Saturday, June 2, 2012

Love the Lord Your God With All Your Strength

Running Down Masada-1
And a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "What is written in the Law?  How does it read to you?" 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." And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live." But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Luke 10:25-29 
Back in March, I had the amazing privilege to speak to the women of our church. The topic I was given to speak on was, Love the LORD your God with all your strength. I knew this was an opportunity to preach the gospel. This post is a summery of the talk I gave to the women of my church. Lord, bring to remembrance the words you want written. I pray that you will open eyes that are blind and ears that can not hear. I pray that you will surround those reading this post with your unfathomable love and presence. To you be the glory, honor and praise forever.
Love the Lord your God with all your strength, Luke 10:27; If I'm being honest this verse used to haunt me for I used to think that this love for God, as implied in the verse above if read out of context, was something I had to muster up in my own strength. I knew that apart from Jesus in me, there was no good thing. Everything within me is tainted and stained. I remember crying out to God, "I can't love you the way you call me to love you but I want more than anything to love you this way. I can't but you did." The Law crushed me to bring me to the only One who could resurrect me. We can only love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
"What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Notice, the lawyer or expert of the law was trying to trick Jesus. He wanted Jesus to tell him what to do; Jesus asks the expert, "How do you read the law?" to which the expert, who by the way, wanted to justify himself states, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus did this to bring the expert of the Law to the end of himself and to show him that he couldn't. "Teacher, tell me what I can do to inherit eternal life." I believe this is still the question we are asking today. There is something within us that cries out to be justified before God. Even those who say they don't believe in God are seeking to be justified by something. Our flesh, the thing within each of us that is contrary to the Spirit, wants to maintain control of our justification. We want to make our justification about what we do so we can take the credit for our success or failure and control our own destiny. But there is nothing we can do to inherit eternal life apart from Jesus' finished work on the cross and believing on Him for salvation. The purpose of the Law was to silence those under the Law.
The Law is our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24  
There is no one righteous not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. Romans 3:10,11
Christ is the end of the Law so that there might be righteousness for everyone who believes. Romans 10:4
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in Him. 1John 4:16
Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book, Because He Loves Me, asks this very important question, "In your pursuit of Godliness, have you left Jesus behind?" 
For those of you who don't know me or my story, I was pulled from the pit of despair at the age of 23. I was the recipient of God's amazing grace. I knew the pit from which He pulled me. Now, at the age of 35, I found myself doubting God's goodness, His mercies, His performance for me. My heart had become hard and proud. This pride within me threatened to overtake me. I was so focused on me and what I was doing or not doing to be concerned about those around me. The focus of my christian life was about me, the christian, and not the Christ. 
You see like Peter, after stepping out of the boat in faith, I started to sink because I took my eyes off of Jesus and put my faith and focus on my accomplishments and abilities to perform for Jesus. And like the Galatians, after beginning with the Spirit I was now trying to attain perfection by human effort. Galatians 3:3. I used to spend hours focusing on myself and my need to change. I would compare what I was doing for Him to what others were doing and if I was doing more I would feel prideful but if I was doing less I would feel despondant. My need to justify myself to others and to myself was an indication that I didn't trust in the finished work of Christ. It was my unbelief and idolatry that kept me from experiencing His peace and power. God in his grace and mercy was showing me that although it was pretty easy for me to change my behavior, apart from Him, it was impossible for me to change my heart. He was beginning to cleanse me of my idol of me. The realization that I can't love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my mind, all my strength, unless He enables me to love Him was what brought me to the end of myself.  
In Christ, everything we need, we already have. You see, when my focus was on me and what I was doing or in many cases, not doing; instead of on Christ and what He has done for me, I was making my salvation about what I do instead of what has already been done. This isn't the Gospel, it's idolatry. It's self-centered, not Christ-centered. It's what Satan uses to put our attention on us and our ability, instead of on Christ's supremacy, glory and sufficiency. When our focus is on ourselves, we are severed from the power of "it is finished." The Law is glorious because it reveals to us the glory of God. To be justified by it, it has to be perfectly obeyed. There has only been One who has perfectly obeyed the Law. Christ came down to do for us what we couldn't do and it is His performance for us that justifies us before a Holy and perfect God. He perfectly obeyed for you.You see, the Law tells us what to do but it doesn't give us the power to do it. It daily redirects us to Christ because it is now written on our hearts and has been placed on our minds. Hebrews 7:10
Next week, I will post another entry to bring this talk I gave in March to conclusion. It is too long to post as one entry. I have summarized the above entry so it might seem a little jumbled. When I wrote it, I wrote it as a talk and not a written entry so excuse the grammatical errors. I'm not a writer. The Lord has sense of humor as He oftentimes asks us to serve Him in our weakness. The fact that the Lord  has blessed me with a blog is an indication that He delights to use us in our weakness so that He alone get's the glory. He's gifted me to teach and speak but the Lord has given me this avenue for the time being so thank you for reading these entries despite the many errors found in my posts.
Picture above: See those four specks running down Masada? That is me, my husband, and our friends the Everswick's


fiordaliza mena said...

Thank you so much for sharing!!I feel so blessed by readin your blogg:-)... all Glory to God for using you to help me in answering some of my inner questions!! I went to Israel a year ago and got to visit Masada myself it was an amazing experience!!

Liz Blalock said...

Fiordaliza, Thank you for taking the time to encourage me. It means so much to hear what the Lord is doing in the lives of others and inspires me to continue to write and be bold for His namesake and for His glory. Israel was so amazing. We were only there 6 days and I can't wait to go back. It was hard for my mind and heart to comprehend what my eyes were seeing. May God shower you with HIs love today.