

Throughout the Bible, faith and love are defined by action

Sin is destructive, we should respond to “small sins” like we respond to a little bit of cancer – we act decisively to eradicate every trace

This language of “tearing out” and “cutting off” is making the point that we are to do whatever is necessary to eliminate all traces of sin from our lives

Jesus doesn’t want us to simply push sin away; he tells us us to “throw it away”

Culture and technology have made the avoidance of lust a bigger challenge

Easy access to pornography means we need more accountability (we give up our ‘right’ to secret passwords etc)

The prevalence of sensuality means we need a plan to fight it

We need plans to minimize exposure to sensuality and plans to change routines that make us vulnerable

We need people who will encourage us in purity

We need to learn how to bounce our eye and replace invading thoughts

The Sermon on the Mount may seem extreme to you

Is the Sermon on the Mount unreasonable?

People generally think lust doesn’t hurt anyone, and after all it is hidden

Lust is not hidden to God, and he is to be the foremost object of our devotion

Lust does hurt people: it is a selfish expression that exalts our wants over attitudes that carry love

Our heart must push God and people aside to express lust

Is the Sermon on the Mount impossible?

Even some Christians think it is impossible to stop lustful thoughts

All godliness is impossible without the Holy Spirit and a spiritual birth

The day is coming when lust will seem unreasonable and impossible

For true children of God, our inevitability is that we will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2-3)

The Sermon on the Mount is about Christ

It tells us how Jesus lives before the Father

If we adore Christ, the Sermon on the Mount is how we want to live

We rejoice to learn these truths that shape us in his image

When we hear lust is like adultery, we respond “Jesus, thank you for truth”

When we read every thought matters, we respond “Jesus, yes purify all of me”

When we are told to cut off and tear out, we answer “Lord, I want nothing in my life that offends you or rebels against you”

We must see sin for what it is: God hating, relationship breaking and character deforming

We must see holiness for what it is: the pure beauty of Christ that will fill heaven with uninterrupted joy

Practical steps to stop lust are necessary

But these steps will be empty and powerless without love for Christ

RULE FOLLOWER or GOD LOVER?

stay in love with God

by Debbie Huber

I love to bake. 

Baking is a little more of an exact science than is cooking a main course. With baking, it is important to follow the recipe fairly specifically.

I like recipes that are clear and give lots of specific information so the finished product will look just like the picture on the internet or in the cookbook. It makes the people to whom I serve it happy as well!

I can be a recipe or rule follower when it comes to obedience to God as well. It is so much easier to read “10 specific steps to a godly marriage” and then check it off my list. Won’t it look like the “picture-perfect” marriage then?

But why should I obey God through His word?  Is it just to do the right thing to get the proper end product?  Is it to make others around me happy and have them see me as responsible and doing what is right?

It is good to be responsible and it is good to do what is right, but my motivation should not be for myself. I want to obey God because I love Him and trust Him.

The Bible teaches that genuine love in my heart for God is generated by an awareness of His love for me. And nowhere is the love of God revealed more clearly than in the Gospel.

The more I am captured by God’s amazing love toward me; my heart increasingly burns to do His will and thrives on it.

Why should I submit to the headship of my husband?  Why should I respect Him?  Because I love and trust God.

The more we read and know the glory of God, (His beauty and His greatness), the more satisfied we will be in God alone.  And obeying Him and following Him will be irresistible.