I want us to begin by accepting a challenge. Here is the challenge: what do you think are the five most powerful symbols of influence worldwide? I want you to focus on the world, not just America.

"David, it would be a whole lot easier if you would let us limit our search for influence symbols to America." I agree. That would be much simpler. But I want you to consider worldwide symbols of influence, not just American symbols of influence. A huge symbol of influence in America might not be even a large symbol of influence in Europe, or India, or far east countries.

Remember the focus: the top five symbols of influence worldwide. What would be your five?

Included in those five should be motherhood. Virtually every society in the world acknowledges the influence of mothers as a powerful influence.

Doubt it? Think. When a 350 pound professional football player trots to the side line, pans to the camera and waves after a big play, does he say, "Hi, sweetheart," or, "Hi, brother," or, "Hi, family," or, "Hi, sports agent," or, "Hi, money manager"? No. Most of the time he says, "Hi, mom."

Have you ever heard the term, "The mother of all wars"?

Why is "yo Momma," often used as an insult?

A mother's influence is powerful in virtually any society anywhere in the world. Why? Why are mothers typically such powerful symbols of influence? May I suggest two significant reasons. First, one of the most powerful symbols of love in any society is a mother's love. Mothers everywhere commonly make incredible sacrifices for their children. Second, a mother's heart is huge. The amount of caring and compassion mothers show for their children is beyond description.

Anything that shrinks a mother's love or a mother's heart shrinks her influence. Anything that encourages her love and gives her the courage to have a strong heart increases her influence.

From a mother's love and a mother's heart we should learn some essential lessons about our relationship with God.

  1. There always has been a primary emphasis on the importance of loving God.
    1. For a moment, consider the continuing emphasis on loving God.
      Moses said to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-6, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart."
      Hundreds of years later, Jesus answered the question, "What is God's greatest commandment?" Jesus answered in Matthew 22:37,38, And He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment."
      1. The foundation commandment of all commandments is total love for God.
      2. No matter what commandments we obey, if there is no love for God, there is no meaning in obedience.
        The last night of his life, Jesus said this to the twelve in John 13:34, 35, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
      3. His love for God was the foundation of his love for them.
      4. If they loved God, they loved him; and if they loved him, they loved each other in the same manner that he loved them."
        Still later the Christian Paul wrote to Galatian Christians in Galatians 5:6, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love."
      5. Being a Jew is unimportant.
      6. Not being a Jew is unimportant.
      7. What is important is allowing your faith in God to express itself in love.
      8. When a person believes in God, his or her faith expresses itself.
      9. The appropriate godly means for faith to express itself is love.
        Still later, Paul made this statement from one preacher to another preacher in 1 Timothy 1:5, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
        John emphasized the importance of loving God and loving people with these words in 1 John 4:7,8, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love."
      10. The progression is obvious and consistent: Service to God must be based on whole being love for God; whole being love for God reveals itself in love for people.
    2. Where does this consuming love for God come from? Again, the answer is consistent: it must come from the heart, from the innermost emotional core of the person.
      1. Though King Saul was selected by God Himself to be king of Israel, Saul was a total disappoint to God.
      2. God expressed His disappointment with Saul through Samuel with these words in 1 Samuel 13:13,14: Samuel said to Saul, "You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart ..."
      3. Later, God through Samuel appointed David to become Israel's king after Saul died.
        1. Throughout the Old Testament David was the standard of the person who loved God, whose heart belonged to God.
        2. Hundreds of years later after Christianity was established, David was still known as the person who loved God so deeply that his heart belonged to God (Acts 13:22).
      4. When David used prayer to dedicate the supplies later to be used in building the temple, he made this statement:
        1 Chronicles 29:17 Since I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You.
        1. The gifts honored God because they were from hearts.
        2. They could be given with joy because they were from hearts.
      5. In that same prayer, David made these statements in 1 Chronicles 29:18,19:
        "O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You; and give to my son Solomon a perfect heart to keep Your commandments, Your testimonies and Your statutes, and to do them all, and to build the temple, for which I have made provision."
      6. Two generations later when Solomon's son, Rehoboam, became king of Judah, this is what was written of him:
        2 Chronicles 12:14 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.
      7. Yet generations later, when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, this is what is written of him:
        2 Chronicles 19:3 But there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asheroth (wooden pillars used in idolatry) from the land and you have set your heart to seek God."
      8. There is an enormous emphasis in 2 Chronicles on the heart.
      9. There is an enormous emphasis in Jesus' teachings on the heart.
      10. Read with me these statements written by Paul to Christians at Ephesus:
        Ephesians 1:18-20 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places ...
        1. Should Christians know the hope of God's calling? Surely!
        2. Should Christians declare the riches of God's glorious inheritance? Surely!
        3. Should Christians understand the surpassing greatness of God's power toward believers? Surely!
        4. Should Christians fully realize all these things are consistent with the resurrection of Jesus and Jesus' enthronement? Surely!
        5. Allow me to call one thing to your attention: all this can begin when people are willing to have the eyes of their hearts enlightened.

  2. Let me give all of us, myself included, a test. May I emphasize it is not my test, but God's.
    1. The test: how do you demonstrate your faith and your commitment to God?
      1. "I come to all the assemblies of the church faithfully!" Good, but do you love God from the heart with all your being?
      2. "I am very generous in what I give to the church!" Good, but do you love God from the heart with all your being?
      3. "I recognize God as my supreme authority in everything religious!" Good, but do you love God from the heart with all your being?
      4. "I have identified my abilities and gifts, and I make certain that I use all my gifts to benefit God's work!" Good, but do you love God from the heart with all your being?
      5. "I am involved in a ministry!" Good, but do you love God from the heart with all your being?
      6. "I am involved in a care group or a small group or both!" Good, but do you love God from the heart with all your being?
    2. A few days ago I reestablished contact with a Christian friend I deeply value--he is one of those people who has blessed me by being a mentor to me.
      1. We have a friendship that is genuine, even though we might not contact each other for several months--no matter when we talk, it is like we saw each other yesterday.
      2. The first thing he told me was that his wife had died, and after her death he almost died.
        1. He had a long stay in the hospital and was not improving.
        2. He prayed to God and said his first choice was to die and be with his wife, but if God had a use for him here, that was okay.
      3. He told me about his recovery, and then with emotion he said he was grieved.
        1. He was grieved because he had never learned what it meant to love God with all his being.
        2. He was grieved because he loved his wife so much he would rather be with her than stay here and serve God.
        3. He was grieved because God had not been his number one love.
        4. He said he now commits his life to learning how to love God with all his being.

My question to all of us, including myself, is simple. Do you love God with all your being? Do you understand what it means to love God with all your being? How much of your heart actually belongs to God? How powerful an influence is your love for God?

We must learn to love God, and we must put emotion in our love for God. If we take the emotion out of loving God, we rob God by robbing the love.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 11 May 2003

Study Along With David Chadwell
A Worship Worksheet
May 11, 2003

What would you consider to be the five most powerful symbols of influence worldwide?
_____________, _____________, _____________, _____________, _____________

Included in this five should be __________________________.

Virtually every ______________ in the world acknowledges the influence of _________.

One of the most powerful symbols of __________ in any society is a mother's ____________.

A mother's _______________ is huge!

The __________________ and ___________________ mother's show their children is beyond description.

From a mother's love and heart we learn essential lessons about our __________________ with _________________.

There has always been an emphasis on the _________________ of loving ___________.

The foundation commandment is _______________ love for God.

Without love there is no meaning in _________________________.

Service to God must be based on _______________ ___________ love for God.

Love for God is shown by _____________ people.

In the Old Testament _________________ is a great example of a person who loved God.

Gifts given from the _____________ can be given with _____________.

In II Chronicles there is a great emphasis on the ___________________. In the teachings of _________________ there is a great emphasis on the heart.

If we take the ______________ out of loving God, we ___________ God by _______________ the love.

provided by Gary Brown

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