Beth Moore - I Love the Lord, Part 1
You may seated. Where are we in the scriptures? Psalm 116. Let me tell you a little bit about it before we get started in it. The book of Psalms is actually five different books within the canon that we call Psalms. There's Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5, five in total. Book 5 begins in Psalm 107 and goes all the way to the end in Psalm 150. We're not sure, here's been no record of exactly why the Psalms were divided in Judaism into five books. Possibly for liturgical reasons because perhaps it went, it corresponded with the five first books of the Bible, the Pentateuch that were so important to them. The Books of the Law.
So, that's very, very possible. But this is the setting for it. Exactly who penned is unknown. We have many, many psalms of David. We have some of Solomon. We have a psalm of Moses and then we have psalms from the sons of Korah. We have a number of human instruments that were used like pens of the Holy Spirit, the ink of the Holy Spirit, to pen the Psalms. But what a debt we owe of gratitude to God for them because of the language they give us that we as human beings are invited to speak and to emulate. That we can praise him to the full of extent of our lungs. That we know from scripture, we know from the psalmist that we can shout in praise.
We can dance in praise. We can clap our hands. We can get loud in praise and we can get quiet in praise. We can be silent in praise. We're invited to come into thanksgiving and we're invited to lament. We're invited to ask questions of this one who is our God and our Savior and our King. We come to Psalm 116 and it is part of the grouping, the collection that is called the Egyptian Hallel, Egyptian Hallel. And that means that it was customary, and is still customary, and from very early on that Psalms 113 through 118 would be read over the course of the Passover Feast in the life of Judaism every single year at the table. So this was right in the middle of it.
"I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. And then I called on the name of the Lord: 'O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!' Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living".
I want to pause there for just a moment because walking in scripture has theological implications. It's not just something physical. You would find it in both Testaments, Old and New, the whole idea of walking before the Lord. And it's this whole way of living God consciously. Does anybody know what I'm talking about tonight? Where you are conscious and some of that is wrapped up in praying without ceasing. It's not that we're using words constantly. It is that we're just in communion. We're ever aware that we go in and out, that we play, we recreate, we work, labor, cook, play with kids, go to church, sit in traffic, go to the doctor, get diagnoses, deal with physical pain, have disappointments, get phone calls we wish we'd never had, and we do all of this walking before the Lord leisurely, then on purpose, one foot in front of the other, sometimes quickly, sometimes so slowly that we ourselves cannot discern one wit of movement. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
Verse 10, "I believed, even when I spoke: 'I am greatly afflicted'; and in my alarm said, 'All mankind are liars.' What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosened my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord"! I chose the title for this event the very simply those first four words: "I love the Lord".
To have been loved by God and to love God has been the saving of my life and I wonder if anybody understands what I'm saying. The absolute saving of my life. I somehow, I would have derailed and if I had not physically derailed, somewhere along the way my mind would've broken. Those two things to have been loved by him and to somehow miraculously have loved him back. I want to ask you a question. I want you to just like, think in the depths with me for a second. I want you to think with me how weird it is for us to be able, for any of us who can say it with great sincerity, how weird is it for a human being to love the Lord? When was the last time you saw him? Do you realize what an oddity this is? I want you to grasp with me the peculiarity of any person in here who could go. I mean as sincerely as I know how to describe what my heart feels toward anyone, and I have these people in my life that I love. I am telling you I love the Lord. Why? Why?
This is the question on the page of the psalmist all about well, I love him because... Because why? Because why? That's what we're going to try to get to the bottom of. To help you, to help me articulate to someone. I love the Lord and I'm going to tell you why. I'm going to tell you why. Because when we love someone, we cannot help but talk about them. Listen, and see this is going to be the best news to somebody because you did not know that maybe one of your hang-ups was that you thoroughly appreciated him but it maybe that you come to the realization, no, I don't think I actually love him. Because you're going to find, and I'm going to find if that's true, that the reason why we find any kind of witness of the Gospel so incredibly difficult is because we're making ourselves try to talk about someone that's not just rolling off the overflow of our hearts. It all comes back to this. It all comes back to this. Knowing that we are loved and loving him in return.
What wonder has taken place over the human heart when it beats with affection towards an unseen God. I'm going to tell you, if you pinned me down six decades into life, pinned me down and asked me what I thought were the keys to life, to really living a full life, what would be if we had to bring it down, boil it down to the simplest concepts, what would it be? That sick or well, having much or having little, wherever we lived on the planet, what is it that would somehow make life click a different way? And I present to you and hope to prove to you scripturally that it would be these two things. I'm loved by God and he has awakened my heart to love him in return. Because there ain't nothing you won't do for love. Nothing I won't do for love. I started thinking, there's just nothing like the experience of being around a newborn and then being around them for the next couple of years as they begin to grow.
And I love the fact that when God goes to describe his love, since his love for us is indescribable, since we have nothing to compare it to, since it's beyond our knowledge, I love how Ephesians chapter 3 talks about the fact that we would know the love of God that surpasses knowledge. In other words, somehow know what cannot be known, that it's absolutely beyond us. But he always uses the known to tell us something unknown. Okay, if you could compare it to as far as you could reach into your imagination, think in terms of the kind of love a mother would feel toward a nursing infant, that total dependency. And I just want you to think about that for a moment because what happens, and I'll just use my daughter, this could be anyone in your life that you know is expecting a baby.
So, when my daughter told me that she was expecting any one of my three grandchildren, well, I mean, immediately I already have affection for this tiny little thing that is how big at this point. I mean, like microscopic at this point. She has no evidence whatsoever except a test that's telling her she's expecting a baby. And then over time as that baby begins to show a little bit in that mother's tummy, then I mean we start getting really excited. I mean, this is reality where we're getting to see it. And then I can put my hand on her tummy when she would invite me to, everyone, and feel that baby move, and then I mean that was response. And so, we're responding to that. And we love this little child who does not know we exist. This child doesn't really even know his mother exists. He just knows he's held in this very safe place. Then without asking we already love them way before they could even focus their eyes on us. Do you understand that it's the Lord? That is the Lord but infinitely.
I want you to see something. Did I read all the way through? Yes, okay, leave something here. I want to show you something in 2 Corinthians 6. 2 Corinthians 6, so turn with me to your New Testaments. Now what I love more than anything in the world is to think that someone is with us in whatever given group where we get to serve that has never really had that light turned on, that switch flipped to love the study of the scriptures. Because it happened to me in a moment, so I'm hoping so much that somebody's going to have a moment. I didn't warm up to it. It honestly happened to me in a moment. And there's so many things in my life that I can't exactly place like when did this happen. Like I can't tell you exactly when my spiritual birthday was. I can tell you when I made it public at my church, and when I went forward like we do in my tradition, and told the pastor, and I was introduced to the church as born again in Christ, and I was baptized in our little baptistry.
I can tell you all of that but I can't tell you exactly when I was born again of the spirit. I wish I could. There's a number of things I can't tell you to the date but I know the moment that the light switched on for me with the study of the Word. And I'm going to tell you something, I saw it in somebody. I saw it. And so I am a big believer in ministering the Word of God and believing that there will be people in that place that will realize for the first time that there are human beings that think there is nothing more exciting, nothing more enlightening, nothing more thrilling, nothing more exhilarating than making a life out of studying the scriptures. That it just really doesn't get more exciting than this. And if you're thinking like, how can that be possible? Oh just get in and try it. You talk about something becoming a holy addiction. You start studying and I'm telling you, once you hit that groove, you cannot stop because there's no getting to the bottom of it, and I saw it in somebody. And I was completely mesmerized. It was my Bible doctrine teacher when I was 27 years old.
And I knew instinctively that he would rather study that book right there than eat his next meal. I knew he would. And I was like what in the world. I knew people, I had known servants of Jesus all of my life. That was not new to me. I had known people who loved Jesus. But I had never really seen anybody. I'd seen people preach the Word with great appreciation and great reverence but it was the first time I ever saw anyone that I thought, oh no, no, this is his food and his drink. This is his meal. What in the world? I was so mesmerized I could not take a single note. I just got in the car and I'd burst out in tears. And I said, 27 years old, I don't know what that was but I want it. I'm telling you in that moment, in that moment, when you start praying for any time, listen girls, any time we pray within the will of God we have what we ask. We have what we ask.
That is 1 John chapter 5. If we ask in the will of God, we have what we ask. So, if you want to love Jesus with everything in you, start praying to, because you've already got a yes. You can start thanking him from the very beginning. If you want to love the study of the scriptures, just start praying to. Because he's already going to start saying yes. You can start saying tonight going thank you, Lord. Thank you for what you're going to work in my heart because I promise you, it is his will for you to love him, and for you to love his Word. If you pray to, you're going to, you're going to. You say, well, why wouldn't he do it anyway? Because he wants a relationship with you. Wants relationship with me. Wants us to go to him and ask him.
So 2 Corinthians chapter 6, notice with me, I'm so tempted to go up from here but I'm not going to do it. I'm going to stay on point. Verse 11, verse 11. "We have spoken openly to you, Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. I speak as to my children," verse 13, "as a proper response, open your hearts to us". The ESV says, it uses the word restricted. Your affections are restricted. Wouldn't it be a beautiful thing for that just to get unrestricted, but whatever it is that is bound around that heart. Very often we've done it out of self-protection and defense. Because we're scared to love and we're scared to be loved because of all the pain that it's already caused us. And so, we tighten it up and cover it, and then we wonder why we're numb. I'm not suggesting we lay our hearts out to everyone and everything, to let him come and clip that tight restraint we have wrapped around it where are affections toward him are no longer restricted. I wonder would anybody find that to be a beautiful thing, to be a really beautiful thing.
Go back with me to Psalm 116 because we're talking about the becauses. I love the Lord because, and he begins with, and I'm going to give you five different statements that are five of many that we could come up with about why a heart would really respond with love to the Lord. But I want to camp on these five because I think they are every one of them so strategic to us and it begins here. I love the Lord because number one, because he heard my voice, because he heard my voice. My granddaughter Willa, she came seven years after the youngest of my daughter's kids. So we just got this surprise, this bonus baby. So, she's had all these big people around her, even her big brother and big sister seemed big to her, and she just has had so much attention, and so much love, and we've laughed at her so many times.
And one of the things that has made us laugh that when she was around two years old, she did it constantly, I've got a little clip that I'm going to show it to you. But she would constantly go, "Hear that? You hear that"? And she wouldn't cup her ears, she would cup the side of her little head like that. And she'd hear a bird sing or anything like that, or she'd hear some thunder, she'd go, "Hear that? Hear that"? So that you'll know what you're looking for, I'm going to ask them to just play it for you. Hear that? It was very scared, it was far away. It's far away. Yeah! Is that the most precious thing? "Hear that? Hear that"? Well, some of us think that that's how Jesus is doing because he's like, somehow he's not cupping his ear. I need somebody to know he does hear you. He does hear you and it is crucial for us to know that, crucial.
Let me ask you this, when was the last time you knew God heard you? That you knew he did. How did you know? How did you know? What happened that you knew only he could've put together, that it happened in such a way that he went oh, heard me, heard me, might've been years later, but oh heard me. Months later, oh heard me. It might've been that morning. Lord, you were listening this morning. You did not take an off day. When was the last time you knew God heard you and how did you know? So that we will grasp the importance of knowing that we are heard by God, I want to reverse it to you. Remember a time when you tried to tell somebody something and they would not listen? Could you do that with me? When was a time you tried. Think about a time that someone said, "Why didn't you tell me"? And you said, "I tried to tell you"!
Can I see a hand of anybody, anybody in this room? Said, "I tried to tell you, I tried to tell you. You were not listening to me. You would not hear me". How many in your life have you tried so hard to get someone to hear and they wouldn't? You know one reason I believe that so much is surfacing these days about people who have been sexually abused and it's been hidden and instead of them being sheltered their abusers were sheltered? You know why I think so much of that is being exposed? Because God heard. When they tried to tell someone, and no one would respond, or when they couldn't tell anyone at all, and it was just tucked somewhere in their soul, causing deeper and deeper pain and agony, well God heard. God heard. That's why. Sometimes people can't hear, they honestly can't. And sometimes people just won't hear. They just won't. No matter how many times you've tried to say it. They will not hear. God is not like us. He is not hard of hearing. And he is not stubborn. And he does not keep his fingers in his ears.