Top Two Commands

love heart riffle targetI grew up learning all the rules of the Christian faith. There we lots of them. The church I grew up in was small and everyone knew everyone else’s business and short comings. I couldn’t “get away” with much. I remember the preacher once telling me that my Dad knew what I had done the weekend before. (I won’t confess it here.) I realized that my parents were a bit smarter than I realized. I learned to live within those rules that were taught as scripture. I learned later that some of those rules were “man-made” based on someone’s interpretation of scripture. As I grew older, I learned to search the scripture for myself. I learned that a lot of the man-made rules were more opinion and cultural than truth.  I learned that the Lord wants my devoted heart, because my behavior will follow. Jesus was teaching (mostly debating) the teachers of the law, the Pharisees and Saducee’s, when one of them made an observation. Check this out…

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34 NLT)

I had been trying to keep a ton of rules, where there are really two more important than all the others:  1. Love God. 2 Love Others.  These two “rules” are NOT optional. In fact, these are more important than attending church each time the doors are open. These are more important that “not cursing”. These are more important than giving. I believe that if I get the number 1 right, all others will fall in line, because of my heart change. External obedience can lead to heart change, but it’s the “long way around”. If I work on my heart first, then my obedience is with the right motive and insight. If I simply “go through the motions” of loving God, it will show in my actions and activities of my life. I am grateful that the Lord was patient with me when I went through the transition from being a “rule follower” to becoming a changed man from the inside out. I do love the Lord with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength. I love others too, because He showed me how.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Daily Choice

 

make a choice street sign illustration designThere are choices that I have to make every single day of my life. It doesn’t matter where I’m at; I still make some of the same choices every single day. I choose the clothes I wear, the food I eat, the coffee I drink. I choose the things that are most important for each day. A long time ago, I decided to give the Lord the best of my day, which is also the first of my day. The past few days I’ve been sick and there wasn’t much to give. Today I’m getting a late start, but I still choose to start with Him.

Joshua is one of my favorite leaders. He is loyal, energetic and very inspiring. He tells the people early in his career as leader to “be strong and very courageous” as he leads them into the Promised Land (which was unknown to him, but know to The Lord). He simply trusted God to lead him as he led the people of Israel.

At the end of his life after conquering the Promised Land, he challenges his people to renew their allegiance to the Lord. Check this out…

14 ‘Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshipped beyond the River Euphrates and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:14-15 NIV)

This is another choice that I have to make each day – to serve the Lord. I always have the opportunity and option to serve myself, but that is temporary because I can’t get enough for myself. If I learn to serve others then I’m blessed beyond words. I must make a conscious choice to follow the Lord. In choosing Him, I will have to say no to other options. It’s not hard to choose the Lord when I take a look into what my future looks like Him. I’ve come a long way in my journey with Him and I have a few “miles” to go. I want to serve the Lord and follow Him all the rest of my days here on earth. He promises eternal life if I follow Him now and trust Him completely. I believe Him. I am choosing again today to follow Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Easy Choice

 

Life and deathI am faced with so many choices every day of my life. A lot of choices are very easy, while some are quite difficult. I began trusting the Lord with my life many years ago. I am still learning that putting my trust in Him is still a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute idea. This is not a “one and done” idea for sure.

The people of Israel were about to have the land that had been promised them for years. They were about to realize some prosperity that they had not seen in decades. Moses began preparing them for the distraction of prosperity. We still have a choice as to what we do with the Lord. Check this out…

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NIV)

I want to choose life at every opportunity. I want to choose the abundant life that the Lord offers as I walk in obedience to Him. I want to choose eternal life that the Lord promises after this life is finished. I do not want death or destruction, which is the alternative to the life He offers. It’s not a hard choice when I look at it that way, but the choices that I’m faced with are oh so subtle and deceptive. The enemy makes it attractive to walk with Him instead of walking in obedience with the Lord.

Good choices take discipline.

Good choices take preparation.

Good choices take research.

Good choices take trusting God.

Good choices are sometimes really hard.

Bad choices are easy and simple.

Bad choices are chilled out.

Bad choices take no thought.

Bad choices are sometimes premeditated.

Bad choices seem temporarily good.

It really is simple and easy: If I choose life, I can have life. I can have the resources of heaven to draw upon to live out my life. The Lord is the Giver of Life. The Lord is the Sustainer of Life. I want to walk in obedience to Him making “easy choices” to walk in His way the rest of my days.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Life & Death

Life and deathI’m not sure that there is a middle ground on this one. I’ve heard people say that they are “half-dead”, but I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone say that are “half-alive”. I’m actually not sure you can be in the middle on this one. Alive is alive and dead is dead – seems quite obvious to me.

 

Jeremiah was this shy young prophet who was given a very unpopular message to give to the people. He couldn’t keep quiet because the message was burning up inside and he had to share it. The king of Israel was being attacked by Babylon and he wanted to ask the Lord to take care of his attacker as he had done before. But the Lord said no and offered two choices. Check this out….

 

8 “Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives. (Jeremiah 21:8-9 NIV)

 

I’m not sure that these two choices have changed much. Life is found in the hand of the Creator of Life and death is found in His enemy. God created life – He gives me life. He sustains my life. He directs my life. He shows me the way to life forever.

 

If I choose another path other than life, I’m essentially choosing death. I may live it up for a while here on earth, but death will catch me. I can follow my own selfish desires and wants. I can do whatever I want, but if I choose anything other than life – it is really a choice leading to death. I know it sounds morbid and dark, but it really comes down to that. The Lord wants my heart to pursue His heart. That pursuit leads to life. When I follow my flesh and it’s desires – I’m on a clear path that leads to death. There isn’t room for gray here – I’m in one camp or the other. I’m choosing life every time – the outcome is much brighter and full of promise. I am aware that death here on earth is ultimately the end for everyone, but for those who know the Lord there is life eternal after death on earth.

 

Pressing On!

Dwayne