LOVING GOD MORE
Princeton Christian Church
08, January 2023 Matthew 22:34-40
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 down the streets of nearly any city in this country and asked the question – “What do you believe about God?” you would likely get a wide variety of answers. And, if you asked the question, “What do you know about God, the answers would be just as varied.
There is a significant difference between 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.
Today, I want us to consider 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 to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises to our God with the lyre (harps).”
If you don’t sing because you think you can’t carry a tune, The Psalmist doesn’t let you off the hook. Hear what he says, “Make a joyful noise/sound unto the Lord.” Throughout the Psalms another phrase is spoken: “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 for joy to the Lord. Let us give shout joyfully 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 participate in worship.
As we begin this new year let’s love God more by giving praise and singing unto the Lord.
A second way we can love God more is to Pray.
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. But don’t be tempted to make it your ONLY prayer.
Prayer is two-way communication- - – talking to God and listening to God. Without 2-way communication there is no communication.
God wants us to love Him. He might ask us, “Don’t you love me?” Hopefully, we would respond by saying, “Of course, I love You.” It would be sad to hear Him say, “Then, why don’t you tell. Me?”
That same situation could happen in a marriage as well. 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.
Prayer is talking to God. Psalm 116:1-2 “I love the Lord for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.” (NIV). I love the Lord because He hears and answers my prayer. Because He bends down and listens, and so, I will pray as long as I have breath.”
Some of us have trouble praying out loud. You don’t have to pray in King James English with the “Thee’s and Thou’s.” Prayer is conversation from your heart. That’s what God wants to hear – the cares of our heart. Remember, you are talking to God, not to impress those worshipping with you.
God wants us to express our love for Him more by singing and by praying silently, in our prayer closet, and by praying out loud in conversation with the Lord.
You also express your love to God by
III. Listen to God
Talking to God and Listening to God go hand in hand. When we approach God in prayer we must listen for His response. However, we must not assume that God is going to answer our petitions immediately or as soon as the Amen has been said. A greater part is to listen when God does answer the prayer. That may be hours later, or days later. And it may not be the answer we desire. We must listen for God’s answer.
Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. When you listen to another person you are saying to them, “You matter to me.” That is true in any relationship. Husband and wife; parent and child; God and His people. Listening is a part of expressing our love for someone. When you listen to your wife or husband or children you are expressing love. When you listen for God to speak to you, you are expressing your love for Him.
Many of you may already to this, but a valuable exercise is to make a commitment to spend time alone with God every day. This will serve to keep our connection to God in balance. The Psalmist has the answer to a life out of balance, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 - - None of us can afford to get so busy that we 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 11:14 declares, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (NASB)
Being a part of the body of Christ here is a vital part of our life in Christ. As we pray for one another the body becomes stronger and we collectively offer our prayers of need and concern together, and then listen as He answers us with a direction, He knows is best.
So, now we will Love God More by singing and praising the Lord, by praying and talking to God, by listening to God, and fourth by witnessing and telling others of God’s love.
Some might say you don’t know how to witness, and you feel uncomfortable even trying. Witnessing to your friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers is simply telling them about God’s love and back up your words with a life of righteousness and holiness. To witness means we take a public stand for Jesus.” Yes, sometimes we do feel uncomfortable. It does take boldness to speak for Jesus. But, if we are sold out to Jesus, we cannot afford to be ashamed of our faith in our Risen Lord. We have to rise above the fear and allow our love for that lost person to overshadow any fear or timidity we might have.
If you genuinely love someone, you’re not ashamed of them. You are proud to be identified with them. We love our family members and are ready, without fear, to introduce them to other people.
If we say we love Jesus, then we should not be ashamed to be identified publicly as a Christ follower. Matthew 5:14-15 NLT, Jesus told his followers “You are the light of the world – like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all.”
What would your wife, or husband think if, before you were married, you had said, “I love you and want to marry you, but let’s keep it a secret. In public let’s act like total strangers. No one needs to know about our secret marriage.”
No! True, authentic love demands an open commitment! We are proud to declare our love publicly. Jesus gave His followers this warning in Mark 8:38: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (NASB)
A fifth way to show your love in 2023 is to give.
V. Give More
The early church as recorded in Acts was a generous church. Acts 4:32-35 NLT “All the believers were one in heart and mind, No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” They felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had. “And the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great favor was upon them all.”
Giving is connected to love. When you love someone, you want to give to them. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. If you genuinely love God then your life, your decisions and your actions should show it. Your willingness to give is a test of your love. 2 Corinthians 8:7 NIV “But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
When we give, we give in one of two ways, either cheerfully or fearfully.
We give cheerfully when we have the attitude that everything we have belongs to God. And all we have is available to Him when He needs it. We give freely our tithe– and ask God how to best use the remaining resources God has given us.
We give fearfully when we have the attitude, “I can’t afford this. I can’t afford to give because I’ve got to take care of me first. I’ve got to protect my interests.
In the days of this new year make the commitment to love God more by:
Singing and praising the Lord
Praying and talking to God
Listening to God
Witnessing about God to others
Giving to God’s work