Now and Forever Part 3

January 23, 20180 Comments

The preaching notes for this message are included here on Online Ministry Training:

Our series is called Now and Forever. We are talking about living this amazing life in Christ. God created us to love us. Last week we began to talk about what our response to God should be. I want to pick up that theme today.

Scripture Reading

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Last week I ended with the following verse.

Romans 12:1 (NIV)
1 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.

What is worship?

Our scripture reading today holds the key.

Worship is knowing and loving God back.

Mark 12:30 (NIV)
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

1. Love God with all your heart

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

In the Bible, when you read about the heart, it is not about the organ pumping blood inside your chest. The heart is sort of the control panel of our lives. The heart is what motivates us, compels us, moves us, draws us. That is why the writer of Proverbs calls it the “wellspring of life”. All the really big issues of life spring from the heart. It is from here that God begins to talk about how He wants us to love Him.

2. It starts with a spiritual heart transplant

Matthew 13:15 (NIV)
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

Jesus wants to change our hearts. This is at the root of being born from above or being born again. Our hearts are a mess and they have a tendency to be drawn towards evil.

Matthew 15:19 (NIV)
19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

So God has to do something about our hearts and when we come to Christ we receive a spiritual heart transplant. While we may still choose to do the wrong thing, our new hearts make it possible for us to choose to do the next right thing. Our new hearts help us to be more like Jesus, and to love God the way He demonstrated. Have you read in the gospels how Jesus used to often go out all night just to pray. He loved spending time in the presence of the Father, it was a picture of Jesus heart, a heart that loves the Father. And that is the heart that He gives to us when we come to Him.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

This new heart will allow us to relate to God as our Father and not just with some force. God wants to connect and relate with us, not as a force, but as our heavenly Father. God created us for relationship with Him and others. He created us in His image and gave us heart, mind, soul and strength to love Him with so that we could engage with Him in relationship.

3. How can I love God with all my heart?

This is a process that we will be learning all of our days but there are a couple of things that will help us in the process. We need to make our heart love for God our highest love. It needs to be the priority of our lives. It needs to be the area of our lives that is without compromise.

Exodus 20:3 (NIV)
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

There are a lot of things in our lives that compete for our highest love. Who or what do you turn to when life is hard? Where do you go for comfort, wisdom, strength? Where do you go for pain relief? Any answer to these questions that are other than God are competing for your highest love.

This does not mean that God does not want us to love anyone else. He wants us to love our spouses, families, neighbors, even our enemies, but He does not want us to love any other gods. He is God and nothing can take His place.

Another helpful thing in loving God with all our hearts is to run everything in our lives through the love filter. This will help us to love others well but will also keep our hearts focused on God. What is the love filter?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

When we realize that everything and everybody is to be seen through this filter of love of God, we realize that every part of our life can be lived for the love of God as we continue to press in and on in Him.

Next week we will be talking about loving God with all our soul.

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About the Author ()

Child of the King, husband to Alice, father to Sarah and Douglas, grand father to Samuel, Avery, Stevie, Eloise, Reed, Madeline and Margaret, pastor to the Vineyard in Big Pine Key, sometime writer and blogger, jogger, kayaker and founder of the Jesus Moment Bible Institute and Seminary (onlinebibleinstitute.org).

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