Loving God


Those who believe they believe in God but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God and not in God himself.

by Miguel De Unamuno

I desire to see people have a restored heart toward God, church, and being a part of close relationships. I want to see people overcome their obstacles, hurts, wounds, and fears. I desire to see lives healed and transformed. I want a lot of things for others, but I accept the reality that I can only walk alongside others and they have to reach a point of being ready, willing, and waiting before God does the real work in their lives. I love it when God allows me to be present to see that change!

Paul David Trip in Whiter Than Snow provides a great prayer about having this ready, willing, and waiting heart attitude.

Lord, I think I can honestly say I am ready, willing, and waiting.
Ready, willing, and waiting to see my sin as You see it.
Ready, willing, and waiting to acknowledge that I am my biggest problem. 
Ready, willing, and waiting to run from wrong.
Ready, willing, and waiting to seek Your help.
Ready, willing, and waiting for my mind to be clear.
Ready, willing, and waiting for my heart to be clean.
Ready, willing, and waiting to acknowledge what You see.
Ready, willing, and waiting to rest in Your compassion.
Ready, willing, and waiting to hide in Your unfailing love.
I am ready, willing, and waiting to be washed by You.
Ready, willing, and waiting to admit that I acted against You. 
Ready, willing, and waiting to prove that You are right and just.
Ready, willing, and waiting to confess that my problem is from birth.
Ready, willing, and waiting to examine within.
I am ready, willing, and waiting to be whiter than snow.
Ready, willing, and waiting to hear joy and gladness.
Ready, willing, and waiting for brokenness to give way to joy.
Ready, willing, and waiting to have a steadfast heart.
Ready, willing, and waiting to celebrate Your grace once more.
I am ready, willing, and waiting to teach others Your ways.
Ready, willing, and waiting to help them turn back to You.
Ready, willing, and waiting to have You save the me from me.
Ready, willing, and waiting to sing songs of Your righteousness.
I am ready, willing, and waiting to declare Your praise. 
Ready, willing, and waiting to bring the sacrifice of a broken heart.
Ready, willing, and waiting to see Your people prosper.
Ready, willing, and waiting to see You worshiped as Your due.
But, I am also
Ready, willing, and waiting to be protected by Your love.
Ready, willing, and waiting to be held by Your grace.
Ready, willing, and waiting to be hidden in Your mercy.
Ready, willing, and waiting to be defended by Your power.
Because I know that I won’t always be ready, willing, and waiting.

It is good that we at times endure opposition and that we are evilly and untruly judged when our actions and intentions are good. Often such experiences promote humility and protect us from vain glory. For then we seek God’s witness in the heart.

God, this is the attitude I desire to have in my life. I do not deserve any glory, it all should go to you, the one who truly deserves it. Please keep me humble, even if it means suffering for your name and being judged for what others see on the outside. You know my heart, even the parts that are incorrect and deceitful; you know my deepest desire is to learn to live a life for you in all ways. You truly are the love, purpose, and passion of my life!

Have you heard anyone use the phrase “unbalanced life”? Maybe it was used as a reference to a life where too much time is spent focusing on one area while other things are neglected, for example working 80 hours a week. Maybe it has been used as a reference to being too much a part of the world and not living a life like what people think God would want from us. No matter how it was used I expect it was used in a more negative manner than a positive one.

Life depends so much on our perspective. What is it that sets your perspective and views on life? Is it your family? Your job? Your relationships? Your past? Your faith? A combination?  Are you more pessimistic or optimistic by nature? Do you questions people and circumstances or give the benefit of the doubt?

Jesus the Christ came into our world and changed things. His view of the world was different than those he was around and he changed their perspective. He didn’t just go along with the culture or the church, but instead he knew God’s heart and his word and he choose to live it out 24 hours a day. Jesus lived an unbalanced life. His life was very slanted in one direction, the only true and right direction. His life was balanced 100% toward God.

God’s word sums up how we should live into two commandments. If we seek to live just those two commandments out we will face many trials, struggles, difficulties, conflicts, questions, heartaches, obstacles, and also will find tremendous joy, hope, promise, blessing, depth, and love. Those commandments tell us to love with all we have. Life will be unbalanced as it will be filled with three things: love, God, and others.

Are you seeking to live a balanced life and be in control, or are you willing to live an unbalanced life and go after God with all you have? It is a very scary and difficult questions for those of us who have been hurt, burned out, disillusioned, and devastated by Christians and the Church, but following Christ while it is unbalanced is the safest and most gratifying place to be as we will be close and under the eternal protection of God. It won’t be easy, but it is the best choice we can make.

Throughout scripture repeatedly we are told to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Loving the Lord with all your heart often leads us to think of the seat of our emotions, passions, and drive.

 Heart  Soul  Mind  Strength
 Emotional  Spiritual  Mental  Physical

Loving God with our heart can include emotional responses that lead our thoughts, actions, and words. We often think of it as the feelings when we refer to God moving or the Spirit doing something. We love God with our heart when we feel love, live in a way that demonstrates love, and speak words that show our love. 

Loving God with our heart is often seen as our passionate desire to follow him, be like him, believe in him, and live in obedience to him. It is important though to have a very clear understanding of what God’s word says about the heart because our heart before coming into right relationship with God is said to be deceitful, wicked, and evil. Even after we become Christians we are tempted by our flesh and the enemy to fall into sin which again causes our heart to become unrighteous before God. This is why Solomon tells us in Proverbs 4 to guard our heart since it is the wellspring of life.

To love God with all our heart has to start with our belief in and relationship with God. Unless we believe in God, commit our lives to him, move away from our sin, and live in obedience to God our hearts are corrupt. When our heart is corrupt we will not live in obedience to God, and our tongue will speak unrighteous things. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34b) Our heart is the center of our being and the condition of our heart is a representation of our relationship with God. We need God to change our hearts, to soften them and bring them into submission and obedience. We can’t do that all on our own due to our sin, but as we turn to God and seek him will all of our heart he will take that heart and change it. He will draw us to him and move us to repentance so we move away from our sin.

We need to submit our  heart to God and have him change it so it is fully his. Our desires, passions, and words must come from God is we are to truly live in obedience and submission to him. As we surrender to him and allow him to live and be through us we are filled with his spirit. Is your theology (belief system) working, or do you need to reset your heart to match what God’s word says? Here is some of what he says about the heart!

  • The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)
  • He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman (Psalm 15:2-3)
  • The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. (Psalm 19:8)
  • Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
  • The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
  • So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. (Psalm 81:12)
  • Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil. (Psalm 101:4)
  • I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. (Psalm 119:10)
  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (Proverbs 3:5)
  • Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
  • Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. (Proverbs 23:19)
  • The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. (Isaiah 29:13)
  • Jeremiah 17:5
    This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
  • The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19)
  • But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ (Matthew 15:18)

Throughout scripture repeatedly we are told to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Loving the Lord with all your mind is an intellectual pursuit to know and understand God.

 Heart  Soul  Mind  Strength
 Emotional  Spiritual  Mental  Physical

 

Loving God with our mind can include memorizing his Scripture, intellectual pursuits of studying theology or teachings of others, sermons, and seeking to understand God and how to live in obedience to him through our mind. The New Testament uses two Greek words for knowledge: gnosis and epignosis. Gnosis refers to moral wisdom, general intelligence, and basic understanding. Epignosis refers to knowledge of things ethical and divine, precise and correct knowledge.

God’s word speaks about the mind in many different ways. It talks about our mind as being something that is corrupt and evil before we come to God, and as something that needs to be renewed and changed when we come into relationship with God.

When we pursue God with our mind and try to live out our faith through intellectual pursuits there are great risks that we will fall into several traps and deceptions. Our flesh and the enemy try to deceive and mislead us at every turn and our minds are very susceptible. We can fall into arrogance thinking we understand with gnosis knowledge when we really need to have epignosis understanding of God and his ways. We may seek to control things, argue, live under the law, and move toward unbelief because our fleshly mind is saying the belief we have is enough. Our minds can be tremendous battlefields toward our faith. They are closed to God until he draws us toward him. Sin can also darken and confuse our minds and lead us astray. We need God to open and minds and change them.

So why would God tell us to love him with our mind if it is such a difficult area? Exactly because of that. We need to submit our  minds to God and have him change our mind so it is fully his. Our knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and insights must come from God. As we surrender to him and allow him to live and be through us we are filled with his spirit. God created our minds and he needs to be left in complete control of them. Our world tells us exactly the opposite so surrendering your mind and truly taking on the mind of God is a difficult and even costly pursuit. God’s mind and ways are radically different than the mind and ways of the world. Put off your old mind and put on God’s mind, it is very worth the pursuit! Is your theology (belief system) working, or do you need to reset your mind to match what God’s word says? Here is some of what he says about the mind!

  • Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)
  •  Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (Romans 8:5-7)
  • Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
  • But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
  • You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
  • Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2)

Throughout scripture repeatedly we are told to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Sometimes strength is left off but other times it is included. I am not sure why.) Loving the Lord with all your strength can be equated to loving him in the physical or with our physical body. 

 Heart  Soul  Mind  Strength
 Emotional  Spiritual  Mental  Physical

heart-soul-mind-strength

Loving God with our physical body can include a variety of things such as how we serve, what we do for a living, how we relate to others, how we spend time and money, how we worship, and what words we speak. God’s word speaks about strength in many different ways. It talks about our strength as something that fails, falters, and is insufficient. As we seek to live and love in our own strength we need to continue to be renewed, strengthened, filled, and will still find ourselves to be lacking.

When we live in our strength and try to live out our faith on our own there are great risks that we will fall into several traps and deceptions. Our flesh and the enemy try to deceive and mislead us at every turn. We could fall into works righteousness, trying to earn our way or prove ourselves. We also might fall into the trap of trying earn our salvation. Salvation is free and we cannot earn it. Physical acts and living out our faith is fruit of our relationship with God, but our acts will never earn us a place in heaven. We also might become driven and controlling people. Sometimes this is seen through pleasing people, being an overachiever, or being a perfectionist. It is very easy for us to rationalize these things as part of the culture we work in, the family we come from, or the way we are, but ultimately if we are living in these ways we are seeking to live and love in our strength and we will never succeed.

Our strength must come from God, and as we surrender to him and allow him to live and be through us we are filled with his spirit. We are the temple of God so he should be living in us therefore his spirit is within us and is giving us strength. It is God who will give us the heart and the strength to love him, live for him, and be part of this world in a radically different ways from non-believers. Is your theology (belief system) working, or do you need to reset your mind to match what God’s word says? Here is some of what he says about Strength!

  • It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. (2 Samuel 22:33)
  • Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. (1 Chronicles 16:11)
  • It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. (Psalm 18:32)
  • The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalm 28:7)
  • Summon your power, O God; show us your strength, O God, as you have done before. (Psalm 68:28)
  • My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)
  • Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. (Psalm 84:5)
  • but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)