God looks at our hearts. What matters to Him is that we are willing to keep our hearts pure and surrender it all to Him. Obedience should be the result of a heart that loves God fully and is not self-serving. Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 13:3, “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Our good actions done with a wrong heart do not really please God and have no eternal value. Our relationship with God must be based on sincere love and all we do should be the result of it. The original Hebrew word translated “life” in the verse from above is “chay” and it means “as consisting of earthly felicity combined (often) with spiritual blessedness” (“Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon”). So, when we love God with all our hearts, minds and strength, we can have a truly happy, abundant and fulfilled life. The promised land, that “good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey”, that God promised to His people in Exodus 3:8, for us today is the life fully surrendered to the Lord, following His guidance and receiving all His blessings.
God loves us so much, that He desires to lead and guide us step by step. He wants to participate in every decision we make and help us fulfill His amazing plan for our lives. He created us in a certain way, so that we fit perfectly in His plan and have whatever it takes to live a happy life while doing His will. The Lord’s plan for each of us is so uniquely designed that we must adhere to the one for us and not fall into the trap of copying others because we will miss out on God’s best for us.
The Lord wants us to depend on Him and be the one we call on in times of trouble. Whenever we think we are self-sufficient and can handle everything in our own strength, we get in trouble and step out of our Lord’s will and plan for our lives. When we start our day asking God what He wants us to do and follow His to-do list, we have more joy and peace. How many times have we planned our day without seeking the Lord, to only end up getting very little accomplished or going right? Life is full of unplanned interruptions and because we are affected by the actions of others, we can end up frustrated, unhappy and suffer a loss of our peace. Thankfully God knows what we do not and if we call on Him and trust His guidance we can accomplish more, keep our peace and be happier.
When we become born again, we are just babies in Christ and we need to grow and mature spiritually. God loves us enough to not allow us to step into ministry before we are ready to handle the good and the bad of interacting with people and spiritual reality. It takes time for that to happen. We have to be transformed, by renewing our minds with the Word of God, to change the way we think, view life and make decisions God’s way. And that takes time. The more time we spend with our Lord, studying and meditating on His Word, and changing our character to become more like Jesus, the sooner we are ready to do what God called us to do.
Whenever God is everything to us, we are in the best place we can ever be. God is not selfish in asking us to love Him, on the contrary, it is in our best interest. When we love God we want to please Him, we care about what He likes or dislikes and we start to desire the same things as the Lord does. We love people more and we want them to be saved and our whole perspective about life changes. And to be where God wants us to be, we need to do what the following verses say.
And then we need to go deeper than that, by becoming a living sacrifice.
To crucify our flesh and become a holy sacrifice is impossible in our own strength. Our flesh is our natural evil nature and contrary to our born-again spirit. And as we live in human bodies, it is easier to follow its desires than to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who became one with our spirit since we became born-again. It is not easy to change and stop living as we did in the past, but the more we desire to do it and ask God to help, it is do-able, praise God!
Even if the Lord’s words sound harsh, losing our lives for His sake is the best thing that can ever happen to us. To let our God, who knows and can handle everything, lead and guide our steps is wonderful because it takes all the pressure off our shoulders. The only care we should have, is to please Him, listen for His voice and direction and to be obedient. In living a surrendered life, we have so much more joy and peace, and are blessed with the abundant life that Jesus desires for each of us! Hallelujah, thank You Lord!
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