Observant Jews have for centuries prayed the Shema twice a day. It’s this simple prayer found in Deuteronomy 6:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4-5).
When the Pharisees asked Jesus to identify the greatest of all the commandments, he went straight to this prayer. Love for God is the foundation of our faith.
Scripture calls us to love God with clear heads, hot hearts, strong arms and beautiful feet – heart, soul, mind and strength.
Clear headed love means that we should be men and women who intentionally, deliberately and counter culturally seek to grow in our relationship with God through serious study of His word.
We do that corporately when we gather for worship. We do it personally when we commit to spending time individually each day studying, meditating on and memorizing scripture. As Pastor Matt reminded us on Sunday, God’s word is authoritative in our lives. Clear headed love for God can’t happen unless we embrace His word as our source.
But God expects more than just clear headed love for Him. Knowledge alone, the Bible tells us, puffs up. So our love for Him must also be hot hearted love. Passionate love. Not the kind of lukewarm love that the Church in Laodicea was known for.
During the First Great Awakening in America in the 1700’s, Jonathan Edwards observed that God’s Spirit stirred in His people an obvious devotion to and affection for Him.
“When we received the Holy Spirit,” Edwards wrote, “the Scripture says, that we are baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. This fire represents our holy passions and affections which the Spirit produces in us so that our hearts burn within us. I boldly claim that no spiritual truth ever changed a person’s attitude or conduct unless it aroused his emotions.”
Peter describes our love for God as a love that rejoices with joy and rejoicing that is inexpressible and filled with glory. Does that sound like you?
Dan Allender, in his book Cry Of The Soul says “the Psalms help us understand that every emotion is a theological statement.” And that’s true. Your emotions give you a mirror into what you really believe (or don’t believe) about God. Allender says that before we attempt to counsel our soul or bring our emotions under control, we should first listen to what they are telling us about what we really believe about God.
Loving the Lord our God means we think rightly about Him. And that we feel deeply about Him. And it means we act rightly, showing our love for Him with strong arms and beautiful feet.
Acting rightly, according to the Bible, means that we are to “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness” and to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” It means that we are committed to personal holiness and sacrifice and obedience. We take God’s call to holiness and righteousness seriously.
To that end, we are to humbly, graciously and kindly call and challenge each other to live out our faith in how we live. We will follow the biblical command to “stir up one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). And when someone is caught in any sin, we will be people who work to restore one another in a spirit of gentleness, keeping watch on ourselves, lest we too be tempted. We will bear one another’s burdens to fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2).
Loving God with strong arms and beautiful feet means that bring the good news of the gospel with us wherever we go. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isaiah 52:6).
And loving God with strong arms means we never lose sight of the second greatest commandment, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In our families first. In our church. In our neighborhoods. And wherever God takes us. We “do not merely look out for our own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
Loving God rightly means loving Him with clear heads, hot hearts, strong arms and with beautiful feet. Which of those areas needs attention in your life? Is there an aspect of your love for God that is flagging?
If so, make this your prayer:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
Renew a right spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of my salvation
And sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.
Some of you asked if we taped our First Tuesday interview with Dr. Thaddeus Williams last week. We had hoped to make it available but because of some technical issues, we did not get the audio recorded.
However, in recent weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to fill in occasionally as the afternoon talk show host on KKLA Radio in Los Angeles. In that context, I was able to interview Dr. Williams on his book Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth. If you’re interested, you can access or download that interview here ( it’s mislabeled as in interview with Keith Getty, but it’s actually Thaddeus Williams. And beware – there is a long monologue before I introduce Dr. Williams).
And if you’re looking for some podcasts to add to your queue, here are some additional programs you might be interested in:
An interview with Dr. Todd Miles about Christians and Cannabis.
An interview with John Marriott from BIOLA about Deconversions.
An interview with Ray Ortlund on pornography.
An interview with Costi Hinn (Benny Hinn’s nephew) on Jesus and Healing.
Our next First Tuesday Men’s Meeting will happen on December 7. Art Rainer will be our guest, talking about wise money management. The syllabus is available for download here.
christmas for arbor christian academy | dominican republic
Many of you took home a Christmas ornament with a child’s name on it this past Sunday. Thank you for your willingness to bless a student in the Dominican Republic this year for Christmas.
Once again, here’s how the process works.
1. Once you’ve selected a child, click here to donate $40 online for each child selected, or bring a check with you to church that has “Christmas in the DR” in the memo line and put it in the giving box.
2. Write a note to the child(ren) you have selected. Keep it simple. The kids are learning English, and their teachers will help them with any hard to translate words.
Here again is a sample note:
I am praying that you and your family will have a happy Christmas as you celebrate the great good news that Jesus was born to save us.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:11)
3. Return the completed card(s) to church by Sunday, November 21.
4. Pray for the child(ren) whose name(s) you have selected.
We’re excited to have this opportunity to support the work Joe and Dana Neff are doing with Teach Beyond and to reach out in love to these students this year at Christmas.
Questions about the project? contact Matt Gurney or Cathy Crowell.
Looking ahead to December…
christmas singing – ages 3-10
|And speaking of December, we have something planned for our younger children this year. On the last Sunday in Advent (December 19), we’ll have our children ages 3-10 singing a Christmas song as part of our worship service. To help them get ready, we need moms and dads to bring them to church early – 9:30 am – on Sunday morning December 5 and again on December 12 to learn their song and rehearse. Kendall White will be directing the choir. Any questions, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
It’s easy for events or circumstances to make us worried or troubled. In John 14, when Jesus saw that His disciples were anxious, He spoke words of comfort and assurance to calm their fears. This Sunday, we’ll examine where Jesus points us when our hearts are troubled.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!