Summary: You love the LOrd when you rejoice in awe of his awesome power, when you recognize his righteousness, and when you remember his holiness.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

“Love the Lord”

Text: Psalms 97

After last week’s break we continue with our sermon series entitled Stories of Love. Earlier we examined the agape, philos, and eros nature of God’s love and concluded that God’s love is all encompassing. His love is intimate, exciting, and enduring.

Theologians generally agree that the Book of Psalms is one of the earliest books of the Bible. They are poems or songs of praise, worship, thankfulness and repentance. Because they were sung, the people would easily remember them.

I remember the Sunday school leaders where teaching the children a new song. The song was the singing of the books of the bible. All of our children could sing the song, but if I asked them to recite the books they would stumble over the order, until they placed the words in the rhythm of a song. Singing has a way of stimulating all of the faculties of hearing, of memory, and of soul stirring force that words become expressions that one never forgets.

Our text was one such song that was meant to be sung and it shines the spotlight on our love theme once again because the psalmist declares, “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil.” Strange words! Love the Lord, hate evil.

Many of you may remember Flip Wilson; he was a comedian who had a television show during the 60’s. One of his hallmarks sayings was “that the devil made me do it.” The implication was that there is an external force that influences one to do that which is not right – evil. The truth of the matter is that evil is not external to you; it is internal to you.

This idea was the classic argument between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Sigmund Freud would suggest that at the core of human intent was to seek pleasure for oneself. Carl Jung on the other hand suggested that at the core of human intent was to do good.

Biblically, the Book of Genesis deals with this idea by indicating that the influence of Satan as a serpent causes Adam and Eve to sin. A closer examination reveals that the propensity for sin was within them all the time. Why, God had provided all that they needed and made only one request that they not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Greek mythology dealt with this same idea by suggesting that the curiosity of Pandora was such that she opened the box she was told not to peek into which released evil in the world.

The religious leaders of the Hebrew people understood man’s willingness to sin and instituted an elaborate set of cultural rites and rituals to remind the people not to sin but to follow God’s laws.

First they told the people that the laws which had been written on tablets of stone should be written on the inward places of their hearts. They told the Hebrew people to fear the Lord, to walk in his ways, to love him, to serve him and to keep his commandments and statues.

How? By teaching the laws to your children, by writing them on your doorposts, and by wearing them on your body.

If wearing the laws of God on your body was enough to cause people to not do evil. I would give everyone duct tape right now, buy bibles, and tape them to your legs; arms and shoulders, if that would help you and me – hate evil. Evil is not something you can ward off. Evil is something inside that we must guard against.

Hebrews 12 says it this way that we “lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets us. Paul himself wrestles with this idea in the Roman 7 text, he indicates, that when I would do good, evil is present with me because sin dwelleth in me.

Love the Lord, hate evil.

This idea of love here is different from our earlier versions. This love literally means to live the Lord. In other words, you should live so God can use you; you should love so God can use you.

Love the Lord means that you live the Lord.

In a Howard Thurmanistic way it means commitment – the yielding of the very nerve center of your consent to God such that your yielding means more to you than if you live or die. Love the Lord means that you live the Lord. We sing it like this, “I promised him that I would serve him till I die.”

Love the Lord means that you live the Lord.

Joshua in his farewell address to the tribes of Israel told the people they had a choice to make to either do evil or good. He closes by saying, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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