Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
It was 1994, I was 24 and broke. My son was almost five and needed things we couldn’t afford. Things like speech therapy not covered by insurance, specialists who cost more than our weekly income and more.
God always provided.
Our total need and His undeniable faithfulness grew my faith more than anything else.
When God blessed us with unexpected finances, what do you think we spent it on?
Therapy and equipment our son needed.
We aren’t saints – we’re parents. That’s what parents do – give up stuff we want for things our kids need.
We sacrifice for love.
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21
Jesus says if I love Him, I keep His commands. Part of loving God, loving Jesus is obedience.
The opposite of obedience is rebellion.
I have often been told I have a rebellious spirit. When I feel controlled or manipulated I rebel.
When I feel judged, I rebel.
Jesus was considered a rebel in His time too – He rebelled against hypocrisy and the religious leaders of His day. He rebelled against customs and traditions He knew were not of God.
“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.” Luke 11:42
Jesus tells me not to get so caught up in rules I forget what’s important.
- I go to church, lead a Bible study, pray but won’t be inconvenienced to give someone a ride.
- I lift hands to the Lord in worship but keeping my schedule or appointment is more important than stopping to help someone in need.
- I have an empty guest room but never think to offer it – or I don’t want to because it’s not easy to have someone stay with me. I like my privacy.
I can miss the heart of God when I focus solely on rules – the thou shalls and thou shalt nots.
I fool myself into thinking I’m a card carrying Christian when what I do isn’t following, it’s sitting on the sidelines in a comfy chair that requires nothing.
Love gives and love gives up.
There is no love without sacrifice – cost determines value.
Jesus says don’t neglect the important things – He also says obedience is important.
He says if I love Him, I obey His commands.
He commands me to love sacrificially.
He commands me to forgive, give to God what is God’s and obey the laws of man.
He says He didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.
I am under grace but grace doesn’t say it’s okay to lie, cheat or steal.
The father of lies is satan – it’s his native tongue.
When I lie, it’s not only sin, it’s rebellion.
It’s choosing self over trusting God.
It’s turning away.
I can’t serve two masters – I can’t serve self and God.
I must choose this day whom I will serve.
All the seemingly insignificant, small choices build my character and my life.
Those choices are steps.
Steps toward God or away from Him.
Steps toward what He calls me to or steps away from it.
Love is obedience and obedience is love.
When I love someone, I make choices that align with that love. I don’t want to hurt them or let them down.
It’s the same with God.
He knows I can never measure up – I am dirt and dust.
In His love and grace, He provided a counselor, a mediator, a Savior.
A way back.
When I mess up – it’s always a heart issue. It’s always a statement I don’t believe or trust God is who He says He is.
It answers the question, “Who do you say I am?” with “not enough”
God is big – big enough to handle my rebellion and sin. He waits patiently for me to unclench my hands and soften my stiff neck. He waits for me to come back to Him.
In unbelief I question.
I circle around and around asking, “Why God?”
“Where are you?”
When it’s my heart that’s hard.
My neck that’s stiff.
I’ve gone my own way.
Obeying His commands often means giving up my plans for His.
It means waiting on His timing instead of grabbing the reigns to make it happen.
It means putting myself aside for someone else.
If I say I love Jesus and practice a form of religion yet ignore my family or have a prejudiced heart – does it honor God?
Does it allow people to see Jesus?
You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:16
What I do shows the condition of my heart and who I’m following.
Thankfully, when I love God with a sincere and willing heart, He prunes the thorn bushes and grows the grapes.
He gently picks and removes weeds.
He faithfully shows up and demonstrates I can trust Him – even with the dusty corners and frayed edges.
He leads me away from my destructive chaos toward still waters.
In faithfulness and love, He restores my soul.