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

Grace Rules

 

jesus graceI grew up living according to the rules of my parents. They learned to live through the rules of their parents and so it goes. The rules of the household are meant to shape the children into well-mannered, respectable adults. There is a place for boundaries and rules in our society as well. Freedom without responsibility isn’t freedom at all – it’s chaos.

The Apostle Paul was addressing the church in Galatia and the issue of Law & Grace came up. He was a preacher of grace and filled with grace to the non-Jewish people. He explained that while Jesus was a Jew, He came to save everyone. We could never follow Jewish customs and practices to be saved. Jesus delivered grace that took away the power of the law. The law never could save. The Law could affect my behavior, but it didn’t change my heart. Grace does both. Grace changes my heart which then affects how I live and love. Check this out…

19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. (Galatians 2:19-21 CSB)

I used to say that different denominations had different parts of the gospel that they preached and taught with diligence while ignoring some of the other important components. For example, I used to think that the Christian Church majored on baptism and ignored grace. I thought that the Baptist church preached grace and ignored baptism. I felt like the Pentecostal church had the Holy Spirit while ignoring grace and baptism. The gospel is a complete package. It is the life-changing purpose of Jesus coming to earth. He lived and died that we might live a life surrendered to the Lord and experience eternal life with God.

I do follow some rules today because I love the Lord NOT so I can be loved by Him. He loved me first and He changed my perspective on life. Over the past few years I have realized my profound need of grace. The more I study grace, the more ridiculous it is. The Lord forgives me profoundly and removes my past and sets me up for a beautiful future. He’s done this for me too many times to count. He is not a “one and done” Savior. I have needed His Grace too many times to count and He’s NEVER withheld it once.

God is not about the law as much as He is about GRACE. I will say that Grace has changed my perspective about the law. I live differently because of Grace. I live differently not out of fear, but out of confidence and hope. Grace now rules my life.  I’m so thankful that I discovered this crazy love from God called Grace.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Regulations

'Permitted by law', under 'Legal'There are regulations in just about every area of our culture. There regulations about the speed of travel, the amount of exhaust a vehicle can emit, the things I can build on my property and many more. Regulations are simply a part of my life. Some regulations seem to get a little too close and personal, but others I do understand because they bring order in our society.

The Lord gave a lot of instructions to Moses regarding all sorts of offerings for different situations. He gave the people instructions on how to prepare the offering. He now gives instructions to the priest regarding the offering regulations. Check this out…

14 “‘These are the regulations for the grain offering: Aaron’s sons are to bring it before the Lord, in front of the altar. 15 The priest is to take a handful of the finest flour and some olive oil, together with all the incense on the grain offering, and burn the memorial portion on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 16 Aaron and his sons shall eat the rest of it, but it is to be eaten without yeast in the sanctuary area; they are to eat it in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. 17 It must not be baked with yeast; I have given it as their share of the food offerings presented to me. Like the sin offering and the guilt offering, it is most holy. (Leviticus 6:14-17 NIV)

The Word of God carries many other regulations that are still active in our society today. For example, our civil and criminal law can be traced back to ancient scripture and how they were set up. When the Israelites left Egypt and were traveling to what would become their land, they had to set some new guidelines for themselves. They had operated under the regulations and rules of Egypt. They now were becoming a country of their own and they needed regulations.

I need regulations in my home, in my work and in my relationships. There are certain protocols that should stay in place and keep my behavior inside the boundaries. I think regulations are the step-by-step instructions for living out my faith and following the Lord fully. Some regulations can be self-imposed, while people in authority impose others over me.

There are times when government regulations get over-the-top and too involved in our lives. There are often unintended consequences to too much regulation. The Lord’s regulations on my life are pretty simple and straightforward. I am to love like He loves. I am to live like He lives. I am to follow His plan for my life. I am to trust Him with every detail of my life. I don’t ever want to challenge the Lord’s regulation upon my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Above The Law

legal gavel, scales and law bookIn our country and perhaps in every country there is a rule of law. The law is a set of guidelines and rules that regulate the actions of people who are part of a particular country or community. The laws of a city or community most often apply to those outside the community who are just visiting. The laws are for our protection from one another and protection from us. Sometimes the law seems very restrictive and at other times it is totally logical. I may not like all of the laws of this land, but I have to learn to live by them or face the consequences.

There are those who think that they are above the law. In a small town sometimes the leaders and politicians can get by with stuff that the average citizen can’t. I knew of an official that was picked up and should have been cited for DUI, but was taken home by law enforcement because of the position he held. That is not how it should have played out. There are consequences for breaking the law. There is no one who is above the law. Even the people responsible for writing the law have to obey the law. The most powerful man in our country is the President and he has to obey the law.

Jeremiah was dealing with a king who thought he was above the law. This was not going to end well. Check this out…

22 It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment, with a fire burning in the firepot in front of him. 23 Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. 24 The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes. 25 Even though Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26 Instead, the king commanded Jerahmeel, a son of the king, Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet. But the Lord had hidden them. (Jeremiah 36:22-26 NIV)

 

When the law of the land doesn’t cover something, the Law of the Lord does. We were designed and created to love and serve one another. We were not wired to serve ourselves at the expense of others. Unfortunately that is who we become at times. I’m convinced that even those who think they are above the law of the land should remember that they are subject to the Law of the Lord. The Law of the Lord affects how I treat everyone from the lowest position to the highest position. I am never above the Law of the Lord. I would be wise to live like it. The Lord will discipline the law breakers and it is not necessarily a cake walk. I must learn to live within His boundaries or face the consequences of disobedience.

Pressing On!

Dwayne