Love…Beyond Christianity…

We all remember from as early as Sabbath school to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It can be a challenge, but it’s one Christians practice daily in their walks with God. However, many overlook the command just before this one, in Mark, when Jesus says to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” This is a sweeping mandate. How does one actually love God with heart, soul, and strength, even in times of anger or despair?

It’s humanly impossible for even the most dedicated and faithful individuals on earth to follow this mandate completely throughout life. That does not mean it’s not worth striving for. Following these commands to love God with everything we have means putting our trust in Christ and continually asking for understanding, guidance, and strength. Knowing God is the first step, but it’s not enough. This one passage encompasses the entire reason faith is a lifelong journey.

Going to church, studying the Bible, praying, and having conversations with other Christians are only part of the answer. Our thoughts, motivations, and feelings, along with the intensity of those characteristics, must also be routinely evaluatedand redirected. It’s the culmination of all of these combined with outward actions of compassion that demonstrate our love of God with all of our minds, bodies, and souls.

The Story of Job

 

The story of Job imparts much wisdom to the Christian directive to love God with everything we have. When Job is afflicted with pain and suffering after living a seemingly righteous life, he can be interpreted as a patient sufferer even in the midst of unrighteous circumstances. Today, we often hear of Christian persecution in the Middle East. These individuals have often followed a calling to bring more followers to Christ and have risked their lives to do so. In the stories related on the media, many are incarcerated and die for their beliefs.

While you may never have to undergo extreme circumstances like Job, understanding his fortitude in times of strife may be helpful in framing your current trials and tribulations. Are there times when you feel forsaken by God and don’t understand His purpose? Like all of us who struggle for understanding, God’s point and purpose may not seem clear today, tomorrow, or in this life.

In your search for loving God with all your being, pray for patience and clarity every day. For many, unwavering faith is not like a light-switch, but more like practicing for a marathon. Unless you train consistently and mold your thoughts, feelings, and actions with positive influences, you may not be able to make it through the last part of the race.

Are you looking for that missing piece in your life? Embracing Christ as your savior and starting to train for the greatest marathon in life will be the most rewarding experience you can have. St. Peter’s Church and World Outreach Center welcomes anyone looking for answers. Together we can help one another build a strong love for God that will carry us through the good times and the bad.

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What life is all about…

“…look I put everything before you, good and evil and life and death, and look I give you power of choice, so you choose for yourself. Choose what is right and live forever”image

Life is not about what you have or what you do not have. Life is the sum of experiences that we encounter as we go through life. Day to day struggles and triumphs are experienced by all of the world’s creatures. As human beings, when we encounter a challenge, we have freedom to choose how to react. Every decision that we make leads us down a different road. We will never come to exactly the same crossroads. Every decision that we make has significance. The tiniest choice that we make reverberates throughout the entire universe.

Life is full of challenges. Economic difficulties, serious illnesses, family problems, and political unrest plague people on a daily basis. How a person faces each challenge that comes their way however, says much about their character, who they are on the inside. Some people draw strength and inspiration from the experiences of others, others from their own. But all in all, life is all about decisions, choices that we make…be wise!!!

Trusting God come what may…

“Lord, I want to trust you, but I don’t know how!”

When life throws that curve ball and you have the wind knocked out of you, what do you do? Where do you turn?

When we were kids we used to put a small hole in each end of an egg and then blow the contents out. The egg looked like any other in the bowl, but it was hollow. When pressure was applied to it, it broke easily into shattered pieces. I often think of that egg as I field life’s curve balls and as I watch others do the same. A hollowness in our souls will leave us feeling shattered from the pressures of life.

When a relationship becomes strained, when illness robs your days, when your stomach churns with the stress of unpaid bills, when the unexpected happens, do you crumble like a hollow eggshell or do you know where to find strength for your inner soul?

God’s Word, the Bible, has principles for living. Principles written for us by the very God that created us and understands the hollowness that can creep unbidden into our souls. This is not merely positive thinking or visualization, this is help from the God of the universe, the same God that sent His son Jesus to be the source of everything we need to face the curve balls of life.

Listen to the promise for you that comes straight from the heart of Father God:

“May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in him
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

Did you hear it? Joy, peace and hope offered to you by the God of hope!! This is not just a promise to “get by” or to be a “survivor” – it’s a promise of overflowing with hope – of being filled with joy and peace!!

Sounds a bit like fluff doesn’t it! Is it really possible to be pulled from the pit of despair and overflow with hope? Yes but it’s supernatural, it’s God’s part, He does it when we do our part.

And what is our part? It’s that little phrase sandwiched in – between the promise of being filled with joy and peace and the promise of overflowing with hope – our part is an individual thing – “as you trust in Him”.

But how? How does one trust? In the storms of life I find people desperately wanting to trust this God that offers hope, but simply not knowing how to when the waves are coming fast and threatening to pull them under.

God even gives us the formula in His Word. Listen to it – it comes from the book in the Bible named “Lamentations”:

“Because of the Lord’s great love
we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is His faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3: 22 & 23

When trouble strikes and our hearts grow faint we so often forget the great love our Father in Heaven has for us and we begin to doubt the goodness of God toward us. When that happens we begin to be consumed by our stress and our fears and begin to blame God. When we follow God’s formula and recall His great love for us, reminding ourselves daily of His compassion toward us, our hearts gain strength.

God knows the daily need we have to remember His kindness toward us in the middle of our unkind circumstances, so He calls us to focus on it every morning. His compassions that never fail us are His resources to carry us through our day and all the hard points in our present storm. Has hope, peace and strength vanished in the wind of your storm? His peace, His strength, His wisdom, His understanding, His hope will become yours as you ask Him for it – supernaturally His source of whatever you need today will become yours.

As you lean into His great love for you today, and lean on His resources you will not be consumed, you will not be crushed like the hollow eggshell. You will find Him faithful step by step by step – that’s trusting.

Never doubt the love and the goodness of God to you. He doesn’t promise a storm free life but He does promise to be the anchor in the storm so that you will not be overcome!

Trust Him daily. Trust Him hourly and learn to trust Him moment by moment. His resources will not only get you through but you will truly grow to experience Him as the source of hope overflowing “by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Try Him. Trust Him. He is our faithful God!