Today’s reading is Mark 12.

As we continue to take a close look at the words of Jesus, He tells us here that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength in Mark 12:30, reaffirming what Moses said in Deuteronomy 6:5 after delivering the Ten Commandments. He then states in Mark 12:31 the second greatest commandment is what some refer to as the “golden rule” which is to love your neighbor like yourself. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a few verses later in Mark 12:38-40 he calls out the religious scribes who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk and truly live their lives for God warning of their condemnation. This is a good reminder for all of us to take a look at the true condition of our heart. How do we know the true condition of our heart?

This week our son came home from kindergarten and asked his mom and me if we knew what integrity meant. Taken a little bit back by this from him asking this at a young age we asked, “What is it buddy?” He said, “My teacher says it’s doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” Albert Einstein said there are 5 levels of intelligence in ascending order: smart, intelligent, brilliant, genius, and the highest form which is simple. This is not the textbook definition of integrity, but I believe it’s the simplest and the right one. We should all ponder this question,” What am I doing when no one is watching?” This shows the true condition of our heart. We need to fully examine ourselves to know the condition of our heart which God already knows. As the scribes were doing, any of us can paint a picture we want others to see by writing for devotional like this, serving as an elder or even as a pastor, volunteering, going to church and saying the right things. But, does your heart and follow up actions show you are doing these things for the right reasons? Do you truly love Him? You know. God knows.

As I write this, we are talking about repentance as part of our Joshua 24 study and Eastview Church. If we are not living the way we want to live, the great news is at any time we can turn away from sin and run into God’s loving arms. We must acknowledge our sin and specifically and then take action to change what we are doing. The even better news is that 1 John 4:19 tells us He first loved us before we loved Him by giving His life on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Do you believe this? If so, despite past wrong doings, you can go live your life with integrity for Him today and every day without any guilt of past wrong doing. Is there any greater feeling than that?!

Not of This World…

Have you ever done something to honor God’s direction and His Word, yet others didn’t see it that way?

Today’s reading is Joshua 22 and Proverbs 22. We read here Joshua gives the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh their land and sends them off. Before doing so, in Joshua 22:5, He instructs them to follow God’s greatest commandment to love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind. Upon receiving their land, they built an altar as a replica of the altar the Israelites. The Israelites hear of this and prepare for war against them because they believe they did this to worship another God, believing there should only be one altar which they had, to honor the one true God. Thankfully, they sent Phinehas and ten chiefs, one from each tribe, to check it out before attacking. They learn that the reason for building the altar was to replicate the original altar of the Israelites because the Jordan River separated them from easily getting back and they wanted to not only continue to honor God as Joshua had instructed, but also to make sure their children continued to know God and love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind (Joshua 22:26-28). Not only were they concerned about their continued commitment to love God, but they were also following what Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way you should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” After learning of the real truth of the altar, they are very pleased and obviously do not attack them (Joshua 22:32-34).

Unfortunately, we may not always be so lucky when we honor God and His Word. We may or may not be attacked physically, but others may scorn us with words, gossip, and it may come between our relationship with them and others. This makes it very difficult to honor God and always follow His way because as sinful humans, we care what others think about us. However, if we follow God and His will, others will often realize this later, as the Israelites did, but if not, we must be at peace with this. We must remember that we are living for an audience of One. We are told many times in the Bible that to follow God is to not be of this world and the world will hate us (John 17:14-16, John 15:18). Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” In Mark 8:36, Jesus says, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Let us pray as we start our day today…Lord, please help us to love you with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. Let us be not of this world, as hard as it will be, but let us follow you and your will for our lives, not caring what anyone thinks but you. We know we are not perfect and know we will mess up. We will likely even misjudge others who we think are not following God’s will but are. We thank you for your saving grace through your Son Jesus. We love you. Amen.

A Love Like No Other

Mark 12

Today’s reading is Mark 12, and we will focus on Mark 12:30-31. Jesus tells us the greatest and 2nd greatest commandment when asked by a scribe. He says…

“And you shall love your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Let’s then ask the question my four-year old son asks many times daily, “Why?” Growing up, there were times when I wondered what made Jesus death different than many other people throughout history who had been wrongly put to death.

Romans 3:23 and 6:23 provide an explanation. Romans 3:23 states, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” James 4:17 even tells us that we sin not just by what we do, but by what we don’t do. The beginning of Romans 6:23 tells us, “the wages of sin is death.” I think it is often overlooked that sin is singular here. Many people mistakenly think that if they do more things right than wrong, and if they are a “good person,” they will go to Heaven, but just one sin separates us from God and brings us condemnation. I love the picture often used to tell the Gospel which shows us on one side and God on the other side of a large crevice with sin and Hell at the bottom. We are separated from God due to our sin and there is no way to get to the other side until we lay the cross down, which Jesus died on for us, as a bridge to bring us together with God.

Romans 5:8 tells us, “God shows us His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” We did nothing to deserve this. These verses answer my question growing up as to why Jesus’ death on the cross is different and so important. Only God, who is without sin, can justify us and bring us together with Him as one by grace through his perfect son Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:9 says, “(God) who saved us and called us to a holy calling not because of our works, but because of his own purpose and grace, which He gave in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” He did something for us that we could not do for ourselves. No number of good deeds can bring us together with God. Only His grace can do that through Jesus’ death on the cross and our belief in Him. Because He did this, 2 Corinthians 5:15 says that we are called to live for Him and not for ourselves.

Think about if you would be able to love your spouse, parent, or child the same if they sinned against you every hour of every day? This is what we do to God, and He still loves us more than we could ever love another human being because His love in original Greek is “agape” which means unconditional love.

So now that God has given us this free gift of grace through Jesus, how can we not love Him immensely and feel called to give that same love and grace to our neighbors which He tells us to do in Mark 12:31? In Matthew 18:21-22, Jesus tells Peter that we are to forgive our neighbor over and over again, just as He does us. 1 John 14:9 says, “we love because He first loved us.”  I think it is very neat how John 3:16 that many know so well says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Then, 1 John 3:16 correlates with that and says, “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers (and sisters.)”

I’ve heard non-believers say that if going to Heaven is just about praising and worshipping God for eternity, then there is no way I want to go there. This makes my heart ache when I hear this because they do not know God’s love. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” I wish I could say that I connect with God’s love as deeply and as often as He wants and I should, but I don’t. However, there are moments in church when we are standing and praising God in song when I feel that connection and oneness with God and His love. I don’t want the song to ever end, and I think to myself, “if this is what Heaven will be like then I can’t wait to get there and spend forever like this.” His love fills me up and gives me peace like nothing I can describe in these moments.

My prayer this day for all of you and for myself is that we connect with and feel God’s love more today and every day and then that we share that love with others.

My close friends will laugh if they read this because they probably could have easily guessed that at some point, sooner rather than later, I would reference the lyrics of a song by my favorite band Sister Hazel. I don’t know if this song was written with Christ’s love in mind, but His love is what I think of when I hear it. Here are the lyrics below. Check it out on you tube…

Or better it.

This Kind of Love

This kind of love makes me feel ten feet tall

It makes all my problems fall

And this kind of trust helps me to hold the line

I’ll be there every time


This kind of love it’s what I dreamed about

Yeah it fills me up

Baby it leaves no doubt

This kind of love it’s why I’m standing here

It’s something that we can share

I can’t enough of this kind of love


This kind of hope is what I try to find

And now I can’t deny I believe

And this kind of faith is so unshakeable

It’s unmistakable

It’s bigger than me


This kind of love it’s what I dreamed about

Yeah it fills me up

Baby it leaves no doubt

This kind of love it’s why I’m standing here

It’s something that we can share

I can’t enough of this kind of love


Your love can move a mountain

It makes my world go round

It’s always there to guide me

I’m so lucky that I found


This kind of love is what I dreamed about

Yeah it fills me up

Well baby it leaves no doubt

This kind of love it’s why I’m standing here

It’s something that we can share

I can’t get enough of this kind of love

This kind of love