Spiritual Heath: Loving God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength
Before the study: Think about truths you know about God and select one truth about God’s character that you consistently relay on. Take a minute to pray and thank God for that truth about Him and how it has blessed your life.
I. Pictures of God’s Love for Us
A, Destined for a relationship with God: Before beginning of time God already had planned to love us and draw us into a relationship with Him. Read: Ephesians 1:4-5
Question: What words in verses 4-5 indicate God’s love and desire for a relationship with us?
Answers: (chose us; in love; already decided; through Jesus; make us His children; His pleasure and purpose).
B. God orchestrated/planned ways for us to know Him and to be drawn into a relationship with Him.God created Adam and Eve and had a relationship with them. Even after their fall, God continued to reach out to man to bring him back into relationship with Him.
Read: Genesis 3
– v.15 God promised One would come from the seed of woman who would ultimately destroy the serpent
– v. 21- God provided covering for Adam and Eve that involved the shedding of blood which foreshadows be covered/clothed with Jesus
– v. 23- God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden so that they would not reach out and eat from the Tree of Life and live without hope in their fallen state
Read :Acts 17:26-27
God orchestrated the times and places that you would live so that you would seek him and find Him. Think of your conversion story. What stage of your life was it? Where were you? God used that specific time, place, people and circumstances to draw you into seeking and finding Him.
– The whole Bible is the story of God reaching out to man. Look in every book for His love and His seeking people out to draw them to Him
C. God Rejoices over Us – Picture God celebrating over us with singing and dancing.
God views us from a perspective of joy and love. He rejoices to have us with Him in a close relationship.
- Read: Zephaniah 3:17 – The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
D. God Hovers Over Us to Guard and Protect
Picture an eagle hovering over her newly hatched children in the midst of a storm, drawing them near and covering them with her wings.
– God is like the good parts of a “helicopter parent” hovering, arranging, caring for us.
Read: Deuteronomy 32:10-11
This passage reveals the love of God for us. (Context-This is being spoken about God’s heart for Israel, His people, but at the same time it reveals God’s heart for all those who believe in Him. Through our faith in Jesus we are true spiritual Israel. God’s character and heart is the same for us today).
Question: What words show God’s loving heart and actions towards us?
Answer: shields-cares- guards- apple of his eye or the center of his focus – hovers- catches-carries
Reflection Question: How has God and does God shield, care, guard, focus on you, hover over you, catch you and carry you? (Think of specific incidents).
E. God is Committed to Us
Picture in your mind a man with a hammer and fine point chisel engraving a stone.
Read: Isaiah 49:15-16 – (God is speaking this to Israel, but it shows us God’s heart of absolute love. His character and heart are the same towards us today.)
At the time this was written:
– A servant may have had his/her master’s name tattooed on him- showed ownership
– A master would not tattoo a servants name on his own body
– But Jesus, Lord of Lords, in a sense has engraved us on his hands
- engraving is cutting– it is cut in stone-permanent- in a sense are names were engraved on Jesus hands when the nails pierced/cut into his wrists.
Challenge: As you read the Bible, find picture scriptures of God’s love. Collect them and let them strengthen your faith when you are discouraged.
II. God loves us and calls us to an intimate relationship with Him
A, It is true: Even though this seems unbelievable, it is true: God makes it clear from the Old Testament through the New Testament that He wants a deeply personal relationship with us.
- Faith – Friends: Abraham and God.- Read James 2:23-Abraham was called God’s friend
Ps. 25:14 – The LORD confides in those who fear Him, and reveals His covenant to them. (NIV)
Confides: This term is translated from a Hebrew word having a primitive root meaning “couch.” A couch is a place where 2 friends sit down and share deep personal conversation with each other. The very word “confide” implies personal conversation for the hearer only.
- The ESV version translates it as friendship of the Lord– that is a special friendship.
This friendship is for everyone, no matter who you are or what you have done.This friendship is available through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus and being baptized into Him.
Read: Col. 1:22- It is by the physical death of Jesus, the Son of God that we are given this friendship with God.
III. Our Response to God’s Love
A. God is very specific about our response. We don’t have to guess, or imagine, worry or respond impulsively. God declares what He wants in both the Old and New Testament.
Read: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Luke 10:17
B. What does it mean to love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength?
- In the culture of both Old and New Testament the heart, mind, soul and strength are a “whole” concept. They are to be thought of as a unit, not as separate factors. In fact the Biblical writers often use these words interchangeably, especially heart and mind.
- Heart-includes our emotions and affections
- Mind – includes thinking and reasoning; and our will (Heart and mind are often
- Soul is our essence; it is what makes you, you.
– the Hebrew word for “strength” means “very; very muchness;” basically that means “your everything.”
– it includes your gifts, skills, experiences, resources; “all you got”
C. Examples of heart, mind, soul, strength love in the scriptures:
- Will: Joshua 24:15 – “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Matt. 16:24 – Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
- Strength: Psalm 103: 1- “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! (This is your strength – your “very muchness.”
- Heart: 1 John 2:15 – “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”
- Mind: 3:2-3 – “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
IV. Whole Heart-ed Love is Worship!
A. Worship involves offering and valuing.
1. Offering – Read: Romans 12:1 and Luke 9:23
– Loving God wholeheartedly is your spiritual worship
– “Denying yourself” is offering your whole heart to God
2. Valuing- Read: Psalm 96:7-8
- “Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.
- Ascribe means to allow, permit, assign- acknowledge and to proclaim
- Romans 1:21 is an example of not ascribing to God the utmost value in their life. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
- They did not give God the position of God in their life – a deliberate choice of will.
B. What does valuing God look like in our life?
- Reading and meditating on God’s word daily -Ps. 119:15
- Praising God – 115:1
- Giving thanks to God in all circumstances; even during the hard or uncomfortable times – 1 Thess. 5:18
- Being willing to wait on God’s working/timing: Lam. 3:24 (Regarding:children; spouse; getting a spouse; a job; health; character sin)
- Persevere in prayer – Rom. 12:12
- Choosing to trust God, to risk obeying – fear of the outcome (especially in our relationships:- situations needing – humility; submission; forgiveness
- Submit my plans to God – Prov. 3:5-6 – Shows dependence/trust in God; thoughtful surrendering our plans to God; making a deliberate choice to do God’s will.
- Pray that God’s will be done in your life – 10:36
- Seek wisdom and guidance from God; – James 1:5
- Share with others the treasure you have found in God – 16:15
For Group Lesson:
Discussion Groups: Divide into groups of 4 or 5 and talk about the following questions.
- Think about ways you develop your intimacy with God. Share with the group one of your secret tips to developing greater intimacy with God.
- Worshiping God daily involves surrendering our will to God. What are some fears you face when you think about surrendering your “self” to God? What is the most difficult thing for you to surrender?
- Pray – Let each person, if they want, pray about one of the following
Ask God to:
– teach us to love God with heart, mind, soul and strength
– help us live each day in a way that worships Him
– give God the value and place in our life that He deserves
– help us trust and surrender to God
– know the joy and fullness of His presence