Friday, February 1, 2013

Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

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 NIV1984
You may read this verse and think it does not apply to you. That it is speaking to ancient Israel or to the Jewish people. I contend that it is written for you as well.
(I hope to record some new songs in the coming months. I am happy to say my voice is getting stronger. For now I hope this one that I recorded a while ago will bless and encourage you.)

The name Israel means God wrestler and it is the name that is given to a man named Jacob who's name originally meant heal grabber, to follow behind, to be on the bottom. It has also been said to mean deceiver or cheater. For a good chunk of his life that's what he was. He tried to grasp the things his brother had. Eventually he has an wrestling encounter with God and he does not give up and is given a new name. He ends up walking with a limp. “’O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who didst say to me, “Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,” I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to Thy servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me, the mothers with the children. For Thou didst say, “I will surely prosper you, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.”’” (Genesis 32:9-12)
I think we all wrestle with God in one way or another. Jacob is on his way home after years of living in another country. He had not left home in a good way. He had deceived his father and cheated his brother. His mother fearing for his life sent him away to live with her people in a foreign land. While he is away he amasses quite a large family and a lot of stuff. One day the Lord tells him it is time to go back. He prays the following prayer.

“’O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who didst say to me, “Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,” I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to Thy servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me, the mothers with the children. For Thou didst say, “I will surely prosper you, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.”’” (Genesis 32:9-12)

So when it comes to wrestling with God and he refuses to let go until the Lord would bless him. There must be some deep lack in his life. That probably can't even be seen on the surface. He has spent his life reaching and grasping and even cheating to get ahead. Even when he has done well he still lives in fear of his brother. 

We can be haunted by our past because sometimes we feel the calling of God upon our life but we have gone about trying to make it happen by taking matters into our own hands. God had told his mother that two great nations would come from her womb. Two nations that were wrestling with each other. God said the older would serve the younger. Jacob was the younger brother. It is through him that the family heritage is passed along to the next generation. It is from him that the 12 tribes are born, the people who become the nation of Israel. He is wrestling with God because he needs God to bless him with his own identity not one that he has stolen from his brother. So he wrestles all night and does not let go. 

Hear this you who wrestle with God. The Lord our God is one God. He is the only God. He is perfect, self-sufficient and self-existent. He calls Himself I AM. Everything you need is found in Him. Don't give up and don't let go of Him. The verse goes on to say love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. 
In Mark 12:30 it says about the same thing but adds mind to the mix. 
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
Source: artfire.com via Margot on Pinterest

Heart: Our heart is our center, the place from which our worship of God flows out. Jesus come and make our hearts your home. In our heart resides our deepest desires and our greatest loves. We must wrestle to put those hearts desires in the right relationship to the one true God. He must be first in our heart. He must become our first love and our greatest desire. If we love the Lord with our heart I believe the soul mind and spirit will follow. Jacob knew who God was but think it is in that wrestling match that God becomes his own God and no longer just the God of his fathers. You may still be wrestling to accept God as your own God. You may be wrestling to put him in the supreme place in your life ahead of all other lessor gods and things that we try to worship and idolize. 

Soul: Our soul is the part of us that is like our inner spark or flame that gives us life. It is what makes us alive. When the soul leaves the body is dead. Love the Lord your God with your life allow that inner spark to burn for Him and to shine brightly for Him. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. Matthew 5:16 "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven".

Mind: Love the Lord with our thoughts, our decisions, our choices. With our intellect and our imaginations. With our minds we learn. With our minds we decided to work to carry out the things our hearts are committed to doing.

Strength: Love the Lord with your actions, your energy, your strength. Use your strength to carry out the Lord's purposes. Seek ye first the kingdom... Use your strength to be the hands and feet of God in this world and in your life.  

I think as God is one but made up of three distinct persons of the trinity that are in perfect harmony with one another. We must by the power of the Holy Spirit allow the Lord to bring our hearts, soul, mind and strength into one whole person that is in harmony with Gods design. 

How can we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? It becomes possible as we submit to Gods design and purpose for each of our lives. As we allow the Lord to be the King of kings. When we accept that our lives are not our own but have been bought with a price. When everything that we are begins to flow out of the understanding that Jesus paid it all. Jesus made our broken relationship with God right. Our life becomes one of thanks and praise to the God who through Jesus did what we could not do for ourselves. 

Prayer: Lord make us whole. Bring our heart, soul, mind and strength into unity in you. Fill us with your Holy Spirt and empower us to love you with our whole being. With all that we are, and all that we do. 
   



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