The Greatest Commandment


     Then one of the scribes came and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”  Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”  So the scribe said to him, “Well said teacher.  You have spoken the truth.” (Mark 12: 28-32.)


     A teacher of God’s law was captivated by the wisdom of Jesus.  He therefore tested Him, asking which commandment was the most important.  The Lord responded by proclaiming the oneness of God.  What made the Jewish people different from every other culture was their faith in God; an almighty Creator (unlike the surrounding pagan cultures who worshipped many Gods.)  Jesus then identified man’s place in relation to the Living God; every individual has been designed by God to walk in fellowship with Him; to love Him with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.  The second commandment was an outward expression of the first; love for God is revealed by our love for others.  Loving God and loving others is the same commandment; it is impossible to do one without the other.  A person who claims to cherish and love the Lord, but appears cold and unloving toward others, is either deceived, or walking in willful disobedience (neither of which are good.)

     Many years ago, I was walking and praying to God behind the coffee shop where I used to study.  I was practicing the greatest commandment (loving God with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength.)  After making my connection with the Lord in prayer, I headed back to the coffee shop to continue my studies. Suddenly, God gave me the opportunity to love someone else as I would love myself.  Glancing over at the nearest intersection, I spotted an accident that had caused a truck to flip over on its side.  I rushed across the street, arriving at the scene to find other bystanders standing at a distance. I discovered that a woman was trapped inside the overturned vehicle.  The police and the fire department had not yet arrived, so I moved forward.  After getting down on my stomach, I was able to slide my head and one of my arms between the concrete and the open driver’s side window.  The girl inside was young and obviously in shock.  She was hanging in place by her seat belt.  I held her hand, reassuring her that everything was going to be okay.  As the tears rolled down her face I continued talking with her.  After a short while, the fire department arrived. I told her that I would be praying for her; she had the sense of mind to say ‘thank you.’  I walked away from the accident knowing that I had loved that woman as myself. The loving God that lived within my heart had made Himself known to her in the hour of her greatest need.

     There is one God, and the two greatest commandments He has given are actually one in the same.  Those who love God and draw near to Him, become like Him.  He is kind, He is compassionate, He is loving and merciful; He is truthful; and those who love Him with all of their heart are moved to love others as God loves them.  Throughout your day, connect with God in prayer; cherish His words and hold them within your heart, contemplating His truth within your mind.  If God is the priority in your life, then you will have a supernatural love for others that will shine like the sun; a love that cannot be denied; a love that comes from the one true and living God.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to be close to You and to love You; fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  May our hearts be completely devoted to You, and to others.  Give us opportunities throughout the day to express our love for You, in the lives of those around us.  Use us to reveal Your goodness to the world.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you!   

Scripture is Powerful


    So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word then you are my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8: 31-32.)


   God, in His wisdom, has chosen to use language (words) to reveal Himself to mankind. The written and spoken words of God and of His only Son Jesus Christ are recorded within the pages of The Holy Bible. These words have the power to grant eternal life; to purify and to heal; to transform and to enlighten. The word of God can do so many things; but unless it is harnessed and utilized, it isn’t likely to produce any meaningful change. Daily scripture reading is essential for the growth of the believer; a dusty bible is a reflection of the heart of its owner.
   Francis A. Schaffer was a brilliant 20th century American scholar and theorist. As a young adult he had been eagerly studying the works of the Greek philosophers. In his quest for knowledge he had been exposed to many interesting questions; for which there were no answers (he was drowning in theory, speculation, and conjecture.) At this same time he was also attending a very liberal church on the weekends, which failed to provide him with the answers he desired (because they did not preach bible based sermons.) ‘He thought, “I wonder whether I should stop calling myself a Christian, and discard the bible?” Then he reconsidered; choosing instead to face the fact that he had never actually read the bible.’ In desperation he began reading the scriptures for himself; with every turn of the page, his amazement grew. He had finally found the answers to his questions. His curiosity had led him to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Francis Schaffer never stopped reading his bible. He chose to commit the rest of his life to helping others discover the truth that he had received from God.
   Nearly 130 million books have been written throughout human history. Every year 50,000 new titles are published. Yet in a sea of literary works, only the Holy Bible contains the truth. The bible transforms lives; it creates affection, produces kindness, and generates love; it relieves addictions, and delivers from despair; it can heal the sick and bring hope to the hopeless; it contains the answers to life’s deepest questions; it is a powerful tool; yet like all tools, it can do nothing unless it is put to use. Read God’s word and discover your purpose. Grab hold of the promises of God and never let go. Open His Holy Scriptures and you will neither stumble nor stray from the path of everlasting life.
    “Lord Heavenly Father, show us the importance of daily bible reading. May we cling to Your words as a dying man clings to his last breath. Instill in us the desire to seek You. May we be transformed through the power of Your word. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we may be more like Your Son; may others see our lives and praise Your Name. We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

Why Jesus had to Die


     Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  So it was, while they conversed and reasoned that Jesus himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were restrained so that they did not know him.  And he said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”  Then the one whose name is Cleopas answered and said to him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have you not known the things which happened there in these days?”  And he said to them, “What things?”  So they said to him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.  But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel […] Then he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?”  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24: 13-27.) 


  After the annual Passover feast, millions of pilgrims were departing from Jerusalem and returning to their homes.  Two of Christ’s followers joined in the mass exodus; their hearts had been broken and their minds were filled with confusion; like many, they had believed Jesus was the messiah; but their hopes were shattered at the foot of the cross, and buried with Christ in His tomb.  Thinking he was dead, the two disciples debated the meaning of his brief existence.  Suddenly Jesus Christ himself drew near to them in the guise of another pilgrim traveling along the road.  The men could not comprehend why the messiah would need to suffer and die.  Quoting the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus cited prophesies that foreordained his punishment and affliction.  The cross was not a display of weakness, but rather, an illustration of strength; nor was his blood a symbol of death; for every drop that was shed has come to represent God’s forgiveness.  Jesus Christ took the punishment for sin upon himself; he died so that others could live.

   In 1943, a ship named the USS Dorchester was sailing to Greenland as a part of a World War 2 navy convoy.  The Dorchester was carrying 903 American soldiers and 4 chaplains.  One evening, as the ship slumbered through the icy waters of the North Atlantic, the men were abruptly awakened by a loud explosion.  A German U-boat torpedo had torn a hole in the bow of the vessel.  All of the men immediately appeared on deck.  The four chaplains began distributing the life vests to the soldiers as they abandoned the sinking ship.  Within a matter of minutes, they had run out of vests.  One of the chaplains bravely removed his vest and gave it to a soldier; the other three chaplains followed his example. These brave men then locked arms and began to sing and pray before drowning in the frigid waters.  They chose to die so that others could live.  

     The disciples did not initially understand why Jesus Christ had to die.  He died because the punishment for sin had to be administered; and the punishment for sin is death.  He perished in our stead.  He embraced agony and suffering so that we could inherit eternal life.  He took our place because he loves us.  We can return that love today by embracing Him.  We should thank Him for His sacrifice and honor Him for His courage; we are only alive today because he was willing to die for us.

  “Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you and praise you for enduring our punishment.  We understand that it was necessary for you to suffer for our sins.  You loved us when no one else could.  Because of your sacrifice we have eternal life.  May we never forget what You have done; may we always remain grateful; and may we continually serve You and worthily magnify Your Holy name.  We love You Jesus, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!

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