In our generation through loving relationships with God, His church, and His world. (Acts 13:36a; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 2:52)f the greatest theologians of our century, Frances Shafer said “So, Then how do we live” In other words how do we express what Christ has done for us in 1999!!! How do we take the theme of our Heidelberg Catechism of GUILT GRACE AND GRATITUDE and truly apply it in our lives, so we live out our faith, and not just say it. How then shall we look to the new millennium?
Mark 12:30 states
This great commandment of our Lord is the basic law of all of creation, before the 10 Commandments, before he said we are not to steal, or murder, or covet, before we were created, before the angels, before all that has been or ever will be, before all existence came this precursor of,… “We have only one Lord and God, thus we must love Him with all of our hear, soul, mind, and strength.
This was the law for Adam before Eve, it was the law for the Angels, it was biding for them as it is still binding for us here today. All of the law, all that we could strive to be is delivered from this great command. Even the second great commandment is dependent on the first.
This command bears not only great responsibility, but is comprehensive that all we do, think, say, and even pray is formed from our obeying or disobeying of this command. Even the quality of life we have is mostly from the choices we make, is from how we keep this command. How we treat our family, our friends, our selves and our God will be dependent on how we keep this command.
This is not the law of the road from the CHP traffic manual, if we break it, we may get pulled over and pay a fine, and receive the gift of increased insurance or even the loss of our car. This is not even a civil law that if we committed murder we could spend the rest of our lives in jail or even loose our life.
No, this is the law of our Lord God creator and king of the universe. This is not an infraction but a gross offence of the most grievance and sinister kind. Thus when we break His law it is not a meer fine, it is the invoking of His mighty wrath. This is the law that states we are sinners before a holy and righteous God in need of a Savior.
This is a call of love, a duty to be fulfilled. But if you view this law as a meer duty, then you will find no love in it, thus you have broken it. And so many of us do break it.
Some people break it out of straight willful disobedience, saying there is no God. Which is basically saying I wish there was no God, so I do not have to be accountable to anyone, so I can do as I please, do as I want. It can be the Atheist who spits in the face of God, or it could be….us who say one thing and do another.
Some people are just indifferent to God, as I would say most in our post modern culture. This is one of the biggest problems in our culture and in our church. People do not care what is right and wrong, replacing God with relativism, saying, “well everyone else is doing it this way”. So many activities and plans fill the schedules, so much that God is not even considered, So much that even committed Christians push God out of their daily itineraries, because there is to much important stuff that can not be missed. This the Christian has taken the role of the atheists with their neglect of there Lord and God, and replaced HIM WITH A BUSY SCHEDULE, or a heart that is indifferent and cold.
1) In OUR Heart and Soul
Love is not meer admiration or affection or even respect, love is total surrendered devotion and a choice we make! We are not loving little kittens, we are loving the Lord and creator of the universe with the devotion and surrendered wills that He demands and deserves.
So with our heart, …we are not to just admire and be devoted to our confessions and creeds. Memorizing pages of scripture,, and church order without a passion and convection to our Lord who first loved us. If all we do is Know about God, then we will accomplish nothing. Our faith will be dead and lifeless, like the dead cat our young people found on their scavenger hunt, a couple weeks ago. It was laying out in the elements for a few weeks, mostly decomposed will no hint of a meow for weeks, so will our life in Christ be without the effort of devotion and love, without the determination and perseverance of what he did for us.
We can not, we must not be pretenders to the faith, filling our self with all the knowledge of the faith and having no love. Without the love we cannot be stirred by the Sprit, we can not be fully be used, we can not even be certain we are His child unless love is manifested first to our Lord and then to each other. Going to church twice on Sunday, having family devotions, being in bible study and formal prayer can all be accomplished without love, but what good will it be.
So are you Enjoying God? Spending quality quiet time in Prayer & devotions¼Partaking in the JOY of our relationship with Him!!!
If prayer is a chore and there is no delight in it, then look to the level of love you have for your Lord
When we honor God with our lips it must be preceded from the love in our hearts for Him. To enjoy His presence and to worship Him not only in church but in our daily lives we are to…….love, which is a choice and determination we make, that He made first.
1) Living in expectation of Christ’s Second Coming? Do you know Jesus can come back next Tuesday or next year or in the next thousand years! The point is we are to live our lives in the devotion He may come back tomorrow, Yet plan ahead as if he’s coming back in a thousand years!!
II. In our Soul
We are to love our Lord with all of our lives, that is with all we have. Are we ready to give up our belongings even our lives as the martyrs do. If there is no willingness, then there is something holding you back in your relationship and love with Christ. We are to love Him with all of our heart and soul, soul is all that we are and all that we have. The core of our being of who we are.
Christ gave His live for us, that is He lived a perfect sinless life on our behave, then gave it to us as a present of grace to which we did not deserve. So then what is our response with our life, are we to hoard it for our own glory so we can accomplish nothing, or do we give it to our Lord for His glory to accomplish something great for His purpose. We may not even get a hint of martyrdom or suffering in our life time as so many people in Christ through time and different lands, but are we willing..
2) In OUR Mind
Is our intellect in line with God, is it being offered in love and devotion, or is it idle or
Completing the theologies of the existence of God, but with no real drive of love. To know him intellectually without love is to be a athyisest, or more correctly an agnostic, who believes in God, and even studies God, but with no devotion or passion, or Willingness to surrender themselves to Him.
So are you Knowing God better? Spending time in His Word, well are you willing to read it through in 2000, it only takes 10 to 15 min a day to read the entire Bible in one year! And let the experience and knowledge of who God is, transforming us, and challenging us powerfully and fully!!!
Disciplined in the depth of study in the Bible? Are you attending regular bible study, were you can learn and have others hold you accountable, if not 2000 is a good year to start. If you do not have time, then its time to reevaluate your priorities. Because what is more important then gaining knowledge of our Lord, and communing with Him!
The thought and comprehension of God should bring joy to our lives and a heart and sole filled with passion and desire to know more about our Lord. So all of our passions and convictions are layed at our Lord’s feet.
Growth in Christian mind through tapes, books, seminar, courses? There are many avenues to grow as a Christian. One way that I have found vary helpful in my personal growth is attending conferences, that specialize in teaching and challenging. There are also good radio teachers as well as books and tapes. Warning, be discerning on whom you read and listen too. Always compare what you here to the Scriptures. There are many false teachers out there that want your money and to tickle and trick your ears to a path away form God! If in doubt come and see pastor Dieleman or myself.
Making decisions in light of eternal values? Are we asking our selves what would Jesus do? We know what would Jesus do by knowing His character, and we know His character by knowing His Word!
Reading and taking courses for broader understanding of the world? You mind does not retire, no matter how old or young you are. It has been my observation that when people retire and continue on with no hobbies or interests or challenges—they waist away and become depressed. Most Social Scientists will agree that when your mind becomes idle, we lose the will to live. Do not be robed of your contribution to the kingdom of Christ. At my last Church in So. Ca there was a lady named Hilda who taught a regular Bible study every Sunday afternoon. She was a missionary in Africa and Alaska, and now she is enjoying her retirement, Yet she still is active in her church. It was ironic that at this church, us staff had a hard time requiting people for teaching and even deacons, as a matter of fact, most of the committees were under staff by ½! The main objection was, “ IM retired and I just can not do this any more. Most of these people were in their 60’s, Hilda the ex missionary who taught a weekly bible study, the only one available to adults, turned 100 last july!!! So are you too old-God does not think so!
Keeping up with current thoughts & trends by going to “listening posts” of our society? (e.g. lectures, films, plays, political events) There are other activities we can engage our mind into current issues. Try reading magazines attending lectures, getting involved in city Government. Basically do not be idle, God can and will use us powerfully if we let him, but he can’t use us much if we are stuck on a couch. Remember we can always do better to give the Lord Glory!
1) In OUR Strength
How do you spend your day? Does your schedule reflect that Christ is Lord over you, or does your schedule reflect atheneum, that we are lord and master of our exsistance? When we are loving God with all of our strength, we are throwing the force of our heart, soul and mind and body to worship and give God the glory.
That our schedules and business reflects a soul bought and paid for by His shed blood. That re are revering and respecting God’s role as sovereign over the universe and over us. That we do not hold back anything.
Are you taking care of yourself’s?
How bout Rest? Well do you? Are you taking care of yourselves? Remember this essential truth, as a Christian we are the temple of the Holy Sprit! As stated in John 14:17. Just as you have taken great care in adding on and then remodeling the church, to make it better and more useful, do you do this with yourselves? If we do not take proper care of our bodies, how can God use us for His Glory? Yes He may be able to use us for a while of limited purposes, but how much more can we be of use for him if we just put a little more effort in the care of His temple!
Diet? Are you eating right? Most people have not a clue of what is healthy and what is not. Basically eat fresh vegetables and fruit. Whole grains and stay away from processed food. And drink 8- 10 glasses of fresh filtered water, and you will do fine! Maybe consider vitamin supplements.
Exercise? Physiologists tell us that if we do not exercise regularly are bodies will deteriorate and break down, not vary well for a temple of the holy sprit!
Personal grooming and wardrobe? . I do not know anybody with this problem in this congregation, sol we may not think this is important in our contemporary California society. But consider the fact we are ambassadors of Christ on this world, So should not act and we dress like it?
Recreation/Relaxation? Do you enjoy life? We should! God placed us here for His Glory and purpose, so enjoy the ride of life, have fun, and be happy even in the mist of trouble and suffering. Do not let the trivialities and perceived urgencies to stress you out. Christ is in you, what possibly else can you need or want?
Manual skills developing? Again do not be idle!
1) Heart soul, Mind and Strength translates into our Work:
Remember God chose us, He has claim over us, so what do we do with this essential fact of our confession from the truth of scripture?
Remember He is Lord! He is God! We are to love Him because for who he is! We are to love him for what he did for us! God is eternal always existed, never changing, always loving, always holy, all powerful and all knowing. This is the why of this great commandment, this is why we exist, and what God’s will is! God is good, loving king, gracious, and He made us, he sustains us by the air we breath and food we eat, by the plant pn which we stand, all there is, all we do is from Him and is to be for Him.
1) Handling money in terms of Biblical priorities? Are we being a wise steward of the blessings the Lord has given us? If you think God has not blessed you, think agin. He has given you life and a life style that is in the upper 3% of the world, that is if you are lower middle class! There are always things to be thankful for, So we should show it. How we use the money God gives us shows our true character!
2) Handling time in terms of Biblical priorities? Being a wise steward does not mean just finances, it means all we have Time, treasures and Talent! The way we use time shows the priorities we have. We need to ask are our priorities centered upon the Lords
3) Choosing a career in terms of Biblical priorities? If you are in the processes of trying to find out what Gods Will is for your life. Then consider what Gods word says, God is more concerned with our Obedience than our carrier. God is more concerned with our relationship to him than any thing we do. The will of God has more to do with controlling our hearts than what we do with our lives! Yes a career is important and we should strive to do our beast with the spiritual gifts and talents we have to further his Glory! But let us never forget what is truly important!
4) Carrying out work in terms of Biblical priorities? Everything we do is under the topic of work, weather a housewife or placing control rods in a Nuceuler reactor or milking a cow or discing a field, or preaching a sermon, what we do is a mirror to the image of God to those around us! So consider this, are we mirroring Christ’s Image well, are we nice to the shoe clerk as we are nice to our friends!
5) Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength translates into In OUR Relationships:
We have a god who formed us in His hand and in His will, a God of relationships, a God of love. Our dependence is utterly complete in Him, thus our relationships and direction in life must reflect this truth. Sense God is feeding us, are we bitting his hand, or our we being nourished and reciplacatiing the Love he has for us.
1) Good manners/etiquette? (Take a course, read a book!) How we act toward others shows people around us what Christ is like! If you have one of those fish symbols on you car, and drive around cutting people off like a crazy person; then, people see Christians as jerks! This is not the best way to glorify Christ!
2) Conversational skills? What does come out of our mouths! What comes out is telling others our character. The book of James has a lot to say to us on this subject! Do we treat others with dignity and respect! Do we listen to others!
3) Taking initiative to develop relationships? It has been said people do not care what we have to say until they know how much we care! If no one will talk to you, then take the initiative, take a risk and let others into your circle!
4) Understanding how to “be in the world” but not “of the world?” The bible calls us to be salt and light, that is we are to be involved in the world, while not letting the infection of sin to penetrate our selves. We are to act and respond, to be involved in life. We are called to love and take care of others . Such as to care for the Gay person while not condoning the Sin!
5) Getting to know people generationally older and generationally younger? We should spend more time with others of different ages. One of the things I like being a part of Trinity is that I talk to so many people of different live stages. When I was on staff at a large Mega Church I rarely spoke to others out side my age level ministry. So with our call we can disciple people younger than us and be discipled by those older, sharing experience with love and caring!
6) Exercising hospitality? This goes beyond inviting people over, it is about how we treat other
True obedience is impossible to this Law. No man or women in all of creation could do it, thus our need for a savior. We are fallen and imperfect, and the realization of our need, and the expectance of His grace will transform us to be able to follow this Law of love with love of following it. So we will love following the love and being devoted in love because of His love.
We are not saved by our love and devotion, or by our works, we are saved by what Christ did for us. However there is a response to His Love, because of our sinful rebellious state. A response of thanks, a response of gratitude, a response of Love.
So how much do you love God? Were is your devotion and passion in life fixed? Is the love for God overflowing onto your family, friends, neighbors, and self? With all of our heart, soul, mind, and sprit! That is we are to throw our whole selves into it, all of our being of who we are into the love of God. Not just a part of us, not a section no matter how big or small, all of us, no less than all! Spurgeon said that, “our heart is to have its whole being absorbed into God, so that God is the hearty object of its pursuit and its most mighty love.” To God only, to God be the glory.
SO Do you enjoy being in your relationship with God, well we should. You see the reason we were put on this world is to experience relationships. Our relationship with God through what Christ has done for us is our first priority. The second priority is to experience relationships with others, and the third is relationships to those around us! With God, His Church and the world! Let us look to Christ, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” Well-rounded development is being a person of Intellect, social and Spiritual, a holistic person! With our Sprit, Mind, Body, Work and Relationships! This is how we can give God the glory in our lives, in the new millennium!