Foundational Truth

 

foundation brickI am not a building expert. I do consider myself a skilled professional in determining the value of buildings, houses and land. I am not an appraiser, but I can do some math regarding the cost of building materials and the cost per square foot.  Another thing I’ve learned to look for in determining the value of a building is the “bones” of the building. On a practical note, you can look in the crawl space at the structure as well as the attic and make some determinations about the overall structure.  When building anything from the ground up, it’s critical to have a good foundation. There are codes to follow as well as common sense. If the foundation is bad, the whole house will have problems in the future.

Jesus is being grilled by the Pharisees and the Sadducees and other teachers of the law. Since He is the Author of the Law, they had no chance to trip Him up. That didn’t stop them from trying. Check this out….

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40 NLT)

The entire law really comes down to four words in the English language: Love God – Love Others. That is pretty simple. I didn’t say it was easy, but it is simple. The Lord wants to be first place in my heart. He doesn’t want to become second to anyone or anything. After I get that part right, I’m called to love like He loved. He loves everyone. He sees past the rough exterior right into a person’s heart. He loves those who are hard to love and He calls me to do the same. The foundation of my faith is based on these two simple yet complex commands. I find it easy to love God, but difficult to love others. It is easy to love people who love me and it’s easy to love my wife and children.

It’s hard to love weird people.

It’s hard to love hateful people.

It’s hard to love people who hate me.

It’s hard to love people who hate God.

God didn’t put exceptions on love. He commanded me to love. I am still trying to figure out how to love everyone. I will probably be working on that for a while. I’m learning the more of my heart that He has, the easier it is to love like He loves. I’m also learning that when I realize how much He loves me with all of my sin and stupid choices – my heart for others expands. I really want to put these two simple commands (aka foundational truth) into the very fabric of my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

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

Future Generations

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Dwayne Hicks Family December 2014

I sometimes catch myself wondering what my family heritage will look like in years ahead. I’m not that person who predicts the Lord’s return in the next 15 years. I should really try to live every day like it could be my last day here on earth because it could. If the Lord does not return for 15 or 20 more years, what will my family look like? If I’m alive, I’ll be an older man and my kids will be middle aged. Will future generations of my family love the Lord and serve Him?

The Lord noticed the family of Jehonadab who lived differently than others around them. Check this out…

18 Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Rekabites, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jehonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered.’ 19 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab will never fail to have a descendant to serve me.’” (Jeremiah 35:18-19 NIV)

 

I believe this passage to be a high compliment paid to the family of Jehonadab. His family simply obeyed the instructions from his fathers before Him. The instructions were of a different lifestyle than everyone else. They lived day to day differently. They followed the Lord by following instructions from their ancestors. I really want future generations of my family to love the Lord and seek His face. I want my children, their children and their children’s children to see the Lord with their whole heart. I believe it starts with me. I want to have a heart devoted to the Lord and I want to reflect His leadership over me in every area of my life. I want my spiritual values deeply planted in my kids. I want them to really know the Lord and to notice how His Presence and His Power change EVERYTHING! I don’t really care about how wealthy my kids become or how popular – I just want future generations of my family to seek and serve the Lord God.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Love Is….

Girl holding a heart-shaped boxI can finish that sentence is so many ways. The word love is probably the smallest 4-letter word that carries such deep, incredible and multi-faceted meaning. I can’t begin to adequately define or describe this word and what it means to me and so many other people.

I read a book one time called, “Love Is A Verb”, meaning that Love calls for action. I have also heard messages on the subject of love. The dictionary had 6 different definitions under love as a noun. It featured two definitions with love as a verb.  I read the “love chapter” this morning and this word is very common, but oh so deep and meaningful to me, and so many others. Check this out….

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a; 13 NIV)

 

When I think about the love of God, I can’t begin to comprehend it’s depth and wide reach. I am the recipient of this amazing love and I’m called to be a dispenser of the same love. The lofty ideals about love that Paul writes to the church in Corinth are absolutely astounding and very deep. He does an incredible job describing a word/concept that is nearly indescribable.

I’ve grown more and more in my understanding of love. My love for God has grown over the years that I’ve walked with Him. My love for my family deepens daily as they grow and mature. My love for others expressed in kindness ends up blessing me more than I could have ever known.

Love is forever. Our faith will be realized when we see the Lord one day. Our hope fulfilled as we stand in His Presence. Our love will continue as we live in Heaven forever with the One Who saved our souls.  I love God and I want to live for Him all the rest of my days here on earth. I’m not too good at explaining it – but I do love Him and I want to honor Him with my life and my love for Him & others.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Sincerely Wrong

legal gavel, scales and law bookI have seen people with the best of intentions do something really stupid and wrong. They were sincere about their actions – but they were sincerely wrong in what they did. I have represented that sort of behavior before. I’ve been legalistic, arrogant & proud – and complete sincere about serving the Lord. The problem is that I was sincerely wrong. I decided to be the interpreter of the law instead of a dispenser of grace. I’m not qualified to be the Judge or Law Giver. That job belongs to the Creator who is the ONLY One qualified for that position.  Paul tells the story about how he was trained and how he thought he was following the Lord. Check this out….

3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished. (Acts 22:3-5 NIV)

 

I need the Holy Spirit of God to interpret my actions and behavior. I can think I’m following the Lord, but He is ultimate Decider of that. I can be sincere in my actions but be wrong. I can “mean well”, but still be out of line and off the mark.  I want to walk in step with the Lord and continue to use my life to serve Him and His call. I don’t want to take matters into my hands and goof it up. I want to simply serve as His direction and for His fame and His glory, NOT my own. I want Him to direct my life and prompt my words and my actions. I want to be a sincere follower of the Lord and let my life point others to Him. His Presence in me makes life worth living and makes it make sense. The reason I’m here on this earth is to honor Him! I want to be sincere about following Him and honoring Him with my life.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Readers Digest Version

MagazinesI have read the Readers Digest pretty often. There are some great jokes and funny life stories in there as well. I especially like when they put a condensed version of a book and you can get the storyline and outcome of the book by skipping the details and getting to the heart of the plot as well as know the main characters in the story. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good book with all the details and word pictures. I also enjoy getting to the point quickly and moving right along.

Jesus pretty much gives a “Readers Digest” version of the Ten Commandments when He was approached and asked which was the greatest of the commandments. Check this out….

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34 NIV)

I’ve heard it said that Jesus was summarizing Commandments 1-5 with the first command and Commandment 6-10 with the second command. I would be wise to make these two commands the reason for my existence on this earth.  The Lord created me to love Him and love others. That is how He wired me. If I get off track from that, then I’m not functioning as I was designed.

I have opportunities every day to show my love for God – to honor Him, to obey Him, to follow Him. He opens many doors to love others as well. I would be wise to show love and respect for others. This should flow freely from my relationship with the Lord.  Jesus clearly said that these are the two most important commands – period.

 Pressing On!
Dwayne