Love God

February 22, 2015     Deuteronomy 6:1 -9   Love God 

 

    If there was just one thing that you wanted to share with a Christians what would it be?   What is the most important thing?  Would it be God is holy so do not sin?   Would it be walk in the Holy Spirit?   Would it be to tell them to be strong in faith?   There are many things that we could say that all would be good.  What would God say?   What does God say?   What would be in the heart of God for you and me today?   If there is only one thing to major on what would it be?   Would it be to minister and to be a good steward?   Would it be to be a man or woman of prayer or to be a man or woman of the bible?   What is the most important thing?   What does God want from us?   What does God want from you?   I think that is an interesting question.  I do not think that we consider that question very much.  Is there one commandment in the scriptures that if we fulfilled it that we would do well with everything else in the scriptures?   Paul writes the greatest of these is love.  God is love. 

   Proverbs 23:26 in the King James says my son give me thine heart and let thine eyes observe my ways.   Certainly God wants our heart.   Well we certainly know that God wants our heart.  I think that one of the big reasons that God wants us to give is because God wants our heart.  Jesus said where your treasure is there will be your heart.  God wants our heart our devotion.   He is certainly looking out for our best good.   In Revelation 2 the first church that Jesus addresses is the church at Ephesus.  Jesus said to them I know your deeds, your hard work, and your perseverance.  I know you do not like false people and wicked men and they had endured hardships for Jesus and they did not grow weary.

     It looks like so far so good.   Then Jesus tells them you have left your first love and on top of that you have fallen a long way.  You have fallen a long way Jesus told them.   You were up here but now you are down here.   Isn’t Jesus saying the highest good and the best is loving Jesus.    Interesting that Jesus told them to repent of that.   That was sin for them in Jesus eyes.   I am no longer first place in your life Jesus is telling them.  Repent that I am not first place in your life.   The issue was not some overt sin.  It was not some sexual sin not drinking or stealing etc.   Those things were not the issue.  The issue was not that they were not doing good deeds.   The issue was that Jesus was not their first love and Jesus was not very happy about it and Jesus let them know that.  Jesus made plain to them his feelings.   Jesus spoke to their heart and Jesus speaks to our hearts today.   I think it is important to say that He loves us so much that he will take whatever love we will give him today.   I think that is amazing.  But God is a zealous lover.  

         What do you think how the Israelites felt when Moses told them to love the Lord their God with all your heart with all your soul and all your strength?   How do you feel about that?   What are some ways that it would be tough for them to do that?   Well they had worked and lived as slaves as a nation for many years.  They worked 7 days a week in Egypt I expect.   They were slaves.   What would it be like to be a slave?   They would not make very many decisions on their own.  They were property of someone else.  Their life was dictated to them.  Their work was dictated to them.  They were not free.   They were in bondage. 

    If Moses preached this to them toward the end of Moses life they have been wandering around in the desert for probably 38 or more years.   It has been manna and dirt for years.   There was not much work for them.   They were neither farming nor building buildings.   They traveled about once a year from one spot in the desert to another.   God provided for them but there were periods of rebellion and times when Egypt looked better to them because as they said the food was better in Egypt.   They had a better variety of food in Egypt to eat and not just manna.   I suppose if all we had to eat was bread that we would soon get tired of it.   I think even college students after a period of time would tire of pizza.  

   Maybe in some ways they would really embrace the thought of loving God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength.  Maybe some of the things they had experienced would help them to love God.  They had witnessed God’s powerful hand on the Egyptians.  They had seen God do miracle after miracle to set them free. The last miracle was the killing of the first born of all the Egyptians.   The first born of all the people and cattle were killed.  The word of that spread to the other nations in the world.  Other nations had heard about the great things that God did for them.  They were dependent upon God in the desert.   They lived on miracle manna for years.   The whole water issue was a miracle and at times they went to war against other nations.   They had to trust God.   They had seen God’s love and miracles for them.  So in some ways it should have been easy for them to love God. 

    I think because they were slaves God gave them commandments on how to behave.  Do not have any other gods before me.   Do not worship the idols of Egypt.   But God was also working on their heart. 

     In the New Testament how do you think the people felt when Jesus told them that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord their God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind?   Jesus was asked by the Pharisees and the Sadducees what the greatest commandment was in the law.   Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God.  That is greater than all the other commandments.  It is the top one.  It is the most important.   It is greater by far than any of the 10 Commandments.  Everything can be covered by this commandment.  All of the laws fulfilled in this commandment.    These men were into the externals.   Generally speaking what the Pharisees did looked pretty good.  They were very picky about how they acted.    Jesus even said they looked good on the outside but on the inside was another story.  I wonder if Jesus words to love God sunk in.   I wonder if Jesus words sink in today.   What does it mean to love God with all your heart mind soul and strength?   What would such a person look like?  Have you ever been told that you love God with all your heart?   Have you ever said that to anyone?   Wow you really love God.  That would be a great compliment for anyone to receive. 

    Why should we love God with all our heart mind soul and strength?  Is it important to love God?    I know this church is very interested in our children to grow up to be men and women who love God and walk with God.   One way to think about this is the legacy that we leave with our children.   Christian parents want their children to see a genuine love of God in their life.   The children need to see your genuine love for God.   I think they see it when you sacrifice for Jesus.   I think that many kids today do not sees their parents committed to church, to Christian fellowship, to reading the bible and prayer.   Parents must set the pace for their children.   Parents need to model their love for God.  Children need to see it and feel it and want it.  Children should be saying I want to live my life like my parents do.   Dad you set a pretty tough pace for me to follow.   I want to love God and walk with him because of you dad or you mom.

    Josh McDowell, Christian author and preacher, wrote a book a few years back called “Right from Wrong” and after reading it you can see that our Christian values/lifestyle is not being passed on to our teens.    Parent’s #1 fear according to George Barna is the fear of raising children.    You can see why when, McDowell states; teen pregnancy has increased over 500% in the past thirty years, suicide among young people has jumped 300% in that same period and over a thousand teen girls get abortions every day in this country.   If you round that up a little bit that is over 400,000 abortions a year.  Over 4,000 kids a day catch a sexually transmitted disease.   Christian parents do not want to lose their children.  I believe if you love God with all your heart it will impact your child in a huge way.  

     Is it easy to love God?  It is pretty foreign to this world.   The world does not point us to Jesus.  God’s ways are different than the world’s ways.   God is the one who initiates in this relationship.   We love him because he first loved us.  Jesus told the disciples that he had chosen them and that the disciples did not choose him.   He is the great lover in the bible.   I suppose that many Christians would say that the Song of Solomon is the great love story in the Old Testament but perhaps another book in the Old Testament is more so.  Love is tough and we see tough love in the book of Hosea.  We see God’s love in Hosea.  We see God’s love for his people in Hosea.  I hope that every day we soak in God’s love for us.  He loves us and the knowledge of that fills us with life.  

    David A. Redding wrote in Jesus makes me laugh with him the following.   There is no other blessing I can give you, no gift so precious so refreshing, nothing that can provision you for the journey we are all making than to tell you that someone is searching diligently for you.   He is not a stationary God.  He is crazy about you.  The expense to which he has gone isn’t reasonable is it?  The cross was not a very dignified ransom.  To say the least it was a splurge of love and glory lavishly spent on you and me.   While we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly.   A shepherd having a 100 sheep if he loses one leaves the 99 to go after the one and searches diligently until he finds it.   God is like that shepherd.   That is enough to make me laugh and cry he writes. 

      One day, a young disciple of Christ ..... desirous of wanting to become all that God has for him visited the home of an elderly Christian.   He had heard that this old man ..... over all the years ..... had never lost his first love for Christ.  The elderly man was sitting on the porch with his dog ..... taking in a beautiful sunset. The young man posed this question:
"Why is it, sir, ..... that most Christians zealously chase after God during the first year or two after their conversion, ...... but then fall into a complacent ritual of church once or twice a week ........and end up not looking any different than their neighbors ..... who are not even Christians?    I have heard you are not like that. I have been told that you have fervently sought after God throughout all these years.   People see something in you that they do not see in most other people. ..... What makes you different?"   The old man smiled and replied, "Let me tell you a story.  

     One day I was sitting here quietly in the sun with my dog.   Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across the yard right in front of us.   Well, my dog jumped up, and took off after that big rabbit.    He chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion.    Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by his barking.   What a sight it was, ..... as the pack of dogs ran barking across the creeks, ... up the stony embankments ..... through thickets and through the thorns!   Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, ......discouraged by the course ...... and frustrated by the chase.     Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit."    "In that story, young man, lies the answer to your question."     The young man sat in confused silence.   Finally, he said, "Sir, I do not understand.    What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the quest for God?"   "You fail to understand," ..... answered the well-seasoned old man, ..... "because you failed to ask the obvious question.  And that is ...."Why didn't the other dogs continue on the chase?"     The answer to that question is ..... they ..... had not seen the rabbit.   

    God loves so completely and so jealously.   God is a zealous lover.   C. S .Lewis writes for He claims all, because He is love and must bless.  He cannot bless us unless He has us.  When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death.  Therefore, in love, He claims all.  There’s no bargaining with Him.  The children of Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years.  That is a good example of a life without God.  That is like a life that has not experienced love.