“What if you really loved God?
“‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30 NKJV). You probably have read the previous verse thousands of times. Yet, do you really understand what it means to love God? Sure, many say they love God, believe they love God, or have convinced themselves they do. However, does that make it true?
Love can be defined many ways and, over the years, it has been defined in various ways; scholars define love one way, politicians define love another, still family and friends define love another way. Some have said if you truly love someone, you will take care of them, pay attention to them, and really listen to them.
Love for God
A love for God has been declared by some to be a one-time act of “accepting” Christ into your heart. A love for God has been declared by some as helping the poor and those in poor health. A love for God by others has been defined as attending the services of the church every once in a while. Still, others will argue that a love for God is living a godly life. To understand what a love for God is, we must first understand God’s love for you and me.
Biblical love for man
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV). The Bible tells us that God loves us so much He sent His Son to die. His Word also tells us He did this while you and I were still in our sins – while you and I were still in our wretched, self-absorbed, sinful way of life!
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NKJV). God’s love is a sacrificial love. He loves us with a love that, let’s be honest, we do not deserve.
Biblical love for God
To love God is to follow Him daily. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24 NJKV). You can almost see people today rolling their eyes and shaking their heads when you say such straight forward and biblical things. However, this statement is still true. Is it not? To love God is to lead others to Christ and to show them why they ought to love Christ as well. “So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him” (Acts 8:30-31 NKJV).
Do you really love God?
Something to think about!
One of the great lessons of the New Testament is Christianity is a taught religion. People were converted in the book of Acts because children of God went and taught them what they needed to do in order to be saved. Philip had to go and teach the eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. Saul had to be taught by Ananias what he needed to do in the next chapter. Never do we find someone being converted to the gospel through some supernatural means or an overtaking of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is something which is taught and learned.
Part of the growing process is for Christians to continue to learn the principles and precepts God would have them to know. Paul returned to the congregations he had helped to establish wanting them to continue to grow (Acts 14:22). Much of human growth and development is about what a person can learn through study and personal experience. There are things which have to be initially learned, relearned, and perhaps even reinforced in the individual. There are even some things which are indeed learned even when people might try to persuade otherwise. Biblically, there are several things which are learned and must continue to be learned if Christians are going to live acceptably before God. This article will notice a few things which are learned. All of them will begin with the letter “L.”
First, a child of God must learn to learn. This might seem somewhat odd at first glance, but a deeper look reveals that a person must learn to learn. The key passage under consideration for this point is Acts 17:11 which reads, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” It is so easy for people to trust in their religious leaders. So many will justify their actions by making statements such as, “well, my preacher says…” or, “I read a book that states….” Such justifications are really no justifications at all. Each person will give an account of their own deeds done in the body (Romans 14:12). God expects His people to stand on their own faith and to individually know what they know to be true and right. Psalm 25:4 declares, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.” A Christian must learn to learn.
One of the ways in which Christians learn to learn is by learning to listen. Jeremiah 22:29 says, “O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the Lord!” The emphasis of the passage is to listen to the Lord. There is a difference between hearing something and actually listening to what is being said. Some will hear the noise in the background and even be able to recite what has been said to them, but they have not really listened to what has been said. Jesus used the phrase, “Take heed” several times indicating what He was about to say was very, very important (Matthew 6:1, 16:6, 18:10; 24:4). In Mark 4:3, Jesus got the attention of the people by simply saying, “Listen!” Today, people need to stop and listen to what God is telling them through His word. It is said that many people will hear what God says and respond with such phrases as, “Well, I understand what the Bible says but…” or, “I do not want to hear what the Bible says about….” The latter of these two phrases is at least honest but will certainly not get anyone into Heaven’s gates. People need to learn to listen to what God says and obey it (James 1:22).
Next, Christians need to learn to love. This is one of the items which many people will say cannot be learned. They will say love is a feeling. While certain kinds of love are felt, biblical love is learned. This is why the Bible commands love in Matthew 22:37-40. As seen in these passages, first Christians are to learn to love God. God explains what Christians need to do in order to love Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). God, through Paul, commanded husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33). Older women are to teach the younger women to love their husbands (Titus 2:4). Interestingly, Jesus commanded Christians to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35). The natural inclination of men is to hate their enemies but Jesus commands His followers to love them. This only emphasizes the fact that biblical love is something which is learned. A godly person will learn to love God and their fellow man.
Another thing Christians will learn is how to laugh. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” There are certainly times when it is inappropriate to laugh. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 explains there is a time for all the different emotions which are experienced by mankind. Some would argue Christianity is far too serious of a matter to be laughing about it. However, it needs to be understood that humor and laughter are both parts of God’s creation. He created man with the ability to laugh. The proverbs writer explains what modern medicine has only learned relatively recently. God knew it well before the medical field. Laughter is good for an individual. The opposite is also true, as the writer explains. A broken spirit can lead an individual to depression and other emotions which are not good for the individual. Therefore, there is a time when it is appropriate to laugh. Humor certainly has a place in life. Christians need to learn to laugh.
When the child of God learns to learn what God would have them to know, learns to listen to the word of God, learns to love as God wants them to love, and learns to laugh in the way God would deeply appropriate, then the child of God can live. In fact, the child of God can live in a great way. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). John said, “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1John 1:4). Finally, Paul said Jesus, “...is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” (Ephesians 3:20). God does not just want His children to walk through life but He wants them to live and live in a great way. When His children learn the things He wants them to know, they can have a great life which is full of joy. They learn to live.
- Jeremy Northrop
How many times have we heard the words, “Don’t judge me” or maybe the phrase, “The Bible teaches that we must not judge others?” Most in the world today dislikes doctrine with its restrictive principles. It craves liberty and compromise. It loudly advocates the “let me alone to do as I please” philosophy. This present world dislikes anyone who will bring it face to face with responsibilities and sinful conduct. Consequently, many go to Matthew 7:1-4 to fortify their idea of “no judging at all.” Some are prone to justify their lifestyles and want others to overlook sinful activities by saying, “I will leave you alone if you will leave me alone.”
The question we must ask and answer is what does God say? I believe that God intends and requires that we make judgments as to activities of ourselves as well as others.
The word judge, (κρίνω) means to make a distinction; to separate; to exercise judgment upon; to call to account. The word does not mean to form an opinion. It is not imputing wrong motives for others actions. The wrong standard is never to be used, because that same standard will eventually be applied to us. (Matthew 7:2). Any judgment must be based upon the proper standard, which is God's word (John 12:48).
We must ask, “What judgments are forbidden?” It is true; we do not pass eternal judgment upon people. Everyone will ultimately stand before the great judge on the final day (Matthew 25:31 33; 7:23). We must never make judgments which are based upon an inadequate standard. It must never be based upon what I think or what I feel. All judgments must be based upon God's word (1 John 4:1).
What judgments are we allowed to make? In 1 Corinthians chapter 5, the apostle Paul instructed the church to withdraw themselves from an individual within the church. Also, in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 we read, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly...” In doing so, judgments must be applied. A determination is to be made whether or not the person is living in sin. Thus, the congregation MUST make a judgment concerning the situation. JUDGING IS A MUST! To oppose religious error and false teachers, we must make the judgment that they are wrong. Jesus did (Matthew 15:9), Paul taught the same, (Galatians 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:16 17; Titus 3:10). John makes it clear as to how judgments are to be made. He said, “Judge not according to appearance, BUT JUDGE righteous judgment” (John 7:24). And when we read farther down in Matthew chapter 7 we are told that we could know “them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15 16). We must always remember, the purpose of making judgments is to encourage the sinner to repent so as to save a soul from damnation (Luke 17:3; Matthew 18:15 17).
- by Toney Smith
The term “fire water” has been used to describe a very dangerous and even toxic beverage. Yearly it is consumed by billions of people around the world. When consumed straight from the bottle it burns the sensitive tissues of the mouth, throat and stomach. It is so strong it is often diluted with sodas and fruit juices to make the horribly strong taste more palatable. It is commonly known as whiskey.
Perhaps you are not aware of this fact: wine, beer and all liquors contain ethyl alcohol, or ethanol; the same element is now being mixed with gasoline as fuel to burn in automobiles. This harsh chemical is actually toxic. When consumed in large quantities it can make people vomit, which is the indication that your body is being poisoned. It will destroy internal organs such as the vital liver which essential for life. If a person drinks too much alcohol at one time they can actually die from alcohol poisoning. This actually happens but since the news does not cover such deaths it is not a well known fact. Add to these factors that literally thousands are killed on the highways each and every year in fatal automobile accidents; while others are left maimed.
The government makes cigarette manufacturers place warnings on their packaging concerning the dangers of smoking. Not so for users of alcohol. Thankfully God has given us warnings in his word. He warns that alcohol is a mocker and can bring awful consequences to our lives (Prov. 20:1; 23:29-35). He also teaches us that it can poison a person like the sting of a viper (Prov. 23:32). If anyone has seen the destruction of the soul through alcohol it is the God of heaven. In Proverbs 31:4-5 He mentions that it can pervert our thinking so that our decisions are unsound. I do not want that for me and I am sure you feel the same.
The Christian is characterized as a person of soberness (Titus 2:10-12). He is a child of the day, not of the night; not a drinker but a person with a clear and rational mind (1 Thess. 5:4-8). Let us be thankful for God’s instructions about this deadly and dangerous beverage. No doubt many souls will not enter heaven because of alcohol and its effects. God wants His people to maintain a sober mind so that they can serve Him to the best of their abilities. We should be thankful that our dear Lord has given us these instructions in His word to lead us safely to His eternal home in heaven.
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophet (Mt 7:12 NKJV). How would you feel if God only treated you, like you treat Him?
The Silent Treatment
The silent treatment is simple. You do not talk to someone and try to avoid them. Do you do this to God? Answer these questions honestly. Do you pray? How often do you pray? Do you pray only in certain situations? Prayer is the Christians way of communicating with God. So, when you are not praying to God, you are not communicating with Him. When you are not communicating, there is silence. Are you giving God the silent treatment? What if He did the same to you? What if God did not answer your prayers or did not pay attention to them at all?
Loyalty is defined as unswerving allegiance (Merriam-Webster). We can use the word loyalty the same way we use the term faithfulness. How loyal are you to God? Are you loyal some of the time? Are you loyal to Him only a few days a week? Do you correct yourself if you are not being loyal to Him? What if God was as loyal to you as you are to Him? Would you be satisfied? No? Why not? We expect God to be loyal. But, are you loyal to Him?
What’s your point?
The Christian can rest assured God loves you and treats you far better than you deserve. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:17 NKJV).
However, are you giving God your best? God deserves our best. This much is clear. Some often make excuses for their shortcomings instead of changing. No one wants to be mistreated including God.
Something to think about!
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