THIS WEEK: LOVE God! How?
Everyone human being has one.
It is the part of us that drives our spiritual component.
What is it? Our soul.
The soul is that part of us that desires a connection with the divine.
The question is with what “divine” will your soul connect?
The Apostle Paul recognized the soul can wander to try to identify and understand the divine. The soul wants someone or something to believe in. The soul wants someone or something to hope in. The soul wants someone or something to give confidence of life after this earth.
Acts 17:22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
Paul then revealed the living Jesus not just for their minds to understand, but for their souls to connect to.
Augustine of Hippo has famously said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
While we discussed the heart yesterday, it seems Augustine is referring to this spiritual unrest that our soul feels until it finds rest in the LORD our God.
When our soul finds rest in the LORD our God, here are three blessings:
1. The LORD our God gives our soul a certain and real God in whom we can believe, fully trust.
1 Peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, …”
2. The LORD our God gives our soul a certain and real God in whom we can hope.
Psalm 62:5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
3. The LORD our God gives our soul a certain and real eternity to look forward to.
1 Peter 1:9 “…for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Nothing and no one else can provide certainty in whom we trust, hope we can look forward to and eternity that allows our soul to be at peace no matter what the situation.
To love the LORD our God with all our soul, is to allow our soul to find true rest in the Lord our God.
Apply: What causes your soul to doubt or distance itself from the true God? What is that “god” promising that the Lord your God isn’t? A good read is Tim Keller’s “Counterfeit Gods.”
Prayer: Lord, thank you for my soul and for bring my soul to make its permanent connection with you. Let no false gods tempt my soul to deviate from its desire for you. AMEN.
THIS WEEK: LOVE God! How?
It’s not just the organ God created to pump blood through your body.
Your heart is the seat of your inner desires.
Love … “with all your heart” is to align all the deep desires of your inner being to the things the Lord desires.
The Apostle Paul captures what this looks like in his second letter to Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
To love the Lord with all my heart is to first FLEE from the evil desires promoted by my sinful nature. What are those desires? Jesus teaches in Mark 7:21-22:
For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside …”
When my heart is captivated by desires for things other than the LORD and his desires, it leads me away from the LORD. My heart can’t be set on worldly treasures and heavenly treasures at the same time. My heart can’t be desiring evil on someone else while also desiring to forgive as I have been forgiven. My heart can’t be filled with pride and arrogance and also desire to be humble before the LORD and before others.
Go through the list above. Which one or two are desires with which Satan regularly tempts you?
Like King David, we have to repent and say, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Only God’s Spirit changes the desires of our heart away from our sinful nature to desire fully the things of God. As the prophet Ezekiel said of God (36:26-27):
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
What does a heart filled with God’s Spirit desire?
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart,…(Luke 6:43-45)
What does that fruit look like? What does a heart filled with the Spirit desire?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
To love the LORD your God with all your heart, is to have a heart filled with the Spirit, turned away from evil desires, and desiring to love all the things God loves and produce all the fruit the Spirit desires to be produced.
Apply: Reflect on what your heart desires. Are those desires driven by your sinful nature or the Spirit of God? Repent of evil desires and ask for a renewed measure of God’s Spirit to “Create in you a new heart” that fully is devoted to the things that God desires.
Prayer: Lord our God, forgive me for the desires that feed my sinful nature. Restore me by your Spirit and fill my heart with a renewed desire for all the things you desire. AMEN.
THIS WEEK: LOVE God! How?
In this week’s teaching from Jesus and the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the expert in the law focused on whether he was loving the right people. “Who is my neighbor?” was the question he posed. Jesus then told the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Listen to the message with the links above.)
A statement that looms large in the lead up to the parable is the first part of his answer to the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” While the message this week didn’t focus much on the first part, in our devotions this week we will ask specifically about the parts of the first statement:
(Luke 10:27) “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’…”
Each one of these components could lead us to want to “justify ourselves” before God and wonder, “And what does it mean to love God with all my….”
But before we get to “heart, soul, strength and mind” let’s pause on WHO we are loving in such a complete way?
We may ask, “And who is the “Lord your God”?
In a world and culture that loves to simply place all faith systems under “God,” it is important and significant to ask, “And, who is your God?”
The world is full of gods and things that are called god. So if we are going to love “God” with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind, wouldn’t it be important to make sure you are investing life in the one and only true God and not a pseudo God?
God himself thought so.
When this directive was given to the people of Israel at the end of Moses’ leadership, this God, the LORD God wanted to make sure the people knew there was NONE other they were to give the loyalty of their heart to. He was the LORD! The God of the covenant that promised the people of Israel a relationship with them through the coming Messiah. He was not only the faithful God he is “YOUR” God! He was and is personal. He desired to have a personal connection and relationship with every human being. He did not want our loyalties to be given to another.
Read the following and ask, “Is the LORD God the same as every other God?” (Deuteronomy 6:4-15)
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
13 Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.
God is being completely clear. Isaiah 42:8 “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.
Before we ask how to love with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, today be reminded of TO WHOM you are giving this loyalty…the LORD…YOUR…GOD!
Apply: What gods tug at your heart for your love and loyalty (money, honor, reputation, relationships, etc.)? Be reminded of how much greater the LORD YOUR GOD is than anything and anyone else that can try to take the loyalty of your heart.
Prayer: Lord, my God, thank you for your faithful covenant of grace by which you have revealed yourself to me and made me the object of your love. I am honored to love you above all else. Help me each day to do just that! AMEN
THIS WEEK: Pride and the Proverbs
There’s a way to achieve for everything.
Want to maximize life? Live to the fullest.
Want to be the top of your game? Hire a coach.
Want to be financially independent? Learn investing.
At face value there is nothing wrong with maximizing life, being at the top of your game or financially independent. However the motivation and path to these ends can bring a person down or bring a person honor.
All these lures of life can captivate the ego’s of our heart. We believe the way to get the most out of life is to beat others to the top. We believe to be the best in the game, we have to put down everyone else. To be financially independent, one has to be a cutthroat in making money. Behind all these is the drive of pride to gain the recognition, wealth, honor and life can bring a person.
As we’ve seen this week in the Proverbs, they turn the tables.
Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.
And then another:
Proverbs 22:4 Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.
Is the recipe that simple? Humility and fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life?
Humility allows us to learn from others and serve others. We begin to realize the greatest joy in life is as Zig Ziglar put it: You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want. Or better yet Jesus told his disciples: Mark 9:35, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Putting the Lord first allows him to realize everything on this earth is his (Psalm 24:1) and everything we have is a gift from him (James 1:17). Our hearts shift from storing up treasures on earth to storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).
A fear of the Lord realizes that more important than the temporary things of life is an eternity of life with Jesus. So we seek after those things that give eternal life, not just pleasures in this life. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
We spend a lot of effort seeking wealth, honor and life…perhaps it’s time to let go of the false promise of pride and practice humility and the fear of the Lord. In these, the Lord promises to bring wealth, honor and life.
Apply: Commit today to practice humility and prioritize the fear of the Lord. Journal how the Lord blesses this renewed focus.
Prayer: Spirit of God, drive out all pride from my heart and replace it with humility and the fear of the LORD. Amen
THIS WEEK: Pride and the Proverbs
“No, I’m not!”
“Yes, you are!”
Ever been in an argument that you are convinced you were right? AND it was so irritating that the other person wouldn’t back down?
Is it possible that pride was involved? Is it probable that you or the other person was unwilling to be curious about the other’s position?
Proverbs 13:10 says, “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”
How does pride breed quarrels?
Pride leads me to think I always am right or need to be right. Pride closes my ears to hearing another person’s point of view to honestly evaluate it. Pride seeks to win the argument to satisfy my ego. Pride can’t look foolish, even when I am on the wrong side of the argument.
You might even say pride is looking for quarrels. Proverbs says pride ‘breeds’ quarrels. Quarrels are the offspring of pride. How is that? Pride seeks to be validated. Often validation comes from winning the argument. Validation comes from putting another person “in their place.” Validation comes by always having the right answer. So quarrels provide a forum for me to validate myself that I am right and of superior skill or intellect.
But few people like arguing…let alone arguing with a person full of pride.
Arguing because of pride is foolish. It limits your understanding and ruins relationships.
On the other hand, “wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Those who take advice are willing to be wrong. They are humble enough to ask questions and inquire of information they don’t know. They are interested in winning an argument, they are interested in discovering the truth. They value people as ones who have information they don’t. They are willing to listen to others experience and wisdom and put it into practice in their own life.
They don’t want to win an argument, they want to gain wisdom.
Pride shuts down the gaining of wisdom. Humility gains wisdom by shutting down pride.
Apply: What wisdom can you gain from someone today? Challenge yourself to engage one person with a few questions to seek advice on a question or project you are working on.
Prayer: Lord, drive out the pride in me that always has to win an argument. Replace it with your Spirit to grow in wisdom by seeking advice from the people you put in my life. AMEN.