Tag Archives: the greatest commandment

How To Love God

  
Several years ago, I read the book “Primal” by Mark Batterson. It was one of the most challenging books I’ve read. It expounds on Deuteronomy 6:5. It says, “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength” (NLT). When you peel back all the layers of doctrines, rules, and traditions of Christianity, you will find this verse is the basis for a strong relationship with God.

Loving God with all our heart starts when we accept Him as our savior. In Luke 7, Jesus is approached by an immoral woman who weeps on His feet and then washes them with her hair. Everyone was in shocks as they watched this spectacle. Jesus used it as a teaching moment and said, “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Loving God flows from a heart that’s been forgiven.

Loving God with all of our soul goes beyond the affection we feel for Him. It draws us into a life that is devoted to Him like what described in Colossians 1:10. It says, “That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition]” (AMP). When we love with all of our soul, our lives reflect it.

Loving God with all of our strength is where I was really challenged in reading “Primal”. I realized that I had been neglecting the gifts that God had given me. I had been so afraid to fail that I never tried. I spent my time working on the first two portions of that verse, but not the third. While that’s good for my own growth, it does very little to help others in their relationship with God. Loving God with all of our strength means stepping out in faith, doing what we were called to do, and letting God do His part.

I Timothy 4:14 says, “Do not neglect the gift which is in you, [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit] by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you [at your ordination].” It takes more than loving God with all your heart and soul to follow what Jesus called the Greatest Commandment. It takes doing something with the gifts He’s given you. Don’t just keep them to yourself. Give them to the world and love God with all your strength.

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When In Doubt…

When I was young, I loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. Each time you read them, it could be a different story. Every couple of pages, you had a choice to make. If you thought the character should do one thing, you turned to a certain page. If you thought they should do another, you turned to that page. Sometimes, I made the wrong choice, the character died and the book was over. I’d flip back, choose the other one and keep reading. It was easy to keep the story going.

In real life, it’s not that easy to go back and make the right choice after you’ve made the wrong one. Our story is forever altered by the decisions that we make. Often we are presented with dilemmas where there is no clear cut right or wrong answer. There are times when we can’t foresee what the outcome of our decisions will be. It’s hard to know what to do. Sometimes those decisions have eternal consequences and we can’t easily just go back and make the other choice.

At the first ever ReWrite Conference, I got the opportunity to meet and interact with Peter Strople. I was invited to attend a small group meeting with him and a few other writers. That meeting had an impact on my life and will be something I remember forever. In that meeting, he said, “When in doubt, love.” It’s so simple, yet so profound. I find myself constantly trying to find the right answer for every situation, and the answer is always the same. Love others.

A few years back, everyone was wearing “WWJD” bracelets. I can tell you what Jesus would do in any given situation. He would show love. He made His decisions based out of love for the person. It wasn’t always the easy decision, but it was the one He made constantly. He loved Peter enough to go to him after he had denied Him. He showed compassion to the woman caught in adultery. He was patient with Martha when she was concerned about all the wrong things. He didn’t disassociate himself from the woman at the well who had been divorced multiple times and was living with a man.

Jesus knew that love is what is required in each situation. That’s why when someone asked Him what the greatest commandment was, He added a second. In Matthew 22:37-40, He said the most important commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. Then he said, “The second is equally important: love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Both of the greatest commandment were about love. Loving God. Loving others. When you learn to love both, the right decision becomes clear. When in doubt, love.

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Christianity Is A Verb

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Our Wednesday night small group wrapped up our series on “Unstuck” last night. The video portion that included commentary from several people was challenging. Each person that spoke on that video had a question or comment that got them to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others around them. They also inspired me to do more than I’ve ever done for others, so I want to share with you in hopes of it challenging you as well.

One of the first things Mark Batterson mentioned in this segment is that Christianity was never meant to be a noun. It has always been intended to be a verb. When we allow our Christianity to become a noun, it leaves a bad taste in other people’s mouth. It becomes who we are and not what we do. Jesus said, “Go into all the world. Preach the Gospel to every nation. Make disciples of all men.” Those are all verbs that command us to do something.

There was also a lady on the video who shared her story of how God has used her. She was asked the question, “Who are three people you know who don’t know Jesus and need you to be His hands and feet to?” She couldn’t answer that question. Instead of thinking it didn’t apply to her, she prayed that God would increase her circle of influence. God began opening doors for her to minister to others through washing laundry, helping with résumés and providing necessities for. All because she didn’t think her Christianity should be a noun.

The next part that really spoke to me had to do with stats. Did you know 25,000 people in the world will die today from starvation? Did you know that 5,760 children will become orphans today? Numbers are numbing. They don’t cause action usually. Names are what matters. If you want to see the names and faces of some orphans behind those numbers, click here. I dare you to click that link and move beyond a stat to the face and name of an orphan who needs your help. The real question here is, “Are you ok with this?” Can you live in the house you live in, drive the car you drive, eat at the restaurants you eat at and still be ok with the numbers above? If so, your Christianity is probably a noun.

Mark Batterson said, “When all of the rules and regulations, all of the traditions and institutions, all of the liturgies and methodologies are peeled back, what’s left is the Great Commandment: Love The Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. That is Christianity in its purest form. It’s not enough to love God with 2 or 3 out of the 4 listed. We must find ways to love with all 4. He didn’t give us a choice. He said to do this was the greatest commandment.

Finally, Mark challenged me with this phrase, “On the final day, God isn’t going to say, ‘Well thought, good and faithful servant’ or ‘Well said’. He is going to say, ‘Well done.'” It’s not enough to think of others or to say, “Have a good day; stay warm and eat well” to the cold and hungry according to James 2:16. God is looking for us to stop using Christianity as a noun and to start doing something with it. If your circle of influence of others who need Jesus is too small, I challenge you today to pray what that lady prayed. Ask God today to increase your circle of influence and to give you courage to do something for others because you aren’t ok with where you are.

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