GOOD MORNING!

As we bunker down on this snow day, I would like to encourage you in God's Word. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself..." (Matthew 22:36-39). This was Jesus' reply when the Pharisees tested Jesus with a question, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' (v. 36). The Pharisees prided themselves on meticulous observance of the Law. They not only knew the Ten Commandments, but they paid rigorous attention to all the laws in the books of Moses, 613 laws according to traditional count. They tried to reason out the implications of the laws, and to make sure they avoided even the possibility of violating any of them. But the Pharisees had lost sight of the very heart of the matter - LOVING GOD. Without sincere love for God, the external observance of the commandments becomes an empty form of religion. We become prone to misinterpret the Bible, judge others harshly, and not live life "full of grace and truth." Before we can effectively love one another, having a genuine love for God is essential. He first loved us, and He demonstrated that love by giving His Son to die on the cross for us. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). At our worst, God loves us. So our love for Him is our response. After we understand what God has done for us, we can't help but say, "YES, I want to love Him!" Then, when we have responded to God by loving Him back, we can then be agents of His love to other people. We can be God's instruments in helping others follow Christ. There is a lot of hostility in the world. It seems like everyone is against everyone. If we are called to be representatives of Christ, leading people to reconciliation with Him, love is our most powerful vehicle. To show love and concern for other people and their well-being draws people to God's amazing GRACE and TRUTH. None of us are perfect channels of God's love, sometimes we lose our cool, and we say things or do things that are not Christ-like, and that can drive people away from the Lord. The bottom line is we have to apologize and seek forgiveness of the person we've hurt or offended, regardless of their spiritual status. We should seek forgiveness from others as we have sought forgiveness from God. If we love God most, we will love others best. Our love for each other is an indicator of the place God is holding in our hearts. One of the unique traits of the Christian life is that you have an ability, supernaturally given to you from God, to love unlovable people. One last thought, be careful not to mix-up our priorities. When we love people more than we love God, several things can happen. 

  • God's standards are replaced by the cultural standards of those we love. Our perception becomes jaded with idioms, ideologies and practices that are built on sinking sand and not the solid rock of the Gospel.
  • People become our Savior. When we love people more than we love God, we establish them as our kings. They occupy the thrown of our hearts. 
  • Sacred becomes Sacrilege. So now, what was called sin is now patted on the back in the form of empathy. What was deemed holy, right and moral is now backwards, old fashioned, out of touch and even discriminatory in practice. 

Talk as a family today and ask each other, "What does it mean to you to Love God and Love people?" "How can we be an instrument in helping others follow Christ?" "What can happen when we love people more than God?"

Praying you stay safe and warm and have a blessed day in the LORD!

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Much love and care,
Pastor Pat