TO LOVE HIM IS TO OBEY HIM
Date: March 21
Category: Follow God
"And I said, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, Who keeps covenant, loving-kindness, and mercy for those who love Him and keep His commandments,"
Nehemiah came to Jerusalem almost 100 years after the return of the first remnant after exile. He was empowered by Artaxerxes to serve as a governor. Nehemiah's job was to repair the walls of Jerusalem, and together with Ezra they provided very good leadership. Verse 3b says, "..the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its [fortified] gates are destroyed by fire." This is what happened to Jerusalem at the time of exile. When Nehemiah heard this, it says in verse 4 that he "sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven."
The verse in this teaching (verse 5) is the beginning of Nehemiah's prayer to the Lord. First he says, "O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God…" In other words, Nehemiah is acknowledging that God is above any great disaster and He is an awesome God regardless of what happens on the earth. This verse then says that God is someone who keeps covenant. A covenant is an agreement between God and His people. When God makes us a promise, He is going to keep it. The word "keep" here is in present tense form, meaning He keeps on keeping His promises. He never stops.
This verse also says that there is a loving kindness in God. It is His character. He's a gentle God. He's a tender God. He shows kindness toward us. When we need healing, He gives us healing. When we need guidance, He gives us guidance. Anything we need, He gives us because of His loving-kindness.
This verse also says that God is merciful. What is mercy? Mercy is punishment that is withheld even though it deserves to be administered. Mercy is what Jesus showed on the cross of Calvary. He died on the cross of Calvary so that you and I will not be punished but we will have hope for the future despite the fact that we don't deserve it.
But all these qualities of God, like His promise of keeping covenant, His loving-kindness, and His mercy, are not for everybody. Who are they for? Well verse 5b says, "..for those who love Him and keep His commandments."
When you love somebody, you spend time with that person. When you love somebody, you want to talk to that person. You want to hear that person, and you want to be with that person. When you love somebody, you show it. That's how you express love – through your words and your deeds. That's how we should love God. If we love God, we will want to talk to Him in prayer, share our thoughts and feelings, and listen to Him talk to us as well.
The other aspect of showing God that we love Him is by keeping His commandments. You love God by doing what He says. His commandments are not suggestions. They are instructions that He gives to us and He wants us to obey them. When we do them it is when we will see the characteristics of God at work in our lives. God will keep covenant with those who honor Him. God will be kind to those who seek after Him. God will show mercy to those who obey His Word. So how much of God's goodness and grace you experience in your life depends on how you love and obey God.