So Love God
So Love God!
Theme for 2007: Growing Great Relationships… with God, Family, and Community!
“God so loved us” we in return should “so love God.” If we are to grow great in our relationships this year, we need to begin at the beginning – loving God! Mk 12:29-31 MSG “Listen…the Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’”
Eugene Peterson said, “God does not change; He seeks and He saves. And our response to God as He reveals Himself in Jesus doesn’t change: we listen and we follow. Or we don’t. We are dealing with the basics – God and our need for God – we are at bedrock. We start each day at the beginning with no frills.”
Our challenge in the most part is not that we do not love God – we do. The challenge is to love God consistently “with all our passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.” In 1907 Friedrich Nietzsche a Christian philosopher in his book Beyond Good and Evil, wrote, "The essential thing 'in heaven and earth' is...that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living."
I. A Pilgrimage.
We are going to study Ps 120-134 - the Psalms of Ascent. Hebrew pilgrims sang these 15 Psalms as they travelled up to Jerusalem to seek and worship God a feast times. They would wind their way up from the lowest point on earth (the Dead Sea 1370ft or 418 meters below sea level) to Jerusalem (2500ft or 760 meters above sea level), the highest point in Israel.
These are songs for those who are on their way toward God. Phil 3:14 NKJV “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” There are 2 biblical descriptions given to people who by faith follow Jesus:
1. A Disciple is one who spends their lives following the Lord Jesus Christ. It does not describe the academic setting of a classroom, rather our lives as a worksite, and we apprenticed to Jesus the master craftsman, teaching us the skills of life. Lk 9:23-24 TNIV “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
2. A Pilgrim is one who does not belong in this world; but recognises that they are on a journey through life. Heb 11:13-16 NIV says of people of great faith, “They admitted that they were pilgrims and strangers on earth...they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Gore Vidal defines Western Culture as, “Today’s passion for the immediate and the casual.” This mindset turns us into tourists and not pilgrims.
Tourists see sights, pilgrims build altars to commemorate encounters with God before the moved on with Him. Whether like Abraham the “father of faith” we feel “called out” or more like the prodigal son we “set out,” we heading for the “Father’s House” a place prepared for us. Jn 14:5-6 NKJV “Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” These Psalms show us a way toward God, confronting us with transforming truth, and “listen and follow” help us live the life God planned for us in Christ.
II. From Hell Below.
Pr 15:24 NKJV “The way of life winds upward for the wise, that he may turn away from hell below.” The Book of Common Prayer identifies 3 challenges to our walk with God. They are namely, the world, the flesh – our own sinful desires, and the devil – our adversary. The challenges presented us by our flesh and the devil remains definable and consistent, throughout history. They are just as challenging today as ever, but they are recognisable.
The world however, is always changing, and always deadly to those who would be disciples of Jesus Christ. Jas 4:4 NLT “You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”
Every generation has to deal with the world in a new form. Eugene Peterson defines it as “an atmosphere, a mood...a spiritual atmosphere in which we live that erodes faith, dissipates hope, and corrupts love, but it is hard to put your finger on what is wrong.” The Scripture refers to this darkness as “dreadful darkness – darkness that can be felt!”
Eph 6:12 NKJV “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Col 1:13-14 TNIV “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
III. Drawing Near To God.
Is 2:3 MSG “Come, let’s climb God’s Mountain, go to the House of the God of Jacob. He’ll show us the way he works so we can live the way we’re made.”
Jas 4:8 NKJV “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” In drawing near to God, we place ourselves in God’s presence where He speaks to us, and just as it was at creation, the darkness retreats.
Gen 1:2-3 NIV “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.”
 Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Intervarsity Press 2nd Edition 2000), pg 11.
 Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Helen Zimmern (London: 1907), sec 188.
 Gore Vidal, Matters of Fact and Fiction (New York: Random House, 1977), pg 86.
 Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Intervarsity Press 2nd Edition 2000), pg 15.