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ITS DECISION TIME

1 Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the lord
your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you
are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His
statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your
grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 Therefore
hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may
multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised youa land flowing with
milk and honey. 4 Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
It took me years of reading this passage to see the absolute absurdity of what is
being said in verse 5. This is a COMMANDMENT! Think right now, of all your family,
all your personal friends, every acquaintance you can think of, and tell me how many of
them you love, truly love, because someone commanded you to love them. Okay, maybe
you had a brother or sister that your parents commanded you to love, and you eventually
loved them, but I doubt if even that love came as a result of the command to love. It just
seems odd to be commanded to do something that experience tells us just arises naturally
out of our emotional being. But once we accept the fact that love can be commanded, our
perspective is changed forever. Love becomes more than something that just happens.
I. IF LOVE CAN BE COMMANDED, THEN LOVE BECOMES A DECISION
No matter what the impulses to love, no matter what the emotions, somewhere
and sometime in a love relationship there will be times when the love becomes a
conscious decision. Before I married Lynn, even though we were very much in love,
there came a point when I had to make a decision to continue to love her. When
circumstances got in the way, like different denominational backgrounds, age differences,
and a seemingly perpetual long-distance relationship, there were times when I became
convinced it would never work out. So there came a time when I had to decide to love
her in spite of all the circumstances. There came a time when I had to decide to love her,
because friends and relatives told me it wouldnt work. There came a time when I had to
decide to love her, because all that was inside of me told me it was crazy. There came a
time when I had to decide to love her because I heard her Dad was going to shoot me if
he saw me around her. It wasnt true, but I had no way of knowing at the time, and
believe me, I had to really make a decision.
The same thing is true of us in our walk with the Lord. There comes a time when
we must make a decision that we are going to love God. When all the world seemingly
turns the other way, we must make a decision to continue to follow. When atheism says
there is no God, we must make a decision to continue to love and believe. When
schools teach evolution, we make a decision to continue to love the God of Creation.
When science tells us belief in God is not rational, we make a rational decision to
continue to love the God who is beyond rationality. Even when it is not completely

obvious that God loves us, we still make the decision to love and trust in the unseen.
When something or someone dear to us is taken away from us, somehow we still look
beyond our grief to see the hand of one who loves us dearly, and we still choose to love.
Yes, our love for God must by necessity be very much a conscious choice, a decision we
make many times in all the changing circumstances of this life.
But I want to bring your attention to another observation I have made about
loving God. And since I was an English major, I feel I am qualified to say:
II. LOVE IS A VERB, NOT A NOUN
I hope you hear very clearly what I am saying with that statement. Love is not a
thing, it is an actionit must be shown so it is felt and seen before it can find its fullest
expression. The word has gotten far too much lip service from people who were certainly
sincere in speaking of love, but in attitudes and actions have fallen far short of truly
living out their love for God. I read somewhere (forgive me, I forget the source) that
there are only two things a man cant hide: the fact that he is drunk, and the fact that he
is in love. I have come to realize that when you love something or someone, it probably
will not be a secret. Because there are certain actions, certain things we do in response to
that love, that make our love very visible. I love Lynn, and I try to tell her often, but I
have found that no amount of telling her how much I love her will be enough if I forget
our anniversary or her birthday. I love coconut cake, but if Lynn made one and it sat
around without being eaten, Im sure she would wonder about my love for it. Robert, our
youngest, loves school buses, and he lets it be known by his actionshe lights up like a
Christmas tree every time he sees one.
The same thing I have said about our human love for people and things ought to
be true also in the expression of our love for God. I cant say I love God and never take
the time to talk to Him. I cant say I love God and never read the Bible, Gods Word. I
cant say I love God and only spend a few minutes out of my busy day in what passes for
devotion. I cant say I love God and show only a passing interest in the people of God. I
cant say I love God and not actively love my neighbor. True love for God will find
expression in our actions, and if that love cools off, our actions will express that cooling
also. Love is a command, and the greatest expression of that command is to show our
love by our actions.
So what ought we to be? Listen to John Wesley describe his version of what we
as Methodists, what we as Christians, ought to be:
A Methodist is one who has the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost
given unto him; one who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his
soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart, and the
desire of his soul; which is constantly crying out, Whom have I in heaven but thee? And
there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee! My God and my all! Thou art the
strength of my heart, and my portion forever!
He is therefore happy in God, yes, always happy, as having in him a well of water
springing up into everlasting life, and overflowing his soul with peace and joy. Perfect
love having now cast out fear, he rejoices evermore. He rejoices in the Lord always,

even in God his Saviour, and in the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom he
hath now received atonement.
He continues in this same vein for about six pages, then concludes:
These are the principles and practices of our sect; these are the marks of a true
Methodist. By these alone do those who are in derision so called, desire to be
distinguished from other men. If any man say, Why, these are only the common
fundamental principles of Christianity! thou hast said; so I mean; this is the very truth;
I know they are no other; and I would to God both thou and all men knew, that I, and all
who follow my judgment, do vehemently refuse to be distinguished from other men, by
any but the common principles of Christianity.the plain, old Christianity that I teach,
renouncing and detesting all other marks of distinction. And whosoever is what I preach,
(let him be called what he will, for names change not the nature of things,) he is a
Christian, not in name only, but in heart and in life. He is inwardly and outwardly
conformed to the will of God, as revealed in the written word. He thinks, speaks, and
lives, according to the method laid down in the revelation of Jesus Christ. His soul is
renewed after the image of God, in righteousness and in all true holiness. And having the
mind that was in Christ, he so walks as Christ also walked.1
Those are some pretty powerful words, huh? And somewhere between here and there, it
seems to me we have collectively missed the boat. As I look at these words and apply it
to my own life and actions, I feel like hanging out a sign, Temporarily Closed for
Repairs.
Ive heard people in the church speaking of praying for revival. And its really
easy to say, Thats great! Lets pray for revival here! But its another thing to
understand what must take place in preparation for revival to come. Until we are all in
one accord, we cant expect revival to come. Until we are actively seeking the Lord and
seeking Gods will for our lives each day, we cant expect revival. Until we turn our
focus inward and upward, we cant expect revival. Until we let the Spirit search our
hearts and rekindle the dying flame of divine love, we cant expect revival.
How strong is that love for God this morning in our hearts? We can say we
believe in Godwe can say well serve Godwe can come to church and worship God
each weekbut how much can we say we really, truly love God with all our heart, soul,
and strength? I want each person here this morning to search your heart right now and
ask yourself exactly where you stand in your love for God and for the Kingdom of God.
Then I want you to ask the Holy Spirit to come and search your heart and show you if
you really actively love God as you shouldand whatever the Spirit speaks to your heart
and says you need to do, lets do it. If we seriously want revival for our church as a body,
then lets let it begin where it has to beginwith a revival of the love of God in our
hearts.

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