Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Subject: Love and Obey

Dear Ethan & Emily:

You have heard the old gospel hymn “Trust and Obey.”  This morning I would like you to consider another combination:  “Love and Obey.”  This isn’t a song but just about says it all when it comes to understanding the meaning of genuine love for the Lord and how that relates to obedience.

On a regular basis, Pastor Byron (our executive pastor) sends us emails with various thoughts and reflections.  The one we received from him yesterday summarizes several passages from one of Henry Blackaby’s books (author of Experiencing God series) and fits in well with the current series that Pastor Mike is conducting in the morning services on Haggai:

“To receive God’s blessing we need to respond with obedient living.  The primary motivation for obedience flows from our hearts.  I read these words from Henry Blackaby this morning.  He says, ‘When you begin struggling to obey God, that is a clear indication that your heart has shifted away from Him.  Some claim, I love God, but I’m having difficulty obeying Him in certain areas of my life.  That is a spiritual impossibility. 

“If I were to ask you, ‘do you love God?’  You might easily respond, ‘Yes!’  However, if I were to ask you, ‘are you obeying Go?’  Would you answer ‘yes’ as quickly?  Yet I would be asking you the same question!  Genuine love for God leads to wholehearted obedience. 

“If you told your spouse that you loved her at certain times but that you struggled to love her at others, your relationship would be in jeopardy.  Yet we assume that God is satisfied with occasional love or partial obedience.  He is not.”

Pastor Byron has summed up what obedience is all about very well…just as Jesus did when He said simply:  “If you love me, obey my commandments.”  (John 14: 15)

It’s just as simple as that!  If you genuinely love the Lord, obedience will just flow from that love as a natural by product.  If your prayer life and your worship have become ritualistic and dull…if obedience has become a struggle or a legalistic exercise…then you need to “return to your first love” (Rev. 2: 5). 

With only slight modification, the old gospel song goes like this:  “‘Love and Obey’…for there’s no other way…to be happy in Jesus…but to ‘love and obey’!”

More than obedience…my greatest desire for each of you is that you really know and experience God’s love.  If you do…the rest just falls in line…not with a “have to” but with a “want to.”

Have a wonderful day,