Loving God and Obedience

The love of God is so strong that he pursues us in this love relationship, yet it is not supposed to be a one-sided relationship. God desires that we love him back. The verse for this week is one of love, obedience and trust:

He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. (John 14:21)

When we obey Jesus, we show him that we love him. The reward for obedience is that he will show himself to us. It is not just keeping the letter of the LAW, but keeping the SPIRIT of the Law. Where there is an obedience problem, there is a love problem!

I like to pair two verses together:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His [a]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:16)

There are three trustworthy statements regarding the attributes of God (This is a conditional statements):

  1. If God is love, then his ways are always best.
  2. If God is all-knowing, then his directions are always right.
  3. If God is all-powerful, then he can enable you to do his will.

When it comes to God’s commands, they are also an expression of his love. Sometimes we tend to think that God’s rules are there to keep us from having fun or enjoying life, but actually there are two great reasons to obey God’s Word:

  1. God wants to protect us.
  2. God wants to provide the best for us.

Read what God said at the very beginning of the nation of Israel:

He said to them, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. 47 For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. (Deuteronomy 32:26-27)

When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 Moreover, the Lord showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; 23 He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’ 24 So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. 25 It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded. (Deuteronomy 6:20-25)

Notice the progression:

  1. When you come to know God by experience, you will be convinced of his love.
  2. When you are convinced of his love, you will believe him.
  3. When you believe him, you will come to trust him.
  4. When you trust him, you will have confidence to obey him.

You would listen to the guy who has the information to avoid land mines in a war zone, so why will we not trust the God who created this world, loves us and wants to protect us and provide the best for us?

God is looking out for your very best, so if you will not obey him, it means you really don’t trust him or love him.

God Takes the Initiative

God always take the initiative in the relationship we have with him, people do not seek after God. That can be a tough statement for a lot of people, but the Scripture supports it.

As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” –Romans 3:10-12

Now ask yourself some penetrating questions:

  1. How many people are righteous on their own?
  2. How many people understand spiritual things on their own?
  3. How many people seek God on their own?
  4. How many people do good on their own?

Sin has affected us so deeply that no one seeks God on his own initiative. My first reaction is that many churches these days have “seeker sensitive services.” Sort of interesting that God’s Word says that their ARE NO SEEKERS, but I digress.

For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me… Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” –John 6:44-45, 65

Again, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Who can come to Jesus without being drawn by the Father?
  2. What does a person do who listens to the Father and learns from him?
  3. What is the only way a person can come to Jesus?

God came to all the godly characters in the Bible and revealed himself: for example, Saul/Paul (Acts 9:1-19), the Disciples (John 15:16, 19), and specifically Peter (Matthew 16:13-17).

You cannot know the activity of God unless he takes the initiative to reveal it to you. –Henry Blackaby

Here are a few more verses to support this fact (Deuteronomy 30:6, Luke 10:12, John 15:16, Philippians 2:13, 1 John 3:16, Revelations 3:20).

Henry Blackaby uses the words, “God pursues a continual love relationship with you that is real and personal.” At first glance I feel as if God is a stalker, pursuing us and we cannot get away from him. I prefer to say that “God takes the initiative in the relationship” knowing that “there are none who seek him. No, not one.”

I did not chose God, he chooses me, he loves me, and reveals his eternal purposes for my life.

What is this Love Relationship?

The second reality in Experiencing God is that God pursues a continual love relationship with you that is real and personal. The pastor asked a difficult question in staff meeting this week. “How does it make you feel to have God pursue you in this love relationship?”

Different people will respond differently for a variety of reasons:

  1. Introverts vs. Extroverts
  2. Feelers vs. Thinkers
  3. Men vs. Women
  4. Adult vs. Child
  5. Depending on a person’s love language

Extroverts will tend to enjoy relationships in the “getting together” and conversation, whereas an introvert recharges in peace/solitude rather than surrounded by people. So, when God pursues the introvert, there may be a sense of “stalking” when one needs space. Love is there, but it can get crowded at times.

Feelers experience the emotion and warmth of the relationship, whereas a thinker knows one is loved outside of a feeling. Experiencing love is not based on how one feels but the truth and fact that one is loved (likely based upon one’s particular love language).

Men know what it is like to love another man like a brother, but the language of Jesus (another guy) pursuing us in a love relationship is fairly uncomfortable, whereas there is a trend for single women to view their relationship with Christ as “dating” him, being quite secure in their singleness. For men, the fact that believers (the church) are the bride of Christ doesn’t bring a comfortable image although we understand the concept.

Adults and children understand love quite differently in the fact that most kids accept and give love based upon the fact and reality that they are loved (by parents and others, unconditionally), whereas adults know what it is like to pursue and be pursued by a potential mate (and have people put conditions on their love).

Then there is the interesting fact about one’s love language. These love languages are:

The 5 Love Languages

To put this simply, in order to FEEL loved, a person must receive love based upon their own personal love language. If your language is receiving gifts and your mate is giving you quality time, you will not FEEL loved and your mate will not understand why. It is also interesting that we will often GIVE love the way we would like to RECEIVE love. Learn more about the 5 Love Languages, and actually take an inventory to discover YOUR love language. It is important to know this information because your primary goal in a relationship is to understand THE OTHER PERSON’S love language… and speak it to them, as uncomfortable as it may seem to you.

So, what does this have to do with God? Imagine if God pursues a love relationship the same way for every person. Some will feel God’s love while others won’t. As a male, introvert whose love language is acts of service, I feel loved by God in the fact that Christ died for me (Romans 5:8) and promised never to leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). I don’t prefer the “love relationship” language, or the image of Jesus wrapping his arms of love around me, or the language and imagery of the consummation of the church when the Bridegroom returns.

So, the pastor’s question is a good one: how do YOU feel loved by God or how do YOU feel about God pursuing you with a love relationship?

We are Created for Eternity

This love relationship into which God calls us is our life’s priority. Imagine climbing a ladder up to the top of your profession and not realizing until you get to the top that the ladder had been leaning against the wrong wall. The same is true in your spiritual life!

We are people who love to DO things; we’re active, goal oriented and sometimes we feel that if we do just a little more, God will bless us more or love us more. We need to learn how to rest in the love relationship God has with us. I would call this DOING vs. BEING. Being is the reality of being adopted into God’s family of faith, by faith… not by doing. We simply ARE God’s children when we received Christ as Savior (John 1:12).

We are not created for just this earthly life, we are created for eternity, to spend forever after with God. This life is preparation to be in his presence, becoming more like Jesus, conforming into his likeness (Romans 8:29).

Our satisfaction in life must be in God rather than our accomplishments. How often do we tend to forget God when things are good in life and all is well? Then we call on God and evoke the relationship card when we are in trouble. It’s an age old scenario. Once the people of Israel entered the Promised Land, God warned them about getting satisfied and forsaking God (Deuteronomy 6:10-15). He point plank says it, “when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord.”

Paul’s aim was also at relationship and eternity (Philippians 3:4-14). He considered all his accomplishments, status, position and possessions as loss and rubbish in comparison to Christ. He wanted to KNOW Christ, the power of his resurrection, the fellowship in his suffering (Philippians 3:10 – we certainly don’t pray for THIS very much).

  1. Paul wanted to gain Christ at any cost.
  2. Paul wanted to become like Christ even unto death.
  3. Paul wanted to attain the resurrection from the dead.
  4. Paul wanted to press on toward the goal and win the prize.

Remember to seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness and all these other things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

A Love Relationship with God

Today we move into the second reality that God pursues us with a continual love relationship that is real and personal. We must always remember that God is the one who takes the initiative in this relationship. The first question we must ask ourselves is, “Do I have such a relationship with God and why?”

The answer depends on whom you trust for your salvation. If you answer YES and it is because of your commitment to Jesus, obedience to him, faithful service to Christ, then you just might be off track. However, if you answer YES and are sure of your salvation because of your trust in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin, then you are right on target.

Blackaby mentions a man in church who was asked a question, “Can you describe your relationship with God by sincerely saying, ‘I love you with all my heart?'” The man could not. He said that he obeyed God, served God, worshiped God and even feared God, but could not say that he loved God.

THAT is what God wants. The Old Testament cornerstone verse is Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and the New Testament equivalent is Matthew 22:37-38, which Jesus called the Greatest Commandment (Mark 12:30).

These verses tell us much about the love that God has for us:

  • Deuteronomy 30:19-20 – God has set before you life and death… now choose life, so you will live, and love God, and listen to God’s voice, and hold fast to God.
  • John 3:16 – This is what God did since he loves us so much.
  • John 14:21 – This is what we will do if we love God, and what God will do for us if we love him.
  • Romans 8:35, 37, 39 – What can separate us from the love of God…?
  • 1 John 3:16 – pair this verse with John 3:16, since we demonstrate our love for God through actions.
  • 1 John 4:9-10, 19 – God showed his love by sending his Son, but the point is not that we love God, but that God loved us first.

A love relationship with God is more important than any other single factor in your life. Everything in your Christian life (about knowing him, experiencing him, and knowing and doing his will) depends on the quality of your love relationship with God. Everything God says and does is an expression of love. We are created for a love relationship with God.