Sermon: LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND SOUL AND MIND

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Preached on 16th November 2008
by Mr Trevor Nuttall

Psalm 73; v1-3, 23-28. At this time when we are rocked by the economic crisis, we can sympathise with the psalmist (David), as we reflect on the fat bonuses which are apparently being taken home by those whose greed and ineptitude got us into the mess.  A good time to hold fast to the Lord, the Light of the World, and the promise in Is 60 that restoration in his love follows chastisement.

Mtt 22; v34-46.  When a lawyer asked Jesus which is the greatest commandment, he immediately said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and all your mind." This quote in Deut 6 v4 embodies the first 3 Commandments (the ones we forget but cannot avoid). He is dealing with Professionals here. This is positive, but it is very difficult to love God unless we know him. We cannot even love the Saviour unless we recognise our debt to him, and the cost.

Jesus also said "If you love me you will keep my commandments... and the Father will give you another Counsellor to be with you..." so we have some help (Jn 14 v15) and Jesus himself as one to whom we can relate. But we read in Jn 12 v 37, that "even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence [they] still would not believe!" It is a matter of attitude as well as seeing. The Lord's words to Jeremiah so many years earlier, "They will seek me and they WILL FIND ME when they seek me with ALL THEIR HEART", still apply to us. [Islam does not talk of love.]

We cannot love a God we don't know; we cannot love Jesus unless we recognise our need; and we cannot recognise our need unless we see who this Jesus really is. We can not find him out of idle curiosity, although this may at least get us within earshot of the Gospel. It is an unavoidable progression, we find Jesus (the "Way") and he introduces us to the Father. We do not need to know any theology; the only requirement is that we be prepared to face the Cross and see Jesus hanging there in all the agony and shame and horror of our sin. If you don't understand this, but you want to know more, ask God to show you what the stumbling block is. He WILL answer your prayer. Take one faltering step towards Him, and He will rush across the vastness of eternity to you! (Like the prodigal's father).

John 14; v 15-27.  The riches of His grace will open to you. To add to the joy of coming to Him, he will send the Spirit to dwell in us and guide us. Jesus says, "Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does", but "If anyone loves me...My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." WOW, think of that! So why are our churches so lack-lustre? Why are so many in our pews so miserable and unsure? For many of us God is still a distant figure sitting, conveniently out of reach, on his cloud, and when the question of the afterlife is raised, we mumble silly (and blasphemous) things about it "being warm there". It is because we have not sought Him with all our heart, and are not sure that Jesus did not die in vain. Or is it that we do not believe?

He has done all He can; He sent Jesus to deal with our sin the only way possible: the horrible death on the Cross of the Son of God (through his obedience). When we see the true reality of that, we will see our own sin in all its abominable horror, and throw ourselves on God's mercy. Only then can He gather us to His heart; only then can we begin life anew in the fullness of His glory! There is no other way. Nowhere does it say we can work our way to Heaven! Jesus is the ONLY way, but we can trust Him.

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