Loving the Lord Pastor Samuel Gyau Obuobi “SUNDAY SERVICE”

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and Prophets.” (Matthew 22.36-40 ESV)

And one of the scribes came up and heart them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12.28-31 ESV)

The Sadducees and Pharisees came to test Jesus
The scripture from Matthew shows that the Sadducees came to test Jesus on the issue of the resurrection. We know the Sadducees had their own issues on the subject of the resurrection. When the Pharisees realized that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they also came to test Jesus. Their test was on what the greatest commandment was. They had a lot of rules in their moral code so they came to ask Jesus about the greatest and the highest of them. Jesus summed up all of it in one word “love.”

Love is expressed in two ways: to God and to man
This love is expressed in two ways: love for God and love for man. You find that the first part of Jesus’ answer was a quote from Deuteronomy 6.4-5. Bible researchers have made as aware of the Jewish Sh’ma (Shema) or creed, expected to be recited by every Jew twice a day—in the morning and evening.

The second aspect of Jesus’ answer was based on Leviticus 19.18. So, in these scriptures we see two things—love towards God and love for your neighbor. I want to look at the first part of this; hence, my message is on loving the Lord.

God expects absolute love from us
If you examine what Jesus said, you will come to the conclusion that God’s greatest expectation for his children is for them to love him. This means God is expecting his children to love him with their total being. God is demanding total and absolute love from his children. He wants us to love him with a kind of love that is undivided.

It also means that God expects us to love him with all that we have or possess. So, it is the expectation of God for us to fall in love with him with our total being and everything we have; that we would love him with sincerity—a kind of love that is not just to please others.

As I read the scriptures, I came to understand that God is expecting his children to love him and love him alone. He alone should be the object of love for his children. At the center of it all, he should reign. He expects that when his children lift up their eyes, they see him alone. He gave the people of Israel a command saying

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20.2-6 ESV)

The Lord is a jealous god who will not tolerate our affection for other gods. I came to announce to you that God expects a total love from us.

Many things compete with our love for God
Unfortunately, though God wants us to love him alone and does not want any competition concerning our love for him, there are many things competing with our love for God. Two of them are the world and money.

1. The world
To love the world is to make things of the world the principal things of desire and pursuit. It is not possible to love God and the world at the same time. The love for the world and the love of God do not occur concurrently. 1 John 2.15 says if someone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Not loving the world does not mean utter rejection of the world but, rather, eschewing devotion to the systems of the world that are in opposition to the Lord. God does not want us to live our lives as the world does.

The world as used here is not the world of humans because God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son for it. We are supposed to reach out to the world of humans. It is also not the created world or the environment. He handed the environment to us to till and keep. So when the Bible talks about not loving the world, it is neither the world of human beings nor the environment. When he talks about the world, it is the systems of the world that are in opposition to his word. God is expecting you to fall in love with him and he does not want the world to compete with him. But, unfortunately, the world is coming into the church instead of the church going into the world. We have been sent to the world to reach out to it. May you be that child of God who does not fall into that trap but stands his ground and falls in love with the Lord on a daily basis, having him as the only object of love in your life.

2. Money
I believe that money is good and needed for the kingdom work. We need it for all kinds of things. But the Bible speaks against the love for money. This means going for money at the expense of God and the expense of humanity. Going to all extents, fair or foul, to get it. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6.10) The Bible also says you can’t serve two masters. (Matthew 6.24)

Sometimes, for the love of money, people walk on humanity and do all kinds of things, ethical or not. For the love of money, people go against the word of God—sakawa, over-invoicing, under-invoicing, bribery, and corruption and all kinds of things. God wants us to fall in love with him and not the world or money. He wants to be the only object of love in our lives.

Four statements about our love for God
As I prayed for today’s service and reflected on the message, there are four specific statements the Lord laid on my heart concerning our love for him.

1. The basis of our love for God is the fact that he loved us first
In other words, the reason for our love for God is that he loved us first.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4.10 ESV)

He loved us at a time when we didn’t deserve his love. He loved us when we were sinners and unattractive.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5.8 ESV)

For me, the sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ is the greatest expression of love towards us. The Bible describes the kind of suffering Jesus suffered and the kind of pain he went through—a man who never sinned; a man who was rich; he went through all that just because of love.

Greater love has no one that this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15.13 ESV)

If a man has loved you like this, why will you not return his love? He was pierced for our transgressions; he was defaced and deformed to the extent that people couldn’t recognize him, all because of us.

God is demanding our love because he first loved us. Jesus was not under any compulsion to die for us. He willingly decided to die for us. He asked the disciples “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more that twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26.53 ESV)

2. The test of our love for God is in our obedience to him
Jesus showed us the most basic and simple way of demonstrating love to God. He showed us that the test of our love to him is in our obedience to the word of God. Put differently, one cannot say he loves God when he walks in disobedience to the word of God. Jesus spoke about this when he said in John 14

If you love me, you will keep my commandments (verse 15)
If anyone loves me, he will keep my word (verse 23)
He who does not love me does not keep my word (verse 24)

So I want to submit to the church that the key way in which we demonstrate love is by our obedience. As we obey his word, it shows our love to him. Sometimes we think that loving God is only a state of mind. It is not just in your mind. It is not just thinking about it. It is not about singing songs to him alone. It is not about saying it in our prayer or worship. It is not just about talking about it. It is not about feeling nice about God. Loving God is doing his will; doing his word; it is demonstrated by total obedience to his word. There is nothing like “I love the lord but I walk in disobedience.” It doesn’t matter how difficult what God demands is. As you begin to obey and walk according to his word and will, you begin to please him.

3. All things work together for those who love the Lord
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8.28 ESV)

If I love the Lord, all things—not most or some—all things work together for my good. Sometimes we think some of the things we go through are orchestrated by the devil. However, all things, whether good or bad or orchestrated by the devil, work together for our good.

I am reminded of Joseph who was sold by his brothers to Potiphar. Because he loved the Lord, while going through his trials, every step of his life was ordered by God. Everything happening to you is pushing you into God’s agenda. His duty is to ensure that all things work together for your good while yours is to ensure that you love him.

I have seen this happen in my life. I didn’t understand why some things happened to me but at the end of the day, it was in my favor. As you walk in the love of the Lord, I can assure you that all things will work together for your good.

4. God doesn’t expect us to fall in love with him today and be off tomorrow
He wants our love for him to be sustained. This is what happened to the Ephesian church. They fell in love with the Lord in the beginning but they later abandoned that love.

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did a first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2.4-5 ESV)

I have seen people whose love for the Lord disappeared. I have seen ordained officers who, with time, for one reason or the other lost their love for the Lord. God does not want me, as a minister, to love him today and disappear tomorrow. We are going to be with him forever so he wants our love for him to be sustained.

Losing your first love is the same as falling. The one who has lost his first love has fallen or is in the process of falling. I came to encourage someone losing his first love to come back to his first love. Come back to your first love. If you love is falling, God is calling on you to repent. Losing your first love calls for repentance. If your love is dying may you repent today. He is ever ready to receive you. If you come back to him, repenting and confessing, he is ready to take you back.

Jesus told the Ephesian church “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” It is a dangerous statement. Even when the lampstand was around they were not making headway. How much more when it is taken away?

God is calling you to love whim with all your strength, heart and all that you have. Love him today and tomorrow. Many things come our way to break us away from the love of God but be resolute and determine that come what may, you will love him, walk in love with him, live for him, and forever love him.

God richly bless you.

Main references
Matthew 22.36-40, Mark 12.28-31

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