May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018

Dear Friends,
Do you love God?
It’s not a trick question.  If you are a Christian, that should be a lay up.  It’s like the first trivia question you get when you’re playing HQ on your phone.  It’s always a simple, easy question, right?
But let’s dig a little deeper.  Is there a way to diagnose whether or not your really love God? 
More than a century ago, JC Ryle described how the characteristics of human love and affection offer us a way to evaluate whether we really love God.  
If we love someone, Ryle said, we like to think about them. 
If we love someone, we like to hear about them. 
If we love someone, we like to read about them. 
If we love someone, we like to please them. 
If we love someone, we like their friends. 
If we love someone, we are jealous about their name and honor. 
If we love someone, we like to talk to them. 
Finally, if we love someone, we like to be always with them. 
Does that describe the kind of relationship you have with God? 
Loving God above all else is what the Bible is all about.  The greatest of all the commandments, Jesus said, is that we love the Lord our God will our whole being.  Heart, soul, mind and strength.  According to Jesus, that sums up everything God is saying in the Old Testament.
God told His people in Israel that their love for Him should be primary.  It should be a higher love than their love for anyone or anything else.   It’s His first commandment.  “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Jesus said it this way; “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
So real love for God must be primary and exclusive.
Jesus also said that our love for Him is rooted in our experience of being forgiven for our sins.  “The one who is forgiven much,” He said, “loves much.”
He also said that a test of the genuineness of our love for God is our obedience to His word.  It’s not complicated. “If you love me,” Jesus said, “you will keep my commandments.”
He went on to say “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… If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”
Anything confusing about that?  There is a clear correlation between obedience and love.
In 1 John, we see another test of our love for God. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Love God but hate your brother?  Houston, we have a problem.
Finally, think for a minute about the conversation Jesus had with Peter on the Galilee shore.  This was only days after Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus.  “Peter, do you love me?” Jesus asked His disciple three times.  And each time when Jesus said “Lord, you know I do,” Jesus gave him a charge:  “Feed my sheep.  Tend my lambs.” 
Does that conversation apply to all of us?  Is being a disciple maker a sign of genuine love for God for every follower of Jesus? 
I think the answer is yes.  We’ve already heard Jesus say that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.  And what was His final commandment for His followers?  “Go and make disciples.” 
Can we say we love God and not be engaged in advancing the Kingdom and making disciples?  I suppose we can.  But the words will ring hollow. 
Martin Luther was once asked if he loved God.  His startling answer was “Love God?  Sometimes I hate Him!”  Always the provocateur, Luther knew his own heart was deceitful and that while his spirit was willing to love God, his flesh was weak.  Our love for God will one day be a perfect love.  But in this life, we would have to agree with the reformer that our love for God waxes and wanes.  It is never what it should be.
Still, we press on looking for ways to express to God as pure a love as possible. 
We set aside our idols. 
We contemplate the depth of our sin and the richness of His forgiveness.
We keep His commandments.
We love one another with brotherly love.
And we make disciples, as He commanded us to.
That’s not an exhaustive list of what loving God looks like. 
But as you consider the reality of your imperfect, flawed love for God, it’s a pretty good place to start.

It’s Thursday.  And tonight we have Kids Small Group for ages 0-12, and the Like Arrows movie premier for everyone else!
Don’t forget, you can drop of the kids at 5:45 for dinner and pick them up by 8:15 like always. 
OR, if you’re planning to bless your pastor by going see the Like Arrows movie that night (, Matt and Jen and team will keep your kids at the church until the movie is over. 
Free babysitting!   Contact Matt Gurney with questions.

Our next prospective membership meeting is scheduled for Saturday, May 19.  If you’d like to find out more about what’s involved in membership at Redeemer, let Matt Gurney know.  There is some light reading required before the Saturday meeting, so make sure you connect with Matt ahead of time.

Next Sunday is Baby Dedication Sunday.  If you’re planning to have your son or daughter dedicated to the Lord, please let Cathy Crowell know ASAP.
Here are the details:

And if you’re ready to be baptized, now is the time to let us know about your interest in publicly declaring your love for Jesus. 
If you’ve never been part of a baptism service at Redeemer, get ready for a treat.  When we baptize folks, we party!
Here are the details for our upcoming baptism.

This Sunday, we plan to install Randall Van Den Berghe as our newest deacon at Redeemer.  And we’ll see what the Bible has to say to us about living as good citizens of two Kingdoms. 
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob


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