Thursday, February 27, 2014

Do I Love God?

    Do I love God? I found myself asking this question this morning. Do I love God? Love, we know is an action word. It is not an emotion based off of fuzzy feelings, or warm butterflies in our tummies. Love is seen, love is given, and love is a commandment. These past few days have been ones of distractions. I have found myself slipping back into some old patterns, and still refusing to let go of some areas of my life that I know (without a doubt) that He has commanded me to let go of. As I prayed this morning, I found myself crying out to my God, my Father, and asking Him to teach me obedience; the word I was given for this year. After all the praying I found myself asking the question again- do I love God? Do we love God, brothers and sisters? Do we truly love Him? Do we love Him enough to do what He says?
                “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways. You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently. Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed. When I look into all Your commandments. I will praise you with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments. I will keep your statutes; oh, do not forsake me utterly.” Psalm 119:1-8
                What does it mean to love God, and do we truly love Him? The psalmists who wrote this poetry for us knew and understood what it meant to fully and wholly love God. He also knew that it was impossible to love God fully without His help. So, how do we know if we truly love God? (And, what does it have to do with this Psalm?) Once again, we know that love is seen. It is an action. We are commanded by God to love Him and love our neighbors. The first part of the commandment is to love God. The second commandment we cannot fulfill until we have done the first. Love is seen. God wants to see our love for Him in what we do and what we think. He sees my brokenness and says to me, “Love me and you will be whole. Love Me and I will make you whole.”
    But, there are times, I must admit, that I do not truly love my Lord God. There are times when I know He is telling me to do something specific, like this area of my life He wants me to let go of, but instead of listening, obeying and trusting, I am fighting Him every step of the way. It is in these moments when my love for Him is not seen. Instead, what He sees is a love for me, myself and I.  He sees His child, choosing to disobey rather than obey. If we are to truly love God then we must keep His commandments, and we must obey His word. Not just some of His word, but all of His word. Now, I am not saying that we have to live a life of legalism, but instead, we are called as His children, to live a life of obedience, and the only way we can do that is if we completely love Him above all else.
                When I prayed this morning to my God to teach me obedience, my heart was asking Him to do whatever it takes to make my love for Him complete and wholly surrendered to His will. The Psalmist writes that those who keep His testimonies are blessed. What are His testimonies? To obey His testimonies "signifies loyalty to the terms of the covenant made between the Lord and Israel." (VanGemeren) To keep means to hear, receive, love and obey the covenant made between us and God. When we gave our lives to Jesus Christ, we entered into a covenant with God based off His grace, His mercy, His goodness and His blessings. Jesus said to us that we are to love the Lord our God and love our neighbor, and when we do this, He will be with us. This is the covenant that we are to obey and keep with all diligence.

                But there is more to loving God than just keeping the covenant made between us. We must also keep His precepts. Once again to keep something means that we hear it, we receive it, and we love it enough to obey it. We should be in love with God and in love with His word. God’s precepts are the details of His word. They are His instructions to us based off His wisdom and His omniscience. God is a God of details, make no mistake about that! “Neither is it enough that we understand or ponder God’s precepts, but we must practice them as well.” (John Trapp) To love God means that we practice His word every moment of every day. We become so enraptured with His word that nothing else guides us, nothing else is needed for us- we only hear, receive, and obey it to the fullest; no matter the consequences.
                Next, the Psalmist pleads with the Lord that his ways would be directed to keep the statutes of his God. The statutes of God are His written word. The Bible that we read today and hold in our hands, is the statutes of God for His children. A statute is also a statement of authority. The one who has the authority over your life is the same one who says, “Keep My Statutes”. God alone has the authority to tell us how to live our lives. And it is only through obedience that we truly can love Him. There are no grey areas with God, we both obey and love Him, or we do not. There is no maybe, or in between. It is either love, or it is not. I know that there are times when my life is less than it should be. I know that there are areas of my life that God has specifically told me to obey Him in, yet I have chosen to disobey. If I love God, then I will keep His commandments, His statutes and the Precepts as He has laid forth for me in His word.
                To love God means that we show Him our love by the way we live our lives. If I say I love God, then I must obey His word- not just some of His word, but the whole word. The sum of all the laws and commandments Jesus simplified for us, the sum of all God’s precepts and statutes are summed up in His words to us: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
                If we say we love God then our lives will show it. It will be seen in everything we think and do. We will do as He commands; we will hear, receive, love and obey His every word to us. I have fallen short so many times, we all have. But if we want to live this life loving God as He asks, then we must come to a place where we give it all over. We surrender, we give up fighting and we just do. This morning was one of those mornings where I realized that I must be obedient in all things. The only way I can ever be truly obedient is to love the Lord my God above all else, above all others. The disciples and apostles in the book of Acts sacrificed their very lives to be obedient to God. Their love for God was seen. Can I say the same about me? Do I love God?

                Father, I thank you for giving me the wisdom and the guidance of Your word this day. Father, I know that I fall short, and because I fall short, You have given me grace. You see my disobedience, you see my love for self over my love for You, yet You continually extend Your grace and mercy to me. Father, I am a sinner, in desperate need of Your grace. Father, teach me obedience that I may walk in the ways of Your law all the days of my life. In Jesus Name, to Him be all glory, honor and praise. Amen and Amen.