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11-4-18 Sermon

Sermon November 4, 2018 All Saints Sunday 

Mark 12:28-37

Heavenly Father - we do not live by bread alone but by Your very word. Please generate within us a greater passion for You; draw us near to You that we might walk in step with Your will. In Jesus name we pray Amen

In the Gospel reading a Jewish teacher of the law, asks Jesus this question: Which is the greatest commandment of all?

Jesus replied: ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ - and -- you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The Scribe affirms Jesus: "You are right teacher this is much more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

Jesus recognizes the wisdom of the scribe and says to him: "You are not far from the kingdom of God." I find that to be an interesting reply.

Most Scribes were more concerned about the observance of the law, rather than God's intentions behind the law. Those who listen to God’s word, study it—to find the truth within it; "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."

Yet in the words "not far" - implies you’re on the right track - but you have not yet arrived.

In Switzerland, next to a beautiful flowerbed, there is a sign, written in three languages: German the sign says: Picking flowers is prohibited. English the sign reads: Please do not pick the flowers. French it says: Those who love flowers will not pick them.

These statements about flowers are the key to what Jesus’ meant when he said: "You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

What is our motivation for obeying God’s commands?

Is it fear of authority? Picking flowers is prohibited.

Is it a desire for Gods approval or the approval of others? Please do not pick the flowers.

Iis our motivation love? Those who love flowers will not pick them.

Did the scribe in today's Gospel live his life out of obedience, but his heart was not in it?

Was his life religious but without compassion?

Whatever it is there is a separation between the scribe and the Kingdom of God. What is our motivation to be conformed to the image of Jesus?

There’s a true story about a modern day disciple of Jesus eagerly wanted to become all that God wanted him to be. So he visited the home of an elderly Christian man. This old man over all the years had never lost his first love for Jesus.

Upon his arrival, the young man found the elderly man sitting on the porch with his dog watching a beautiful sunset.

The young man asked: "Why is it, sir, that most Christians who are zealous for the LORD, fall into a complacency? They might go to church now and then, but look no different than a non- Christian?

The young man went on: “I’ve heard you are not like that-- that you are passionate about your faith after all these years. What makes you different?"

The old man smiled and replied, "One day I was sitting here in the sunshine with my dog. Suddenly a rabbit ran across the yard right in front of us. Well, my dog jumped up, and chased after that rabbit with real passion.

Soon, other dogs, hearing his barking joined in the chase. The pack of dogs ran barking through thickets and the thorns! Gradually, one by one, the other dogs lost interest. Only my dog continued to passionately pursue the rabbit."

"In that story, young man, is the answer to your question."

The young man was confused, and finally said, "Sir, I don’t understand the connection between the rabbit chase and the need for God?"

The wise old man replied, "you failed to ask the question: why didn't the other dogs continue the chase?"

The answer: they had not seen the rabbit. Unless you see the prize, the chase is just too difficult. You will lack the passion and determination necessary to continue the chase."

Have you seen Jesus my LORD? Is your Passion for him engrained into your very soul? "You shall love the LORD Your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength - and - you shall love your neighbor as yourself"

How can we who have encountered the risen CHRIST do anything else but love and continue the pursuit?

A non-believer became a casual friend of his Christian neighbor. They talked over the back fence about the weather and whatever sport was in season.

The non-believer’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, and sadly died in three months. The man went through the funeral preparations and the service in a trance-like state. Almost every night he’d walk along the river for hours. But he didn’t walk alone. His next-door neighbor followed him. They never spoke or even walked together. One morning, after walking all night, the neighbor invited him for breakfast. They shared food, feelings, and faith. Now the two widowers go to church together. Faith that produces the caring and love for a neighbor is what Jesus was talking about. C. S. Lewis was right when he said, "Christianity cannot be only moderately important."

Having a passion for God is more than just going through the motions. It means having compassion for your neighbor.

God wants us to seek his face to have a heartfelt desire to be with him. He wants us to see Him as our daily bread—as vital as the air we breathe. I know all of you want to follow him, or you wouldn’t be here. Remember Jesus is your first love.

Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. Amen