Who Do You Love? Are You for Sure?

You are listening to:Who Do You Love? Are You for Sure?

Sermon Series: Learning To Love
Matthew 22:37-38
NLCF Service 4-25-21

Matthew 22:37 and 38. Just two verses. But as you will see, two very important verses. I’m asking you to stand — to stand to your feet. We’re going to read these two verses together. Let’s begin.

37Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38This is the first and greatest commandment.

Amen. May the Lord add a blessing to the reading of His Word for the edification of our souls. Amen. You may have your seat.

[Song: Who Do You Love (1985) by Bernard Wright]

Who’s old enough to remember this song? Amen. Who do you love? Come on, somebody! And are you for sure? 1985 Bernard Wright — one hit wonder. If you can tell me something else Bernard Wright did, let me know, or put it — put it in the chat on the Facebook stream and you can tell me another hit that he had, but he did have that one. And it was all about the fact that Bernard Wright was trying to convince the lady that he was seeking that he actually did love her, The question was Who do you love. And what was his response? Girl I’m in love with you. Are you for sure? Sure as the sky is blue. Who do you love? Just let me prove to you. Are you for sure? Yes, girl, my love is true.

Somebody else is asking that question this morning, somebody that you need to give an answer to, and I hope your answer will be, to his question Who do you love, Lord I’m in love with you. Are you for sure? Sure as the sky is blue. Who do you love? Just let me prove to you, are you for sure? Yes, Lord, my love is true. The standard for love. The premium that Christ puts on love is seen right here in Matthew 22:37 and 38. For those that are in the “Experiencing God” Bible study, this was our memory verse from the last week, and influencing this first sermon in the background, all in the background is our understanding about God pursuing a love relationship with us. Amen. And I’m sure over the next weeks, we will have a conversation around that, and expand our understanding around that — that God is pursuing a love relationship with us. Therefore he is asking the question, Who do you — Who do you love? And Jesus says here that loving is the greatest commandment. [As] a matter of fact, he goes on to say in verse 40 (Matthew 22) : All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments — love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, and your mind, and the second is like unto it — you shall love your neighbor as yourself. We’ll get to that.

He says, on this everything holds together because if you don’t have love, you don’t have anything. Amen, the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the — and the leaders of the — the experts in the law were trying to trap Jesus. They often had these kind of — where they kind of wanted to see if there — is there a shortcut? It’s like, the law is just so expansive, can we kind of prioritize it so you tell us what was the really big stuff we need to do and maybe some of the stuff that needs to fall away? And Jesus didn’t approach it like that. He said every jot and every tittle should be fulfilled, but what he’s saying is that there is something that really holds everything together in terms of what God is really desiring.  He desires for us to love Him.

And here we see what I would describe to you as five things that God is saying to us that if there’s, if there’s gonna be love if you’re going to love the Lord. These things need to be present. Amen. According to what Jesus says, and I just want to walk it down for you and this is again, we’re starting a new sermon series this week, and it’s called “Learning to Love.” Amen. That’s comprehensive. I know the Bible speaks so much about love and — and I don’t know how many weeks it’ll be. I don’t know all of the subjects that we will explore but — but, I’ve got to believe we need to be talking about how we love the Lord — how we — how we love our family, how we love in the church, and how we love our community, how we love our world. Amen, we have to learn how to love. And if we can learn how to love we will solve or address so many other issues and challenges in our lives — if we could simply learn to love.

And learning to love starts with the Lord, Himself. And Jesus says, Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God. I want to stop right there because it gives you the first key to loving, Amen. Loving God. The first key is that you cannot love God, unless you have an encounter with God. There must be an encounter. Amen. We talked about an encounter with God. We talked about it on Resurrection Sunday. We talked about the fact that Mary Magdalene had an encounter with God, that she had a heart that was broken and that He was able to rekindle her love. We talked about the fact that the Disciples were hiding in fear and He was able to revive their hope. We talked about the fact that Doubting Thomas had an encounter with God and He was able to renew [his] faith, and we talked overall about how the book of John says these things were written that ye may — what — believe and that believing ye may have — what — life in his name, that overall Jesus wants to resurrect your life. And if you have an encounter with God. He can do all of those things and more. Amen. He can change your periods into exclamation points. He can change up your entire punctuation game. When you have an encounter with Him.

He has to be the Lord thy God. It’s personal. God is a personal God. He created us so that we might relate personally to Him. If God is just someone that is — that is — that is otherworldly as they say, ethereal to you and you don’t — you don’t have any personal connection to God, you’ll never love him. Amen. You have to love the Lord, thyGod. That means you have to have a personal encounter with the creator and sustainer of all life. And is that possible? Yeah it is if you look at Acts chapter 17:24 to 28, the apostle Paul as he was going around in Athens says this: the God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth, and does not live in temples, built by human hands, and he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations that they should inhabit the whole earth, and He marked out their appointed times in history, and the boundaries of their land. God did this so that they would seek Him, and perhaps reach out for Him, and — what? — find Him. Though he is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.

As I’ve told you many times before, God is not playing hide and seek with you. God is playing seek and find! He’s not hiding from us. He’s not so far removed from us. He says He’s not. He’s not. He’s right here if you want to reach out to him. He’s not hiding. He said, even though He’s done all of that, He’s not far from any of us. And so again, God is desirous that he puts himself out there first in the relationship. And then he says to you, I want you to have an encounter with me. I want to become your God. And Jesus says if He becomes your God, then you say, Love the Lord, thy God, Amen. And he can do that and give you an encounter — where again, an encounter with God, is something that is exciting for you. It’s exciting for me. You will never love God if you don’t have a personal relationship with Him. Who do you love?

I know at some point you think about — many times today’s dating process that starts out online. It’s only so much you can do online. At some point, y’all got to get face to face. At some point, there’s got to be a dinner, a conversation, or something, and it’s either going to break down or it’s gonna break through. Amen. But — but look — who you are on your, on your profile, come on, somebody, may not be who you are. So, you’ve got to get to know somebody. It’s got to be personal, because in that — in the, the ultimate — the goal of being able to date, hopefully for those that are doing it, is to be able to find a partner, somebody to walk through life with. And again, you’ve got to have a connection around that. So that’s what the Lord wants. He wants the same thing, Amen. That’s why it’s so easy to be able to say, who do you love instead of saying girl I’m in love with Lord I’m in love with you, because we spent time together. It’s a personal connection. There must be an encounter, Amen. Then he says this. He says he wants you to love, love the Lord thy God with all of your — what? — heart. There must be enthusiasm. There must be enthusiasm. You can always tell, or should be able to tell, when you’re pursuing something or somebody else is pursuing something where you can tell [that] their heart’s not in it. They’re going through the motions. Their heart’s not in it and you can tell when somebody is enthusiastic, you can tell when somebody, as they say, is wearing their hardware on their sleeve, meaning I’m putting myself out there. I am going for this and I’m going for it all the way. Amen. There has to be an enthusiasm. If you are not enthusiastic around spending time with God, getting to know him, and, and, and loving Him, then you, you will not be able to say that I’m loving the Lord with all my heart. Amen. And there are, as you will know and I’ve told you many times and maybe this time you’ll write it down. There are seven kinds of hearts. Amen. But there’s only one kind of heart, that will allow you to have — to love the Lord thy God with all of your heart. These will sound familiar to you because we went over four of them, just a few weeks ago, but I didn’t tell you all of them. But there’s seven kinds of hearts.

The first heart I want to mention to you is the blocked heart. Amen, a blocked heart. Imagine it’s like you need a, you need an angioplasty. You need, you need to get those valves unblocked. A blocked heart is a heart I would say that’s characterized by anger. Blocked heart. Jonah had a blocked heart. Come on, somebody. Because Jonah was angry. Jonah — and even — God even asked him, Jonah, do you have a right to be this angry? He said, yes, yes I do. That’s a blocked heart. When you have a blocked heart, you can’t pursue properly the love relationship you need. You’re not loving at the highest level if your heart is blocked by anger. Amen. A blocked heart.

The second kind of heart I would tell you is that there’s the broken heart. A broken heart is swamped by what? Grief. Mary Magdalene had the broken heart. Amen. Mary and Martha both had broken hearts when Lazarus died and when you have that broken heart, you’re not in a place where you worship, You’re not in a place where you connect. That’s why when Martha, when Jesus came to see Martha and Mary, Martha came out. Mary didn’t even come out. Her heart was so broken. Martha’s heart was broken, too, and they simply said Had you been here, my brother would not have died. Broke at heart. Jesus was able to deal with their broken heart just like he was with Mary Magdalene and be able to rekindle that love. But when you have a broken heart, all you care about — all you can see is your grief. That’s not the heart you need to be in the love relationship that God requires, Amen.

Then there’s the hard heart, Amen. Who has a hard heart? That’s the heart that’s filled with doubt, like Thomas. Thomas said, “Unless I see the wounds in his hands and if — and see his side pierced, I will not believe.” Doubt. You know you — you doubt when you’re — when they change up your whole name and throughout history, you’re known. That’s terrible, isn’t it? Oh, there goes Doubting Thomas. It’s like dang man, I got over that, man. It’s like, Sorry man, that’s just gonna hang with you, man. That’s Doubting Thomas over there. What! Sorry, hard heart, though. Amen. Doubt is a hard heart. You can’t — again you don’t worship. You don’t connect. And then when Jesus came to him, again like I told you, he revived his work — Excuse me, he renewed his faith, and he changed Thomas’s punctuation game, because when he saw him he said what? My Lord and my God! He said blessed is he that sees and believes, but blessed is he more that doesn’t see yet believes! Doubt.

Then there’s the weak heart. That’s fear. When you and I have a hard disk filled with fear we don’t do what we’re supposed to do, and many times you see the disciples in particular have been fearful and in a situation, and it’s like even when Jesus is, is the storm is on the sea Jesus is even in in the boat they come in it’s like “Master, careth though not that we — what — that we perish?” You’re not coming to worship. You’re not, you’re not coming to — you like uh, Brother? Are you gonna get up and do anything? It’s like, I got this. Peace. Be still. How many times did he say, why were you so afraid? Why, why, why, why couldn’t you get it done? You’re so fearful. You don’t have, you know — again, oh ye of little faith and that’s a, that’s another issue. But he said, You’ve been fearful. So again, if you have a weak heart that’s dominated by fear.

What about the failing heart? Come on, somebody. It’s like when you know you’ve got to end up in the hospital because there’s something going on with your heart. It’s failing. The failing heart is the heart that’s filled with — what — discouragement. Amen. Discouragement. That’s Elijah. Elijah is like, they killed all of your prophets, and I — and I alone — am the only one that’s left. Jesus. And then God was like — not even close to being true. I got 7,000 that haven’t bowed their need to Baal. But that’s how you get in the desert, because of fear and doubt and discouragement. Come on, somebody! Jezebel said, Yeah, may my life be like one of those prophets if I don’t kill you by — by six o’clock tomorrow. Elijah was like, I’ve got to get out of here. Discouragement.

There’s another kind of heart. (And now that the fan has blown my — blown my page, and I don’t know where it is. Hold on, give me one second. Where’d it go? Oh, here it is. Sorry. Nope, that’s not it. Oh, there it is. Sorry.) The last, last heart that — that doesn’t do anything in terms of its relationship with God, is the dead heart. The dead heart is the heart that’s characterized by what? Unbelief. You gotta at least believe, Amen, if you want to have a love relationship with God. And over and over, unbelief has to die before you can enter into who — where God would have you to be, Amen. That’s what happened in Numbers chapter 11 with the children of Israel. That dead heart of unbelief. So blocked heart, broken heart, hard heart, weak heart, failing heart dead heart.

There’s only one heart that God can — that can worship. There’s only one heart that can connect with the God of all the universe. And that’s the tender heart. The heart that’s tender. The heart of faith. Amen, the heart that’s characterized by faith. You want to see what a tender heart looks like? You turn in your — turn in your Bibles to Acts chapter two. In verse 37 And you can see that, this — this is after, this is after Peter preaches on Pentecost day, and, and Peter does what, through the power of the Holy Spirit, what only God could do. And then he says, Therefore let all Israel be assured of this, God has made him, this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. And then when the people heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the others, brothers, what shall we do? When you have a tender heart, you’re open to what God would have, and you’re asking the right question, Lord, what do I need to do and Peter replied, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And they said that those that accepted his message were baptized and about 3000 were added to that number that day. That’s a tender heart, Amen, a heart that’s pricked. A heart that’s cut, a heart that’s open, Amen, that says, I want to hear what you have to say Lord, I want to be close to you. I want to find out what it is you would have me to do. And so when you love the Lord thy God with all of your heart, you have the tender heart of faith. All of your heart, all of your soul.

Not only must there be an encounter. Come on! There must be enthusiasm, with all of your heart, and then there must be engagement with all of your soul. Why do I say engagement? Because the soul, beloved, is the seat of man’s will. Amen. It is where man makes his decision about what he’s going to do. Is he going to be spiritual, if he’s a believer, or is he going to be carnal? Is he going to even respond to God at all? Am I going to do my own thing, or am I going to do God’s thing? Is it going to be self, or is it going to be Spirit? And if it’s self, it’s carnal if you’re a believer. And if it’s Spirit, beloved, then it has to be what? Spirit led, Spirit filled, and Spirit powered. Amen. But you have that choice in your soul. You have the, you have the privilege, but not just the privilege, beloved. You and I have the responsibility to choose every day. Who are we going to worship?. Who are we going to love?. Who are we going to follow? And you have to have some engagement, because otherwise it’s going to be carnal instead of spiritual. We have a tendency, just as a people, to be self motivated. We have a tendency to be self determined, and we have a tendency, believe it or not, to be self absorbed. You like, what! Yeah, you talking about me? I’m talking about you, no, you! And I’m talking about me. There’s so many instances in our lives where we, we’re self absorbed and, and what God wants, we don’t want. And again, if it’s not Spirit led, and if it’s not Spirit filled, and it’s not Spirit powered, then that means it’s in the realm of self. That’s all about focus. You cannot focus on the Kingdom. You cannot focus on your God, and focus at the same time on the world, on money, on power, and on possessions. You can’t do both. The Scripture says clearly in Luke 16 You cannot serve God and mammon, at the same time. You can’t serve two masters, because you can’t focus on God and all that God is trying to do in your life, all that God wants for you for the Kingdom and have your focus, where you’re self motivated, self determined and self absorbed. It’s about focus. And how are you and me, how are we going to love God, If we’re not focused on Him? It’s just impossible. What you’ll end up doing. And what I’ve done in the past, and I’m sure you have, is that we go off and do our own pursuits and we leave God hanging. God said we gonna  spend some time together today? Nah, I’ve got some other stuff to do. What about this weekend? Maybe. Got some — got some other stuff to do. And you know, if you and I don’t spend any time with God, it’s pretty hard to conclude, who do you love? Lord, I’m in love with you. Are you for sure? Sure as the sky is blue. But we don’t spend any time together. And every time I reach out to you, Believer, through my Holy Spirit. Every time I speak to you through prayer, come on, somebody, through circumstances, through other people, and through the Scripture to reveal myself, my purposes, and my ways, you tell me: I’ll get back to you. Just focus.

But if you’re going to love the Lord with all of your heart, there’s got to be enthusiasm, if you’re going to love him with all of your soul, there’s going to be, what, engagement. And if you’re going to love the Lord with all of your mind, that means that there must be enlightenment. Amen. You’ve got to be enlightened. Amen. Amen. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect, the will of God. We’ve got to have renewed minds, Amen. Again, that’s what God wants. He wants to engage with us on a level where our minds are renewed And what is the, what is the best vehicle for renewing our minds so that we make sure it’s not focused on — on worldly things, but focused on godly things? It’s about the wisdom and understanding that come from the Word of God. If you are not actively studying the Word of God, you cannot possibly love the Lord your God with all of your mind. Because you and I need to understand what shall we be thinking about. Psalms 19 and 14. Let the words of my mouth. Come on, now come on where the Baptist folks at? And let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in our sight. Oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer, let the words of the meditation. What are you thinking about? Whatsoever things are what pure, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things, excuse me, and whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philipians 4:8) Where is your mind? Where’s your mind? If it’s not on these things, we’re not loving the Lord with all of our mind. If our mind is not renewed because we understand we can’t be conformed to this world, but we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, where’s the love? Come on, Roberta Flack, where’s the love? If you can say well where shall a young man cleanse his way, by taking heed there of, according to thy word with my whole heart. I have sought thee, oh let me not wander from thy commandments, thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. I understand that when I concentrate on the Word of God, it is going to keep me from violating the love relationship I have with God. One of my, one of the scriptures that I reminded the fellas about on the Bible study on Saturday, and I love it, love it in the King James best. It says, Get wisdom, get understanding. Forget it, not neither declined from the words of my mouth, forsake her not and she shall preserve the love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing. Therefore, get wisdom, and with all thy getting, get understanding and never it’s like, Why are you picking up stuff off the ground and why are you searching around for what you need to get in, he said, let’s get a power grab let’s get more possessions, let’s get more cars, let’s get more houses, let’s get a better job when all you’re getting you better make sure you get two things. And you know what you know how life is think about the limited focus that you can have you got to put you got to make the main thing the main thing first. That’s why it’s the main thing. The Scripture says wisdom is the — what — it’s the principal thing. Put it in first! Worry about the rest of — Seek ye — what — first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. When all of you’re getting — get wisdom in all of your getting, get understanding. And get ‘em when? First. Wisdom is the principal thing. What is understanding? Understanding, and I — and I reversed these unfortunately when we were talking about it at Bible study, but understanding is a godly and eternal perspective on the affairs of this life. Understanding is a godly and eternal perspective on the affairs of this life. And then what is Wisdom? The application of that understanding in everyday situations. If you want to operate with wisdom, you have to have understanding. They go together, understanding is that — that godly and eternal perspective of what, what am I doing, it’s not just for now, it’s for later. It’s not for time, it’s for eternity. I want to have the understanding that I need, that really comes from our relationship with God, principally through the word of God and that focus and having those words stationed in our heart, we have to have understanding. And then once we get understanding. As we face everyday challenges in our life, we have to operate with wisdom. Be as [wise as serpents and harmless as doves.] Wise in how we move around. Wise in how we think and operate and interact with everybody around us. In all of your getting, get wisdom, get understanding. There has to be enlightenment, so you’ve got to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all of your mind.

Now, here’s a bonus. Here’s a bonus. And it comes from a different passage. It comes in a response to a question that Jesus was asked in Luke 10:27 and 28. In that question. So let me, let me just look it up, I’ve got the verse here but I want to I want to one of the experts or the law said to Him, Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life. He said what is written in the law, how do you how do you read it, he answered. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. He says, and love your neighbor as yourself. And Jesus says you have answered correctly. Deuteronomy 6:5 says love the Lord with all your heart, your soul and your strength. So between them you got a collection, really, of four things and so not only do we need to love the Lord our God with all our hearts soul, mind, but with all of our strength. Not only do you not — have to have an encounter with God, not only do you have to have some enthusiasm, not only do you not — have to have some engagement, not only do you have to have some enlightenment. Baby, you better have some endurance. Because it ain’t no punk, loving God. Ain’t no punk. JESUS said, the servant is not — remember what I said to you, the servant is not greater than his Lord If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. He said if they hate you — if they hate me, trust me, they’re going to hate you. The world should not be your friend. We should be wildly uncomfortable in the world, because we’re godly. That’s why Second Timothy 3:12 says, Yea, and all that live godly will suffer, what? Persecution. We’re gonna need some endurance to love the Lord with all of our, of all of our strength, because it’s going to be a challenge, because people are going to mock us. People are not going to understand our commitment. People are going to tell a young man or young lady who is not married, and still going through those stages of life in high school and college, I can’t believe that you’re talking about saving yourself for marriage. What? Virgin? What? Wildly uncomfortable. It should be, because our standards for love for God with all of our strength are gonna require us to have some endurance and our principles and our precepts and and everything that God is teaching us will be challenged by the world because Jesus said the servant is not greater than his Lord, if they persecuted me, Trust me, they’re going to persecute you. So that’s the standard God calls us to, and we’ll get to it. Not this time. But next time, but the standard is love. But what kind of love? Agape love, we didn’t even, we didn’t even, we didn’t even, break that — we didn’t even break that down. He’s saying I need you to agape me with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your strength, with all of your mind. I need you to agape me. I need you to agape me, not Storge, not Eros, not phileo — not even phileo, I need you to agape me, because I’m agape-ing you. For God so agape-d the world that He gave His — I need you to agape me. So, who do you love? Lord, I think I’m in love with you. Are you for sure? When you do what I want you to. Who do you love? I look at you to make it through. Are you for sure? I hope that my love is true. Who do you love? Now that we’ve heard the standard. Now that we know about enthusiasm and endurance and — and enlightenment. Now that we understand that we have to have an encounter with God. Now that we understand that there’s got to be engagement, we go back to Bernard Wright’s song in 1985, and we ask the same question: Who do you love? And I think our answer is probably a little bit more tentative than his was. It’s like not. It’s not like of course I’m in love with you. It’s like Lord, I — I think I’m in love with you. Are you for sure? Honestly, would you do what I want you to? Who do you love? What, you know, I look to you to make it through you. You know I’m looking at you all the time, for — are you for sure? I hope that my love is true. I want us to take some of the tentativeness out of that. Because I think that’s honestly where we are — transparently, transparently — that’s where we are. That’s why we need to learn to love. We  know the standard now. We’ve been reminded of the standard, but God never reveals the standard without giving us a way to meet it. He always provides where he guides. He always protects, where he directs. He does not reveal truth to us and leave us hanging so that we cannot be in a position to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength. He’s not going to leave you and me hanging around this issue, he says, Don’t worry about it, disciple. Don’t worry about it, follower. I’m going to teach you and remind you, and I’m going to help you to learn to love.

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