Sunday, August 6, 2017

Love God Part 2

So how do we love God? Do we love Him wholly above everything else or is He just an afterthought? How do you think Jesus loved God? The 2nd commandment explains it well and instructs God's children on this explicitly.

(Ex 20:4-6) "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

The Hebrew word translated “graven image” means literally “an idol.” In the day of Moses there was a progression of idolatry where people put presence of force in a natural object by making an image of the personality they believe God is. They go as far as making a place for it and spending time with it because in that object they believe the force is indwelling in it.

We have idols of many sources today. Our self-esteem is one of them. Self love is one thing, but to put all our esteem and dependence on ourselves and boast about it to others or to ourselves is ego and creates pride. We also learn to love "things" or fleshly desires (Col. 3:5) and treasure them. These too are idolatrous in their own way because we work hard to get them and love them and want more. These idols create fleeting emotions and are filled with void. It is our faith that lasts. The things you cannot see.

While people don't mean to be this way, it is important to accept it is in our human nature. God wants us to put Him first and foremost in our minds. This commandment refers back to the 1st. God wants us to worship only Him. Is this so terrible? I mean if someone created you and all that is around you for you what is so wrong for Him to create YOU for Him and His desire alone? His jealousy for us is not a humanly emotion where it is wrong to desire something that does not belong to you. His jealousy for you and I is Godly as it is his ownership in us.

Many years ago while in prayer I recall noticing all the different colors of thread in the carpet of our church sanctuary and contemplated them while I focused and prepared my heart to converse with Jesus. In that moment the Lord brought to my attention that those little specs in that one square pattern on that carpet are like the number of heads of His people. I didn't even notice the rest of the floor and thought to myself, "How could He possibly want me with all these others?" So I asked Him, "Why do you love me?" His reply was simple, "My Creation." I could not have felt more love and understanding in Him and what His will was for my life than I did at that moment. I often re-play this fond memory of mine and am brought back to that place of love all over again.

Loving God by not creating other idols in our lives truly expresses ourselves to Him and allows communion with Him in a special personal way that only comes with this type of worship that he desires in us. If you truly love Him, there is nothing between your worship for Him. If there is, admit they are idols and ask God to help you abstain from them and come to Him first when tempted so that your love can be purified with Him.

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.