All You Need Is Love

When Jesus speaks of the perfect life, He is very clear: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” -Luke 10:27. In perfect love, God desires our wellbeing, our fellowship and obedience.

Obedience is a hard word for me to hear, let alone to say or do! But obedience to God’s precepts ultimately make us better, stronger, healthier and happier. God’s law is no longer imposed, but encouraged in love. It’s not offered in oppression, but in freedom from sin through a life of tangible fellowship with the Creator of the Universe. Obedience to a perfect God is to seek the love Jesus speaks of.

Love gets more complicated when we are concerned for our well being, when others threaten our way of life, our freedom or interests. This is when we must chose between our own understanding or trusting God.

I am fascinated by the intensity of the discourse after this very unusual and surprising election. I have had to remind myself that God is eternally sovereign and we are not.

Living out our faith is about love in action, showing love without favoritism, loving the unlovable, practicing grace and gratitude. It is helpful to recognize our hypocrisy and self-righteousness, avoiding demagoguery, so easily embraced.

Personal spiritual transformation is the true source of social change. It is born in Love. God’s Spirit guides us. There is no other way.

God is sovereign and everything, even political power, comes from Him or is allowed by Him.

We have a lifetime of opportunity to live out values like kindness, humility, forgiveness, bravery, sacrifice, integrity, generosity, and compassion. We might easily claim these as our own, and overlook them in others, but love is the champion of justice and truth.

More than anything Jesus is saying to me, “trust God, surrender all to Him and love each other like there is no tomorrow.”

Perhaps John Lennon had it right; “all you need is love!”

1 Chronicles 15; James 2. Secret: Amos 9; Luke 4

Hall of Faith or Hall of Fame?

Hebrews chapter 11 is often referred to as the hall of faith. This is where the legacies of the heroes of Scripture are chronicled. Very different from the halls of fame we encounter in our culture today. 

Walking through a sporting goods store this past week I noticed a very large banner. An athlete up at the break of dawn, with all the ‘essential’ gear, stared into the camera with determination.  The text read simply “I WILL”. Here is another ad from the campaign. 

Under Armour I WILL campaign
Under Armour I WILL campaign

The memory of the familiar “JUST DO IT” slogan immediately came to mind and I thought ‘at least this “I WILL” campaign was a bit more transparent of a rallying cry, God willing we will have an easier time seeing it empty.’ In my estimation, when comparing and contrasting the heroes of Scripture from Hebrews 11 to this campaign, it was their faith that helped them realize they and their will were the furthest thing from true glory.

 

Extra Credit: Self Examination. From conversations with them, some teammates that went on to pursue and reach the professional level struggled with a seemingly constant battle against selfishness. These people were not selfish but their battle was against a lie that said the only way to make it was a completely self absorbed lifestyle, dedicating every moment to their bodies and skills. A constant placing of themselves, and their training, first.

Compare this to your “making it”. Ask yourself what does “making it” look like to you? Is your definition of “making it” of this world? Titles, money, position… What sort of “training” is required to always be first in your life for your definition of “making it”? Know that the world will lie to you about the answer to this question. Praise God that He has given us the truth!

From the hall of faith we get a sense of what making it looks like to our God. It is simple. It is faith. Where the first verse defines faith, the second verse speaks to the stark difference in the bases for congratulation between the ‘people of old’ and today; where faith was this bases in the ‘people of old.’ Their faith was their accomplishments, not victory on this earth, some position, or peer perception of them. It was their faith in God. Here is the big question that we all need to get right. In your life does faith in God = making it?

Suggestions for prayer: Ask the LORD to show you what success looks like. To give you a deep passion for pleasing Him in this way, a steadfastness for pursuing this with a single eye in meekness, humility and faith.

For further study: Memorize and meditate on Hebrews 11:1. Here we find the definition of faith. Such an important factor in following Christ.

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 7–8; Hebrews 11; Amos 5; Luke 1:1–38

Discerning God’s Will

A Christian is obsessed with God’s will. Our love of the LORD is synonymous with obedience to His Word (John 14:15). To know it. To do it. To serve Him is our greatest privilege. God’s Word speaks to so much but what about the things it does not speak to specifically? 

As I read today’s scripture I’m reminded of advice I received with regard to discerning God’s will: focus on His revealed will. When we are faced with decisions in life that we cry out for discernment on we need to look to scripture and focus on God’s revealed will. In the past, I have acted like a child, just wanting my answer for my particular situation. ‘Should I major in this or that… God’s word says to love people… right, right, but what about my major….’

I have heard it said that God does not care when it comes to these smaller things. You may have heard it phrased as a question; “Does God really care who wins the super bowl?” In my estimation, of course He does! I have come to believe God cares about everything (1John 4:8). I have also come to believe that God knows everything (Psalm 139:4). If God is love (opposite of not caring) and God knows everything, my faith strengthens me to believe that His revealed will contains all I need (Isaiah 46:9-10, Romans 8:28, 2Corinthians 12:9). And so by the grace of God, those who love God, can face a specific decision and know that God’s will for you is fully contained in God’s revealed will. Praise God that we need not over complicate things nor worry and that obeying God is simple and the burden light if we let it be! (1John 5:3, Ecclesiastes 7:9) #FaithForward 

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Today’s reading: 1 Kings 22; 1 Thessalonians 5; Daniel 4; Psalms 108–109

Suggestions for prayer: Ask God to place on you a love for His Word and to light your path.

For further study: Make a study of all the places in scripture where God reveals His will. Copy them down and share them with your family at the dinner table (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Ask your family to join in and add to the family collection of God’s revealed will.  

The Will of the LORD Be Done

Today’s reading: Judges 17; Acts 21; Jeremiah 30–31; Mark 16

August 3rd, 2016

In Acts 21 Paul ends up in Caesarea staying with Philip, the evangelist (Acts 21:8). While Paul was there a prophet from Judea came and prophesied that the Jews of Jerusalem would bind Paul and hand him over to the gentiles (Acts 21:11). Because of this Luke and those with Paul began to entreated him not to go to Jerusalem (Acts 21:12).

Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. – Acts 21:13

After they realized Paul would not listen to them, they submitted:

And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. – Acts 21:14

Reflecting on today’s reading from Acts has me asking myself these challenging questions:

  1. Do I desire God’s will or my own? Is my will wrapped up in this world?
  2. Am choosing God’s kingdom over one a kingdom of my own in this world with the things I am thinking, saying and doing? Am I today? Will I tomorrow? Who can hold me accountable in this? Have I asked them to? Do I really want them to?
  3. Am I able to discern my LORDs will from my friends advice? How can I hear God’s voice? Am I listening for it? Do I desire to hear Him separate from my desires of this world?

What other questions might we consider in applying today’s reading the things we think, say and do?

Unplanned

RMNP-BearLake-DSC07881

Numbers 21; Psalms 60–61; Isaiah 10:5–34; James 4

This last week, I had the privilege of taking my son to the Rocky Mountains. It was a short trip, justIMG_0037 three days, so I wanted to make the most of it. I had two goals. First, I wanted to spend a lot of time with him, and second, I wanted to spend some time planning for the rest of 2016.  If I am completely honest, one major purpose in spending a lot of time with Freddy is to examine how he is faring. I mean, we only have six, or so, years before he sets off for college! As a good father, I need to evaluate his planning and dreaming skills. Additionally, I want to influence what is in his head.

Among my few to-dos while I am on the road is this entry for BibleJournal.net. While reading James 4, early Monday morning, the Holy Spirit thumped my heart. In part, he reminded me that we are “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) I couldn’t shake it. The Spirit instructed me, in that moment, that the reason we came to the Rocky Mountains was not to make great plans for the next several years (James 4:13). No, the purpose became clear as we approached Rocky Mountain National Park. Being absolutely captivated by its beauty, I understood that we were here to enjoy and celebrate breathtaking beauty. And that is exactly what we did. We did not sit piously and passively.  IMG_0022How could we? The majesty of His creation blasted its way deep into our hearts. In reply, we stomped and shouted throughout his handiwork. We left giant footprints as our voices echoed throughout the valley. We sang stupid songs, threw snowballs and filled the air with laughter. We saw our breath in the cold mountain air and hollered over the thunderous roar of waterfalls.  We pondered big questions like “why did God make it all,” and “why did he make it so complex?” We settled on really simple answers like “because He can,” and “so that we will never get bored.”  We stood motionless and silent, marveling at how He did it.  We worshipped!

After a long trip home, I find that I have planned nothing. Ironically, my celebration of His creation, left me with a bigger dream than I could have imagined. I want to enjoy God more.  If the Lord wills me a tomorrow, my prayer is to see his beauty everyday, right here, right now, in the place that I live. Father, show me what to look for and where to look.

I found God this week. He was with us.  He is with us. Will we be with Him?