Sunday, October 13, 2019

Loving God Wholeheartedly

I'm a big fan of making a daily to-do list in my bullet journal to help me to keep track of how I'm going to spend my time each day. If you looked at my journal, you would be able to make a judgment about some of the priorities in my life.

In both the Old and New Testaments God tells us the plumb line by which we are to prioritize our life-that plumb line is wholehearted, whole life, love for Him. I think most of us Christ followers would agree that we want to love God in this way, but if you're like me, you want Him to show you how. You want to know what that looks like in practical ways in your everyday life. Here are some insights that have helped me.

Whole hearted love for God is loving Him for Who He is
"He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water." John 7:38 AMPC
Human beings are good at creating god in our own image. We can develop an image of Who God is by what others tell us, by our life experiences and by the desires and needs of our own heart. Can you imagine someone saying that they love you with their whole heart but realizing that they don't really know you at all? God wants us to know Him as He really is and the Scripture is where He is revealed. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Who God is, how He thinks, what His heart is like, as you read the Scripture. God wants You to know Him and to grow in understanding of Him and love for Him. 

Whole hearted love for God is loving His Word.
"Whoever despises the word and counsel [of God] brings destruction upon himself, but he who [reverently] fears and respects the commandment [of God] is rewarded." Proverbs 13:13 AMPC
Imagine your spouse or a dear friend telling you how much they love you and then never listening or paying attention to a word you say. One way that we love God is by loving what He says to us through His Word-His whole word. We all have favorite books of the Bible and favorite Bible verses. In order to love God wholeheartedly we must grow in loving all that He has to say to us. We can't just pick and choose bits and pieces of God's Word and ignore the rest. Read and explore the whole of God's Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your tour guide as you journey through pages of the Bible you may never have read before. Give God your willing heart and ask Him to help you to love His Word and to give you Spirit led insight as you read it.

Whole hearted love for God is loving His ways.
 "Yet they say to God, Depart from us, for we do not desire the knowledge of Your ways." Job 21:14 AMPC
God's ways are upside down from the ways of man. His ways often don't make sense to our human understanding. For example, just take a few moments to read Jesus' words in the sermon on the mount. Jesus tells us to live radically different than the way the world and our culture tells us to live. His ways are radically different than our flesh wants to live. 
"Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths." Psalm 25:4 AMPC
We can ask God to show us His ways, to help us to love His ways and to help us to walk in His ways. Anything that He desires us to do, He will enable us to do, as we ask for His help, trust Him and lean upon Him.

Wholehearted love for God is loving His will.
"Saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My willbut [always] Yours be done." Luke 22:42, AMPC
Jesus prayed these words the night before His crucifixion. Earlier in the gospels He taught His disciples to pray these words.
"So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven." Luke 11:2 NKJV
We once had a huge mixed breed dog that was very unruly and untrained. When we put a leash on him to take him for a walk, he was so strong that he took us on a walk instead! Our emotions are like that untrained dog. They will lead us in any direction that makes life more comfortable for our flesh. Our spirit has to outgrow our flesh in order for us to love God's will more than our own.
 May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality]. Ephesians 3:16 AMPC
We can make this verse a personal prayer. "Holy Spirit, strengthen me and reinforce me with Your mighty power. Holy Spirit, dwell in my innermost being and personality." The more the Holy Spirit is given permission to have His way in us, the more we will grow in loving God and surrendering to His will. The good news is that God's will is always for our highest eternal good. In the moment it may not feel like it, but in the big picture His will is always working for our good.

As you read these words, I want you to be comforted by the fact that none of us love God with the wholehearted love that He deserves. We all have hearts that are fickle, minds that are unruly, strength that is weak and falters. As in all things, we cannot even love God in our own strength. It helps us to remember this-"We love Him, because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19 AMPC 
We must encounter and receive God's love in order to love Him back.
In the water cycle on this earth rain waters the earth, evaporates, fills the clouds with moisture, which becomes rain that waters the earth. God's love is like that. He pours His love upon us and we receive it until it overflows out of us back to Him. Isn't it amazing that God even helps us to love Him?
"May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love,That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] ]unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!" Ephesians 3:17-19 AMPC 

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