How to Know if You Love God
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 19, 2012
*Last Sunday in 1 Corinthians 13, we studied the kind of love that God wants all of us to have: God’s kind of love, agape love, the same type of love that the Lord has for us. This morning please open your Bibles to Mark 12, so we can focus on our love for God
*I understand that we’ve got some excellent young debaters in our church, but I’m sure they would ever try to get into a debate with God. You just cannot win an argument with the Lord.
*Unfortunately, that’s what the Pharisees, Herodians and Sadducees were trying to do in Mark 12. It was the last week of the Lord’s ministry before the cross. And these leaders were so hard-hearted toward Jesus that they were trying to trip-up the Lord.
*Of course, Jesus knew exactly how to answer them, and He pointed out their errors very well. That is the background to our passage this morning about our great need to love God. Let’s read it in Mark 12:28-30.
28. Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?''
29. Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.
30. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.”
*What love we are commanded to have for the Lord God! -- Total love. Our love for God is supposed to touch every part of our lives.
*Albert Barnes explained that loving God with all your heart means “to fix your affections supremely on Him, more strongly than on anything else. And to be willing to give up all that we hold dear at His command.
-Loving the Lord with all your soul means with all your life. This means, to be willing to give up your life to him, and to devote it all to his service; to live for him, and to be willing to die at his command.
-Loving the Lord with all your mind means to be willing to submit all of your mental ability to his teaching and guidance.
-And loving the Lord with all your strength means to be willing to labor and toil for his glory, and to make that the great object of all our efforts. (1)
*In sum, we are supposed to love the Lord with every part of our life.
-Nothing should be off-limits to the Lord.
-But how can we measure our love for the Lord?
*One time back when our Katie was in high school, she went to the grocery store with her mom. And while they were there, Katie read an article that said if you really love your wife or girlfriend, your eyes will dilate when you turn to look at her.
*Katie decided to check it out on me as soon as they got home. They rushed into my office, and Katie said, “Dad, turn around and look at Mom.” And when I did, my eyes did dilate. Whew! -- I passed the test.
*That may be one sort of goofy way to tell if you love your girl, but how can you tell if you really love God? -- God’s Word shows us four ways this morning.
1. First: Measure your attention.
*When Jesus told us the greatest commandment, He was quoting from Deuteronomy 6, and here in vs. 29, the first thing Jesus said was, “Hear, O Israel.”
*God tells us to hear. But are we listening? Are we paying attention to Him?
-That’s a big part of loving the Lord with all of your mind.
*I want to assure you today that the Lord is trying to get our attention. In Psalm 19:1-3, King David said:
1. The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.
*So, God speaks through nature. His Holy Spirit is here to speak to our hearts. And He will always speak to us through His Word.
-But are you listening?
-Are you paying attention to the Lord Jesus Christ?
*As far as we know, the vast majority of those chief priests and Pharisees were not willing to listen. Are you willing to listen to the Lord? Eight times in the Gospels, Jesus cried out: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
*Then in the Book of Revelation, the Lord speaks to the churches. Listen to the Lord in Revelation 2:
7. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
11. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”
17. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. . .”
*Then four more times in Revelation 2&3: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” God is here today, wanting to speak to us. But are we willing to listen to the Lord?
*Listen to Jesus and you will hear Him say:
-“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 4:17)
-“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt 4:19)
*Then in Matt 5:6-9:
6. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
7. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
8. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
*In Matt 7:7-8:
7. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
*When we listen to Jesus, we will also hear Him say wonderful, comforting things, like:
28. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11:28-29)
*In John 11:25-26, we will hear Jesus say:
25. . . “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
26. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. . .”
*And in John 14:1-2, we will hear Him say:
1. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
2. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
*When we slow down enough to listen to Jesus Christ, we will hear Him speak to us about His love and forgiveness.
-We will hear Jesus speak to us about the eternal life we can have through Him because He died on the cross for us and rose again.
-We will hear Him speak to us of His grace that will carry us through every trouble in life.
*God is here today, wanting to speak to us. But are you willing to listen to the Lord? He can do amazing things when we listen to Him, even for a moment.
*Bruce Howell tells an old story about an ungodly bartender. He really hated the gospel. But he liked music. Now this was long before the days of 24/7 radio and TV, and this man wanted to hear some music. So he decided to go to one of John Wesley’s evangelistic meetings to hear the singing. But he was absolutely determined not to listen to the preaching.
*There he sat like an angry kid, with his head down and his fingers in his ears. But God sent a fly at just the right time. It landed on the man’s nose. And when he tried to fan it away, he heard the 9 words that changed his life forever. It was Wesley quoting the Scripture: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
*That was all it took. From that moment on the man was greatly troubled, until he came back the next night, really listened and got saved! (2)
*Have you ever done that? Have you ever really paid attention to Jesus?
-And Jesus may be your Lord and Savior, but have you been paying attention to Him lately?
*How can you tell if you really love God? -- Measure your attention.
2. And measure your attachment.
*In vs. 29&30, Jesus said two little words that are vitally important. You can’t even begin to love the Lord unless these words apply to you. Jesus said: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord OUR God is one Lord. And you shall love the Lord YOUR God. . .”
*Is the Lord YOUR God? Can you honestly say: “The Lord is MY God.”? Or as King David said in the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is MY Shepherd.” This means I am attached to Him. I belong to Him, and He belongs to me.
*David didn’t just know about the Lord. He knew the Lord in a personal way. And that’s what Jesus wants for all of us today. By turning to Jesus and trusting in Him, by receiving Him as our personal Lord and Savior, we get a relationship that lasts forever.
*Many years ago in England, a Christian man was walking through the countryside, when he came across a boy tending his sheep. The sight made the man think of the 23rd Psalm. So, he asked the little boy if he knew it.
*When the boy said, “No,” the man began to explain who the Good Shepherd is. He told that boy how Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Then the man used his fingers to help the boy remember the first line of the Psalm. “The - Lord - is - my - shepherd.” The Christian said, “When you come to that word ‘my,’ grip your fourth finger tightly with your other hand. And never forget that the Lord is not only a Shepherd, but YOUR Shepherd.” That night the little boy told his parents about the Bible lesson he learned on the road that day.
*The following winter there was a terrible snowstorm. Sadly, the boy and his sheep got lost in the blizzard, and they were not found until it was too late. But when the search party uncovered the boy’s body, he was tightly holding on to his fourth finger, just like the Christian had said. (3)
*That little boy knew the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He had trusted in Jesus. He had received Jesus as Savior and Lord. And that is the kind of relationship God wants all of us to have with Him.
*Jesus is Lord!
-But is He your Lord?
-Have you trusted in the Lord?
-Can you honestly say that Jesus is YOUR Savior?
*He wants to be. That’s why He died on the cross. The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep. And now, the Risen Savior gives forgiveness and eternal life to all who receive Him as Savior and Lord. Trust in the Lord, and He will be your Shepherd, your Savior, your Best friend, your God and your King.
*Get attached to Jesus, and you can truly begin to “love the Lord your God.”
-Measure your attachment.
3. And measure your affection.
*In vs. 30, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.”
-Our total love for God is supposed to touch every part of our lives, including our emotions, feelings, or affections.
*We have affectionate feelings for everyone we love:
-Our mate, our parents, our children and our friends.
-But most of all, we should have heart-felt affection for God.
*Do you have any real affection for Jesus Christ? -- If not, ask God for it. And spend some time thinking about why we should love Jesus. Go to the cross. Think about what Jesus did for us there. Think about the future He has planned for those who know Him as Savior and Lord.
*The more we think about these things, the more we will find ourselves falling in love with Jesus. And these feelings are important.
*David Jeremiah told the story of lonely woman who live in London many years ago. She was one hundred years old when a missionary stopped by to see her, and she trusted in Jesus as her Savior and Lord. Later she said: “How wonderful, and how good the Lord has been in sparing me these one hundred years that I might learn the way of life!”
*That’s the kind of affection we all should have for the Lord. When that lady died, they put these words on her gravestone: “Born 1825 -- Born Again 1925.” (4)
*Isn’t that great! -- No wonder she loved the Lord. No wonder we should love the Lord with all our heart!
-How can you tell if you really love God? -- Yes, measure your affection.
4. But also measure your actions.
*In vs. 30, Jesus told us to also love the Lord with all our soul and all our strength. God wants you to have genuine heart-felt affection for Him. But God says our love is not just measured by our feelings. It is measured by our actions!
*Feelings are good but feelings are changeable, and sometimes our feelings will lie to us. When you are walking the floor with a sick baby at 3 in the morning it sure doesn’t feel very good, but the love is there. And it can be seen in your loving actions.
*In John 14:15, Jesus told His followers this: “If you love Me keep My commandments.” So our love for the Lord must affect our actions.
*Measure your actions by the Word of God, and if the Word goes against your feelings, you go with the Word!
*Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Dr. Bob Moorehead told about a man who loved the Lord like that. He was a young Christian from Zimbabwe, who was murdered for his faith in Jesus Christ.
This was the written testimony he carried to his death:
-“I’m a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. I’m a disciple of his.
-I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed; my present makes sense; my future secure.
-I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, worldly talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals.
-I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits or popularity.
-I don’t have to be first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded.
-I now live by faith, lean on his presence, walk in patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.” (5)
*I don’t even know that young Christian’s name. But let me tell you, he is a hero in heaven! He is a hero, because he loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength.
*That is exactly what God wants us to do. In fact, it is His greatest commandment. Let’s ask God to help us love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
(1) Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible - Matthew 22:34-40
(2) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Bruce Howell
(3) “The Biblical Illustrator” - Psalm 23 - p. 437
(4) KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 20482 - SOURCE: Baptist Press, http://www.baptistpress.org/ - TITLE: “In Search of Jesus -- At the Cross” - AUTHOR: Rev. David Jeremiah - DATE: 32405
(5) Written by Dr. Bob Moorehead in his book, “Words Aptly Spoken.” (According to Dr. Moorehead's son, a man in Africa who was murdered for his faith had a copy of this prayer on him when he was martyred.)