In copying some posts from the Shoe blog to here, I came across one of our articles on loving God. It struck me that what I had learned then . . . I am still learning today. Here is part of that article for you:
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How Then Shall We Love Him?
“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” – – Matthew 22:35-38
There is a prayer that I pray for my children often. It is this: that God will put such an incredibly deep love for Him and His Word within their hearts . . . that nothing will shake it. My children will face deception, ridicule, and possibly persecution within their lifetimes. And I know the deeper a person loves God, the more likely they will be to live for Him in the hard things – and even die for Him.
Not long ago I was faced with a decision: did I want to be just a Christian? Or did I want to be the kind of Christian who loves this God with all her heart, who loves the Word that shows me who He is? Could I be the Christian who puts their hand, heart, and soul to the Gospel plow and never looks back? Did I truly want to do this with all I had in me? I did. And I’ve never regretted it.
There are five things that have helped me to love God with all my heart. I will share them with you.
- I sincerely ask God to to help me learn to love Him with all my heart. It wasn’t a trite asking, but a desperate cry from the bottom of my heart. I wanted it more than anything. And He answered. James 1:5
- I ask God to speak to me through His Word. And then open my heart to listen.
- I set down my devotional or Christian self-help book and completely and totally immerse myself in the Word of God. This is vital. I have found it imperative not to drink from any water – except from the Source of living water during my devotional time. I am not saying there is not a time to read Christian books, but until my heart is bursting in praise for God’s faithfulness, love, mercy, and grace, I put those other books down. It is necessary to know God’s Word inside and out to help with discerning the truth and error of man-authored books.
- I pray this prayer: “God, change my heart.” I am going to warn you, this will hurt. When God began convicting me of hidden sin in my heart, I wept. But I had put my hand to the plow and was not willing to do this half-heartedly. Because I knew He loved me and was doing this to purify my soul, I confessed those sins and repented of them. I allowed Him to change me.
- Lastly, I prayed one more prayer: “Who would You have me serve today?” He is my King and He has somebody special for me to serve every single day. This overwhelming love for God will come out in the way you serve others. It just keeps on giving.
“He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that love Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21
Many people don’t like to think that loving God requires doing.
I have found that to love my King with all my heart is not always a pleasant experience. Sometimes it is incredibly painful. Sometimes it requires that I lay down the deepest desires and wishes I hold in my heart. Sometimes it means that I must confess sins that were blind to me previously. It is a humbling of my heart and surrendering of everything within my life.
Sometimes it means we do the hard things . . . like staying faithful to a adulterating spouse or forgiving seventy times seven. It is taking up our cross to follow Him. Not everyone who says “Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven – but those who do the will of the Father. (Matthew 7:21)
This subject of “loving God means keeping His commandments” is one that I see my generation struggling with. Especially in the Anabaptist circles. Some of them have come out of church situations where the “doing” was emphasized more strongly than the “loving”. And it was done with unwilling spirits – no joy from pleasing the Lord of heaven.
Because of this, I see a huge tendency to jump straight from one ditch into the other. People are convinced there is no joy in the doing. We all truly long for peace and joy. It is an inborn, God-given desire to find joy in Him.
I can only speak from my own experience, but my deepest joy comes from this overwhelming love I hold for this God of Heaven – when I am completely and totally surrendered to Him, and walking in His ways.
When I have allowed His Spirit to mold my heart, when I do not fight Him . . . then there is so much joy it spreads outward in everything I do.
The steps I laid out above are ones I have personally taken . . . and I know them to be true in my own heart. If you want to know God is guiding you, if you want to feel Him close to you, if you want to have love and joy so deep nothing can shake it, then try this. It will mean crying out to Him in a desperation you may have never felt before. But what can it hurt to try? Step #3 is especially important. Shut out the other voices clamoring to be heard in books, social media – even this blog – and completely immerse yourself in God’s Word. How else will you truly know just what this God of the Bible is all about?
How do I know that I love Him? Let me tell you one more prayer I have prayed as I beheld the heartbreak and sin in the lives around me.
“Lord, if You can bring more souls into Your kingdom through my death than through my life . . . then I give it to You.”
This is one of the last things I will give Him before I behold His face.
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And that, my friends, is how I have learned to love Him.