Sunday, June 3, 2012

With All Your Heart

... Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all  your heart...Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you. 
I Samuel 12:20, 24. (ESV)

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  Matthew 22:37 (ESV)

If you've been keeping up with the Sisters' reading schedule, you've finished 1 Samuel by now.  I hope that in your reading you ran across the  first verse that I listed above.  When I sit down to read my daily scripture passages, I ask God to speak to me through what I read in His Word; to show me at least one important thing from the passage.  I was struck by the many times "heart" came up in a couple scripture passages that I was reading in 1 Samuel.

Samuel, the last judge of Israel, was warning the people about their actions.   This was not the first warning  the Israelites had received about their actions and heart placement.  Read the book of Judges; it's full of the cycles of following God with all their heart, falling away from following God, persecution or trouble  because of the falling away, a confession of their sins, and a return to loving God with all their hearts.  In 1 Samuel 7:3 Samuel warned the people to "put away the foreign gods... and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only." The next verse says that the people put away their gods and only served God.  And if you've studied the Old Testament at all, you know that service didn't last long.

I pondered a couple things.  What happened to the Israelites that caused them to fall away from loving God with all their heart? Do those same things happen to us?  The answer to the later question is simple: yes.  The answer to the former question is both simple and not so simple.  Simple because the answer is that they no longer loved God with all their heart.  The not so simple part is why they no longer loved the Lord with all their heart.   Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. Jeremiah 17:5 (ESV)  We are human.  We are distracted by the things of the flesh.  We see those who aren't Christians getting what they want: new toys, better cars, more money.  And we desire those things as well even though these things may not be part of God's Will for us.  We end up looking to each other or our selves for answers instead of trusting God; not a good thing to do.

Please do not think that I'm only preaching to the readers of this blog.  I am preaching to myself on this matter.  I struggle daily with where my heart is at in God's will for me.  I don't often enough review my activities and actions and ask myself if my choices demonstrate loving God "with all my heart" and then as a result change my actions.  There have been times when I haven't loved God with all my heart that God has chosen to hit me upside the head with a 2x4.  Not a real one but I think you understand.  I don't like those 2x4 moments.  But I do know that those moments are meant to pull me back to loving God with all my heart.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.  Jeremiah 17: 7-8 (ESV)

When we love the Lord with all our heart, we are like the tree in the verse above.  We don't need to fear what may come our way.  In our struggles we should draw upon Him, knowing that He only wants what is best for us.  Remember, our idea of what is best for us isn't always God's idea. 

What it comes down to is this: moment by moment we need to love God with all our heart.  Loving God with all our heart may require starting new habits and putting away the bad habits.  We can't do it on our own.    Prayer and reading scripture draw us close to Him as well as moment by moment asking for His help to keep our heart focused on Him.  Don't be afraid to discuss your struggles with a trusted Christian friend.  They may have been through similar struggles and can offer support and prayer. 

My prayer for the Sisters is that we will each love God with all our heart.  Please pray for each other in the spirit of Epaphras (Colossians 4:12).

Sister Jane
Romans 14:8

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