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Summary: Sermon given on January 1, 2006 to challenge the congregation to love God more in the New Year.

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Loving God More in the New Year

Matthew 22:34-39

Interviews and polls taken in America reveal that a high percentage of Americans, 85%, say they believe in God or a higher power. If you walked downtown on the streets of San Jose and asked the question – “What do you believe about God?” You might get some of the following answers given on this video clip.

#Video Clip

There is a big difference about believing in God and knowing God. Matthew 22:34-39 describes how we are to love and worship God – with all our heart, soul and mind.

As we begin the New Year 2006, I want us to consider these five ways to better show our love for God.

I. Praise and Sing Unto the Lord.

“Make a joyful sound unto the Lord.” Psalm 147:7 “Sing out your thanks to the Lord; sing praises to our God, accompanied by harps.”

If you don’t think you can carry a tune, “Make a joyful noise/sound unto the Lord.” Throughout the Psalms a phrase is continued: “Shout to the Lord.” Do you ever shout to the Lord, “Praise the Lord.” “Amen!”

There’s a chorus that goes: “Let’s just praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let’s just lift our hands toward heaven and praise the Lord. Let’s just praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let’s just lift our hands toward heaven and praise the Lord.”

Singing and praise to God are vital parts of the service of worship. When we refuse to open our mouths and sing we are not obeying God’s Word.

Psalm 66:8 NLT “Let the whole world bless our God and sing aloud His praises.”

Psalm 95:1 “Come let us sing to the Lord. Let us give a joyous shout to the rock of our salvation!”

What does worship mean to you? More than anything else worship comes from our heart. Whenever and wherever we gather together to sing and pray we are involved in worship.

This coming year let’s love God more by giving praise and singing unto the Lord.

A second way we can love God more in the coming year is to

II. Pray – Talk to God

Jesus gave the disciples and us a model for prayer – The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 is a good prayer to read and reflect on from time to time.

Prayer is two way communication- - – talking to God and listening to God. Without 2 way communication there is no communication.

#Early in our marriage I thought Carollyn could read my mind, but she would say to me, “Don’t you love me.” I would reply, “Sure I do.” She would say, “Then why don’t you tell me.”

How often do you tell your wife/husband and children, that you love them? How do you know you are loved? You know a person by a person’s actions and by what the person says. Turn to the person next to you and say, “God loves you and so do I.”

Prayer is talking to God. Psalm 116:1-2 NLT “I love the Lord because He hears and answers my prayer. Because He bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath.”

Do you have trouble praying out loud? You don’t have to pray in holy tones or in Old English with “Thees and Thous.” Prayer is conversation from your heart.

This coming year express your love to God more by singing and by praying silently and by praying out loud in conversation with the Lord.

You also express your love to God by

III. Listening To God

Coupled to talking to God is listening to God.

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to listen to them. When you listen to another person you are saying to them, “You matter to me.” Love is spelled, “L I S T E N.” When you listen to your wife or husband or children you are expressing love.

A helpful tool in listening to God is the spiritual life journal. The life journal guides you as you read the Bible through in a year, reflect on key passages, and write out your prayers in the journal.

During the coming year why not make a commitment to spend time alone with God everyday. The Psalmist has the answer to a life out of balance, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 - - You can’t afford to get so busy that you have no time to be still and listen to what God wants to say to you.

God speaks through His Word, experiences, trials, and through the wise counsel of godly Christians. Proverbs 11:17 declres, “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.”

In 2006 consider getting involved in a small study and fellowship group here in the church and trust the wise counsel of others in the group. Pastor Dwight is assuming leadership to train group leaders and multiply small home groups. If you are interested in being a part of a small group, there is a box you can check on the welcome card and we’ll keep you informed of the new groups being formed.

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