A Matter Of Love

Stone heart
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. —Deuteronomy 6:5

“Where intellect and emotion clash, the heart often has the greater wisdom” wrote the authors of A General Theory of Love. In the past, they say, people believed that the mind should rule the heart, but science has now discovered the opposite to be true. “Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.”

Those familiar with Scripture recognize this as an ancient truth, not a new discovery. The most important commandment God gave to His people gives the heart the prominent place. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5). Not until the gospels of Mark and Luke do we learn that Jesus added the word mind (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). So, what scientists are just now discovering, the Bible taught all along.

Those of us who follow Christ also know the importance of whom we love. When we obey the greatest commandment and make God the object of our love, we can be assured of having a purpose that transcends anything we could imagine or our strength could achieve. When our desire for God dominates our hearts, our minds will stay focused on ways to serve Him, and our actions will further His kingdom on earth and in heaven. By Julie Ackerman Link

According to rabbinic tradition, there are 613 commandments in the Torah (the Pentateuch) which every pious Jew must keep. When asked which of these commandments is the most important, Jesus (quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18) said to “love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbor” (Mark 12:30-31). All the commandments are summarized in the duty to love (Matt. 22:40). This priority of love is echoed by John, the apostle of love, in 1 John 4:7-21.

Lord, we long to make You the supreme desire of our
heart. As You taught Your disciples to pray,
so too we ask You to teach us how to love.
Guide us today.

Count as lost each day you have not used in loving God. —Brother Lawrence

Confusion in the Church

1 John 5:12-13

Numerous people believe in God, attend church, and are convinced that they will someday go to heaven. But of these, far too many are misinformed about salvation.

Some believe that a person’s eternal destiny depends solely on how much good he accomplishes in his lifetime. Others accept that Jesus died for us but think we have to contribute toward salvation through works. Both views are incorrect.

The Word of God teaches that we are saved only through a personal faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). What He did—namely, living a perfect life and dying for our sins—is what makes us right with God. When we receive Jesus as our Savior, His completed work is credited to our account. Our sin debt is paid by His blood, and His righteousness is applied to us. Remember, we’re saved not by what we do but by whom we trust. We can’t add to or take away from Christ’s finished work on the cross (John 19:30; Acts 4:12).

Another common area of confusion involves the erroneous idea that once saved, we must do certain works for God to keep loving us. Attending church, reading the Bible, and praying are important practices for God’s children, but His love does not hinge on our actions. Scripture is clear that love is our heavenly Father’s nature (1 John 4 :8).

It’s essential that faith be grounded in biblical truth. Receiving forgiveness of our sins, belonging to God’s family, and dwelling with Him forever depend on it. Do your beliefs agree with Scripture?

Valentine’s Day

“Who so findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:22)

Embedded in many of our customs and holidays are a mixture of pagan and biblical principles. Saint Valentine’s Day is no exception. Mystery surrounds who Valentine really was. He was probably a priest martyred in 269 A.D. at Rome. Among Roman Catholics, he is called the patron saint of affianced couples, beekeepers, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people. He is one busy man!

In the Western world, the emphasis is on human expressions of love and friendship. That is certainly of importance and, when guided by the biblical principles, a godly ardor worth commemorating. Here are a few guidelines to remember this season:

– “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9).
– “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
– “See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22).
– “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
– “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).

The objective of every kind of biblical “love” is stated in Paul’s prayer for the Philippian church: “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9). HMM III

Confirming Signs

And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with mem, and confirming the word with signs following. —Mark 16:20

Such words as these in the second chapter of Hebrews stand as a rebuke to the unbelieving Christians of our day: “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will” (Hebrews 2:4). A cold Church is forced to “interpret” such language. She cannot enter into it, so she explains it away. Not a little juggling is required, and not a few statements for which there is no scriptural authority, but anything will do to save face and justify our half-dead condition. Such defensive exegesis is but a refuge for unbelieving orthodoxy, a hiding place for a Church too weak to stand.

No one with a knowledge of the facts can deny the need for supernatural aid in the work of world evangelization. We are so hopelessly outclassed by the world’s superior strength that for us it means either God’s help or sure defeat. The Christian who goes out without faith in “wonders” will return without fruit. No one dare be so rash as to seek to do impossible things unless he has first been empowered by the God of the impossible. “The power of the Lord was there” is our guarantee of victory.

May the power of the Lord be with me in my ministry, so that I might not be “outclassed by the world’s superior strength.” Amen.

Bad Dispositions: “The Vice of the Virtuous”

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

A bad disposition has been called “the vice of the virtuous,” which brings us directly to the conclusion that it is time we Christians stop trying to excuse our un-Christlike dispositions and frankly admit our failure to live as we should!

Wesley said that we will not injure the cause of Christ by admitting our sins, but that we are sure to do so by denying them.

Dispositional sins are as many as the various facets of human nature. Just so there be no misunderstanding let us list a few of them: Sensitiveness, irritability, churlishness, faultfinding, peevishness, temper, resentfulness, cruelty, uncharitable attitudes; and of course there are many more.

These kill the spirit of the church and slow down any progress which the gospel may be making in the community. Many persons who had been secretly longing to find Christ have been turned away and embittered by manifestations of ugly dispositional flaws in the lives of the very persons who were trying to win them!

Unsaintly saints are the tragedy of Christianity. The low state of religion in our day is largely due to the lack of public confidence in religious people.

There is a remedy for inward evil. The power of Christ can enable the worst of us to live lives of purity and love. We have but to seek it and to lay hold of it in faith. God will not disappoint us!

Activity Is Not Enough

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart… and rest a while. MARK 6:31

Those who try to give warnings to the Christian church are never very popular. Still, I must voice the caution that our craze for “activity” brings very few enriching benefits into our Christian circles. Look into the churches, and you will find groups of half-saved, half-sanctified, carnal people who know more about social niceties than they do about the New Testament.

It is a fact that many of our church folks are activists—engaged in many religious journeys—but they do not seem to move up any closer to Jesus in heart and in spirit.

This modern religious emphasis on activity reminds me of the Japanese mice I have seen in the pet store windows. They are called waltzing mice—but they do not waltz. They just run continually!

Many in our churches hope to have a part in “something big and exciting.” But God calls us back—back to the simplicity of the faith; back to the simplicity of Jesus Christ and His unchanging Person!

Dear Lord, help me to find some quiet moments in the midst of today’s schedule to focus my thoughts on Your goodness and mercy.