by Dottie Ryan
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (Deut. 6:4-6).
He is our First Love! He must be our First Love. Is He yours?
If we have let other people, places, or things take a seat in front of the Lord, it is necessary to return to Him who first loved us so that we could love Him. He will not share His place in our hearts. He must be our all in all. He must be, if we are going to walk forward in love for Him and those around us. We are all on assignment from the “Captain of the Lord of Hosts.” Our life is not our own if we belong to the Lord. Yet, as this week’s study showed us, no one is able to love God without God’s help and His grace. We just can not muster this up. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? We are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and might (Deut. 6:5). And further commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Yet we can’t do this without the Lord. The love of God is from God. He is the maker of our hearts. We have nothing to give that has not come from Him. Isn’t that just like a loving God? He basically says, “You must love me and you must love your neighbor. O, and by the way, you can’t do that on your own. So let me give you the love you will need to allow you to love me back and love your neighbor.” He provides what He requires! O, Amazing Grace! O, what a Savior!
This week’s study has us “Going Up the Mountain” to spend time alone with God Most High. It asks us to think about the reasons we find ourselves either unwilling or unable to do this. I have my own list of reasons (excuses) for which I must admit and confess and repent from. I am certain that if you are finding difficulty in praying and spending time with your Lord, you have your own list. I hear a still small voice, even as I type this, saying: Conviction, not condemnation. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). But grace does not give us license to be comfortable or exercise freedom to the extent that these would keep us away from relationship with God and through that, Him equipping us to go out and complete the assignments He has for us. As Paul would say, “May it never be!” (cf. Rom. 6:2, NASB).
We, as Laurie points out in Day 3, need to get away from “the earthly” on a daily basis in order to live with “the heavenly” in view. We need to go up to the mountain top…in the midst of the trials — with eternal purposes in mind at every moment — and pray. Be deliberate in doing this — in praying for others — in finding Scriptures to pray over the people in our lives: our family, spouse, children, friends, co-workers- – ourselves. Everyone needs the gospel. Do we really know this? You see, prayer and the gospel go hand in hand. Prayer lays the groundwork for the gospel (Eph. 6:18-20). Without the gospel — without Jesus — death and separation are permanent — eternal. O God, give us eyes to see. Help us persevere in prayer — in relationship with you so that your will can be done on earth as it is in heaven.