Our preacher, Mark Stinnett, publishes articles for the church bulletin each week. These articles are designed to teach, encourage and challenge the members of our congregation. His latest articles can be found below with the most recent at the end of the list. Mark has archived all of his articles on his personal blog 'MicroMarks' which can be accessed at: micromarks.blogspot.com.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. —Mark 12:30 (NASB95)
When God first gave this command to Israel, He said two things that help me better understand heart. The text is in Deuteronomy 6, and Moses told the people the reason for God’s instruction.
So that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God…. (v. 3)
Not only is fear of (reverence for) God found in the heart, but also fear of enemies and anxiety over life’s uncertainties. Kindness is in the heart, but also stubbornness. Courage is there, along with dread; gladness and also sadness. Pride is in the heart, so also, humility.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (vv. 6-7)
Is God’s word on your heart? For that to be true, God’s word must be given a high level of importance. If God’s word is on your heart, you will be attentive to God’s commands and actively pursue God’s instruction in obedience.
In the heart a man is stirred to act, strengthened with conviction and filled with integrity.
The kings of Israel were often compared to David, who served God with a whole heart. Yet Solomon’s heart was turned away from God because of his many wives.
The one who loves God with all his heart longs to know God, desires to know His expectations, and follows without apology and without question. It is not that he cannot think for himself or apply reason to God’s word. Nor is it that he has complete understanding. Yet, his convictions are rooted in God’s instruction, and they define his perceptions and attitudes.
- God’s instruction is not a goal to achieve, but a path to walk. It is a path walked with awareness, intent, confidence and unwavering commitment. It is a path walked with passion:
- King David could not contain his joy when the ark of the Lord was returned to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 6:14-16)
- Isaiah was moved in his heart to take God’s message to His people. (Isaiah 6:8)
- Jeremiah could not contain God’s word within his heart. (Jeremiah 20:9)
- The first Christians poured out their hearts through generous gifts for fellow believers who were in need. (Acts 4:32-37)
- Some Christians showed heart by suffering persecution, even death. (Heb. 11:32-40)
To love God with all your heart is to set Him above all other things in life.
Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. —Hebrews 12:1-3
Do you love God with all your heart???
March 28, 2021
The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote:
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. —Hebrews 4:12 (NASB95)
That tells me that if I want to learn something about the soul and how it differs from the spirit, I should open my Bible instead of consulting the dictionary. Here are some things I found when trying to better understand soul.
The Hebrew word for soul is often translated with a personal pronoun: I, my, myself, you, yourself, anyone, them, themselves, etc.
In both Old and New Testaments soul is often translated life. This is different than spirit, which is breath or life essence. Soul seems to be more the essence of being.
In the creation sequence (Genesis 1) and in the instruction following the flood (Genesis 9), living creatures were literally living souls, and that includes bugs, birds, beasts and fish.
Next, consider Genesis 2:7.
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Literally, “man became a living soul.”
Consider also Leviticus 17:11, an explanation following a prohibition of eating blood:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.
Literally, “the soul of the flesh is in the blood” and “it is the blood by reason of the soul that makes atonement.”
I’m not sure that it means that the soul is literally in our blood any more than we think that our emotions are literally in our hearts. Yet, there is a connection between soul and blood!
- Experiences bitterness;
- Is knit to another in love;
- Can be troubled, grieved, tormented;
- Gains knowledge and understanding through life’s experiences;
- Has appetite and hunger not associated with the physical body, i.e., good desires and evil desires (lust);
- Rejects and abhors things;
- Can sin, swear, act unfaithfully;
- Bears guilt and receives punishment;
- Can also be purified and saved for eternity.
The soul is the essence of our human being describing our identity. It incorporates our will, intent, desire. The soul is that part of our being that chooses.
In Colossians 3:23 the Apostle Paul wrote:
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.
Heartily is literally, from the soul.
God desires your love from the very essence of your being. It is love by choice. It is intentional love. It is love that is resolute, determined, and unwavering. It is by your will that you love.
Love the Lord your God with all your soul.
April 4, 2021
We were taught to put our hand over our heart when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The pledge was supposed to come from the heart, not the blood-pumping organ, of course.
Mind is much easier—point to your head, right? Or is that your brain? Mind, brain???
What does it mean when Jesus said that you should love God with all your mind?
When younger we got away with saying that Jesus was referring to one’s intellect. That sounded smarter than saying that Jesus wanted us to love him with all our thinking. Still, my friends and I didn’t know what that meant.
It’s true that intellect and thinking are associated with the mind. But what does that mean?
In the Old Testament the Hebrew word heart is translated as both heart and mind. There isn’t really a separate Hebrew word for mind. So, when the word heart appears in the Hebrew text, translators have to decide whether heart or mind makes sense for English readers. (You might find it interesting that an Israelite could have a gut feeling just like we do, only it came from the belly or from the kidneys.)
In the New Testament there is a Greek word that corresponds to the English word mind. As you would expect it describes thinking and understanding.
Paul taught that the church should have the same mind, instead of one person standing out with a haughty mind. Humility of mind is set against selfish conceit.
The Bible describes a depraved mind that is deprived of the truth but also a renewed mind that is transformed by being presented to God as a living and holy sacrifice. The mind can be fleshly but also led by the Spirit.
Paul reminds us in Colossians that we were “formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds.” (1:21) He later described the fleshly mind as “delighting in self-abasement [false humility] and the worship of angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen.” (2:18) In contrast, he encouraged, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things of the earth.” (3:2)
Conviction is found in the mind.
With the mind we sing. With the mind we pray. The mind instructs and receives instruction.
The mind is that part of an individual that is most closely associated with the spirit.
The mind is the part of us that thinks and understands. However, the word Jesus used for mind in His instruction was built off the usual word for mind, yet with a prefix suggesting an active element. It is the same word Peter used in when he encouraged, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action…” (1 Peter 1:13) and in his second letter when he said that he was “stirring up your sincere mind….” (3:1)
When Jesus admonished, “Love the Lord your God with all your mind,” He was looking deeper than mere thought. It was active thinking. It was more akin to the purpose, intent or planning of the mind that results in taking action.
It is the difference between thinking and being thoughtful. Thoughtfulness implies thought that anticipates the needs and wants of others. It suggests movement of the mind toward activity based on the thought.
Loving God with your mind implies intent followed by action.
Do you love God with all your mind?
April 11, 2021