I watched a documentary about the founding of the nation of Israel last week. Days after the UN declared the partition of Palestine in 1948, the Jewish state was created. A few days later five surrounding nations mobilized to destroy the new state, declaring their intent to ‘push the Jews into the sea.’ Against amazing odds, Israel stood up to the armies that outnumbered theirs by the thousands. With a laughable air force and limited munitions they fought to survive and they brought the attackers to a standstill! It was a costly war for the Jewish state in which 1% of the population died. What do many historians think made the difference? Heart! For Israel, it was win or die; with no middle ground. Those who fought were willing to die to prevent another Holocaust.
If transformed behavior is desired, moving a person’s heart, stirring his emotions, is at least as important, perhaps even more so, than convincing him with reason.
The Bible urges a ‘changed heart’ for those who would live godly. We can make all kinds of argument for serving the Lord, turning from those things that He abhors. We can point out the folly of sin and the reward of righteousness, but until the heart is changed, there will be little or no observable discipleship! No wonder we read this direction – “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. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, NIV) This passage is part of the Shema, the core prayer of the Jews, prayed by the devout at least twice a day!
Jesus repeated it for those of us who are His disciples. “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘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 mind and with all your strength.’” (Mark 12:28-30, NIV)
We give ourselves to what and whom we love! Nobody had to coax me to care for Bev in her time of critical illness prior to her death. Nobody had to remind me, “Jerry, this is your obligation.” I loved her and nothing was too much to give. In those months, I turned my life inside out to make certain that she had everything she needed to enjoy the best quality of possible at that time. Was I noble? Was I unique? Not at all. I simply loved.
Do you love God, heart deep?
The Bible teaches us about the source of devotion. It is not just a choice. It is a response! “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8, NIV) “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, NIV) Want to experience a changed heart? Look to the One who loves you. Pray for a vision of the love of the Father, most clearly displayed in Jesus, who lovingly left His perfection to enter our sinful world, who took our sin on Himself at the Cross, and who now extends to us the full rights of restoration to a place in the family of God!
Love is costly, but rewarding. When we have received His love and are living in love, we find the richest possible life now and enjoy the promise of life eternal.
Here is my prayer for us this Monday morning. It is my most beloved passage in the Scripture. Soak your mind in the truth and let your heart be transformed.
“I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NIV)
The Love Of God
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin
O love of God how rich and pure
How measureless and strong
It shall forevermore endure
The saints and angels song
When years of time shall pass away
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall
When men who here refuse to pray
On rocks and hills and mountains call
God’s love so sure shall still endure
All measureless and strong
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race
The saints and angels song
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky
Frederick Martin Lehman | Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai
© Words: Public Domain