Friday, February 9, 2018

Love Your Neighbor
                                                             And a second one is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39 (ESV)  
Jesus continued instructing the Sadducees. (See my previous post) With the words of our focus verse, the LORD gets down to the very core of human relationships, how we treat those around us.


Our neighborhood has changed over the time we have lived here. People have passed away, others have moved away. Those houses that were owner-occupied might now be rentals, several which seem to be vacant. Because of these factors, we no longer know most of those who live along our section of the street.

I found a way to love these neighbors and these empty houses. I have a section of my prayer list devoted to my neighborhood. In checking a neighborhood social media site’s message board this morning I find I need to expand my section to include a few more houses on a street down the way from our home.  

As we continue to live in our world as things become more conflicted for those of us who love the LORD, we may need to look again at the values we hold and search for ways to please God as we pray for those near us and for those dear to us.

We can learn from the teachings of Jesus and apply them to our daily lives as we walk with Him. We can learn to seek His guidance before we comment on events and actions of others that we don’t understand. We can give Him the glory for the uplifting things He does and not try to take credit for anything He has done for us.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Love God Entirely

You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38 (ESV)

Jesus responds to a lawyer’s question with our focus verse. I wonder why the why the man posed the question. Was he seriously seeking an answer to something that bothered him? Did the group of Sadducees put that lawyer up to asking a question in an attempt to trick or embarrass Jesus?

His answer may have surprised those in the crowd. The question, as presented, asks about a high thing, the greatest commandment. The Master told the group three ways in which to love God.
“with all your heart,” The human heart thought to be the seat of our emotions. When we choose to love another person, we want the best for that person. When we love God, our desire is to live for Him.

“with all your soul,” The soul is man’s true self, who we really are. Said another way, our soul is our inner core. When we say we know a person’s soul, we know his or her inner being.

“with all your mind.” Our minds control our thoughts as well as our movements. What we think at times dictates what we say or do. Our words convey more than we realize. Sometimes they convey hurt and cause problems. As followers of Christ, we are to represent Him in the world. As His emissaries, we are to live for Him hourly and daily.

Father God;
I thank You for Your lesson on how to love You. I ask that You help me to love You according to this verse in order that I may truly represent You in this fallen world. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. AMEN

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

God's Love Seen

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. John 14:21 (ESV)

The Apostle John gives us the basics of God’s love for us. He tells us that Jesus instructed whoever has and keeps my commandments does, in fact, love Him. Jesus also enlarges this thought to further say that those who love Him will be loved by our Father God.

Let’s see, if we love the Son, He will love us, and the Father will love us as well. As a result, Jesus will demonstrate or show His love for us to further establish Himself in our lives. When Jesus shows His love for us, I believe two things happen. 1.) We are assured of His presence in our lives. 2.) Others can see Him in us.

Because we have the assurance of Jesus’ presence, we strive to follow His guidance and obey his commands. We attempt to keep out of stressful circumstances.

When other believer’s meet us they see Jesus in us immediately. When those who have yet to believe in Jesus, we might not receive a warm reaction. However, we are to greet them as Jesus greeted us.

Down through the ages, hymn writers have written of God’s love. King David wrote psalms as he dealt with the issues of his life and how God reached out and love him.

Asaph, “appointed by David to preside over the sacred choral services,” also wrote psalms as well.  

Psalm 73

 A psalm of Asaph

1 Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
5 They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
7 Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
8 They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.

The writer sounds confused and even distraught. But read closely the following verses.

16 But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end.

18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
    you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
    swept away utterly by terrors!
20 Like a dream when one awakes,
    O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
21 When my soul was embittered,
    when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was brutish and ignorant;
    I was like a beast toward you.

23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward, you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength[b] of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
    you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
    I have made the Lord God my refuge,
    that I may tell of all your works.

I love the words in verses 23, 24, 28. God does guide us; He will receive us into Glory and we are to tell others of all God’s works.

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...