Grace and peace be unto you brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus!
The Lenten season is often a time to reflect upon ourselves and our lives in Christ; a time to think of our sins and imperfections and time to repent. It is also a time of sorrow when we think of Jesus and how he suffered for our sins to die and pay the price for our sinful selves and our betrayal of God and the Ten Commandments. In our Lenten Services on Wednesday evenings we have heard about Jesus talking of God and his great commands, when the scribe asked him which of the commandments is the greatest. Jesus said the first of all commandments is Thou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is like it, namely this, Thou shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other greater commandment than these. I think in many ways these two commandments may kind of simplify the Ten Commandments which for most if not all of us find it hard to keep. If we love God completely, with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength we in turn may find it easier to keep these commandments. To love God with all our heart is to feel his love for us and return that love as we would with our spouses, our children, our mom and dad, our siblings. To love God with all our soul, going to the deepest, innermost recesses of our heart. Our very essence of our being. The deepest, most reverent, most sincere, most holy part, that no one else but God can reach inside our heart. A place difficult to share or to understand except with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. To love God with all our mind is to let him in to guide and to tell us how to love him by obeying and abiding, and trusting in his love and mercy toward us. To me, this means putting God first! It means to strive every day to keep God first above all else that matters in my life; to love, honor, and cherish his unconditional love. It means to me, to trust God even in times of trial and sorrow and even joy, knowing he is always there to love and guide us. To love him with all my strength is to understand that I must try to know his will and to do his work. To strive to show him my love and do all I can to reach out to others and share his love. To be the best I can be for his glory and his praise. To understand his love is to feel that joy, that power, that gift that his love gives so we may share with others and create a world of joy and peace with all his people on earth. If you’ve ever looked into the eyes of a loving, trusting child, or perhaps the eyes of a loving dog who greets you at the door even if no one else is there; then you may know the feeling and love that God has for us. The love unconditionally given from the arms of his embrace, you know you are truly loved. How special is that love and how much more special if we learn to love him in the same way; to love him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. Put God first every day. Love him, praise him, and glorify his name above all others. Love your neighbor as yourself as he loves us. The rest comes easier when we love God and share that love with others.