“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6: 4, 5
These two verses are powerful; they inspire one to evaluate his or her relationship with God. Verse four is a reminder of the first of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Thus, God is demanding total faithfulness and loyalty. Verse five is repeated throughout the scriptures and is thought to be the greatest of all the commandments.
We are commanded to love God. Love is certainly a powerful emotion; however, it appears that our love for God is also a decision that we make on a conscious level based on our knowledge of him. We know God showed his great love for us by sending his Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, and I cannot think of any greater expression or example of love than that!
Then, how can we show our love for God? We can begin by learning about him, by reading his word, and by putting him first in our lives. Also, having a genuine love and respect for our fellow man and the world that God created for us is an important aspect of our love for God. Remember: God is our priority in all of life. Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might!
Dear God: Help us to show our love for you, and you alone, in all that we think, say, and do every day! Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, “When I sent you out without a purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “No, not a thing.” Luke 22:35
This verse is found in the book of Luke shortly before Jesus is arrested. As I read this verse, it immediately took my mind back to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus called upon ordinary men to follow him. These men became Jesus’ twelve disciples. In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” The disciples left their families, professions, money and all their belongings in order to journey with Jesus as he ministers to people about God’s love. Hence, “He sent them out without a purse, bag or sandals.” Jesus’ plan for his disciples was for them to completely trust and depend on God for all their needs. God provided their needs through gracious people who welcomed them into their homes. And, as the disciples journeyed with Jesus, they DID learn to trust God for everything. So when Jesus asked his disciples, “Did you lack anything?”, they replied, ” No, not a thing.”
Today, so many of us focus on material things such as how nice is our house, clothes, toys, furniture. How much money do we have or do we have the latest cell phone or computer? Sometimes we use our material things to identify our self-worth. Jesus reminds us that we need to trust God completely for all our needs. He will provide us with the things we need and when we need it. Our focus needs to be more on helping and loving others. God will take care of everything else. We lack nothing when we realize God loves us unconditionally!
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please help us focus on your love for us and guide us to love one another. Steer us away from putting material things first. We lack “nothing” with you by our side!! In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
In today’s world we sometimes find it hard to figure out how God is working in our lives, daily we hear news about all the bad things happening around the world. In our personal lives many times we struggle with problems that seem to have no solution or no end. When we ask ourselves who do we turn to, the answer has been with us since the beginning of time. If we accept God into our lives and trust in him, life will be easier for us.
God knows that everyday life sometimes is a struggle. God gave his only Son to die on a cross, that we might better understand his love for us.
Trusting in God is our answer to help us better deal with life’s struggles and problems.
Prayer: God as we go through our daily lives, help us better understand that trusting in you will comfort us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. Romans 10:12
This verse reminds us that God loves all believers. To him there are no nations, races or denominations; there are only those who call upon him. As in Paul’s time, we today might view people who are different as being somehow inferior for the color of their skin, their country of origin, their cultural practices and so on. Our first thoughts upon seeing a person whose appearance is of Middle Eastern descent, for example, may be that we cannot trust him or her and should avoid the person. We must remember, however, that the person may actually already be a believer in Christ, and if he isn’t we must still treat him or her with love and respect, for we might be his/her only hope for receiving the Truth. Another example of our error might be our inclination upon hearing of Palestinians attacking Israel, or vice-versa, to forget that there are fellow Christians who are a part of both of those groups. Let us not forget that God is the God of all nations and people.
Prayer: Dear Father, please help us to remember that you are the God of all your creation. No matter what our traditional dress, our ethnicity, our country of residence, the language we speak or any other petty differences, you love us all and will richly bless all who call upon your name. Help us respect and love those who are different from ourselves that we may live in peace with one another. In God’s name, Amen.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Today is the first day in Lent and for forty days, not counting Sundays, we will do our best to try and be closer to God and Jesus. We generally do this through sacrifice and with sacrifice, self-reflection. While we self-reflect it is our goal that we get closer to our creator and through that we will have a clean heart and spirit.
If our goal is to be closer spiritually to God and Jesus, then volunteering or giving to others during Lent appears to be an equally worthy option. Throughout his ministry, Jesus told us over and over again that the way to him is to help and love others. Following Jesus’ ministry, we ensure that our hearts are clean and that we have a right spirit within each and every one of us. Not only does emulating Jesus help ourselves, it has a much larger effect on the community in which we live. While self-sacrifice is a great way to be spiritually closer to God and Jesus, giving of ourselves has a much larger impact in the world.
Prayer: Loving God, Thank you for sending us your Son to sacrifice himself for us. During this season, let us never forget to think of others and help those in need. In your name we pray, Amen.
James & Rebecca Keller