And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Last time we looked at this passage of scripture we focused on the ‘loving your neighbour’ part of the the story. Today, I would like to back up a bit and talk about the ‘loving the Lord your God’ part.
You see, we will all say that we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind but I want to ask the question today, “Do you?” If I may I would like to be a little bit hard today. I want you to look at the scripture, look at yourself and tell me that you really do love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.
If we set our minds back to the Old Testament we read throughout the history of Israel’s life in the promised land how “they left the high places.” As the people of Israel conquered more and more of the promised land they defeated and cleared the enemies of God. But we read, time and time again about these high places.
These are where the other tribes and people worshiped their gods. Baal, Ashtoreth and Dagon are to name just a few. These are the gods that the Philistines, the Midianites, and all those other ‘ites’ worshiped. When Israel conquered the people they never took away their gods.
Or if they did, they always found them enticing. With fertility rites, loud musical parades, with pomp and ceremony, dancing, fun and frivolity the Israelites always seemed to say, “what can the harm be?” before turning their eyes to these other gods. It isn’t that they didn’t love God, they just liked these other things too.
Slowly but surely the truth of these gods would come to light. The child sacrifice, the subjection of women, fire rituals, murders, by then it was too late. The Israelites were sucked in, overcome and God would turn His back on their wickedness. Then, the people would cry out, God would hear and He would come and with power defeat the god, release His people only to see the cycle repeated, time and time again.
So to us! There is nothing wrong with a drink but if if comes every night? If you spend all afternoon imagining that first glass of wine? It now has a hold on you. Sex. Nothing wrong with it. In the context of marriage it is a gift from God. However, it isn’t very hard to see how the world has taken that and made it into a high place.
Everywhere you turn, sex and sexuality has been set up within the very centre of our culture. What about money and how we earn it? If we have too much it turns people against us and there becomes a battle zone of the haves and have nots. If we don’t have enough then we are told to do all we can to get it.
Loans, possessions, stuff, the work grind, competition. In and of themselves there is nothing wrong but they have become godless pursuits that we all get caught up in. High places.
The meeting you can’t make because of the sport that you play. Eric Liddell, the chariots of fire guy, refused to run on a Sunday. His friend Roger Bannister went down in history as the first sub 4 minute mile but he went down in history as a Christian true to his beliefs. His running would not be a high place.
That TV programme that you have to watch, no matter what. What if God said give it up. Could you? Alcohol? Some foods? Do we have high places? Things that whilst we say we are in control, if God said give them to me, we would struggle to relinquish?
This is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. To have nothing competing with God in your life. Go back in history to look at the ‘greats’. Other than Bible and prayer what does Billy Graham do? Spurgeon and Moody? Smith Wigglesworth? Wesley? How much of their time was spent devoted to God as opposed to pursuits and things that kept them from God.
Would you look today and honestly question your relationship with God and the other things in your life. The word that is noticeable in todays scripture is the word “all”. ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your strength and ALL your mind.
Thank God for Jesus and for grace. God no longer turns His back on us. He stands facing us, calling us, His Holy Spirit drawing us into deeper relationship with Him. If you see areas, and if you are honest you will, that are keeping you from closer relationship with God, then repent today. Tell God that you are sorry that you have kept other things above Him.
Tell Him, that now you have seen them, you are putting them away and ask Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit to keep them in their place and to keep Him in His place – number 1 in your life. Amen.
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