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Christ, The Lord Of Our Affections – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
October 17, 2023 1:00 am

Christ, The Lord Of Our Affections – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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October 17, 2023 1:00 am

We don’t have the ability to love God truly or fully in our own strength. So how does Christ become the Lord of our affections, over all false idols? In this message, Pastor Lutzer shows three indications we love God with our heart, mind, and strength. Let’s learn how to love God with our whole being.

This month’s special offer is available for a donation of any amount. Get yours at rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Believers are commanded to love God supremely, casting off every weight and sin that besets them. Then they can run life's race at top speed, knowing that the goal line will bring them face to face with the God they love.

How's your race going today? From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, as you finish your series on crowning Christ Lord, take us again to Matthew chapter 22 verse 37. Well Dave, of course, as you know, that verse summarizes everything, doesn't it? To love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all of our might, with all of our strength, really with all that we are. And the purpose of the series of messages that you just referred to, crowning Christ Lord, the whole goal is to help us to see the importance of living in light of eternity and not merely time.

You know, we here at Running to Win exist to help you make it across the finish line as you frequently hear. And one of the ways we do this is by making resources available to you. And this sermon series, it's a series of four messages, is available to you in permanent form for a gift of any amount.

Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. As you look at your life, ask yourself, are you investing all that you are, even your affections, in light of eternity? Perhaps you missed some of the messages in this series and you'd like to play them again or to share them with friends. Crowning Christ Lord, for a gift of any amount, these messages can be yours.

Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And let us remember, we should always be asking ourselves, are we valuing that which God values forever? To think small thoughts about God and big thoughts about ourselves or what we hope to accomplish in life is idolatry.

We have allowed something else to capture our minds and our imagination other than Almighty God. And the Bible says, thou shalt love the Lord your God with all of your mind. Finally, Jesus says, you shall love the Lord your God with all of your strength, all of your strength.

I'm astounded that Jesus adds that. Strength means that we are committing ourselves with blood, sweat, and tears toward a very specific goal. That's what it means to exert strength. And Jesus is saying that your strength shouldn't just be reserved for the normal things that we think takes energy, such as the pursuit of our work, our careers, the pressures of life. Jesus is saying you should take your strength and channel it, channel it very decisively into being sure that God is number one on your list of things and beings to pursue. Remember, it says in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 6 that without faith it is impossible to please God. For those that come to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him out.

Seek him out. I want you to know that you may not accomplish anything in this world that other people are going to recognize, but if you and I are willing to seek God out, we will have accomplished something that is very special and precious to his own heart. I have sometimes prayed and I'm sure you have as well. Oh God, I pray that I may know you as well as it is possible for a human being to know you on planet earth.

For that knowledge I trust I would be willing to give anything up. I think of Augustine who said, oh God, thou has said that we cannot see thee and live. Oh God, may I die that I might see thee.

Augustine could not wait to get to heaven that he might know God better and that he might see him. Now let me ask you, what is idolatry? Idolatry is when I pursue something other than God with more strength and more energy and more determination than I pursue the knowledge of almighty God.

That's idolatry because I have set up some other standard, some other desire that is greater than my desire to know the living God. Let me ask you, what is your plan to know God better? How many biographies do you plan to read of men and women who have walked with God who give us insight into what they've learned? How many verses do you plan to memorize? What is your plan in terms of reading the Bible? What are you doing so that this great gap that is within us, this great desire for God is being fueled and is being fanned and is being nurtured and strengthened until you say that you are consumed with the desire to know the almighty and nothing else really matters? Other things matter, but they don't really matter.

That's why I found it so difficult to prepare this message. Because as I look at the text, I see that what Jesus is saying is that our love for God should be all-consuming, all-consuming. What would be true if we loved God with all of our heart and mind and soul? First of all, obviously we would love what God loves, wouldn't we? He loves the people of the world.

We would love people. He loves his word. He says that he has magnified his word. He says even above his name and we'd love his word. We would love righteousness. We would love God's ways and we would love God because, may I say it, God loves himself.

He does. He would not expect us to love him if he did not love himself. He has a right to because he is the source of all beauty, of all goodness, of all wonder, of all majesty, and therefore he invites us to come and to share in that love and in our part our worship. So we would love God and we would love what God loves. It dawned on me that we would also hate whatever God hates. I took a concordance yesterday and looked up all the passages of scripture to indicate what God hates and the list is far too long for me to even begin to give it to you. For example, it says in Psalm 97 10 that God hates evil. It says also in Proverbs that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. God talks about hating even the doers of iniquity. Now it says in the book of Hebrews chapter 1 regarding Christ, because thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore God, even thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. God says because Jesus loved what I loved and hates what I hate, he's going to be glad and he's going to be blessed. But I look into my own heart and oftentimes I see myself loving what God hates and hating what God loves.

That's why the transformation of heart and mind that must be made within us is a work of the Holy Spirit of God. Thirdly, if we really loved God, we would love our neighbor as ourselves. And that's what Jesus said the second commandment is and it flows so naturally out of the first.

The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself. You know there's a verse in 1st John that says these words. It says if any man says I love God, and I suppose if I ask today for a show of hands, how many of you love God?

I hope that most of you would raise your hands. But it says if any of you say I love God and you hate your brother, it says you are a liar and the truth is not in you. Because if you don't love your brother whom you've seen, how are you going to love God whom you haven't seen? And some of you here today are struggling with your love for God. And the reason that you're struggling is because you do not love your brothers and your sisters. You retain that root of bitterness that's always getting in the way of your love for Almighty God.

Let me give you a couple of statements to think about as we talk about the bottom line here. How do we go about learning to love God as we should? First of all, we must honor Christ. Because the Bible says that he that honors me honors the Father. If you dishonor me, you dishonor the Father. There may be some of you here today who need to believe on Jesus as your Savior.

You need to come with yourself just as you are, with your sins, with your questions, and you need to come and believe on him because that is the first step to loving God is to appreciate what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross and to receive his gift of eternal life. But having done that, then we begin to love. We love him, the Bible says, because he first loved us. I think of the little girl, Martha, four years old, one little doll in one arm and another doll in the other arm, holding them tightly and saying, Mommy, Mommy, I love them and I love them and I love them, but they never love me back.

Is that the way we are? God loves us and he loves us and he loves us and so often we never love him back. I know there are those of you who say, oh, but I don't know that he loves me because he has dealt severely with me. Recently I've been studying the life of Joseph and I wonder if you remember the story of how Joseph bound Simeon, one of his brothers, before the other brothers in their presence and they didn't know that Joseph was their brother.

I'm assuming here that you know the story, but it's interesting that it says Joseph turned aside and went to a room into a room to cry and then he wept and then he, after he dried his tears, he came out and he bound Simeon before their eyes and spoke harshly with them. I wonder if that's the way God sometimes does with us. Sometimes we see the harshness of God. He takes people from us.

There are accidents. There are circumstances that make it appear as if God is harsh, but I wonder if we could see the other side to God, the grief, the pain, the tears of Christ. God does love you and we should love him back. Secondly, we must be willing to ask God to take all of those idols that are in our lives and demolish them. I think it would be helpful if all of us took 15, 20 minutes of our lives, maybe an hour, and just said, God, what is it that is standing between you and me? Why is it that I do not love you? And you'd find all kinds of things in your life as I find frequently in my own, all kinds of false competing loves where I am not loving the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul at all. I'm loving all kinds of other things and ignoring God. The dearest idols I have known, what e'er those idols be, may they be torn from the throne that I might worship only thee. Are you willing today to give up your idols?

What is it that stands in relationship to you? What sin do you need to get rid of? I spoke about making a decisive choice. When it comes to sin, it is best to put it away quickly and finally.

Somewhere I read that if you're going to jump across a chasm, it is much better to do it in one long jump than in two short ones. And when we put sin away, when we put those idols away, let's do it decisively and with conviction. Are we allowing God to do that in our lives? To submit to him, to give him all the idols, and then to receive in simple faith the filling of the Holy Spirit so that we might not be double-minded but single-minded and say with the Apostle Paul, this one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind, reaching forth to the things which are before, I press toward the mark to know God and to love him supremely. There was an artist by the name of Augustus Loew who had painted a picture of Jesus Christ and an admirer came into the studio and noticed that the picture of Jesus was very well done and they were admiring the features of our Lord. And this admirer said to the painter, you must love Christ. Yes, he said I do, but you know, if I loved him more, I could paint him better.

I loved him more, I could paint him better. I hope that in your heart today you are resounding with me in saying, oh, that we loved him more, that we might represent him better. Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all of thine heart. Where is your heart today? With all of your soul, where is your soul today? With all of your mind, where is your mind today?

And with all of your strength, what is it that you are pursuing? Anything less is idolatry and when we love him more, we can paint him better. Join me as we pray together. Our Father, today we thank you for the priceless privilege of knowing and loving you.

Yet Father, we confess that in our hearts there are all kinds of issues that we find so hard to deal with. We ask today that you might come and meet us. As you pass by every person in this auditorium and walk down the aisles, would you do in our hearts whatever needs to be done so that we might in a better way fulfill the first and the greatest commandment, bring sins to our mind, bring false desires to our mind, relationships that are wrong, whatever it is, we pray today Father that your Holy Spirit would free us so that we might be able to love you more. Be gracious to us Lord and hear our prayers.

In Jesus' name, Amen. My friend, today I know that it is not possible for us to love the Lord our God the way we should, but that should be our desire, that should be our motivation, that's what should wake us up in the morning with the excitement of knowing there's another day in which we can give you glory and serve you acceptably. This series of messages I believe is transforming for all who will listen, all who will open their hearts to hear God's word. Now for a gift of any amount we are making this series of messages that you've just been listening to available, it's entitled Crowning Christ Lord. It contains four messages preached from the pulpit of Moody Church to enable us to understand the investment that you and I must make if we want to do well even at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ.

For a gift of any amount we are making these messages available to you in permanent form so that you can listen to them again and again, share them with your friends, remind yourself of that which is most important. Here's what you do, go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Perhaps I gave you that info too quickly, I'm going to be repeating it, but meanwhile always remember that running to win exists not merely so that you might be able to listen to God's word but that you might have resources that will encourage you as you continue to walk with God. Ask for the series of messages, Crowning Christ Lord.

You can go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And from my heart to yours, thank you so much for your prayers, thank you for remembering us, thank you for helping us financially because our desire is to help as many as possible make it all the way to the finish line. It's time again for another opportunity for you to ask Pastor Lutzer, a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life.

Today's question, Dr. Lutzer, comes to us from Rob in Virginia, and this is his story. I can't help but believe that many Christians have become little more than modern-day Pharisees, casting stones at sexual centers and supporting policies which subject them to a lifetime of scorn and pillory. I read about a group of Christians that was organizing residents block by block to petition the city council for tougher ordinances against released sex offenders. The outcome was that sex offenders who lived there were required to move, and the restrictions are so severe that none of them will ever live there again.

Can you imagine Christ helping to organize a group of citizens to get the harlots kicked out of Jerusalem? I'm one of thousands of men who have been convicted for Internet solicitation and have been given a long prison sentence. There ought to be a more merciful way to deal with sexual crimes. Why doesn't the Christian community become more active in helping to protect everyone's dignity? Why am I made to suffer in such a severe fashion while homosexuality and adultery run rampant?

Released ex-convicts are dumped back into society without any hope of success since society views them as once a criminal, always a criminal. Christians should never forget that our primary responsibility is to redeem and to restore and to recover what is lost. Well, Rob, I want you to know that as I read your letter, it is with mixed emotions and feelings. I certainly don't agree with you that it was wrong for Christians to get organized and to make sure that sex offenders are not to live in their area. And the reason for that is because of what happens to children.

If I had children, I would be protective also, and you need to recognize that. And you know you bemoan the fact that you are suffering severely, and I understand that and will speak to it in just a moment, but remember what you were willing to do or what you have done and what sex offenders do, ruining children oftentimes for the rest of their lives. Your letter makes me wonder whether or not you recognize the seriousness of this kind of sin. Now, on the other hand, I can be very sympathetic with the fact that there is a lot of shame and a lot of guilt, and we as Christians have sometimes not helped people overcome that through the forgiveness of Jesus. So I want to reaffirm to you, Rob, that God is able to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. He can cleanse your conscience and even though you are there in prison, having that experience, God can be with you there in prison and can even use you in prison. At the same time, recognizing that the greatness of your sin is up against the greatness of God's grace and God's forgiveness and thankfully, grace wins.

Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. Now, a comment about the prison system. I agree with you again that oftentimes prisoners, ex-offenders are simply dumped out into society and they're supposed to sink or swim on their own, and that's why you have so many people who end up back in prison. They go back to their own sins, maybe they don't have money so they begin to steal.

I understand all that, and these problems are huge, but let's never minimize the impact of sexual offenders in the lives of children and for that matter, in the lives of others. Rob, cleave to God, receive his forgiveness and even if I might suggest also, forgive the Christians who have hurt you. Maybe they weren't as loving as they were supposed to be, but they were doing what they thought was right for their children and for their community. Thank you Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Next time we begin a series on your eternal reward, experiencing gain and loss at the judgment seat of Christ. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-17 22:33:36 / 2023-10-17 22:42:06 / 9

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