Summary: To help us evaluate our faith goals and needs for the New Year.
THE CORE VALUES OF JESUS
Sermon Objective: To help us evaluate our faith goals and needs for the New Year.
It’s the New Year. It is that time of year when we evaluate the past and seek to improve ourselves. There is something about the New Year that makes this so. There are certain things I, personally, have been giving serious consideration:
† My lack of exercise and weight gain is no longer acceptable. I began making plans right before Thanksgiving (no need to bother during the holidays) to make some changes at the first of the year.
† My discipline and practice time playing the guitar has sloughed off during hunting season. It will reconvene now.
† My reading regimen always suffers at this time of year – I have began cracking open the books again too.
I am sure that many of you have also been evaluating some lifestyle or behavioral concerns too.
In the midst of our evaluations and resolutions we would be not only remiss but completely off-course if we failed to look at our walk with the Living and Loving God. That is why, as I mentioned to you last summer, I think it is necessary to return to Jesus’ core values on occasion and look at things from His perspective.
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: ’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31The second is this: ’Love your neighbor as yourself. ’There is no commandment greater than these."
32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
As I mentioned, there are resolutions/goals I am establishing for this year. These are not impulse goals but thought through and prayed through. There are others that I am making too. They are spawned from the Core Values of Jesus. No two commands in all of Scripture are as important as these two and they provide us with a God-given blueprint for spiritual development and service. When considering your spiritual health these verses are an ideal starting point.
I want to encourage you to look at this passage in regards to your spiritual growth today. I challenge you to ask yourself two questions:
1) How is the Holy Spirit leading me to love God more completely?
2) How is the Holy Spirit challenging me to love my neighbor?
As I have told you before – these commands give us a pattern for developing into mature, fruitful disciples of Jesus.
LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART: CONVERSION (the heart is turned to Him via a New Birth)
LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL: SANCTIFICATION (the will is surrendered to God and empowered for service and righteousness)
LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND: TRANSFORMATION (We discipline ourselves to study the Word allowing God’s Spirit to renew our minds)
LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH: STEWARDSHIP (We understand that all we are and have REALY belong to God and our lifestyle becomes an act of worship and service to the King).
Romans 12:1-2 illustrates the process of loving God with all our being quite well. Paul says: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Can you discern spiritual growth within yourself by looking at these four markers? I am certain you can. They are Divine indicators that one is becoming a mature Christ-follower.
The New Year is a good time to review this because, for whatever reason, the human heart is … to use a phrase from a grand old hymn “Prone to wonder; prone to leave the one it loves.”
The Bible recognizes this and continually calls us to renewal. In the Revelation, our Lord says:
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.