Sunday, January 22, 2017

Love God Part 1

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." Matthew 22:37-38

How to love God is to strive in believing in and following the first 4 of the original 10 commandments. Before being born into the Holy Spirit (John 3:5) I naively thought it was a list of "to do" and "not to do" items. Since then so much has been revealed to me as to what each really means which is why I wanted to emphasize each in its own post.

The commandments that were given in the Old Testament seemed cut and dry right? And if someone could not keep them they had to offer sacrifice to clean them from that sin. The book of Leviticus, while tedious to read, is a recording of the laws God instructed Moses to give to the Israelites and Priests on how they were expected to live as well as respond to the commandments when they were not kept. Very much different from today's commandments of loving God and loving others isn't it?

Today those original commandments are no longer binding to our eternal life. The law was fulfilled for good when Jesus, God's son, was offered as the final sacrifice from God for our sins. (John 3:16) He gave up His only Son to demonstrate His own love for us and offer Jesus as the way for reconciliation with Him. He knows we can't always keep the commandments because we are fallible, but if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we hold these commandments dear to our heart and desire to keep them knowing that Jesus died so that we may be clean once and for all. As you learn to walk with the Lord it becomes intrinsic day to day to repent when His gentle conviction shows how you may have fallen short. Following these commandments is one of many ways we show our love to God.

So thinking about the 1st commandment, "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:2-3) how should we read this? God expects us to have a holy respect for Him. Something separate from anything or anyone else. Why?

God created us, similar to our fathers here on earth. He loves us, also similar to our own fathers. Now not everyone has had the experience of a loving father here on earth. Or perhaps there was no relationship at all or maybe it was broken. Some just do not hold a respect for their parents, so as you can see it may be hard to convey this example to all but if you haven't had a relationship with your parents, you can always choose to have one with God and still make things right with Him while you are living on earth.

Just as fathers do with their own children, God taught the Israelites how they should live. He still teaches us today through our relationship with Jesus as our Savior. He provides us with consequences so that we may learn the seriousness of His love. And like children who don't understand always why, we learn to trust Him. We need to realize we are a child of God and love Him.

Reading in the Bible the Israelites' and Priests' relationship with God might sound like nothing but rituals or sacrifices, but God looks at the heart. What they did and how they showed respect to Him were so much more than as if a means of "buying" their cleanliness. Their relationship to God was like a child to their Father. Like the relationship we have with our earthly Father, this relationship bodes deep and meaningful of love for Him and wished to please Him.

Thinking about this the verse where Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) applies to us today. Come to God as His child. Come only to Him, to no one else. For He is referred to in our Father in Heaven in the Lord's prayer when Jesus taught his disciples, "Hallowed be His name" -For He is our Father. Amen.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Love God. Love Others.10 Ponderings of the Heart

These words have been echoing in my heart the last couple of weeks, "Love God. Love Others." Matt 22:36-40  Why? Because as I see the world around me I know that this is the true Church, the only Church. Jesus told us so long ago that it is the most important thing we can do. He has commanded us to Love. Yet today His message is just as powerful as ever and the world is in need of it.

So as I've been thinking about these two greatest commandments, I have also been prompted to talk about them from my heart; Love God and Love Others. As I ponder on them and what they mean I hope to glean new understanding in my walk and become closer to God on a new level as well as anyone who may be reading this. There is always something revealed new with the Holy Spirit when you seek the answers to your questions. Our God is alive and active!

First, God is Love. What does Love produce? More Love. Of course if we love God first, it is intrinsically natural that we will feel expressions of love for others. Our view point changes about them and we find that we care for them. But how does a person love God if they do not know Him or believe in Him first?

Not all of us have that spiritual side from when we were children that connects to God without first knowing Jesus. Not everyone knows the sound of that still, small voice. For me, I've known Him for years as Father, Son, and Spirit before I knew Him each separately. For others they may struggle to know Him in any form at all.

I think the first spark of love for God would be to have the a faith that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Even a small amount of faith can move mountains. If you don't have this, ask yourself why? What are you afraid of? Ask Him, even if you have never prayed before, whisper in His ear the question why and ask him to help you to find Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He will show you things to repent of that you may not have been aware of before. Be authentic and ask for His forgiveness. When you feel the urge to sin of the thing you repent of, stop and ask of His help. Every day set a quiet time aside to continue to seek Him until you feel His peace and presence. It is an unmistakable feeling.

These two greatest commandments, loving God and loving others is given to us by His original ten commandments. I, myself, only recently understood them in a revealing new way and yet I am already 43 years old. You'd think when you read about the story of the commandments that God instructs Moses to give to His people in Exodus, you understand them, that they'd be simple to follow. They are cut and dry right? Almost like tasks. Yet as we try to work to keep them we almost fail immediately day by day. The key isn't in our work, but in Jesus'.

I love how the Old Testament is the gateway to the New. Like the Israelites who wandered aimlessly as well as myself, we may be in our 40's, 50's, even 80's before we come to truly understand who we are in Christ. Telling and reading the stories is one thing but it is another when you believe with your heart and your eyes and ears become opened. This is where revelation happens! I hope you'll read the next post where I'd like to ponder on the 1st of the 10 commands in Loving God and Loving Others.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thankful for my blessings...

You know that song, "Count Your Blessings"? I love that one, not because it reminds me of the cheerful song we sang in church as a child, but because it really does remind me of all I am blessed with.

I have been looking for the perfect sign to post above my doorway in my family room of this saying and I haven't been able to quite yet find one. But yet I can already see it there.

I have so many wonderful things that God has given me and looking back at where I've been in my life I would have never thought I'd be so blessed as I am today.

God's greatest gifts are in His creations, the western sun in the Autumn sky as it warms my face, the cool breeze that smells of fall, the kindness of your husband when you are feeling ill, the gentle nudge from a kitty that wants your attention, the grass green and vibrant from the rain that fell the night before, the birds singing to each other in beautiful choruses, the eyes of your dog as he waits for you to call him, a loving call from your mother when you least expect it, your son dropping by to visit unannounced, your daughter's "thank you" for the meal you made.

Yes these are only a few of the many blessings that I think of every day, and blessings they are!