What Does God Deserve?

What Does God Deserve?

Part 1 of the Living Waters Series

Dear brothers & sisters,

Welcome to our first Thirsty Thursday, the weekly Living Waters series brought to you by Faith Worker Ministries!

None of Jesus’ teachings seem more appropriate to start with than what he called the Greatest Commandment. Quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Jesus identified that of all God’s commandments in Judaism, “The most important is: ‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength’” (Mark 12:29-30).

Of course, common sense tells us that this is true! But what does it really mean to love God with our entire being? How, exactly, do we go about this loving God business?

The first thoughts that often come to mind when we ask these questions may be worship, prayer, church attendance, etc. These things can all be good—even great! But isn’t it true that so often our “goods” and “greats” get in the way of God’s BEST?? So, rather than continue to rely on our own common sense, let’s look to the *uncommon* wisdom of our Lord for further guidance! John 14 offers some excellent clarification on what it really means to love Jesus & God.

Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey my teachings… The person who has my teachings and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him… If anyone loves me, he will obey my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him. The person who does not love me does not obey my words. And the word you hear is not mine, but the Fatherʼs who sent me” (John 14:15, 21, 23-24).

{More related verses here: John 15:10, 1 John 2:3, 1 John 5:3, and 2 John 1:6}

All throughout the Old Testament and into the New, we see God continuously trying to develop a loving relationship with His people. This relationship is two-sided: God provides, and we obey; we obey, and God provides!

So when God sends us His dearly loved Son, He tells us to listen up & start putting our faith into obedient practice of all that Jesus taught (Matthew 7:24-27). According to God, our obedience is evidence that we genuinely love Him!

In the rest of our Living Waters series, we will take a look at more of what Jesus has to say—his teachings, his words, which he calls on us to put into practice in John 14. With each new teaching that we apply to our personal faith-practice, we show God that we love Him, fulfilling His Greatest Commandment!

Until next week, may you seek to follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

Love & Prayers,

Luke & Allie

Faith Worker Ministries

Introducing: Living Waters

Get ready, brothers & sisters! Thirsty Thursday is coming up fast, and we have prepared our first post from the Living Waters series to quench that thirst!

In this series, we will drink of Christ’s Living Waters together, exploring a new teaching of Jesus each week, discovering how we can apply these to our own lives. While this journey may be challenging at times, Jesus is calling us to a deeper faith, a higher love that is well worth the effort!

See you Thursday!

Love & Prayers,

Faith Worker Ministries

Secret Spirituality

Secret Spirituality

Jesus’ Way calls us to a life of secret spirituality. This humble discipline takes shallow glory away from us in the short-term to create a spiritual power-force of Love in the world that God Himself will glorify.

Secret spirituality is what we like to call a particular triad of Jesus’ teachings from Matthew 6 about charity, prayer, and fasting.

Charity

Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4, NLT)

Prayer

When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues [churches] where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matthew 6:5-8, NLT)

Fasting

“When you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18, NLT)

These three teachings about charity, prayer, and fasting are all connected by one simple principle: if you do these things in front of others, then the only reward you will receive is their shallow admiration; but if you do these things secretly, then God Himself will reward you.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that a reward from God is way better than being admired by other people! Still, there is that desire in me–as in all of us–to let everyone know that I am a nice person who gives to the poor, that I am a spiritual person who prays and fasts. That desire is very powerful, and while it can motivate people to do good, it’s apparently not the kind of motivation that what God wants us to have.

Jesus seems to be saying here that it is better to do the right thing not because other people will see us and think well of us. We should do the right thing simply for the sake that it is right, and trust that God will see our good deeds and reward us. (I’m also thinking of a cross-reference to the Golden Rule!)

Jesus asks us to let go of this temptation to only look spiritual, to merely seem pious. He wants us to forsake this image of being godly people because what we do when no one is looking is what really counts in God’s eyes!

This takes us to a whole new level of spirituality that goes beyond outward appearances. And that requires a lot of humility! Let’s pray together (in our private places of prayer!) that we can grow to this point in our spiritual practice where a reward from God (and not the shallow admiration of others!) is all we need to keep us inspired about such important disciplines as charity, prayer, and fasting.