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September 30, 2018 Loving the Lord Jesus Part Two

 

Scripture reading: John 21:15-17; Eph 6:24

 

[I. Introduction] After our Lord Jesus had risen from the dead he showed himself to his disciples. The third time he did this he had breakfast with them and spoke with Peter. In this talk our Lord was very interested in Peter’s love for him. The Lord is interested in your love for him!

 

Loving the Lord Jesus is our destiny. We were not meant to be lovers of money. We were not created to be lovers of ourselves (II Tim 3:2). We were not called to be lovers of pleasure (3:4). We were not meant to be lovers of the world. We were meant to be lovers of the Lord Jesus.

 

Augustine has famously said, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” This is so true! We each have a deep need to be loved and to love in return. People try to fill this need with things. But things can never satisfy us. They satisfy us temporarily because when we get something we want we are happy for a time. But that kind of satisfaction is fleeting. With respect to our deepest satisfaction, it doesn’t matter whether the things we seek are good or bad, whether they are drugs or sex, or whether they are cars or houses. In the end, things cannot satisfy. (Sinful things, though, will bring harm as well as dissatisfaction in the end.)

 

In 1988 the band Van Halen had a hit song entitled When Its Love. Some of the lyrics are these: Everyone is looking for something,

Something to fill in the holes.

We think a lot but don’t talk much about it

‘Till things get out of control.

 

In their view, the love of another person “fills in the holes.” Love is better than things. But even the love of another person does not fully satisfy us. This is because everyone is sinful and the best lover, the best husband or wife, will disappoint us. We see a reflection of our own fallenness in them and we don’t like it.

 

Augustine was right. Our hearts are restless until they find rest in the Living God!

 

We must love the Lord Jesus because it meets our deepest need to be loved and to love in return.

 

We also should love the Lord Jesus for all he has done for us. He saved us from the hell that we deserved. He intercedes for us so that we are not judged as often as we could be in this life. He shelters us from all kinds of perils, both physical and spiritual.

 

We looked at those two reasons last time. Today we will consider one more.

 

[II.] We must love the Lord Jesus because loving him is the way to live for him. The Lord knows our condition. He knows that, even after regeneration, we have conflicting desires. One part of us desires to live for him, to obey him, to serve him. But another part of us seeks the easy way out, the path of least resistance. Sometimes a part of us is even drawn away to sinful things. The apostle Paul describes this condition in Romans chapter seven.

 

19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. [1]

 

The remedy that Paul reveals is the law of the Spirit of life. When we operate in the law of the Spirit, as opposed to the spirit of the law, we will with Paul experience a walk which is according to the spirit (Rom 8:4). We must set our minds on the spirit (8:6) and we will experience life and peace. We will be enabled to live for him!

 

This is all true. Yet, does it not sound somewhat mystical and subjective? It sounds that way because there is a mystical and subjective character to the law of the Spirit! Walking according to the Spirit is more than just reading or even memorizing Bible verses. It is not like mathematics. Because it is somewhat mysterious we need some practical incentives to move us to actually set our minds on the spirit and to live for him.

 

The Lord has given us incentives! He knows our weakness. He has given several motivators to stir us up. One of these is the fear of God. When we were children we often avoided wrong actions because we feared the discipline that we would get if we disobeyed our parents. The Bible has a lot to say about the fear of God.[2] It is a good thing! Those who do not fear the Lord go astray.

 

Another incentive the Lord has given us is rewards. The Lord will grant rewards to those who live faithfully for him and who perform the Lord’s good work here.[3]

 

Yet another motivator is the enjoyment of the Lord. The more we enjoy him the lighter our burden. Not only that, but the enjoyment of the Lord is…enjoyable! It feels good! Feeling good in Christ is a thousand times better than feeling good in sin![4]

 

These three incentives are very good: the fear of the Lord, rewards, and the enjoyment of the Lord. But there is one greater than these three. That is loving the Lord! When we love the Lord our greatest desire is to obey him. The more we love the Lord, the more we will live for him.

 

This is true in the natural realm as well.

 

The Lord Jesus has clearly said that our obedience reflects how much we love him.

 

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.[5]

 

21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”[6]

 

24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. [7]

 

The apostle John himself reaffirms this truth.

 

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. [8]

 

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it[9]

 

The apostle John defines love as walking in his commandments! It is easy to be self-deceived. We may have warm feelings for Jesus. But, if we are not living according to his commandments, we are not loving him.

 

Therefore, we see that we must love the Lord Jesus because loving him is the way to live for him.

 

So how do we do we love the Lord more than we do? Last time we saw one way. We tell him we love him. The more we tell him that we love him, the more we love him. There are two kinds of prayers that we can say to this end. We can pray a focused prayer. That is, a prayer that has some detail to it. There is an example of such a prayer in the foyer. Or, we can pray a short, spontaneous prayer. It can be something as simple as, “O Lord Jesus, I love you!” We can say that kind of prayer many times during the day at any time. I would encourage you to do so.

 

We can also ask him to stir up more love within our hearts.

 

Today, we will see another way.

 

[III.] We can love the Lord more by obeying him more. It is a two-way street. We have just seen that our obedience reflects how much we love the Lord. But it is also true that the more we obey him, the more we love him!

 

Newspaper columnist and minister George Crane tells of a wife who came into his office full of hatred toward her husband. "I do not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has me."

Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan "Go home and act as if you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible. Spare no efforts to please him, to enjoy him. Make him believe you love him. After you've convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb. Tell him that your're getting a divorce. That will really hurt him." With revenge in her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, "Beautiful, beautiful. Will he ever be surprised!" And she did it with enthusiasm. Acting "as if." For two months she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, reinforcing, sharing. When she didn't return, Crane called. "Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?"

"Divorce?" she exclaimed. "Never! I discovered I really do love him." Her actions had changed her feelings. Motion resulted in emotion. The ability to love is established not so much by fervent promise as often repeated deeds.

 

You see, her behavior changed the way she felt! It stirred up love within her.

 

The great apologist of the last century, C S Lewis said this:

 

"Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less."[10]

 

 

It should go without saying that is we are faced with a temptation to commit a deadly sin then we must obey at all cost. We may need to literally flee from a circumstance or a location where temptation is strong. But we should also choose to refrain from every sin. Little foxes spoil the vine. Remember the words of the apostle John: “His commandments are not burdensome.” If you think they are then you have been deceived by the devil.

 

The more we obey the Lord, the more we will love him. Then, the more we love him, the easier it is to obey him. It becomes our joy and our life to do our Master’s will!

 

We have seen two ways to grow our love for him: by telling him and by obeying him. I will show you yet one more.

 

[IV.] We can love the Lord more by feeding the sheep. In Jesus’ conversation with Peter, he told him the way that Peter could show his love to Jesus. It was by feeding his sheep. First he says, “Feed my lambs.” Lambs are new believers. He also says, “Feed my sheep.” Sheep are all believers. His words to Peter are words to us all. We can feed the new ones and we can feed all.

 

To feed God’s people is simply to give them words of life – words from Christ and his apostles as found in the Bible. That would include the Old Testament because Jesus was the one speaking through the prophets as well. In order to feed God’s sheep words of life we must be filled with the words of life. This means we must spend time in his word.

 

I tell you, one reason why some have so little to say is because they have so little supply of God’s words.

 

The more we feed others, the more that we will love the Lord!

 

[V. Conclusion] Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” He is asking you today, “Do you love me?” Do you love him? If your answer is yes then I ask you, “How much do you love him?” Because that is what Jesus was asking Peter when he asked him if he loved him more than others.

 

If you can love the Lord more than you do, then take him! Take Christ in greater measure.

 

  • Tell him you love every day and often
  • Obey his commandments. They are not burdensome!
  • Feed his people. Call someone this week or visit with them and give them a word of life.

 

“Father, by your grace and your love for us – for you loved us first – cause us to love your Son more than we do. We ask it for his name’s sake, amen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 7:19–25). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] See the message, The Fear of God, here: http://nsbcwinfield.com/october_25_2015

[3] See the message, Rewards, here: http://nsbcwinfield.com/november_13_2016_rewards

[4] See the message, Enjoying God, here: http://nsbcwinfield.com/april_17_2016_enjoying_god

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 14:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 14:21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 14:24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Jn 5:3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Jn 6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10] In Mere Christianity