Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 31, 2016

"He answered, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27

There is a lot of emphasis in fitness and conditioning on developing the “core.” And there is good reason for emphasizing the core because every athletic movement in every sport involves your core. It is your chest muscles and your arm muscles and your abdominal muscle that must be toned in order to produce the strength required to make the throw or swing the bat or put up the shot or go for the pin or make the tackle.

I know of no competitive athlete in any sport at any level who does not understand the importance of strengthening his core! There is no way to improve his performance strengthening his core.

Equally as important as developing the physical core of his body is to master the core fundamental of his sport as well as understanding the core strategies involved in having a chance to win.

Many times a coach has admonished a player to “put his soul into the game”! That means he wants that player to combine all of his strength and skill and knowledge of the game with his full concentration and effort.

That is essentially the point of the Great Commandment which is quoted in the verse above! You must love the Lord with your entire “core”!

“We love the Lord with all our soul by living a life of faithfulness to all that the Lord has required of us. While loving the Lord with all our heart has to do with affection, loving the Lord with all our soul has to do with devotion.

The soul literally is the part of us that defines who we are. The essence of the biblical definition for soul means life, personality, the inner self and our identity. It’s where we make our decisions and choices that ultimately decide our lifestyle and behavior. Think of the soul as the “core you”.

To love the Lord with all your soul means to love Him in the way we live, in the choices we make and in the behavior and lifestyle we adopt.” Greg Simas

Loving God must be a full-time occupation. It should also be an on-going preoccupation.

We already established that a halfhearted love doesn’t please God. Nor does it allow God to fully please you! So, just as you must commit your whole heart to God you must also give your soul to loving Him!

God won’t accept anything less from you than loving Him from your core! He wants to be loved at and by the essence of your being. Only then can he fill you with the essence of His being!

I urge you to continue to strengthen your physical core! It will keep you strong and health!

That will require setting aside some time for a work out today!

But above all, develop your spiritual core by committing to “love God with all your soul”!

That will require time alone with Him today, time to work it out spiritually!

February 1, 2016

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." Romans 12:14

We sing about grace. We hear it preached. We like the sound of it. We love to receive it. We have a harder time extending it. But all the time we have difficulty wrapping our mind around it because it just doesn't come naturally to us.

I will leave it to men greater than me to communicate its significance to you.

Phillip Yancey describes grace in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace. He writes, “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more—no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less—no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much an infinite God can possibly love.”

The attitude of grace is expressed this way by John Newton, the man who penned the lyrics to the timeless hymn "Amazing Grace".

"I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am."

Richard Wurmbrand, who spent fourteen years suffering in a Communist prison, reminds all believers with less than ideal circumstances that “if the heart is cleansed by the love of Jesus Christ, and if the heart loves Him, you can resist all tortures.” He says, “God will not judge us according to how much we endured, but how much we could love.” The love of God demonstrated in the lives of his people is potent. Wurmbrand gives an example:

“A Christian was sentenced to death. Before being executed, he was allowed to see his wife. His last words to his wife were, ‘You must know that I die loving those who kill me. They don’t know what they do and my last request of you is to love them, too. Don’t have bitterness in your heart because they kill your beloved one. We will meet in heaven.’ These words impressed the officer of the secret police who attended the discussion between the two. After he told me the story in prison, where he (the prison guard had been put for becoming a Christian).”

So, what can you do to get a grip on this grace that God purchased at such a tremendous price so that it might given freely to you?

How grace operates:

1) It decides not to hold a grudge – (It forgives)

2) It refuses to get even when given the chance.

3) It refuses gossip when given the chance.

4) It responds graciously when given the chance.

5) It extends forgiveness when confession and repentance happen.

It requires God's grace to understand that you need God's grace and by His grace He sends His Spirit to grace your life, cleansing your eternal soul and transforming how you think and what you desire.

Why would God do such an amazing thing as grace?
Because it is Who He is!

Because it is what we need!

Because it is what others need to receive through you and me!

As believers in Jesus Christ, God needs you and me to grace others.

Today you have opportunity to receive His grace and you will doubtless have a chance to grace someone else. If you miss the opportunities to grace - you disgrace. You don't want to live in disgrace do you?