Love God

January 22, 2017   Matthew 22: 34 – 40   Love


   I am going to dive right into this passage this morning.  Jesus tells us commands us to love the Lord our God with all of our heart with all of our soul and with all of our mind.   What would the churches in America be like if we did that?   How would your relationship change with those you are trying to help if they lived like that?   How would your marriage be if both you lived that way?   How would your marriage be if your spouse lived that way?   Would life be easier and would there be less tension?   Are you teaching your children to do that?   Some of you might say that is impossible and I say it is a command of the Lord.  If you say you can’t do that and if you say it is impossible you have already quit and given up.  Can’t never did nothing I used to hear.  I understand you can’t force others but you can influence people.  You can pray and you can teach and you can model that life style.   

   Some may say that is a lot of work for me to teach that to my kids.  I would say when they get it and live like that over 90% of your work is done.  Think of all the other stuff you don’t have to teach them.  You not only have to teach it but you have to live it.  Your children need to see you model it.  Your children need to see you reading the bible and praying.  They need to see you asking what would Jesus do in this situation.   You need to be praying for them to love Jesus and God.  Not doing this is perhaps the biggest failure that we make as parents. Parents you can’t fake that life style.       

   I think it is important as we consider this passage today to realize and state again that God is love.  God loves you.   God loves you more than anyone loves you.   God loves you more than you love yourself.   In the book Ragamuffin Gospel the author writes Israel don’t ever be so foolish as to measure my love for you in terms of your love for me!  Don’t ever compare your thin pallid wavering and moody love with my love, for I am God.  Human love will always be a faint shadow of God’s love.  We try to bring God down to our level so we can relate to him but God is so much greater.  

    God’s love is deep!    And, God’s love has nothing to do with you!   It is not because of your wisdom or ability or your strength that God loves you.   God does not love you because of your money or your ability to make money.   Others love us because of our abilities or looks or our character or perhaps even our money.   Maybe it is because you are fun to be around or that you meet a need that they have.   Some because you are family and they seek to get along with family.  

     But, not God!   God loves you simply because He wants to love you … He chose to love you … He decided to love you.     God loves you because “God is love” (1 John 4:16).     Listen to what God told Israel in Deuteronomy 7:7-8 – “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”   It is totally amazing why God would love any of us.    Have you heard God whisper in your ear I love you lately?   I love you I am for you and I am with you.   I know your struggles and your pain.  Love is important to God.  God is love. 

   In I Corinthians 13 we see how important love is in God’s eyes.   Paul writes if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love; I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.   If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.   If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.     Those are pretty amazing sacrifices and gifts but it means nothing unless it comes from a heart of love.  Is love the aim of your life today? 

   Jesus tells us in this passage to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our mind.     Jesus said love God with everything.   Love God with everything we are and have.  That is a commandment.   All of God’s commandments are for our good.  That is to be the focal point of the Christian’s life.   That is where our mind should go.  That is what should captivate us.  Love for God should be our waking thought and the last thought before we go to sleep.  A person who loves God brings blessing and joy to others.   There is life and light around them.  There is a pleasant atmosphere around them.  There is love and goodness in them.   The person that loves God walks in the power and the spirit of God.  There is a spirit of peace around them. 

   I think Jesus is a good example of offering blessing and love to others.  I like this first verse in the passage we read today.  The people were astonished at his teaching.  Jesus taught with authority.  Jesus spoke truth.  It means a lot that Jesus spoke truth.  Truth is hard to find today.  Truth can be spoken in such a way that it wounds but Jesus spoke truth from a compassionate heart.  The truth that Jesus gave us came from a heart of love.  There is healing in the words of Jesus.  The crowds loved the teaching of Jesus and loved his healing.  I also believe the atmosphere around Jesus attracted the crowds to him.   Jesus was and is the friend of sinners.  Jesus walked with a heart of love and yes Jesus stood up to the wrong.  Some did not want to be around Jesus but Jesus was not critical and negative.  I think Jesus had joy and at times lots of joy in spite of all the stuff around him. 

   Jesus commands us to love God with everything in us.  Loving God is to be the focus of your life.  You will be so heavenly minded that you will be a huge blessing on the earth.     I find blessing and joy when I focus on God.  I do not find much peace in this world.  I am blessed when I am walking with Jesus.  Often when I get up in the morning and just pray Lord I need you today.  My life is in you Lord.  It is not in the world.  Sometimes I try to fill my cup in the world but it never works out.  News does not fill me.  Food fills my stomach but not my soul.  The world makes a lot of folks sour, critical and negative.  I reminded of people who have said I am not watching the news for awhile. 

    Is God’s love the focus of your life?    Is His love the drive of your life?   We should be pushing to draw closer to God every day.  That requires time with him.  If you want a good relationship with a person it will take time.   Jesus said if anyone will come after me let them deny them self.   There is always room for improvement.  We love God because God loved us first.  Jesus died on the cross for our sin.  God is a good God.   God hears prayer.  God stoops to help us.  God is compassionate and slow to anger.  God is our creator.  God is good and God is great.  The best thing for every person that is alive is to love God.  That is highest good to love God.   That is the best way to live your life. 

      The Pharisees try to trap Jesus and they send an expert in the law to Jesus to trap Jesus.  They posed this question to Jesus what is the greatest commandment in the law?   I do not think they were trying to learn anything new.   I think they thought they were smarter than Jesus and were hoping to trap him.  It is an interesting question that they ask Jesus.  What is the most important or greatest commandment?  

   Do people ask for your advice?    If a young person perhaps about to graduate from high school came to you to ask for your advice what would you tell them?  We would probably encourage them to continue to get education or learn a trade.  We would encourage them to find out the kinds of things that they like to do and pursue a career.  Sometimes we find out who we are by finding out what we are not.   If an older person looking to retire came and asked for advice some would encourage them to be debt free.  Make sure you have enough on hand so that you can enjoy your retirement.  It is really best to have more than social security.   There could be encouragement for them to stay active and in good shape. 

    There are several ways to look at this question what is the greatest commandment.  I would say in a sense that Jesus is telling us this is the most important thing in life.   This is the highest good.  This is the best thing you can do with your life.  Love God with everything you have.  Loving God should be the number 1 priority of your whole life.  Everything else falls behind it.   Everything else is second importance.   This is your priority.   This message fits right in with what I have been sharing in January this year.  The first message focus was on new things from God for this year. We can have a new start and new mercy every day.   We look for God’s blessing and moving in this New Year.   Then I shared about the Nazirite vow.  The Nazirite was separated to God.  Last week I shared on Peter and focus.  It was about stepping out in faith in God and keeping our focus on Jesus in the storms of life.  These are refreshing and convicting messages for me.  Lord keep me focused on the right stuff. 

    What do you think is the measure of a man or a person?    I suppose that the average person would think it is the amount of money a person has or toys that a person owns.  For some it may be their bank account or how smart or strong they are.   God’s ways are not mans ways.   Man tends to look outwardly but God looks on the heart.    I think a key measure of a person is what is in their heart.  Does God love flow through them?   Is there an aroma of Jesus around them?    It is very important to God because Jesus tells us to love God with all we have.     Some folks claim to love God but do not love others.  John said if anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar.   For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.   And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.  That can be a challenge. 

    It at times is tough to love a brother or sister is who is not walking with the Lord.   It is at times tough to love a spouse.   We can hate the sin but we need to love the person.   What is love?  God defined love or showed us real love or agape love by sending his son Jesus to die for our sin.  God blessed us when we were God’s enemies.  God allows us I think to experience tough love.  My love is not deep enough.  His love is limitless.   Human love has limits.  The more you love someone the harder it can be to love them when they are at their worst.  Love starts in my home.   It starts with those who are closest to us.   God’s heart hurts when we chose to do wrong.  God loves us deeply and hurts when we sin.  Sometimes it is hard to love people.  Sometimes it is hard to trust people. 

   Christians can be confused about loving God.  What does it mean to love God?   We may think it is bringing our prayers before God.  That can be very self centered.  God please answer my prayers.  These are the things that I would like.  Those that love God do pray.  Prayer is important.  Christians may think their love is shown by their service.   Well I work very hard for God and my labor for God shows that I love him a great deal.  Unfortunately we can love the work of the Lord and forget to love the Lord of the ministry.  Christians that love God do serve.  Giving or tithing is not a real sign.  People that love God give but people can give from a sense of duty or habit.  People can give with the thought of getting.  At least some of the Pharisees gave money to be seen.  Jesus said they had their reward. 

     The bible clearly defines love for us in I Corinthians 13.   Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.     It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   John 3:16 for God so loved the world he gave.   Jesus loved the church and he gave his life.     Love serves, love gives, and love is not self seeking.   Love looks for the good and does not always dwell on the negative.  That is very challenging.  

      Love is a decision.   More than emotion love is a decision.    We have to make a decision to love.   It is a motivation that we should live by and that directs our actions and reactions.    The Holy Spirit can help us to live in love.  The fruit of the Spirit is love.     There are feelings associated with love, but love is a decision.  Love is a commitment.   Love is not automatic, just like spiritual growth is not automatic.   It would be nice if we could put our lives on cruise control and continually pour out love but there are days when it just does not work like that. 

    When was the last time you came to God with no prayer requests and did not come to him fussing about something but just came to God to love on Him?   Have you told God this week that you love him?   Have you worshipped with joy this week?   Have you just sat in his presence?    How often have we turned the TV off just to be still and check in with God?  God I just want to love on you today and worship you today.  I want to be in your presence.  I just want to enjoy your friendship.    I want to bless your heart.   I want to express my love for you.   Have you told Him lately that you love him?   Jesus said love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  Do we welcome a commandment like that?   Some would perhaps think that is an unreasonable request.  It is a great challenge and a great blessing.