First Commandment: All Strength

First Commandment: All Strength

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In our last post, we saw Paul embrace the first commandment.

“HEAR, O ISRAEL; THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD: AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIND,

AND WITH ALL THY STRENGTH:

this is the first commandment.”

Mark 12:29,30, KJV

Our heavenly Father’s hands pour out his goodness and love upon us all. None are exempt, but many do not recognize the abundance of the Lord’s grace. These take, receive, and use all God provides for personal gain, pleasure, and comfort in this life alone. This is not the way of the Lord for the followers of Christ.

Jesus explained it in a parable. He begins the story with—

“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man

traveling into a far country,

who called his own servants,

and delivered unto them his goods.”

Matthew 25:14, KJV

Jesus brought the kingdom of heaven into this far country to show us the way and be the way to his heavenly kingdom. It belongs to his servants whom he left as stewards. Paul calls us ambassadors. When the Lord returned to the heavenly Father, he didn’t leave us without help, without strength to do the works of his kingdom. He delivered his goods to us—the first being his indwelling Holy Spirit to be our strength.

When Jesus commands us to love God with all our strength, he is providing the strength, the ability, the power, the force required to be a good ambassador/servant and do the work at hand.

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God:

If any man minister,

let him do it as of the ability which God giveth:

that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ,

to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 4:11

In the parable of the talents, the man gave each servant according to the ability he had to care for the man’s goods. Our heavenly Father gives us each different strengths and abilities to complete the body of Christ and do the work of his kingdom. He is the power filling us to be faithful to our calling. The Lord wants us to know—

  • “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe,
  • according to the working of his mighty power,
  • Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,
  • and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
  • Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
  • And hath put all things under his feet,
  • and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
  • Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23, KJV

The power that raised Christ from the dead is the power filling us, the body of Christ. He is our strength.

“Strengthened with all might,

according to his glorious power,

unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;”

Colossians 1:11, KJV

Jesus Christ has made us sharers in all his goods. He expects us to do as the faithful stewards in his parable did—invest it all in the kingdom of heaven, producing fruit to the Father’s glory. He is not pleased when we bury our salvation among the world’s pleasures or cares.

The Lord’s first commandment doesn’t give room for us to withhold of the goodness He has given us.

He desires us to love him

  • with all our heart,
  • all our soul,
  • all our mind,
  • and all our strength.

After all, He is the one who cleansed our heart, gave us new life, filled our mind with his wisdom and understanding, and empowered us with his great power.

May this be the prayer we pray for one another as we learn to fulfill the first commandment.

“Wherefore also we pray always for you,

that our God would count you worthy of this calling,

and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness,

and the work of faith with power:

That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

may be glorified in you, and ye in him

According to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Thessalonians 1:11,12, KJV

Fulfilling this first commandment is the secret to fulfilling the second—which is for another time.

What is the Lord asking of you? What holds you back?

The First Commandment: Strength

The First Commandment: Strength

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“HEAR, O ISRAEL; THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD: AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIND,

AND WITH ALL THY STRENGTH:

(from Mark 12:29,30)KJV

He ripped apart a lion with his bare hands, killed thirty men, and killed another thousand with the jaw bone of a donkey. He possessed strength of body but weakness in heart, soul, and mind, which resulted in the loss of his physical power. In his death, by God’s grace, Samson’s physical strength was renewed, and he brought the house down on his enemies, killing more in his death than in his life.

Over a thousand years later, another man stood unimpressive in physical strength and suffered much in the weakness of his body. But what he had, the apostle Paul offered to the Lord, along with all his heart, soul, and mind.

“And he trembling and astonished said,

Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

And the Lord said unto him,

Arise, and go into the city,

and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”

Acts 9:6, KJV

The Lord chose Paul to bear his name to the nations, kings, and the children of Israel. He would suffer much in this mission.

Paul labored through the whippings, the prison stays, near death experiences, and adverse elements of nature. He endured beatings, dangers by thieves, Israelites, and false brothers. He knew weariness of body, mind, and soul; pain, hunger, thirst, and want. He bore the responsibility of the churches he had planted. And he says,

“Who is weak, and I am not weak? 

Who is offended, and I burn not?

If I must needs glory,

I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”

2 Corinthians 11:29,30, KJV

When Paul asked the Lord to remove the thorn or weakness he suffered from, the Lord answered him,

“My grace is sufficient for thee:

for my strength is made perfect in weakness …

Paul’s response—

“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches,

in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:

for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9,10, KJV

Paul knew the Lord’s strength, his power, would enable him to be God’s chosen vessel of the gospel. What strength he had, Paul traded for the power of the Lord. He could say,

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Philippians 4:13, KJV

When facing his death Paul told Timothy—

“For I am now ready to be offered,

and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have fought a good fight,

I have finished my course,

I have kept the faith:

Henceforth

there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,

which the Lord the righteous judge,

shall give me at that day:

and not to me only,

but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

2 Timothy 4:6-8, KJV

Two men:

  • Samson the weakest strong man, whose life and death leave us with questions.
  • Paul the strongest weak man, whose life and death leave those who love the appearing of Christ with living hope.

Ours is to offer the Lord all the physical strength we have, be it little or much, and he will multiply it by his strength for his glory.


When has God’s strength been evident in your life?

The First Commandment: A New Mind

The First Commandment: A New Mind

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“HEAR, O ISRAEL; THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD: AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART AND WITH ALL THY SOUL,

AND WITH ALL THY MIND …

(from Mark 12:29,30)KJV

Tears of joy flowed down the face of the humbled man. He wiped the moisture with the sleeve of his cloak, hugged Paul, his father in the Lord, and planted a kiss on his cheeks. “I am free, Master Paul. I am free.”

The apostle Paul placed his hands on Onesimus’ shoulders and looked up into his eyes. “You have only one Master now.”

The bible tells us little about Onesimus and his earthly master, Philemon, but what the apostle Paul writes of them speaks volumes about the change Christ makes in the heart, soul, and mind of those who receive him. Like Onesimus we are all born slaves to sin. It’s in our DNA to serve self. Our minds have been deceived to believe life is what we make it. We need a new mind—the mind of Christ.

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

1Corinthians 2:16, KJV

Being born anew we have Christ living in us.

“I am crucified with Christ;

nevertheless I live;

yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;

and the life which I now live in the flesh

I live by the faith of the Son of God,

who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20, KJV

Our challenge comes in learning how to rely on the mind of Christ we’ve been given instead of the mind we have been accustomed to following. It takes diligence to replace the dead matter of our minds with the living matter of Christ’s mind—his thoughts, his wisdom, his understanding. It is a daily process of change—

“And be not conformed to this world:

but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,

that ye may prove

what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Romans 12:2, KJV

Renewing our minds, reprogramming the mind to reflect the mind of Christ in us happens over time as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. Since this change of mind is God’s desire for us, all we need to do is ask—

“that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will

in all wisdom,

and spiritual understanding;

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,

being fruitful in every good work,

and increasing in the knowledge of God:”

Colossians 1:9b,10, KJV

We are told in James’ letter if we need godly wisdom to ask God for it, and he gives it to us. In this world, we need spiritual weapons, godly wisdom, to stand against the vain philosophies seeking to fill our minds with humanly manufactured thoughts opposing to God. Filling our minds with the knowledge of our heavenly Father helps us in—

“Casting down imaginations,

and every high thing that exalteth itself

against the knowledge of God,

and bringing into captivity every thought

to the obedience of Christ;”

2 Corinthians 10:5, KJV

Obedience to the word of God reflects the mind of Christ in our lives. He is our example of a mind set on things above. We are told—

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus …

And being found in fashion as a man,

he humbled himself,

and became obedient unto death,

even the death of the cross …

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,

work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

For it is God which worketh in you

both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

Philippians 2: 5,8, 12,13, KJV

Submitting our thoughts and understanding into God’s hands requires a trust in God. He knows what is best in every circumstance, he desires our good, and performs both in us. We are told to—

“be renewed in the spirit of  your mind;

And that ye put on the new man,

which after God

is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Ephesians 4:23, KJV

In receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior, we receive his Spirit in us who gives us a new heart, soul, and mind of righteousness and true holiness. We are a new person, our heart loving as the Lord loves, our soul reborn in his image, and our mind renewed in truth. We are not the person we use to be. We—

“have put on the new man,

which is renewed in knowledge

after the image of him that created him:”

Colossians 3:10, KJV

Onesimus proved the change of his heart, and soul as he labored for Paul, a prisoner of Rome. No longer an unprofitable runaway slave, but a free man in Christ, the time had come for Onesimus to leave Paul and make things right with his earthly master. His return showed the new mind born in him with the new heart, and soul.

Onesimus’ standing in the world remained the same. But the truth in his mind freed him to be who the Lord made him to be. He served freely. He had a new way of thinking. He knew the truth:

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” Proverbs 3:13.

Onesimus found his happiness in the Lord. The Lord invites us to do the same.

“taste and see that the LORD is good:

blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”

Psalm 34:8, KJV

The new mind

  • is humble as Christ was humble,
  • is growing in the knowledge and wisdom of God,
  • gains spiritual understanding,
  • trusts God,
  • is obedient to the Father,
  • and is blessed.

May you be blessed by the new mind that is ours in Christ Jesus.

The First Commandment: All Your Mind

The First Commandment: All Your Mind

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HEAR, O ISRAEL; THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD: AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART, AND WITH ALL THY SOUL,

AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND …

(from Mark 12:29,30)KJV

“How dare he!” Haman stomped around his house declaring his disdain for the one man who wouldn’t bow. One man, among the thousands, devoured Haman’s glory. “He will pay.” Haman slammed his fist against the wooden table. An evil glint shone in his eyes revealing the wicked plot in his mind. “Not only will Mordecai pay—but all his people must pay.”

If you don’t know the rest of the story of Haman and Mordecai, check out the ending in the book of Esther found in the Old Testament. I could tell you the end, but what fun would that be?

The point of including this tidbit is to introduce the evil lurking in the unregenerate mind—the mind that chooses to reject truth.

In the beginning Adam discovered the repercussions of trusting his mind over the mind of God, when he chose to defy the Lord’s command and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All he had ever known was good, until he chose to taste evil. One thought ruled by one desire brought death to all. How dangerous is the mind ruled by self and its insatiable appetite.

As generations passed, the hunger to satisfy the immoral character of the flesh grew into an infectious malignancy that grieved God’s heart.

“And the LORD said,

I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth;

both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air,

for it repenteth me that I have made them …

And God looked upon the earth, and behold,

it was corrupt;

for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”

Genesis 6: 7, KJV

All but Noah and his family, who found grace in the Lord’s sight. Through Noah, the Lord would fulfill his word to Adam. One would come. He would crush the evil one who ruled in the minds of those—

  • who sought a way other than God’s way,
  • who created their own truth,
  • and brought about their own death.

His creation had chosen a different way, the way of self.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man,

but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Proverbs 14:12, KJV

In his love, the Lord gave his people the Law to show them the way to have a relationship with him and live in peace with others. The Law revealed the truth of who God is and showed people the way to life—a good life in the here and now and life with the Lord forever. The Law was good.

“Wherefore the law is holy,

and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

Romans 7:12, KJV

One problem still remained. People, apart from God, are not holy, just, or good. There is nothing wrong with the Law. The wrong lies in our thinking, our understanding, our knowledge of God.

Hence, God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ came—

  • to be our way to the Father,
  • show us the truth of the Father,
  • and fill us with the life of the Father.

“Jesus saith unto him,

I am the way,

the truth,

and the life:

no man cometh unto the Father,

but by me.”

John 14:6

To love the Lord our God with all our mind—we need a new mind—a new understanding, a new way of thinking. More on this the next time we meet.

Haman had his life figured out in his own way of thinking. Little did he know of his future. The Lord has his own thoughts for his people and a plan for those who continue to let their own minds guide them.

For His Own:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD,

thoughts of peace, and not of evil,

to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11, KJV

For the World:

“But as the days of Noe (Noah) were, so shall be also the coming of the Son of man be.

For as in the days that were before the flood

they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,

until the day that Noe entered into the ark …

Whereby the world that then was,

being overflowed with water, perished:

But the heavens and the earth, which are now,

by the same word are kept in store reserved unto fire

against the day of judgement and perdition of ungodly men …

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness;

but is longsuffering to us-ward,

not willing that any should perish,

but that all should come to  repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night …”

(Matthew 24: 37,38; 2 Peter 3:6-7, 9, 10a, KJV)

Of which mind are you?

The First Commandment: The Soul(2)

The First Commandment: The Soul’s Redemption

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The apostle Peter would hear none of it. Minutes earlier, he confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the anointed one to save Israel from all her enemies. And now, Jesus told him and the others he would be rejected and killed. The one could not happen if the second came to pass. Peter, so much as told Jesus he was wrong. It wouldn’t and couldn’t happen. In not listening, Peter missed Jesus’ words about rising again in three days.

Jesus knew Peter looked and listened through a worldly perspective. After rebuking Peter, Jesus explained the cost and the effect of keeping a godly perspective on the value of a soul. Jesus had taught the disciples earlier that life is more than what we eat or wear. He reiterated the teaching with an explanation and a question for them to answer and us to consider.

“Whosoever will come after me,

let him deny himself,

and take up his cross,

and follow me.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it;

but whosoever shall lose his life

for my sake and the gospel’s

the same shall save it.

For what shall it profit a man,

if he shall gain the whole world,

and lose his own soul?

Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Mark 8:34-38, KJV

The soul houses the heart, mind, and strength of our new spiritual life. It reflects who we are and whose we are, through the lives we live.

The soul is our immortal inner being that lives forever in eternal death or eternal life, depending on whom we surrender it to in love.

Jesus quoted God-given words of Moses to a questioning lawyer.

He began like this—“HEAR, O ISRAEL; THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD: AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART …

AND WITH ALL THY SOUL,

(from Mark 12:29,30)KJV

In the beginning, Adam and Eve possessed access to eternal life, through the tree of life. Satan deceived Eve into believing she didn’t need God’s way to life, because if she ate of the forbidden tree, she would be like God. God is the source of life. Adam chose to exchange his eternal promise of life for eternal death. Death entered his soul.

In life there is a battle fought between God and Satan for our soul. God seeks our soul out of love and the desire to give us back eternal life. Satan seeks our soul out of hatred for God and the desire to devour our soul in eternal death.

“Be sober, be vigilant:

because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,

walketh about, seeking whom he may devour …

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:

I am come that they might have life,

and that they might have it more abundantly.

I am the good shepherd:

the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”

(1 Peter 5:8; John 10:10-11, KJV)

Our soul means nothing to the devil but a tool to hurt the God who loves us. His eternal destiny is sealed. Keeping us from returning to God, and destroying our soul in the here and now, is his only source of pleasure.

The worth of our soul, our life, is found in giving God possession of our soul as he meant it in the beginning. God showed us our soul’s worth in sacrificing his Son, his only Son, that we might have life.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood,

the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace …

For ye are bought with a price:

therefore glorify God

in your body,

and in your spirit,

which are God’s …

The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants:

and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.”

(Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Psalm 34:22, KJV)

Our soul’s redemption cost Jesus his blood.

  • He took up his cross and demands us to do the same.
  • He surrendered his soul into the Father’s keeping—and was raised from the dead.
  • Jesus set the standard—exercising love for the Father through surrendering all his soul to him and
  • Turning away from the body’s natural lust for self control.

This is an all or nothing opportunity. Our salvation is immediate when by faith we receive him as our Redeemer. But it takes a lifetime to learn to live giving God the love of all our heart and all our soul. Thankfully, he is patient with us and will complete the work he has begun in us. In this,

“I will praise thee … O Holy One of Israel.

My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee;

and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.

My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long …”

Psalm 71:22-24, KJV

Heavenly, Father, may all who read, release our soul into your hands. May we give you full possession of our soul and learn to live out 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

“What? Know ye not that your body

is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,

which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

For ye are bought with a price:

therefore glorify God

in your body, and in your spirit,

which are God’s.”

If you are not God’s, you’re giving yourself to the wrong one.

 

First Commandment: The Soul

The First Commandment: The Soul

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He opened the leather bag stuffed with coins, clutched a handful of the precious gold, and let it filter through his fingers. The clinking coinage sang a satisfying song to his soul. He was rich. The final coin dropped. The song faded. Zacchaeus had sold his soul to the Romans by collecting exorbitant taxes from his people. His people? They hated him. He couldn’t blame them. He had become rich through their poverty. That was who Zacchaeus use to be—until he met Jesus and heard him speak the words,

“This day is salvation come to this house,

for asmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

For the Son of man is come

to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Luke 19:9,10, KJV

Zacchaeus had lost his soul to the love of money. But it was saved from certain death when he surrendered his soul to the truth behind the first commandment.

“HEAR, O ISRAEL;

THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD:

AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD

WITH ALL THY HEART …

AND WITH ALL THY SOUL,

(from Mark 12:29,30)

The day salvation came to his house, in one moment, Zacchaeus  received a new heart filled with the Spirit of God. His body was infused with a renewed soul fit to embody his new heart. The spiritual heart, soul, mind, and strength are mysteriously woven together. Here the soul and spirit unite in our inner being to enable the soul to live out the new life emanating from the heart.

  • The heart pumps life into what was considered dead.
  • The soul, dead in sin, comes to life in righteousness
  • and houses the new heart, filled with the Spirit of Christ.
  • The heart sends the pure blood of Christ through the mind
  • to give it the mind of Christ,
  • and into the spirit to provide the strength of Christ to rule our new life.

To clear up this muddy water, think about the development of life in the womb. When the seed and the egg unite, a soul is born with everything needed for life. The soul houses the heart. The beating heart pumps blood through the soul, feeding the brain, and giving strength to survive.

In essence, the soul that loves God is the part of us that lives out the new life we’ve been given. The new heart, Christ in us, supplies all the nourishment the soul needs. The reborn soul reflects spiritual life in the deeds of the body.

When Zacchaeus’ soul was reborn, he no longer wanted to cheat others to get rich, but—

“stood and said unto the Lord:

Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor;

and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation,

I restore him fourfold.”

Luke 19:8, KJV

Zacchaeus’ actions proved a soul reborn, even as the life we live shows our soul reborn.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you? …

  • Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
  • and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,
  • and hath given himself for us an offering
  • and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour …
  • For ye were sometimes darkness,
  • but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
  • (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth:) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 5:1-2, 8-10)

If our soul is not reborn, it is dying an endless death. The heart pumps blood, tainted with deceit, through that soul. Only the pure blood of Christ pumping through the heart can make a soul clean and acceptable to the Father. What would a person exchange for his soul?  Or, how much value do we put on life? More on that next time. Until then, think on this—Jesus gave great value to our souls when he redeemed us with his precious blood.

First Commandment (4): A New Heart

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The call came. The family rushed to the hospital. A heart was available. The window of time was critical. My brother-in-law lived much of his life with a weak, dying heart. Without a transplant, he would soon die. To save his life another died, one with a strong healthy heart.

“HEAR, O ISRAEL;

THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD:

AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD …

WITH ALL THY HEART …”

(from Mark 12:29,30)

My brother-in-law’s experience gives us a picture of receiving a new spiritual heart—

“For by grace are you saved trough faith;

and that not of yourselves:

it is the gift of God:”

Ephesians 2:8, KJV

The call of God, has gone out. There is a new heart available to replace the one dying from sin’s curse. To remove the cursed heart, a pure heart had to be sacrificed. Only one heart existed that qualified—one heart for all.

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith,

Behold the Lamb of God,

which taketh away the sin of the world…

  • Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation:
  • even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life …
  • That as sin hath reigned unto death,
  • even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” John 1:29; Romans 5:17,21

One brought death into the world and Jesus brought back life for all who will receive it. Our spiritual heart transplant came to us—

“with the precious blood of Christ,

as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

1 Peter 1:19, KJV

One died for all that all might live.

My brother-in-law’s life changed after his transplant. His love for life, for God, and others grew. His new heart gave him a fresh new perspective on living. He made the most of it for fifteen to twenty years. He died seeing his grandchildren. But he died to live forever.

When we receive our new spiritual heart, our lives are also changed forever. We are infused with a new purpose—loving God above all else. This love is made evident through the way we live. God’s word shows us what that life looks like.

  • It is a marathon run by every follower of Christ who has gone before us.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about

with so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us lay aside every weight,

and the sin which doth so easily beset us,

and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

Hebrews 12:1

  • This new life is one unencumbered by the cares and worries of this life, for we have one who invites us to—

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God,

that he may exalt you in due time:

Casting all your care upon him:

for he careth for you …

Therefore take no thought, saying,

What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink?

Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:)

for your heavenly Father

knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God,

and his righteousness;

and all these things shall be added unto you.”

(1 Peter 5:6,7; Matthew 31-34, KJV)

  • We have been given the Holy Spirit to empower us to say, “no,” to sin.

“But God be thanked,

that ye were the servants of sin,

but ye have obeyed from the heart

that form of doctrine which was delivered you …

But now being made free from sin

and become servants to God,

ye have your fruit unto holiness,

and the end everlasting life.”

Romans 6:17, 22, KJV

Not only do we have others who have patiently run this race, we have the Lord Jesus Christ. He faced every type of trial and temptation we face. He is our ultimate example of a life loving the heavenly Father. He said and did only what the Father put in his heart to do.

Loving God means

  • ceasing from self and trusting the love God has for us, even when faced with the hard things of life, including physical death.
  •  humbling ourselves, admitting we can’t do this on our own
  • relying fully on the love, grace, and strength of our heavenly Father, as Jesus did.
  • Jesus in us is our victory or ability to love God the way God loves us. We have Jesus to look to.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith:

who for the joy that was set before him

endured the cross, despising the shame,

and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2, KJV

May this be our prayer:

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;

that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

May be able to comprehend with all saints

what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height:

and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,

that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

Ephesians 3:17-19, KJV

And if we want to measure our love for God, here is his test.

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother,

he is a liar:

for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen,

how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

And this commandment have we from him,

That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

1John 4:20,21

There is an old song that says, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” It’s true, because we love with the love God has shown us and put into our new hearts. But we will visit this again when we get to the second greatest commandment. Until then, may we keep learning to love God with ALL our heart—and next with all our soul.

What do you think keeps us from surrendering all our new heart to our loving heavenly Father?

First Commandment: Part 3

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Money, prestige, respect of others, he had it all—except what he needed most. His life emulated service to the one true God of Israel, but the service grew out of a heart filled with a righteousness of his own making. Unrighteous works, deceit, fear, and hopelessness filled an empty heart. This emptiness found him running to and falling at the feet of Jesus crying,

“Good Master,

what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

(from Mark 10)

In his doing, the rich young ruler missed the greatest commandment,

“HEAR, O ISRAEL;

THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD:

AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD …

WITH ALL THY HEART …”

(from Mark 12:29,30)

Many in the world today, like the young man of the Bible, busily work to prove their own goodness. When in fact, the doing proves the wickedness of the human heart ruled by deceit.

“The heart is deceitful above all things,

and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Jeremiah 17:9, KJV

We want to believe we are good people when we are kind, give to the poor, and help our neighbor. None of us want to hear our heart—the motive behind why we do what we do—is wicked. But listen to what Jesus tells the one who came to him.

“And Jesus said unto him,

Why callest thou me good?

There is none good but one,

that is, God.”

Many will not receive Jesus’ words because our hearts are deceived into believing we are good. We are not murders, thieves, liars, or those who live in sexual sin or any number of evidential unrighteous behaviors as described by God. Our hearts declare us good when we compare ourselves to others. But Jesus noted there is only one to compare ourselves to, and that is God. Here we fall short. We miss the mark. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, chapter 3:10-12,23, reiterates this truth.

“As it is written,

  • THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE:
  • THERE IS NONE THAT UNDERSTANDETH,
  • THERE IS NONE THAT SEEKETH AFTER GOD.
  • THEY ARE ALL GONE OUT OF THE WAY,
  • THEY ARE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE;
  • THERE IS NONE THAT DOETH GOOD, NO , NOT ONE …
  • For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God:”

As the young man turned away from Jesus, so our hearts cry out, “No! This cannot be true! This is not me!” The cry emanates from a deceived heart. None, not one, all, makes it plain. The heart we are born with, the invisible part of us we begin life with, is marred with sin, ruled by self.

We don’t learn selfishness. An infant knows only its own needs and attaches itself to the one who fills those needs. As we grow, we believe we can provide for ourselves. We love self more than the one who gives us life—the One who is love and teaches us perfect love by his example and his provision.

The Lord God made a way for us to love him by first showing us his love, and then by giving us a heart transplant. When we come in agreement concerning who we are without him, turning to him, and receiving Jesus Christ, we receive a new heart.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God;

and renew a right spirit within me …

  • A new heart also will I give you,
  • and a new spirit will I put within you:
  • and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,
  • and I will give you an heart of flesh …

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,

and shalt believe in thine heart

that God hath raised him from the dead,

thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness,

and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

(Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26: Romans 10:9,10)

“None are righteous,” until our heart of self is replaced with a new heart filled with the righteousness of Christ. The heart transplant doesn’t hurt and takes only a moment of surrendering self into the Lord’s hands.

Knowing the love of God, we are able to love him with all our heart—our new heart. Have you turned away sad like the rich young ruler? Or have you received your new heart?

The First Commandment, Part 2

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“HEAR, O ISRAEL;

THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD:

AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD …”

Moses penned these words first in Deuteronomy 6:4 to the fledgling nation of Israel on their journey to a land the Lord God promised them. Only two of the millions of adults Moses addressed that day would  enter into the land of promise. The unbelief of the majority in the one true God disqualified them from the inheritance the Lord provided for the taking. They gave their love to another kingdom ruled by their lust. The early children of Israel hardly made it out of the starting gate in keeping the first commandment.

The Lord God had spoken to Israel through Moses, explaining the details of loving him. After God rescued Israel from the Egyptians, freeing them from a life of slavery, the Lord spelled out his covenant law of love.

“Thou shalt have not other gods before me.”

He alone proved his worthiness to reign as the one and only God supreme. By his power Israel was born. By his mighty work through Jesus Christ, we have been born again.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image …”

To make a graven image, an idol, is to give worth to the works of our own making. Our works cannot bring life. Only God was, is, and always will be the author of life—for in him is life. He alone is worthy of being our Lord.

“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain …”

The Lord God chose Israel to bear his name to the heathen nations—the Gentile world. They were to be his witnesses. Their refusal rendered the Lord’s name weak before the world’s eyes. We who are Christ’s disciples bear his name. We have been called to be his witnesses. When we misrepresent the name of Christ we render him weak, a god not worthy to be called Lord.

In these commandments the Lord God shows us what loving him looks like. They are not a list of don’ts but a list of how to. Loving God—

  • Means he is the only one for me.
  • Recognizing he is my creator and redeemer who has given me life twice.
  • I am by his design and desire.
  • Honoring my Lord with my life that others may see Jesus in me.

As you can see these words—“HEAR, O ISRAEL; THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD: AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD …”

Are not for Israel alone. Jesus repeated them in Matthew’s and Mark’s gospels to all who would hear.

Our love is to be directed to the Lord God. The word used in this verse is the same word used for God’s agapeo love for us. It is the love he fills us with when are born into his kingdom. We receive it by grace through faith. To know God begins here, and here love is born in us—

  • a love that chooses to be attached to the Lord,
  • to have a passionate desire to be his own,
  • to live and walk in the presence of his love.
  • It’s a love that takes us back to the Garden of Eden before sin entered the world.
  • It is a delight, a joy to be in the Lord’s presence.
  • It’s no more hiding because of sin.
  • It is a love that lusts to bring God pleasure, for that is why we were created.

“Thou art worthy, O Lord,

to receive glory and honour and power:

for thou hast created all things,

and for thy pleasure

they are and were created.”

Revelation 4:11

Is the Lord God your first love, or is your passion, your focus in need of rekindling? Remember all that our God is and all he has done, then run to him and renew that passion for him. Let us not be like the early Israelites lusting for our own pleasures but give ourselves to the pleasure of our Lord God who is worthy.

                                                                                                                                    

The First Commandment, Part 1

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The First Commandment, Part 1

The servant king rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The multitude hailed him with hosanna’s and blessings. But lurking in the shadows, the religious elite waited for their opportunity to destroy him. The week digressed from the triumphant entry when Jesus cleansed the temple, and the chief priests, scribes, and elders joined forces to trap him in his own words.

Each attempt failed to discredit the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, but one more rose to try. He asked Jesus, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

The Lord quoted a well-known scripture to the scribe, Deuteronomy 6:4,5.

“HEAR, O ISRAEL;

THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD:

AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD

WITH ALL THY HEART,

AND WITH ALL THY SOUL,

AND WITH ALL THY MIND,

AND WITH ALL THY STRENGTH:

this is the first commandment.”

Jesus doesn’t stop there but continues with—

“And the second is like, namely this,

THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF.

There is none other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31, KJV

If my memory serves me right, over the years of the Old Testament, a total of 633 commandments, precepts, and traditions ruled. Jesus wrapped them up in the heart of God with two. The first one beginning with recognizing there is only one God who is Lord of all. And the word instructs us to—

Love the Lord thy God …

To understand what loving God looks like, we first need to understand what love is.

Poets have sought to describe love. Singers have recorded numerous songs extolling love. Actors have portrayed it on screen(some to cause us to blush). But only one word epitomizes love—God.

“He that loveth not knoweth not God;

for God is love.”

1 John 4:8

In order for us to obey this first commandment, we must come to know God. He shows us how to love by the love he has shown us through Jesus Christ.

“For when we were yet without strength,

in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die:

yet peradventure for a good man

some would even dare to die.

But God commendeth his love toward us,

in that, while we were yet sinners,

Christ died for us …

In this was manifested the love of God,

because that God sent his only begotten Son

into the world,

that we might live through him.”

Romans 8:6-8:1 John 4:9; KJV

None are exempt. We all stood before the throne of God guilty and deserving death. He found none of us righteous. We lived under condemnation, facing the wounds of sins’ whip and the torturous eternity of death. We walked as dead ones, enemies of God, with no strength to save ourselves from a hopeless future. Yet, the love of God mixed with his mercy and grace came down to us in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. Before sin could destroy us, our Lord God sent his Son to take our place. We didn’t know love until we came to know God. Now—

“We love him, because he first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

God’s love has brought us hope and the power to love as he does.

“And hope maketh not ashamed;

because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts

by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Romans 5:5, KJV

An impossible commandment, Love the Lord thy God, is made possible through the indwelling of God, the Holy Spirit. We can love with the love of God dwelling in us. We, now, have the power to choose to love and know the joy that comes with loving.

Through the next few weeks, my desire is to break down the two greatest commandments further. For today, my prayer for us is to open our hearts, minds, souls, and strength to be filled with the fullness of God’s love and come to know and love him more. As we do this, we will find ourselves loving our neighbors and even our enemies. How our world would change if the love of God reigned in our hearts.


How is your love for God seen by others?