Wadi Qelt - The Ancient Road between Jerusalem and Jericho

25  And a  lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” Luke 10:25-37

Luke thinks that you understand the context of this story.

1) The road between Jerusalem and Jericho followed the Wadi Qelt, and winding road through a canyon that runs from the Mount of Olives (2450 to 2700 Feet MSL) to Jericho ( 827 feet below sea level).

2) This was a place where travelers were often robbed by bandits.

3) The priest was heading down from Jerusalem, and the Levite might have been heading up to the Temple for his term of service.

11 ‘The one who touches the corpse of any person shall be unclean for seven days. Numbers 19:11

Touching a corpse would cause the Levite to return to Jericho for a seven day period of cleansing, and not being on the service team at the Temple.

4) Samaritans were a mixed race that lived in southern Galilee, and because of the Assyrian resettlement of conquered peoples policy when they conquered the area, they were not Jewish but a mixed race, and therefore not socially acceptable people.

5) Matthew quotes Jesus referring to these two as “the greatest commandments’.

34  But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them,  a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40

The lawyer is quoting Deuteronomy Chapter 6 and Leviticus 19:

 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

18  You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18

 

Loving God with our Heart

 The Hebrew word in Deuteronomy 6:5 for heart is lebab, which translates inner man; the source of the life of the inner person in various aspects, with a focus on feelings, thoughts, volition, and other areas of inner life.

 We love God “with all our heart” by first worshipping and praising him. Praise and worship is simply our human response to His Divine presence.

 The Bible is full of examples of humans responding to God’s presence by worshipping and praising Him. 

 When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying, “He is so good! His faithful love endures forever!”                                                                      2 Chronicles 7:3

   To the Hebrew mind, the heart was the core of their innermost being.  An encounter with God usually evokes some sort of emotional response from this innermost part, recognizing God for who He is, and what He has done for us. The Book of Psalms provides us with great examples of how to praise and worship God.  To really understand what the Psalmists were communicating, it’s important to realize that where the word “praise” appears in our English Bibles, there is actually one of seven Hebrew words that are translated “Praise” in English.  Here are three that have to do directly with loving God with all our heart.

 1)  Hallal:  To praise the Lord by celebrating, by dancing, by shining forth, by acting clamorously foolish; A very robust liberating kind of praise.

Hallal the LORD! Hallal God in his heavenly dwelling; Hallal him in his mighty heaven!         Psalm 150:1

 2)  Shabach:  To praise the Lord with a shout and a loud voice.

Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I Shabach You!                     Ps 63:3

 3)  Tehillah:  A praise from your spirit, the pouring out of your heart before God; letting Him know how you feel.

Yet you are holy. The Tehillah of Israel surround your throne.                      Psalm 22:3

 While modern churches may stress a quiet form of worship, it is obvious that the Biblical style included not only moments of quiet reverence, but also lengthy periods of exuberance.  The cheering we do at a football, basketball or soccer game or at a swim meet is the same emotional response God desires us to have toward Him.  He really wants us to “cut loose” in our expressions to Him.  There is great spiritual and emotional health that results from our emotions being freely expressed.

 The failure to release certain emotions can have damaging effects on the follower of Jesus

 It is natural in the course of life that others offend us. We may be wronged in business or mistreated by a friend. It may be verbal or physical abuse, or outright aggression. Damaging words may be spoken behind our back. Loved ones may abandon us in times of need. Whatever the cause, we often end up harboring ill feelings towards those who offend us.

And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the devil.                                  Eph 4:26-27 NLT

 The Bible is very clear that anger as an emotion is not sin.  It is what we do with our anger that is the issue.  Where the world would say that we have the right to hold on to an offense and not forgive, God says that for our own spiritual health, we must forgive those who wrong us.  We must, otherwise we give satan an open door to attack and “torture” us.

 In the outline for prayer that Jesus gave His disciples on Matthew 6, Jesus commands us to ask our Heavenly Father to

Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.  Matthew 6:11-12 NLT                                                                                                                          

 Jesus stresses the need for taking a daily inventory to ensure that we are not holding on to any offenses. He goes on to say that:

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.                                                 Matthew 6:14-15 NLT

 There is something that connects our forgiveness with the grace that we receive from the Lord.  Forgiving others is the mandatory first step in receiving our forgiveness from God.

 There are few things that create problems and curses in the lives of disciples like unforgiveness.  Ask any psychologist about the root of behavioral issues.  Many point to the practice of holding on to offenses as the source of many emotional and health issues.  That is why the writer of Hebrews wrote:

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;                                                                                                      Hebrews 12:15

 The word used here for “bitterness,” is “pikria” which according to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament translates as  “resentment,” or “an incensed and angry attitude of mind to one’s neighbor”.  Bitterness is simply unfulfilled revenge.  Holding on to this emotion and not forgiving will result in severe consequences for the believer.

Jesus is very clear in Matthew 5:38-42 (“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’) that we do not have the right to revenge. On the contrary, according to the principles expressed in that passage of Scripture, we should be givers to those who offend us! 

 What a revolutionary concept!

 Consider the magnitude of our offenses toward God. Whoever we are, there has been some point in our lives where we have turned our back on God and walked away from His will for our lives. God has forgiven each of our sins toward Him.  In light of that, is it reasonable for us to forgive others when they offend us?

 Paul counseled his friends in Colossae:

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.      Col 3:12-15 NLT

 God wants us to release emotions in our praise of Him, and He wants us also to release the emotions of offense to those around us. There are incredible rewards to this style of life, in our physical and spiritual health. This is truly “Loving God with all our hearts”.

 Here are some suggestions for Loving God with our Hearts:

  •  Take opportunity to actively Praise and Worship God.
  • Develop a discipline to enter into praise even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Take time to have open conversations with God- he knows your feelings anyway!
  • Think of anyone whom you are not forgiving. Take that emotion before the Lord.  Ask Him to help you release this desire to hold on to the offense. Verbally speak out to the Lord that you are forgiving.  Now find that person and speak that forgiveness to them personally.
  • As you pray for God’s “daily bread” in your life each day, begin to take an inventory as to any offense and unforgiveness issues.
  • Make a point to pray for those people who have wronged us in any way, be it in traffic, in the store, in the church, or any relationship. Be givers (of your prayers) to these offenders!

 

Loving God with our Soul

 This world “soul” in Deut 6:5 is the Hebrew word nepesh which carries the meaning of the inner self, or the essence of life, including thinking, feeling, willing, and desiring. It often refers to the throat, the place where things enter and exit your body.

Your nepesh is the center of your ethics.  It is the source of obedience to God’s commands. Jesus Himself linked the level of our relationship to God to obedience when He told His disciples:

“If you love me, obey my commandments.”     John 14:15                                                     

Obedience to God has always been a big issue in the Bible. Why?  Probably because it shows us where our heart is. God already knows. The closer we are to God, the more we are likely to obey Him, especially in areas that we really don’t understand why.  The further we are from God, the more we are apt to make our own decisions based on personal comfort and gain.

The word obey is used 360 times in the Bible.  That’s almost one usage for every day of the year!   The obedience that the Lord desires comes from the essence of our being.  It goes beyond our emotions; it is deeper than our intellect.  Our Heavenly Father wants a relationship of trust with His Children.  Obedience is an indicator of the level of trust that we have in God.

 C.S. Lewis once said:

“There are two types of people; those who say to God. ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says: ‘All right, have it your way.’”                                                                                                           

Which of these two are we?

 The ramifications of our obedience have far reaching effects. Samuel gave us a great perspective on the importance of obedience to God in an encounter with a disobedient King Saul.

But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams.   1 Sam 15:22 NLT

  Why is obedience much better than sacrifice?

 In a very personal talk with his disciples the night before his death, Jesus spoke over and over again of the importance and benefits of obedience.  Follow His line of thought as He connects our obedience to Him with things that happen as a result. It’s a very significant set of principles that follow a very personal relationship with our Lord! Remember this is not a formula for manipulating God by our behavior, but rather a natural outflow of the relationship that we have with Him.

 First Jesus’ words, followed by the principle.

 15“If you love me, obey my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you.                                                                                            John 14:15-16

 1) Our level of obedience will determine the level of the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

21Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them, and I will love them. And I will reveal myself to each one of them.”    John 14:21

 2) Our obedience results in the Revelation of the person of Jesus to us.

 

23Jesus replied, “All those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and live with them. 24Anyone who doesn’t love me will not do what I say. And remember, my words are not my own. This message is from the Father who sent me.                    John 14:23-24

 3)  Our obedience leads to God’s Presence in our daily lives.

 

5“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! 8My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father.                                     John 15:5-8

 4) Our abiding and obedience leads to the bearing of much Fruit.

 

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father and remain in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!                                                              John 15:9-11

 5) We will have greater Joy in our lives with greater levels of obedience!

 

14You are my friends if you obey me. 15I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.                                                                                                            John 15:14-15

 6) Our Friendship with Jesus is guaranteed through our obedience to Him.  

 

Jesus says that there are six benefits of living lives of obedience: The Presence of the Holy Spirit, The Revelation of Jesus;  God’s presence in our daily lives, Bearing Much Fruit, Greater Joy, and Friendship With Jesus.

God’s Word is filled with principles for living our lives here on Planet Earth.  He gives us His wisdom on how to order our relationships, how to run our business, how to raise our children, how to serve our spouse, how to function in ministry, how to manage our finances, and most importantly, how to relate to Him.  It’s all in His Book. 

As we become aware of God’s will for our lives in specific areas, we become accountable for them.  As Paul spoke with his friends in Corinth regarding their “conscience” (1 Corinthians 8), we need to remember that we are accountable to the things that God has spoken to us through His written word (gr. logos) as well as those personal spoken (gr. rhema) words.

 There are things that God has spoken to me personally that I am accountable for that perhaps He has yet to speak to you.  This is why we call it a personal relationship with God.  He allows some of His children to do some things that are forbidden to others.  People become legalistic when they project those personal things that God has told them to do on others.  Whether it is what you are eating or drinking, what you are wearing, or even what spiritual gift you happen to be exercising, God has spoken to each of His children, and we are accountable for those things.

 Besides our obedience, there are other ways we love God with our “soul”.

There are times in our lives where we suffer hurts. It may have been a comment from a friend, a coach, or a teacher.  Maybe it was rejection from a group, or betrayal from a loved one.  Hurts go deep, and often our solution is to try to forget, or simply ignore them. 

Even though we have forgiven the offenders, sometimes the hurt we suffer becomes a festering wound. Unhealed wounds can result in reactions that surprise us.  Most of us have had the experience of bumping or brushing against a cut that appeared to be almost healed, and knocking off the scab.  Pain is sudden, and the healing process is set back.  Sometimes we realized that a special medication is needed to aid the healing process.

As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”                                                                            Psalm 41:4

“Rapha” is the Hebrew word used here for “heal”. In this context it has the meaning to promote the restoration of health, or to make fresh.  It can also mean to no longer be salty or poisonous, or to repair and bring back to a prior, preferable condition.  God desires to heal our hurts and restore us.  He wants us to give all areas of our “nephesh” to Him.

David, who experience rejection and persecution on a national scale declared:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.                                                                                            Psalm 23:1-3

 

Here are some suggestions for Loving God with our souls:

  1.  Start obeying God in the small choices of life; When you come to the big issues, take time to discover what God’s opinion is;
  2. Pray for yourself in areas of behavior that go against the wishes of God;
  3. Make yourself accountable to another brother or sister.
  4. Ask the Lord to show you any specific wounds in your life that have not healed. Bring them before Him and ask Him for healing.
  5. Notice when you react to a situation strangely. Ask God to show you any possible wounds to your soul that need His Divine healing.

 

LOVING GOD WITH OUR MIND

 The mind is the center of our intellectual activity. The Greek word used for mind is dianoia, which means reasoning, understanding,  and thinking.  I believe that this love has to do with letting our mind dwell on Him, and always keeping all our thoughts inside the corral that’s labeled “What’s good for my relationship with God”. 

 

We love God with our minds by first Keeping our priorities in order.

 Through our life experiences and what we see in movies and on television, we form our own order of priorities.  At the top of the list for many is pleasure, for others it is work.  When we become disciples of Christ, we place ourselves under His authority, and with that comes a new level of importance for things that were never on our list. The Bible gives us very specific principles when it comes to our priorities in this life.  Let’s look at a few of the many verses and extract some principles that will help us love God with our minds:

 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before Me.                                                                            Exodus 20:1-2

 Principle:  God is number one!  There is nothing that comes before Him.

 

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.                                                                                                                         Eph 2:10 NLT

 Principle:  God created us to do specific thing for the Kingdom (ministry).

 

For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.  2 Thess. 3:10-12

 Principle: Men and women should work for their living expenses so that they will not be a burden on others.

 

In everything you do, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man can’t do that so well. He has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided.     1 Cor 7:32-34

 Principle:  A married man must place his wife above his ministry.

 

 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.                                             2 Timothy 4:5

 Principle:  We should be focused on the ministry that God has given us.

 It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Behold, children are a gift of the LORD. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;                                                                                              Psalm 127:2-5

 Principle: Our children are more important than our work.

 From these and other passages of Scripture, we can see that Biblical Priorities are clear:  God is always #1,  Family #2,  Ministry #3,  Job #4, and recreation #5.  We must recognize this list of priorities, and order our lives accordingly.  A temptation for many Christians is to place ministry above family.  This has resulted in many children of pastors and missionaries turning away from God.  We must resist this temptation and give ourselves to our families before we give to our other ministries.

 There is a second area where we can love God with our minds: Controlling our thoughts. 

According to many pastors and counselors, “Speculations and Imaginations” are the one of the major problems among Christians. Many of us live our lives by fear. In addition, “Strongholds” develop when we construct a belief system apart from God. It’s important that we bring every thought inside the “sphere of God” in our life.  God says that when we do, our relationship with Him will grow.

There are beliefs that we all have as part of our “conscience” that don’t agree with God’s Word, or His nature or character.  Since childhood, lies have been formed in us regarding ourselves, others, and God.  We form beliefs from our own hurts, traumas, life experiences, things spoken to us or about us that are simply not true. 

When we come to Christ, He begins a process of renewal of our thinking.

Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.                                               Eph 4:21-23

 We need to identify the “Ungodly Beliefs” in our lives. God wants us to continually line up our thinking with His thinking, knowing that His ways are higher than our ways.  We must put aside our thoughts, and adopt His. It is this continual inventory and cleansing that allows us to grow in our relationship with Him.  This allows for more flow of that “Living Water” in our lives. 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.     Romans 12:2 NLT

 A Third way that we can love God with our minds is Prayer.

 Prayer is nothing more than talking to God on the celestial telephone. Communication is essential in any relationship which is growing, and getting more intimate. Prayer is getting into agreement with God and His purposes in your life! Here are Jesus’ comments on prayer.

7“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. 8Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!  9Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.                           Matthew 6:5-13 NLT

 

Here is Jesus’ simple outline for prayer:

  1. Honor God,
  2. Tell Him that you want to follow Him,
  3. Ask Him for what you need,
  4. Ask for forgiveness for your sins,
  5. Ask for help in forgiving others;
  6. Ask Him to Strengthen us, and to;
  7. Keep the enemy from bothering us.

 Prayer is an essential communication with God and a powerful spiritual weapon!

 

Finally, a fourth way that we can love God with our minds is Meditation.

 Meditation is contemplation; pondering.  It’s filling our minds with God’s thoughts. When you meditate on God’s Word, Your spiritual roots will grow stronger; Your spirit will be continually nourished;  Your character will change to reflect more of Christ’s character; There will be fruit of the Spirit in greater measure; Your intimacy with God will grow!  You will be receiving true life!

Look how the Psalmist describes this process:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.  And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.                                        Psalm 1:1-3

 There are many reasons why Bible study and meditation are important. 

 1)  So that you can personally Know God. God tells us of Himself and His ways through His Word.  Reading the Bible is a great way that we can really get to know God. Paul believed that knowing God was best thing that he could do in this life.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.              Phil 3:8

 2)  Because you need to know the Truth! Truth is not relative.  It is absolute.  Truth is simply God’s opinion on the matter.  Jesus said if we first  become his disciples by obeying His teachings, then we would know the Truth, and then we would be set free.  It’s a three-step process.  We cannot know the Truth unless we are truly disciples of His. 

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."                            John 8:31-32 NLT

 3) To receive guidance in your daily life. With all the conflicting advice offered in this world, we need to know God’s will when it comes to making decisions in our lives.

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.                                                                                                                                                                                Psalm 119:105 NLT

 4) The Bible is the ultimate source of wisdom! Sure other books have their value, but it is the Bible that sets the standard for wisdom in our culture.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.                       2 Tim 3:16 NLT

 5) We are commanded to study and know the Bible. 

Work hard so God can approve you. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.                                                                                               2 Tim 2:15 NLT

 6) With so much different teaching going on in Christian circles, knowing the Bible will keep you from falling into error.   It’s very important to check everything you hear from a teacher (including things in this book!) against the Word of God.   God wants us to walk in Truth, not in doctrines that just “tickle our ears.”

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth.                                                                                   Acts 17:11 NLT

 7) In today’s spiritually charged environment knowing the Bible will help you from being astray led  by your spiritual experiences. Too many solid believers have fallen out of relationship with God because of deception.  We know that after all, the devil disguises himself as an “angel of light” in an attempt to lead us away from God and toward him.  Most of your  “spiritual experiences” (visions, dreams, audible voices, etc.) will not tell you anything that is not already spoken specifically or in principle in the Bible.   Following a “vision “ or a “word from the Lord” can be deadly if there is no Scriptural basis for it.

Don't let anyone condemn you by insisting on self-denial. And don't let anyone say you must worship angels, even though they say they have had visions about this. These people claim to be so humble, but their sinful minds have made them proud.             Col 2:18 NLT

 

Suggestions for Developing Disciplines for Loving God with Our Minds

  • Begin to analyze your thoughts with the question “Is this pushing me toward God, and pulling me away?”
  • When you find yourself “speculating” what may be the cause of a situation and “imagining” what may possibly happen, stop and ask yourself “Is fear increasing, or am I trusting in God to take care of it?”
  • Take a periodic inventory of your belief system. Are you including any “Ungodly Beliefs” in your daily operating procedures or “rules of the road”? Expunge them!  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in this inventory.
  • Take time daily to meditate on a passage of Scripture;
  • Actively keep your priorities in this order: #1 God; #2 Your family, #3 Your ministry, #4 your work.
  • Let God become part of your normal thought process- He is a listener to every internal communication anyway. Talk your situation over with Him.

 The Bottom Line

God wants an intimate relationship with us! Our relationship with God will be at the optimum when we are: Expressing our emotions to Him freely; Actively trusting and obeying Him; and Keeping our thoughts in their proper place and priorities in their proper order.

In these conditions, God’s character overtakes us and becomes a part of us.  When this truly happens, we very naturally obey The Second Big Commandment.

  LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR

 rēya‘: A masculine noun meaning another person. Most frequently, this term is used to refer to the second party in a personal interaction without indicating any particular relationship. It is extremely broad, covering everyone from a lover; a close friend; an acquaintance; an adversary in court; an enemy in combat.

How do we Love our neighbor?

 God wants us to have a very practical expression of love.  There is a phrase  “One Another” in the Christian Scriptures  (New Testament) that gives us very specific ways that we are to love our neighbors. Here are

 The 22 Commandments for Loving “One Another”

1)  Romans 12:10                              Be devoted. . .

2)  Romans 12:10                              Give Preference. . .

3)  Romans 12:13                             Contribute to the needs of. . .

4)  Romans 14:13                              Do not judge. . .

5)  Romans 14:19                              Build up. . .

6)  Romans 15:7                                                Accept. . .

7)  1 Corinthians 12:25                    Care for. . .

8)  Galatians 5:13                              Serve. . .

9)  Galatians 6:2                              Bear one another’s burdens.

10)  Ephesians 4:2                            Be patient. . .

11)  Ephesians 4:32                         Be kind & tenderhearted. . .

12)  Ephesians 4:32                          Forgive. . .

13)  Colossians 3:16                         Teach and admonish. . .

14)  1 Thessalonians 4:18              Comfort. . . .

15)  Hebrews 3:13                            Encourage. . .

16)  James 4:11                                  Do not be against. . .

17)  James 5:9                                    Do not complain. . .

18)  James 5:9                                    Confess your sins. . .

19)  James 5:16                               Pray for. . .

20)  1 Peter 4:8                               Keep fervent in your love. . .

21)  1 Peter 4:9                                  Be Hospitable. . .

22)  1 Peter 5:5                                  Submit. . .

 

Why does God want us to Love One another?

 

One of the deepest needs that we have is to feel love. He knows that we naturally will not extend ourselves to others- it goes against our human natures. He also knows that loving others is the key ingredient for bringing people into the Kingdom of God. How Important is Loving One Another?

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”                                                                                                                                                                               John 13:34-35 NLT

 

An atmosphere of Loving One Another draws people into the Kingdom of God.

 

James, the brother of the Jewish constructor (Jesus) said :

14Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone. 15Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, 16and you say, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all—it is dead and useless. 18Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” I say, “I can’t see your faith if you don’t have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deed.         James 2:14-18 NLT

 

The first step in making a disciple is to display genuine love toward that person. Further steps are taken as this “love” relationship grows. A person will not receive the Words of God until he feels the Love of God.

 

Suggestions for Developing Disciplines for Loving Your Neighbor:

 

  • Take the time to know how God wants you to order and maintain your relationship with your family & friends.
  • Notice which “strangers” that God has brought into your life, and begin to “one another” them.
  • As you go through your week, treat your boss, workmates, your employees, the cashier at the food store, and the person who lives next to you as if they were the most precious people in God’s sight.
  • “If you pretend to “love” someone, the real feelings will usually follow.”

 

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