Summary: The message focuses on the first part of the Great Commandment, loving the Lord your God.
Putting Into Practice - Love - Part 1
Pastor Don Jones
I want to start today by telling you about some changes to our normal order of worship following the message. First, I apologize to our first time attenders and to our non-members. This message is meant exclusively for members. But for those of you considering joining this church, you might want to listen closely to what is said. Second, for the third time in 23 years of ministry, there will be no formal invitation. There will be an invitation, but not in the usual sense.
Lastly, you will be given a chance to "put into practice" what you hear, but it is up to you and you alone to take action. You must make your own decision. I am going to warn you now that I am going to step on your toes. Some might leave feeling like I have stomped on them. Remember this; I am telling you what scripture says, nothing more - nothing less. Jesus, the greatest preacher and teacher of all time, had multitudes stop following because of what He told them. So if you get mad and don’t come back, I’m sorry, but I do not want you to be on the wrong track without someone warning you.
Some of you may be so angry you will call for my resignation. I gave it to the Personnel chair just in case you want a feel good pastor you can find one with no argument from me. If you want me as a loving pastor expect the truth in love.
Last week we looked at the foundational passage of this series "Put Into Practice". We examined the two builders in the parable of Jesus. The builders were the same. They both had heard the words of Jesus. The houses were the same, Integra block, 2000 sq. ft. 3 bdrm. 2 1/2 bath, with a tile roof. The torrents were the same. The exception was that the wise builder might have even experienced a greater storm. The ONLY difference was that the wise builder heard the words of Jesus and "put them into practice." He actually acted on what he heard. As James would say, he was a hearer and a doer.
So if you really want to know why you might have problems in your life, marriage, with your children, at your work, maybe unhappy in your personal life. Let me be blunt. You’re not putting into practice what God’s Word says. Unless you have a rock solid foundation built on the Word you can expect to get demolished in life or at least tossed around in life. Jesus said,
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Today’s passage is the starting point, the narrow gate, when talking about a foundation built upon the Rock. Why, because it is where Jesus commands us to start. It is the first step in putting the words of Jesus into practice. Matthew 22:36-40 says, a Pharisee, an expert in the law, approached Jesus with a question and asks,
Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?¡¨
Jesus replied: ¡§¡¥Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.¡¦ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ¡¥Love your neighbor as yourself.¡¦ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.¡¨
Jesus summed it all up in what we call the "Great Commandment". As a matter of fact, He says everything flows from these two commands. If I could go out on a limb this morning, I would say that the entire Bible is centered and based on this command from Jesus. So when we talk about practicing the words of Jesus we must start here. This is what we must start doing immediately.
Love the Lord, How?
So what is it we do first? The first part of the great commandment is, "love the Lord your God". When Peter had denied Jesus three times, Jesus asked him a simple but pointed question. He said, "Peter, do you love me". He didn’t talk about Peter’s denial or any of his many failures; He simply said "do you love me". Peter said "yes" each time he was asked and Jesus finally gave him the task of feeding the sheep.
It is a command. It is not optional. The construct of the Greek and even the English translation indicates it is non-negotiable. Love the Lord. There is no pro noun "you" in the sentence because it is a command statement in the Greek. We are to do it.