Sunday, February 15, 2009

Love is a four-letter word

Mark 12:28 – 31

“Love is a four-letter word.”


I.         The heart is where the decisions are made.

(Ill.) We have expression such as follow the heart. As if the heart were an inanimate will outside our own.


            A.        The heart is our disposition... predisposition. What we default to when we need to decide.


                        1.         The heart is trained by our past experiences and emotions. It often dictates what we want.


                        2.         The heart is tainted by bad experiences and sometimes incorrect or illogical perceptions. It often dictates what we do not like or want.


            B.        The heart has become a symbol of “love.”


                        1.         Adam Clarke “nothing in comparison... nothing but in reference to...”


                                    a.         When we are “in love” nothing/nobody compares to the object of our affections.


                                    b.         When we are “in love” everything is done in reference to the object of our affections.


                        2.         As a symbol of love it has become a symbol of emotions.


                                    a.         Love is more than emotion, it is choices... MANY choices.


                                    b.         (Ill.) Story of the man who said to his wife, “I told you I love you at the wedding, if I change my mind I’ll tell you.”

Love means we LEAVE our rights behind. (Heart)

            Rights – what we think we should have/get. What we want.


II.       The soul is our very life.


            A.        It is one thing to think or believe, it is another to live out...


                        1.         Sometime our actions and our words or beliefs are in conflict.


                                    a.         Actions and Beliefs about those actions can have internal Consequences.


                                    b.         Consequences are also externally imposed because of our Actions. When this happens we have to examine Beliefs. Typically we then re-orient our beliefs at this point. (justify, re-name, convert, etc...)


                        2.         The Bible speaks of choosing (“choose you this day,...” “Do not harden your hearts...”)


                                    a.         What we do comes from a choice.


                                    b.         These choices define our character and who we predictably are... or will become.

“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” [Proverbs 20:11]


            B.        The soul is who we are.


                        1.         Love for God, “keeps us and helps against everything that rivals him.” (Matthew Henry)


                                    a.         The “who we are” is our character and our patterns.


                                    b.         It is our orientation. (Our “default.”)


                        2.         Love is also a reflection of God in our lives.


                                    a.         God is at work, so it makes sense that God’s work in us is reflected by constant and personal growth.


                                    b.         There are some things we may always struggle with... but the direction reflects an internal compass that constantly leads us to God.

Love means we ORIENT our lives to another. (Soul)

            Selfishness – is the core idea of sin, it’s also enemy of everything good. It is a self-orientation instead of a God-orientation. It also keeps us from being truly “other-centered.”

(Ill. Man died and went to heaven. Asked to see hell first... taken to a place where there was a massive banquet laid out. Puzzled he asked how this could be hell. Told to watch. The spoons and forks were all 6 feet long, the people could not feed themselves. Getting the point, he asked to go to heaven. There he found a massive banquet with 6 foot long spoons and forks. Puzzled he asked, what’s the difference. Told, in hell the selfishness of the people keeps them from enjoying the good God has provided. Here we have learned to enjoy the good God has provided, we feed one another!)


III.      The mind is the battle ground.


            A.        To know God and God’s will becomes the key issue: “Opinion proceeds affection.”


                        1.         God revealed Himself through Jesus.

“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” [John 14:7]


                        2.         God revealed Himself through His works.

“You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.” [Deuteronomy 4:35]


                        3.         God revealed Himself through His words.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was with God in the beginning. [3] Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. [4] In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” [John 1:1 – 4]


            B.        The trouble is our minds are easily distracted.


                        1.         Short memories keep us from remembering the good... Inability to forget keeps us fanning the flames of bad memories.


                                    a.         Every wonder why the good is so fleeting and the bad and offensive last to the fourth generation?


                                    b.         There must be a spiritual dimension.


                        2.         Focus through discipline is necessary.


                                    a.         Discipline is not punishment, it is courageous correction.


                                    b.         Discipline, to work, requires it to be constantly maintained through habitual and intentional focus. (That’s one reason why consitent church attendance and daily devotions and prayer are so important.)

Love means we VIGILANTLY guard against the “little foxes.” (Mind)

            Little Foxes“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)

“The straw that broke the camel’s back.” The little things eventually get us and corrupt/ruin a relationship.


IV.      Our strength is all our mental and physical abilities.


            A.        Time and energy are required in a relationship.


                        1.         What/who you invest your energy in is you true love.


                                    a.         Maybe it is a house, in the form of housework or maintenance.


                                    b.         Maybe it is yourself. (CAUTION: We do need to take care of ourselves... the older I get the more maintenance my body and mind requires.)


                        2.         What/Who you invest your energy in exposes your true priorities.


                                    a.         Some of us need to take better care of ourselves physically...


                                    b.         What are we doing to take care of ourselves spiritually?


            B.        Jesus boiled it down to two things:


                        1.         Love God and love others.


                        2.         Interesting thing: when we focus on ourselves life deteriorates and slips out of control. When we focus on God and others, we are never alone in the struggles or joys of life.

Love means we ENERGIZED by the relationship. (Strength)

            Energized – are given energy through nurturing someone else.

Love means we LEAVE our rights behind (Heart), ORIENT our lives to another (Soul), VIGILANTLY guard against the “little foxes” (Mind), and we are ENERGIZED by the relationship (Strength).

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