Mark 12:29-30 (NLT)- 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.’
When the Bible tells us to love God with mind, heart, soul, and strength, it is not telling us to do four different things but giving us four different ways to do one and the same thing. Moses was not trying to make a careful distinction between heart and soul, and when Jesus added the word “mind,” he was not giving a new commandment. The point is to love God with everything we have. This is driven home by almost poetic repetition. In adding “all your mind” and “all your strength” to “all your heart” and “all your soul,” Jesus makes the strongest possible claim on our affections. [Loving Jesus More, Ryken, p.46]
The Spirit activates and stirs our whole being into greater affection for Jesus. We don’t have to get fixated on individual parts. Rather, ask and trust the Lord to lift our whole lives in love for Jesus. Let’s worship to the song “All in All” (click here) by Phil Wickham.
Luke 18 (NLT/MSG)- 28 Peter said to him, “We have left everything we had to follow you!” 29 “Yes,” said Jesus, “and you won’t regret it. I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, 30 will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”
Loving Jesus with everything is demonstrated by sacrificial living for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Every hour spent in prayer for the sake of the Kingdom of God is an hour not doing something for ourselves. Every hour spent in loving others in ministry is an hour we lost living for ourselves. We could have been sleeping. We could have been doing laundry, or catching up on assignments, or exercising. However, Jesus assures us that when we love him with every part of our lives, we don’t have to fear any loss. In fact, our lives are enriched. Not just enriched when Jesus comes back, but enriched “in this life”. Loving Jesus with everything affords us the opportunity to experience the most blessed life now while we’re alive before Jesus comes back!
As we grow in loving Jesus with everything, ask that may we experience the immediate impacts of God’s blessing here and now. Let’s worship to the song “Holy Overshadowing”(click here) by Graham Kendrick.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NLT)-4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”
Have you ever heard of the expression, “Too much of good thing is a bad thing”? Or “Too much of a good thing is not a good thing”? The idea behind these expressions is that we should be careful not to over indulge in certain areas of life. These expressions advocate the idea that being too excessive in some things can be detrimental to us, that it’s possible to go overboard and harm ourselves. That might work for different things in life like drinking or desserts or sweets, but it won’t work with our love for Jesus. There is no loving Jesus in moderation. There is no loving Jesus in a measured way. Our love for Jesus is to be excessive and overflowing. Our love for Jesus is to be with everything.
Let’s ask the Spirit to increase our love for Jesus, that it would encompass all areas of our lives. Let’s worship to the song “More Like Jesus” (click here) by Passion.
Philippians 2: 8-11a–“…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,”
…the decision to become human, and to go all the way along the road of obedience, obedience to the divine plan of salvation, yes, all the way to the cross…It was a decision about what it really meant to be divine…to be equal with God. As you look at the incarnate son of God dying on the cross the most powerful thought you should think is: this is the true meaning of who God is. He is the God of self-giving love. [Wright, N.T. Paul for Everyone, Philippians]
This is God’s good order that Jesus lived and secured, and when the Holy Spirit came to live in each of us, we also received this good order that reorders our entire being and existence. The obedient love of Jesus became God’s eternal victory, and He gave this victory to us! When we confess ‘Jesus is Lord’, we are also believing and receiving this victory – His Lordship over our lives. This is our faith. This is our loving Jesus.
Let’s pray and ask God to help us daily offer and surrender every part of our lives to the Lordship of Jesus, that we may pour out our hearts and souls in living out obedient love in worship of Jesus, for He alone is worthy! As we pray, let’s also worship in song with Greatest Hallelujah (M. Redman) (click here).
John 14:22-23–Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
The word “home” or “dwelling places” is the same word used in John 14:2 –In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
Jesus Christ, God-Incarnate, made his dwelling among the people. After His death and resurrection, He returned to the Father and is preparing a dwelling place for us in the Father’s house. But here and now, through the Holy Spirit, God is not just present with us, but is also making His home in the hearts of those who love Jesus and obey His commands.
This means that God will reveal Himself not only to us, but also through us by His Spirit. The life of obedient love is far greater than we can comprehend or contain, because it is beyond us. But the promise of God is that we will not only live it, we will also be transformed. As God makes His home in us, we become like Him. By the Holy Spirit in us, we are also given the grace of responding and reciprocating love for God through a life of obedient love.
Let’s pray and say yes, Lord, may there be more of Jesus and less of me. Let’s ask God to fill us with His grace that we may love Him through a life of obedient love. As we pray, let’s worship God with this song – More Like Jesus (Passion) (click here).
John 14:21 –They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.
This dynamic union of loving the Lord and keeping His commandments is “not simply a matter of shared ideas or feelings but of shared life. The love is reciprocal – those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. This verse does not deny the love God has for all his creatures, but rather speaks of the fulfillment of that love in a qualitatively new way for those who are in the Son. Believers are those who have entered into the same reciprocity of love that unites the Father and the Son. Jesus says that he himself will love such a disciple and will show himself to him or her. Thus, Jesus will remain in personal contact with his disciples…he will remain in relationship with them although the relationship will exist in a new form. [Whitacre R.A. The IVP New Testament Commentary, p.361,]
We, in Christ, share in the love that is between the Father and the Son! This love is the Father’s committed, intimate, life-creating, covenant love, perfectly reciprocated by the Son in obedient love. And then there is even more – the Lord will reveal himself to us! The key to obedience, to all of life, to worshiping God is to know God like this. Let’s confess our need to know God like this. Let’s pray and ask God to deepen our roots in this love and also for His power to grasp and know how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
John 14:18-20“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
The disciples may have wondered – “is Jesus abandoning us?” But Jesus promises that they will see Him.
The fact that the disciples will see him suggests his coming spiritual presence with them is not in view, and the fact that the world will not see him rules out the second coming. So, most likely, he is speaking of his appearance after the resurrection, at which time he will impart the Spirit to them. Not only will they not be abandoned, with Jesus’ return after the resurrection they will enter into the new kind of life he has been revealing throughout his ministry…This salvation is a matter of life: Because I live, you also will live. They will live because they will be united to him by the Spirit and thus come to share in the life of him who is resurrection and life. All of this is made possible by Jesus’ own death and resurrection. [Whitacre, R.A. The IVP New Testament Commentary, p.360]
We now share in Jesus’ resurrection life. Who we are and what we live is resurrection life from which obedience flows. “…I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” (Gal 2:20). Let’s ask God to help us believe this truth even more, and let’s thank and praise God for His resurrection life – His obedient life of love that He has given us in Christ. Let’s also worship God in song with “No Longer I” (Matt Redman) (click here).
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
The uncompromising connection between love for Christ and obedience to Christ repeatedly recurs in John’s writings…The first entailment of the disciples’ love for Jesus is their obedience; the second is that Jesus will ask the Father to provide them another Counselor to be with them forever. [Carson, D.A. Pillar New Testament Commentary, pp.498-499]
“Advocate” – The Greek word translated to Advocate here is parakletos. It is also translated as Counselor, Comforter, or Helper.
“another” – The Greek word translated to another is allos and means another of the same kind… Jesus was comforting His disciples by assuring them they did not need to be troubled at his leaving because the Helper or Counselor he would send was just like him! There would be no loss in the exchange. So much are they the same that in Romans 8:9 the Apostle Paul calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of Christ.” [Hughes, R. That You May Believe, pp. 343-344]
Jesus’ promise has been fulfilled. The Spirit of Truth – the Spirit of Christ lives in us! This empowering presence of God enables us to love Him and obey His commands. This is who we are, so let us embrace this afresh today and pray for our lives and for our churches, that God would empower us more to believe and live obedient love.
James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
“Trial” refers to any difficulty in life that may threaten our faithfulness to Christ: physical illness, financial reversal, the death of a loved one.… James, then, uses the crown to refer to the idea of reward, [and] the word life following crown will indicate what the reward is. Revelation 2:10.. is similar, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”[Moo, D. The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter of James. p. 70]
After going through most of our Loving Jesus Series, I am not sure what sounds more beautiful – the “crown of life” that those who endure will receive, or the description that God gives them as “those who love him.” Of course, they are both amazing works of God’s grace.
Let’s take to heart this truth of this passage. Let’s pray for ourselves, whether we are in a time of “trial” or not, that we will be those who persevere in loving Jesus. Let’s pray for one another in our families, campuses, missional groups, and churches, that we will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
John 21:17-19 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Feed my sheep…. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Jesus’ threefold repetition of his question may reflect the Near Eastern custom of reiterating a matter three times before witnesses in order to convey a solemn obligation… Peter is not relieved but rather saddened that Jesus has asked him the same question a third time. Peter’s response, “Lord, you know all things,” rather than pointing to actions of his own that prove his loyalty, defers to Jesus’ knowledge of him… Perhaps at long last Peter has learned that he cannot follow Jesus in his own strength and has realized the hollowness of affirming his own loyalty in a way that relies more on his own power of will than in Jesus’ enablement. [Kostenberger, A. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: John. p. 597-598]
In our “yes” to Jesus, let’s rely upon Him. We trust in Him Who, knowing all things including our greatest need, went to the cross in love. We take the commission to feed His sheep by, and only by, following Him.
Let’s pray for our churches today, that Jesus’ sheep will be well cared for. Let’s gladly say “yes” to following Jesus today. We can also worship in song – May the Words of my Mouth (Tim Hughes) (click here)