Dear Friends,

Recently I was listening to some worship music.  I was overwhelmed with the presence of the Lord and my heart was overflowing with feelings of love toward Him.

Have you ever experienced this in your spiritual walk?

As I thought about how much love I was feeling for the Lord I began to meditate on what Jesus said was the Greatest Commandment…

Mark 12:29–30 (NLT) Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’”

Jesus was quoting the single most important passage in the Old Testament for the First Century Jewish followers of the Lord.  It is called the Shema because of the first word “hear” in Hebrew.  Here it is from Deuteronomy…

Deuteronomy 6:4–5 (NIV84) Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

“The Lord is one” means that there is only one God and He is Yahweh, our Lord.  Then the passage goes on to command that we love our Lord with all of our heart, soul and strength.

What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and strength?

  • Heart = mind, emotions and attitude predisposed to love the Lord
  • Soul = soul, living being, desire, appetite, passion
  • Strength = muchness, exceedingly, force, abundance

The Pulpit Commentary explains, “The ‘heart’ is the inner nature of the man, including his intellectual, emotional, and conative faculties; the ‘soul’ is the personality, the entire self-consciousness; and the ‘might’ is the sum of energies, bodily and mental.”  The Talmud says “We are to ‘love” God emotionally (‘heart’), and even be willing to give up your life if necessary (‘soul’), and even be willing to spend your money, too (‘strength’)!”

As I thought about this I realized something.  I often feel a deep, emotional love for the Lord.  There are so many times when I am reading a Scripture, or listening to a worship song, or praying that I am overwhelmed with emotional love for the Lord.  My eyes fill with tears and my heart is overflowing with feelings of love for what my Lord means to me.

I believe I can truly say I love the Lord with all my heart, but do I also love Him with all my soul and strength?  The truth is that I sometimes have divided attention and desires.  There are times when my soul is divided between loving the Lord and loving the comforts of this life.  Sometimes my appetites are not for the Lord alone.

I thought about how often I fail to love the Lord with all my strength…that is, all my behavior, all my doings, all my “muchness.”  There are many times when my actions don’t indicate that I love the Lord at all.  By watching my behavior at times you might conclude that I love myself, or I love the world and the things in the world.

AN ILLUSTRATION:  I love my wife, Kathy, with all my heart.  When she walks into the room—even after 30 years of marriage—my heart floods with love for her.  She delights me in every way.  She is the most treasured blessing in my life.

A few days ago Kathy had taken down all the Christmas decorations and put them in tubs to be returned to storage in our basement.  As she walked through the room I thought of how much I loved her.  My heart was full, but as she started taking the tubs down the stairs into the basement, I just sat there watching sports on TV.  I even had the thought that I should get up and help her, but I didn’t.

You see, I could say I love Kathy with all my heart, but I’m not so sure I could say that I loved her with all my soul, and definitely not (at least on this occasion) all my strength.  Loving her with all my soul would mean that whatever is on TV could not win my attention, and loving her with all my strength would mean that I would get up and actually serve her by taking the tubs downstairs!

You love someone when you ACT in loyalty and faithfulness.  Loving the Lord isn’t just a feeling you get.  It is offering yourself to Him with all of your being, and thinking, and motives, and doing.

God gives us additional instructions for how we are to love Him…

Deuteronomy 10:12 (NLT) “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.”

Fearing the Lord means that we revere (respect, honor) Him above all other interests.  Living in a way that pleases Him means that we put aside what we want to do and do what God has instructed us to do.  Loving Him with all our heart and soul means that we serve Him with all our energies.

Pray that your love for the Lord will increase this coming year…not just in feeling, but in doing as well.  Here is what Paul taught us to pray…

Ephesians 3:16–21 (NLT) I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

PRAY THIS PRAYER EARNESTLY FOR 30 DAYS.  Let me know what happens to your love for the Lord.

Onward loving our Lord,
Pastor Gary