Last post I wrote about the most important command that we have been given and how it should effect our daily outlook on life. The interesting aspect of that command though is that it comes in two parts. Part one, love God; Part two, love people. In Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered the question of what was the most important commandment in all of the Law,

    [29] Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. [30] And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [31] The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Love your neighbor as yourself – surely Jesus has to be kidding right? It sounds crazy to our ears that the most important command in all of the Scriptures, in fact the most important command in all of life, is to love other people like ourselves. Really? My question in this is, why? Why is it that loving people is placed on the same level as the command to love God? Read the rest of this entry »

Out of all the things we should be doing in this world (evangelism, discipleship, giving, serving, etc) I find it curious that there is really only one activity that God wants from us. “But wait,” I hear you cry, “isn’t the Old Testament filled with rules and regulations? What about all those commands!” Ah yes, the Torah, the Mosaic Covenant, the Big Ten (along with its 600+ additional commands); while it is wonderful that we spend time studying the Old Testament to learn more about God in the end there is still only one command that we should be seeking to follow. In fact Jesus summed it up nicely for us in Mark 12:30-31,

[30] And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [31] The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

That’s it! Out of all the commands that we could be following in this life the greatest is to love God and love people. Simple right? Yet the question that each of us must ask ourselves from time to time is, “Do I love God?”

While it might sound like a simple question to answer lets be honest with ourselves for a moment and take a good look at our lives. When was the last time we spend any significant time in his Word? Today? Yesterday? Last week? Last year? The Scriptures are God’s way of communicating with us, and the more welisten to what he has to say the more we will get to know him, and the more we will love him. That’s a funny concept right? Let’s look at it from a human perspective.

My wife and I have been married for almost thirteen years now (had to think about that one!) and there is no doubt in my mind that I know her better now than I did when we first were married. As the years have gone by I’ve been able to learn about her childhood and growing up, about her likes and dislikes (likes sweets, hates feet), and a myriad of other little things along the way. As I’ve grown closer to her by spending time with her and getting to know her I can say without a doubt that I love her more today than I did when we were first married. That’s the same with our relationship with God. Theology is not some dusty tome reading, gray beard growing, profession. Theology is the study of Godfor the purpose of knowing him better and so loving him more!

In a recent reading I came across this wonderful quote that I’ll close with for today (next post will be about the second part of this amazing command) from Bernard of Clairvaux, take some time and think about your relationship with God and ask yourself if you truly love him.

“You ask me, ‘Why should God be loved?’ I answer: the reason for loving God is God himself. And why should God be loved for his own sake? Simply because no one could be more justly loved than God, no one deserves our love more. Some may question if God deserves our love or if they might have something to gain by loving him. The answer to both questions is yes, but I find no other worthy reason for loving him except himself.”

Lately it’s been a little hard for me to find joy in my life, which is very unusual for me. The circumstances of the last month have been such that it has put a mountain of stress on my shoulders (another post in and of itself) and life just continues to hit me hard. As a result I find myself being depressed sometimes, angry others, and generally not the kind of person that I know God has designed me to be. What can I do in these times? What canwe do in these times?

A great example that comes to mind of someone who had lost their joy was Kind David. When we look at David’s life it would seem that he had a lot to be joyful over; he was shepherd who had been made into the king of Israel. Talk about moving up in the world! Yet David also struggled with his sins and this caused him to lose his joy.

While David is described as a man after God’s own heart he was also a human being that sinned like the rest of us. And oh how David sinned. We could point out the incident with Bathsheba as that is of course a glaring example of David’s sin, but what about his taking of a census in 2 Samuel 24? We often over look this case but the judgement for David’s sin was something that greatly impacted the people. After all 70,000 men died! Whoa. I think David lost his joy over this one.

Yet in Psalm 51:12 David said, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Have we asked that our joy be restored? There are a couple of principles we can take away from this verse:

1) Remember that we have been saved! No matter what we are going through in life; no matter how depressed or beaten down we are we have to remember that we have been saved. Even though it may seem like God is distant the truth of his word never fails and we can trust that we have been saved by our faith in Jesus Christ1!

2) Have we prayed and asked for our joy to be restored? I know that prayer sometimes is the last thing that we do, but it should be the first! Yet the great truth of prayer is that it’s never too late. God is always available to listen to us if we are willing to come to him. When was the last time you (or I) prayed and asked that God would give us joy? Have we asked him to give us the fruit of his Spirit which includes joy?

Don’t let another day go by without getting on your knees and asking for the joy of the Lord. As Christians more so than anyone else we should have joy – we’ve been saved after all!

One of the issues I see constantly as a pastor is people who have lost their hope. While many try to put on a brave face and face the world I continue to hear time and time again about how they are unsure how they will make it through tomorrow. What do we do when we have no hope? Where should our hope be placed? And how can we make it through another day with the way things are? Read the rest of this entry »

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost 1915 Read the rest of this entry »

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