Friday, March 27th

Friday, March 27th

We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 NKJV

Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.” Mark 12:38-40

So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins. Luke 6:46-49

So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:21-27

Our focus today is on the love of God. It seems safe to say that the Pharisees and teachers of religious law knew nothing of God's love. Throughout this series we have heard much about these seemingly villianous people and all they represent. We are again warned about them by Jesus in the Mark passage above. Could it be that it is this absence of God's love in their lives that accounts for everything that is wrong with them and their convoluted religious system? We are on the path of living fully for God. The Pharisees and teachers of religious law appeared to be in on the path of living fully for God but in reality they were not living for God at all.

In our pursuit of living fully for God, it is vitally important for us avoid the pitfalls into which these religious people fell. So here is the safeguard: our seeking to love God fully will lead to our living fully for him. This is our motivation. But there is more: it is the reality that God loves us fully that leads to our loving him fully. It all starts with God's love for us and that is where we must dwell, in the midst of the awesome love God has for us. The Luke and James passages are warnings to us about the downward spirals we can experience if we don't obediently seek to live fully for God. But, be assured that God's love keeps us safely on the path of living fully for him.

Lord, what a blessing it is to know that I am safe in the arms of your love and care. How freeing it is to know that the life you call me to is beyond me but not beyond you. Help me to seek you with my whole heart, Lord. Help me to believe that at all times I will find you and the fullness of your love, the fullness of your power, and fullness of your life working in me and through me so that it will always be that I love you fully and live for you fully.

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