As I wrapped up studying the book of Numbers and turned the corner into Deuteronomy, I parked on the most powerful command in the Bible.
It’s the bold heading for the outline of life.
The umbrella over all the other requests of God.
In my opinion, it's the most important passage in the Bible, because if we do this, everything else falls in place. It’s referred to as the Shema, because God wants us to listen carefully, and heed the following:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
God desires for us to love him above others.
To love him with everything we have.
To love him with a whole heart, not half-heartedly.
This means so much to him that he wants us to teach our children to love him like this (Deuteronomy 6:7).
He asks us to talk about our love for him everywhere we go (Deuteronomy 6:7).
He wants us to wear jewelry that tells others that we love him (Deuteronomy 6:8).
And let visitors to our homes know we take this command seriously by posting signs on our doorframes (Deuteronomy 6:9).
Do people know you love God by the way you converse with them?
By what you wear?
By the way your home is decorated?
I knew a woman once who wore the same cross every day. I asked her about the cross, and she replied, “I never take this off because I never want to forget who I belong to.” That was powerful.
My “fisher of men” bracelet is a permanent fixture on my wrist for the same reason. Every time I look at this piece of jewelry, it reminds me what I’m on this earth to do, to always be on the lookout for others to tell about God, and his son Jesus. Like fishing, sometimes it takes time to snag a seeker, but once they are on the hook, you have to be ready to reel them in! You will see crosses on the walls of our home, and the Shema is posted on the doorframe to our garage, so that when we leave, we are reminded to never walk out the door without God’s love as we walk into the world.
I am also wondering how God feels when we don’t love him with all our heart. When we turn away from his commands, we don’t spend time with him, and he never enters our conversation.
I believe he feels like we do when we are rejected.
Rejection is painful. Our hearts break, and it takes a long time to get over losing someone close to us. We might make repeated attempts to reconcile, as God does with us, but eventually we give them the space they desire. And if you’re like me, you beat yourself up, trying to figure out why they don’t love you like you love them.
Think about the last time you were rejected by someone. How did you feel?
I think God’s heart weeps, when we reject his love, and we don’t reciprocate. I think he is disappointed when we don’t appreciate the gifts he’s amply supplied us with. I believe the LORD wants us to stay connected to him 24/7, but he is sad, when we can’t even find five minutes to spend with him in a day.
The truth is we often ignore the most important commandment in the Bible.
So what can we do about it?
We can pray this prayer every day:
Lord you know I love you, but help me to love you with my whole heart.
Remind me that you are with me throughout the day.
I pray that you use me as a vessel of your love, so that your love and compassion will flow through me to others who I encounter.
Enable me to keep your commandments, and I pray I do nothing contrary to your love.
In the Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Psychologists agree love is one of the top needs of a human. Since God created us in his image, it’s not hard to figure out he is the one who provided us with the ability to give and receive love, because he gives love, and desires to be loved, just like us.
The Bible says God is love.
Today, place loving God at the top of your “to do” list. There's nothing more important.
BIO: Lisa Burkhardt Worley is an award winning author and speaker, and is the Director of Special Projects for Roaring Lambs Ministries. She is also the founder of Pearls of Promise Ministries, a ministry with a goal of helping women overcome dysfunction in their lives. Lisa has co-authored many books including: the Pearls of Promise devotional, If I Only Had…Wrapping Yourself in God’s Truth During Storms of Insecurity, and The Most Powerful P: A Child’s Introduction to the Power of Prayer.
Published on Sunday, September 30, 2018 @ 4:47 PM CDT
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid." Isaiah 12:2a
The young woman at our restaurant table had a story, and I’m still not sure how much was fact and fiction. Danielle had stopped us on the sidewalk looking for a hot meal. She accepted our invitation to join us for lunch and gladly ordered on our tab.
She said her boyfriend had booted her out of his life, and she’d been pounding the pavement looking for a job. The conversation turned to trust. “I’ve learned that the only person you can trust is yourself,” she declared.
“You know,” I said, “You can’t trust yourself, either.” The Bible has story after story about people who tried to trust themselves. And I know from my own experience why they always failed. I make promises to myself that I fail to keep all the time. Why am I drinking this sweet tea right now, when I told myself I would start drinking more water?
Then we went briefly through the Good News that God spends all of human history foretelling—then living as a man —then dying for our sins (our ongoing efforts to trust ourselves instead of Him)—then proving His power over death with resurrection. I felt like she was letting me tell a story she’d heard a million times before, the cost of accepting a meal from a stranger. But you never know.
She may not have been convicted right then of her misplaced trust, but God was telling me plenty about my own. I kept second-guessing, “Am I telling this story well enough?”
I realized I was falling into that same old trap—wanting to trust myself with the story instead of trusting God to use whatever words He laid on my heart at the moment. What a paradox. What a reminder that my ongoing need for Jesus’ grace never ends.
Who are you counting on today? God or Self? Or maybe that question is too simple. While you count on God, are you still holding onto some expectations of your self to pull out “just in case?” So am I. But God is working on that. He’s already prepared the feast and paid the tab. May His story fall on fresh ears every day, and especially mine (and yours).
“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:4-5).
Mike Branch has had a career in magazines, marketing and copywriting. He and his wife, Sherry, have four children and are expecting their thirteenth grandchild. Last year, he published his first book, True Stories to Remind You of Heaven When Life Hurts Like Hell. His book is available at PicklePerfectPublishing.com.
Published on Monday, September 3, 2018 @ 9:13 PM CDT
Though we may not always feel it, God is at work in our lives. And sometimes, by grace, we have a tiny bit of “Godsight”—a small glimpse at how and why He is doing what He’s doing.
I saw God’s work in my life last week. I had ended my time volunteering for a ministry at my church, but I still felt called to serve. Five days later, I attended the writer’s conference with Roaring Lambs. At this event, an opportunity to volunteer to edit copy was mentioned. This is ideal for me, as I have “proofreader’s eyes.” I’m always on the lookout for a misplaced apostrophe or comma. I would be honored to proofread content about God and how He works in us and through us. So I contacted the organization to get more information about volunteering as a proofreader.
Additionally, I feel that God is calling me to bring to life the book I’ve dreamed about writing for most of my life. It looks different than I would have pictured it years ago. Twenty years ago, I thought I would write the Great American Novel. Five years ago, I wanted to write a bone-chilling thriller. Now, I want to write about the Lord, and I pray that God will give me the words I need to glorify Him.
Three things were reiterated for me this weekend:
- God’s timeline is not the same as our timeline. Sometimes a timeline created by our standards happens exactly as we prescribe. For example, I wanted to be engaged by the time I was thirty. My boyfriend was happy to oblige, proposing a month before my thirtieth birthday. But God doesn’t work the same way as your boyfriend, and I think that God has paved the way in my life for me to write the book I need to write, granting me a wider perspective now.
- An event may look like a setback, but it’s really a setup for something greater. A friend of mine was miserable in her job, feeling drained at the end of each day. She applied for several positions and interviewed at a variety of companies. Finally, she interviewed for her current role and was offered the job. She could have given up out of frustration from countless interviews. However, through these interviews, she perfected her interviewing skills and landed a job just minutes away from her home.
- The Red Sea wasn’t parted until Moses stepped into it. I can’t recall if this was stated by a speaker or one of the ladies sitting next to me. But my take on this point is: a goal may look daunting, but once you take the first step, God will make the way for you. Like the Chinese proverb says, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
God is at work in your life. You may not always see it happening, but hopefully you’ll see the results. Praise God and thank God for all that He does.
“Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever” (Psalms 136:26) (NLT)
Sarah R. Bactad is a senior marketing professional. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and finding typographical errors.
Published on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 @ 4:25 PM CDT
Growing up, I lived in a home split by divorce. It wasn’t always the most pleasant arrangement. However, living with my mother and brother, minus dad, was peaceful and without turmoil.
I still loved my father and wanted desperately for him to love me and show me his love. He tried, but it was painful since bitterness took control of his life. There were periods of time that he and I hardly spoke to each other.
Years passed and my dad began experiencing health problems. Did I care? I cared more than I realized. This is when Jesus began speaking to me and I knew that I must open communication with Dad again.
Within my heart I began to feel an urge to share Jesus with my father. I seized every opportunity to say something about the hope I have through God’s son. Dad had an extremely hardened heart toward God. Time passed and he didn’t change.
My father’s health problems continued. He battled cancer and suffered a massive stroke. Finally, he had to be placed in a special facility to receive the care needed.
One evening after visiting with Dad I asked him if he wanted to pray. I couldn’t leave him again without offering another chance to know Jesus. So I asked, “Dad, do you want to pray?” He retorted back harshly, “No, and don’t preach to me!” As we were leaving, my husband placed his hand on my father’s shoulder and said, “Dad, God loves you.”
Then my husband and I left and drove six hours back to our home in Dallas. It seemed that my father was lost forever.
The phone rang after being home a short time. My husband answered and said to me, “That was your dad. He wants you to know he prayed to Jesus and felt that a heavy load was lifted off of him.”
Amen! He finally accepted Jesus and made a verbal testimony about it too. Why did I doubt that Jesus would ever let my lifetime prayers go unanswered?
My mother shared a story with me about what Dad did after he prayed that evening. She told me he asked to see her. Dad and Mother had been divorced for forty years and were not on speaking terms.
Mother drove to visit Dad. When she arrived, she entered his room. My father took her hand. I don’t know all that was said between the two of them but I do know that they said to each other, “I love you.” This was a forgiving love that only comes from knowing Jesus and His love for us. Think about it. Mother and Dad had hardly spoken for forty years and neither had remarried. Only Jesus could bring about that kind of change in my dad’s heart and mind.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen,” - Ephesians 3:20-21
Janice Stroman, Ed.D., is the Founder and Director of Ladies In Touch which connects women with God and others through a monthly luncheon (see www.ladiesintouch.com). Jan is a blogger (Jan’s Jewels For Jesus), Bible study leader/teacher, and member of the Irving Salvation Army Advisory Council.
Published on Saturday, June 30, 2018 @ 6:03 PM CDT
Tears clouded my view as I attempted to navigate the storm that encircled my heart. I wanted God to take the helm, to part the waters for me to walk through. Yet I faced swells that threatened to capsize my life.
I had no eloquent words to pray. In tears I faintly whispered, “Help…” Every time I tried to catch my breath, I was pulled under again, choking on another wave.
The enemy had been trying to defeat me with repeated storms for years. This storm was wearing me out but I wasn’t going to give up now.
Jesus warned us we would face trials, but He also gave us hope. I clung to that. He came to be my peace in the midst of the storm.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. - John 16:33
Once when Jesus and the disciples went out on the lake after a busy day of ministry, a storm suddenly blew in and the disciples became distraught while Jesus slept. Jesus peacefully snoozed while the gusty winds and choppy waves broke over the boat because He knew who His father was and that He could be trusted to care of His children.
Storms shape us in different ways depending on how we react to them:
- Sometimes storms destroy us: when we forget who calms the storm and we give up.
- Sometimes storms define us: when we forget God works all things together for our good; instead adopting a victim mentality, wallowing in self-pity, rather than looking at our storm as an opportunity for God to show His faithfulness.
- Sometimes storms strengthen us: when we hold onto God as our anchor in a storm, believing that trials produce a testing of our faith which produces perseverance, we allow the storms to strengthen us.
If our eyes are on the storm we will wonder if He still loves us, but if our eyes are on Him as our anchor, we will know He always has and always will. He promised His peace—the very peace that allowed Him to sleep through the storm because He knew who He was and whose He was.
Our attitude during the storm directly impacts the outcome, even if it’s only the impact on our heart.
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7.
When we make the choice to not worry, but instead, pray about our needs and be thankful for all God has done, we will then experience His peace even in the midst of the storm.
Are you going through a storm? Will you trust Him, and thank Him for all He has done while you wait for the storm to end?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson is the author of “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression” and the “Hope Prevails Bible Study.” A board certified clinical neuropsychologist with over 20 years experience in the diagnosis and treatment of medical and mental disorders, she also knows the pain of losing loved ones and the despair that can follow trauma or illness. After her strong faith in God carried her through her tough times, she began a mission to instill hope in the hearts of others—even in the midst of their storms.
She is a popular speaker to multiple audiences and known by TV and radio audiences as a guest on a variety of Christian programs. She is also a wife, mother and friend. She lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her husband, their two sons, and two dogs.
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Published on Friday, June 1, 2018 @ 2:23 PM CDT
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