Lord, I Love You
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Deuteronomy 6: 1 & Matthew 22: 34-37
Sunday 23rd November 2014
Today, we will commence a new part of our journey of understanding the love of God. A careful study of the bible reveals the importance of love in the life of a believer. We are instructed to walk in love towards God, towards our neighbours and we are also instructed to love ourselves and the wider world. In focusing our attention on love and its importance in the life of a believer, it is important to make clear that I am not talking about eros, namely, romantic or sexual love. Neither am I talking about phileo, the type of love that subsists between friends or indeed storge, the type of love that a parent has for a child. What I am focusing on is the agape, ‘God kind of love’. God is the originator of love and therefore outside God, love is devoid of meaning.
I strongly believe that God is preparing the house of New Wine for a major manifestation of His glory and much in the way that one would clear the ground before laying the foundation of a building, God is clearing the way for an unusual manifestation in our lives in 2015.
Apart from agape love, each type of love is attached to, or predicated upon, one form of condition or another. Agape love, however, is distinct in that it is not an impulse that is generated by feelings, it is a deliberate choice made by God, stemming from the very nature of God; it is completely without condition. When God says, “I love you”, it is not based on condition. It is not because we are loveable, or deserving of His love. We are told in the book of Ephesians that God’s love for us subsisted before the worlds were created; His love is irrevocable and eternal. God’s love for us is without reason and without condition. He loves us unconditionally. God loves every one of us. He loves the lesbians and homosexuals; he loves the murderers, cheats, gossips and liars. He loves us without any hesitation and without condition. Over the past few weeks, we have looked at the immeasurable riches of God’s grace; God’s love as lavishly expressed by His grace towards us. Our love for God is supposed to be similar to the love that is expressed towards us; it is supposed to be irrespective of the circumstances or condition of life. We are not supposed to love God only when the conditions appear favourable towards us and then withdraw our love based on our understanding of how the circumstances of life appear. We cannot love God properly in this way, not least because our understanding of whether conditions are favourable or otherwise is unreliable; our assessment of whether conditions are ‘good’ are often very different from God’s perspective.
In Deuteronomy 6:1, God laid out His instructions and expectations to the children of Israel who were crossing over into the land of promise. He told them in verse 5, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.’ Nothing was to come before God, He was to be their overriding priority and unrivalled in their love and affection. In Matthew 22: 34-37, when the Pharisees sought to test Jesus with their questioning, an experienced lawyer asking Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." A similar account appears in Mark 12: 28-30, where Jesus quotes directly from the law established in the book of Deuteronomy. That is the expectation, however, the reality is very different from that. How many of us can honestly state that we love the Lord in the way that He requires? I will venture to suggest that there is not a single one of us that loves the Lord with all our hearts, all our mind and all our strength. The children of Israel tried to love the Lord in the way that He prescribed and failed. They found themselves desperately trying to fulfill God’s instruction to them to keep His commandments, imposing on themselves and each other, increasingly stringent requirements, all of which ended in failure. They were simply unable to love God in the way that He demanded and we are similarly incapable. The Law was given in order to make us recognise that we were in need of a Saviour. It was established to reveal to us the greatness of our shortcomings so that we would be driven to embrace the grace of God as revealed in Jesus. Romans 3:20 says, ‘By the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.’ This makes clear that no-one attains righteousness by doing what the law commands.
We are called to love God with all that we are and all that we have. Anything that comes before God in our lives is by definition, an idol. God tested Abram and told him to take his only son, the son of promise and sacrifice him. Abram obeyed, taking the precious gift that God had given him and was ready to perform the sacrifice that God had demanded. There must be nothing in our lives that takes God’s place; God must be first, this is non-negotiable.
It is clear however that we cannot love God in the way that He requires in our own strength. Since this is the case, we can only truly love God through and from the standpoint of, the finished works of Jesus Christ. It is the grace of God that enables us to love God, not our own strength and determination. 1 John 4: 19 says, ‘We love Him because He first loved us’. Our love for Him is predicated on Him having loved us; we are dependent on His love for us to enable us to love him in return. God’s love for us is revealed in the sacrifice of His Son for us. It is the ultimate expression of His unconditional love. When received Jesus, He gave to us the capacity to love Him by the Holy Spirit. It can never be done in our own strength. Romans 5:5 makes clear that the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that enables us to love by giving us the love of God. Rather than struggling and striving to love the Lord, we rely and depend upon the Holy Spirit to love Him. Romans 8: 26 further establishes this point, stating that the Spirit helps in our weakness. We must never adopt the posture of struggling to love God; we can only successfully love Him by the Holy Spirit. In John 14:15, Jesus said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.’ We have been given a Helper to help us to love the Lord; we can only love Him with the help of the Holy Spirit.
How, therefore, do we know whether or not we love the Lord? In 1 Samuel 15, when God told Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites, notwithstanding that he was apparently carrying out an act of worship in having kept behind the best of the spoil to sacrifice to God, his disobedience earned a stern rebuke from the prophet Samuel; ‘obedience is better than sacrifice’. Without a heart of obedience, worship is meaningless. In John 14: 15 we see that love and obedience are closely interlinked. The real evidence of our love for God is found in our willingness to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. God is calling us to a higher place of relationship with Him; our proof of truly loving God is to be found in the extent of our obedience. In John 14: 23 Jesus said ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word’. If you truly love God, there are certain things that you will not do and there are certain places that you will not go and certain associations that you will refuse because your are keen to ensure the integrity of your fellowship with the Lord. Please understand, this is not performance, this is relationship. Moses obeyed the word of God; He was prepared to stand before the Red Sea and lift up his rod in response to God’s instruction. He stood at risk of looking like a complete fool as he had no way of knowing that God would part the Red Sea, but obeyed God nonetheless. Similarly, Naaman, albeit reluctantly, obeyed the instruction from the prophet Elisha to dip himself in the River Jordan seven times and received his healing. There is victory, healing and the release of God’s power in the place of our obedience. We are called to a place of greater obedience to God. It is not enough to call ourselves Christians and yet not heed His instructions. God is preparing us for 2015. We must commit to a life of obedience to God, following the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit. The place to start is the condition of our hearts; God is saying Give me your heart, your soul and your strength.
1 John 5:3 says, ‘For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.’ Obedience to the Holy Spirit is not a burden. Obedience to the commandments of the Lord are not the same as obedience to the law. Mary’s instruction to the disciples at the wedding in Cana, 'Whatever He says to do, do it’ holds much truth; obedience is the key to the release of the power of God. There is power in your obedience.
In John 15: 9 Jesus instructs us to remain or abide in His love. God’s love is the place in which we are instructed to remain. Obedience to God gives us access to all that He has. It guarantees our victory over the plans and strategies of the enemy. David came to God, having returned to Ziklag with his men only to find that the enemy army had taken everything they cared about, asking “shall I pursue?” to which God replied in the affirmative, assuring them that they would pursue, overtake and recover all. He refused to move until he had heard from God, assuring him of victory. Abram’s obedience caused him to be ushered into God’s pronounced blessing over his life. Giving God all of your love as demonstrated in your obedience guarantees you success in life, it ensures the release of His power and puts you at an advantage over demonic forces. It is only when our obedience is complete that we will be in a position to judge and punish the enemy forces which represent disobedience. God loves us so very much and does not want us to struggle in life. He wants to relieve us of responsibility to fend for our own lives and destinies; he wants us to submit to Him so that He can take care of us fully.
There are so many benefits of demonstrating our love for God in obedience. Obedience causes us to operate in friendship with God. Abraham was described as a friend of God; we are offered the same amazing experience as Jesus made clear in John 15:15, ‘but I have called you friends’. As well as the friendship of God, obedience guarantees us answered prayer; in 1 John 3: 22 we are told, ‘And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.’ A life of obedience is the key to answered prayer. Obedience to God releases the blessing of God and it also causes all things to work together for us. And so therefore I challenge you to come to place where you trust God completely; trust Him to the degree that you are prepared to let Him take charge. I have come to challenge you to demonstrate your love for God by living a life of obedience. Your victory, success, blessings are rooted in your obedience to God. I have come to call you to obey God when it is convenient; and when it is not convenient. I have come to call you to obey God when people are watching and when people are not watching. I have come to call you to walk in the highest place of relationship with God, the place of obedience, the place in which your heart cries, “Lord! I love you!”
Now Apply the Word HERE
Download the PDF of this message HERE
Weekly Uplift Archives HERE